The Quest For Playboy

and other childhood adventures the internet has made obsolete
On
January 11, 2010

The internet was once a new frontier of myth and legend inhabited by four-eyed explorers on college campuses who seemed to think this digital world would soon overtake the Earth. It turns out they were right.

There really is no facet of our life that the internet has not touched and become "essential" to. Work, entertainment, family it's all tied up in the World Wide Web and while it is all pretty awesome, I can't help but think we've lost some great potential experiences.

I know we have a lot of "younglings" on the site (I'm talking to YOU, the folks who think Dexter's Laboratory is retro) so I thought I would lead an expedition to the past to remind us of the many experiences of childhood that the internet is slowly eating away at or done away with altogether. I'm going to do my darndest to not sound like a cranky old geezer, by focusing more on the joys of a pre-internet childhood of the 80's and early 90's than lamenting its loss.

As a child was there anything better than getting a letter addressed to you in the mail? Of course, cards from Grandparents were always top priority since there was usually a check with a picture of fluffy kittens or a Bald Eagle inside.

Sometimes it was something you ordered out of a catalog, comic book or Boy's Life magazine. Filling out your order on a 3x5 card was part of the fun and so was the long wait for the arrival of your stuff.

My favorite mail-away items were the "Rattlesnake Eggs" that came inside a little manila envelope that rattled as you opened it up. Naive as I was I thought I was actually getting freeze-dried snake babies (hey, it worked for Sea Monkeys) so I literally jumped when the package vibrated.

Of course on closer inspection it was just a washer wrapped up in a rubber band-those tricky devils!

Another favorite was the Pen Pal letter. We had some project in school where they assigned us Pen Pals and we wrote back and forth for a year. Most of my letters included questions concerning the most pressing issues of the day, "Do you like Thundercats?" "Who is your favorite Thundercat?" "Don't you think Silverhawks is just a rip-off of the Thundercats?".

Also, the different kind of stamps attached to the envelopes were cool to look at. You'll notice I didn't say collect. Stamp collecting was for nerds and while I was called "Fatty" or "Chubby" or "Hungry Hungry Hippo", I never got labeled as a "Nerd" in which I took a certain amount of fat pride.

You know what? I was going to try and fill this article out with discussions of how we don't have the opportunity to be surprised by movies anymore because you can find spoilers and bootlegs online and how Role Playing Games are now pretty much played in the digital realm, but I should just get to the point.

What really inspired me to write this article is the glut of internet porn so readily available to be viewed and discarded in today's world. Allow me to explain. I will be as delicate as possible with this subject. SPOILER ALERT: I don't use any dirty words or pics in my description of the following events, my apologies.

Here's the deal, there used to be a quest for every young boy in America that united us all and provided endless hours of schoolyard discussion. It was a journey I'm sure many of you out there have undertaken.This quest was called "Finding Dad's Playboys".

We didn't know what sex was, we didn't know why we wanted to see a naked lady, but we knew it was all contained within the pages of the ever-elusive Playboy magazine. Legends were told of the heavily airbrushed sights within and alliances were struck with those who knew where their old man's secret stash was located.

My Dad was a pretty religious guy so either he didn't bother with the magazine (most likely) or he did a really good job of hiding it (maybe in the heating vents?), so I had to tag along with friends on their expeditions if I was to uncover the mystery for myself. One journey in particular sticks out in my mind as it was both the first and most covert.

It was my friend David's 9th birthday party and we had just finished off a couple of Pizza Hut pizzas. We were a crew of about seven 3rd graders and having filled our stomachs we were off to satisfy other appetites. Under the guise of playing Nintendo we all snuck off to David's room and plugged into a game of Base Wars (still one of my favorites) as we prepared to carry out our mission.

Feigning celebration or controversy the majority of our team would make a lot of noise to cover the flight of David took each of us, two by two, down the hall and into his parent's room. Some came back with big grins on their faces, others merely shrugged and jumped back into making hovering robots hit a home run. I remember when it was my turn to join the ranks.

My heart was pounding as we scooted into the darkened room, lit only by the fading afternoon sunlight and a 60 watt bulb in the hallway. Quietly David reached to open the drawer underneath his parent's end table and pulled out the glossy rectangle which boasted the title of Playboy on its cover. I had never seen a naked lady and now I was about to become initiated into that special club or so I thought.

David began flipping through pages trying to find a section with pictures, but all he found were words, STUPID ARTICLES WITH WORDS! Oh, wait, there's a picture.

OH CRAP, it's just an ad for Rolex watches. Come on, man, COME ON! You just did this for the other guys and NOW you can't find the good stuff?

Apparently David had never seen any number of movies where the guy just flips to the middle of the magazine and the centerfold magically appears. Just as I thought he was making his way to the good part we heard a rumbling at the bottom of the stairs and took off for David's room in a panic.

Disappointed and out of breath, I focused my still virgin eyes back on the TV screen to see two robot baseball players having a fistfight in the outfield as I hunched over in defeat.

Robots I had seen, boobies I had not.

Eventually I did get to flip the pages myself in a neighbor kid's backyard clubhouse, but the disappointment of that previous experience at David's house hung over what should have been a moment of triumph and left me cold.
But my point is that the internet has robbed today's young horn dogs of such dizzying highs and crashing disappointments. The simplicity of the operation is gone as well. Back then we were merely searching under the bed and in between mattresses, now it's like industrial espionage.

The kid's gotta figure out their parent's password or learn how to turn any filters off, then get up at 3am to sneak around while everybody's asleep. Then when they do get online it's not anything as tame as Playboy, it's super freaky deakey crap!

So in closing, even though the ever present internet has taken away some of life's simple pleasures and made movies like Hackers or The Net starring Sandra Bullock less mysterious, it is a pretty awesome tool. I mean, we the Retrojunkers of the world wouldn't even have a place to congregate and share memories without it.

I mean we'd have to throw annual RetroJunk conventions and fly out to vkimo's house and hang out in his garage drinking 15 year old cases of Hi-C Ecto Cooler.

Or Caps 2.0 would have to rent out a bar for us to sing Karaoke TV show theme songs all night long. Come to think of it, damn the internet! Let's get those RetroJunk conventions going, whaddya say?
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Comments
9 years, 3 months ago
I can still remember the smell of a PLAYBOY because of all the cologne ads. It was distinct. I could literally sniff out any hiding spot. And why did our Dads always hide them in the most obvious places In the closet or garage, the nightstand or under the mattress. I remember finding a box full next to the dumpster of my apartments I'm talkin the motherload 40-50+ After taking mental snapshots for the old "spank bank" I made quite a nice profit from selling them at school in the boys bathroom. $1 for a peak and $5 it was yours. Pepsi Doritos and a trip to Blockbuster is on me tonite fellas. Good Times!!!
    10 years, 2 months ago
    good story lol and I may be young but I remember the same kinda thing XD
      10 years, 7 months ago
      My dad also never had a stash that I knew of and I'm grateful for that though. He is a strong Christian, and now I am as well. So I won't have that stash for my son to find either. I can relate to the article however, most guys my age can. God bless.
        10 years, 8 months ago
        I cherish growing up this way. kids these days have no idea.... Be glad that you too,..got to grow up this way.
          11 years, 7 months ago
          I support the notion of a Retrojunk convention with 15-year old Ecto Cooler and hovercars.
            11 years, 8 months ago
            I remember finding an insert from a Playboy in the cabin on my grandma's cottage property when I was about 8 or 9. It was a pictorial of the version of Tarzan with Bo Derek. My dad never had any magazines like Playboy but he did have a Desomnd Morris book that had some pictures of nude women in it.
              11 years, 8 months ago
              I rember the first time I say a woman naked (I'm not counting all those games of I'll show you mine if you show me yours I played with the little neighbor girl when I was in kindergarten, because I said woman) I was really young (4,5,maybe 6) and I was at a hospital due to my immune deficiency (it was unknown I had it at the time), to pass the time my mom let my pick out a movie from the playroom. Out of all of them I choose the oh so awesome live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. As it turns out, someone taped over it with porn. My mom (after unsuccessfully trying to cover my eyes and turn off the vcr) went and informed a nurse (who thought my mom took the the turtle costumes as being porn related) which led to the whole playroom shuting down and EVERY tape being inspected. Well at least I played my first video game (Sonic 3 & Knuckles) in that playroom.
                11 years, 9 months ago
                Playboy Fap Fap Fap Fap...
                  11 years, 10 months ago
                  Thanks for making it an even 40, t-bond!
                    11 years, 10 months ago
                    Now this is a thoroughly enjoyable article. If only everyone elses articles were half as good as this then we'd be talking! Thumbs way up! (#40)
                      11 years, 10 months ago
                      Awesome article, especially the part about penpals. I did that in fourth grade, really brought back memories. My mom still has the picture of me and my penpal, Josh, when they visited.
                        11 years, 10 months ago
                        Me? I completely bypassed the magz and went straight to porn. I remember wanting to watch Popeye The Movie and becoming appalled that my dad had the nerve to record over it with some porn! I had to take action....... by calling my neighbor and best friend and telling him to come over when my parents weren't home, which was a lot. We spent one Saturday corrupting our 10 and 12 year old minds watching some sweet, sweet porn. "Popeye" and "Salt & Pepper" made us wonder if girls really did "look like that down there" and "if it hurts so much, why are they doing it?" Great article.
                          11 years, 10 months ago
                          I vividly remember my first experience with this subject. My friend Ryan had discovered a tattered and torn "Hustler" while bike riding and he hid it under a rock behind his house. For several weeks every one of our friends made the pilgrimage to behold this relic. That Spring/Summer, the Great Flood of 93 had erased Ryan's home from existence as well as a good portion of his neighborhood... except for that magazine. I had taken it upon myself in the dead of night to steal it a week or so prior and to this very day I still have the few remaining pages in a safe deposit box along with several other childhood treasures. Wonderful article!
                            11 years, 10 months ago
                            Interestingly enough, I was talking to a co worker lamenting how the Internet has killed anything truly "underground". I remember the days when we would trade/copy cassette tapes of bands that didn't have major record label contracts (or NO label contracts), and the one recording of Heavy Metal I had recorded off of Cinemax that was passed around the neighborhood. Now you can download or stream anything on the net. Nothing is truly underground anymore. Anyone can record a song on their computer and send it on the world wide web to be listened to anywhere in the world.


                            BTW, I'm all for a RetroJunk convention. I'll bring the RC Cola, Reces Pieces, and the old recorded VHS tape with Heavy Metal. Yes I still have it.
                              11 years, 10 months ago
                              ...oops I meant T.U. #23!
                                11 years, 10 months ago
                                Ah, so interesting to hear how it was back in the old days. My experience was kind of in the middle. When I was little, I certainly had the interest, but I've only ever lived with my mom. Fortunately, my older brother had a small collection that one night, out of the blue, he shared with me. I was mesmerized. It was all I had to go on for years, until we got Titanic on video and a friend and I rewinded Kate Winslet over and over and over.

                                Finally, we obtained the Internet when I started middle school, just over ten years ago. And you're right, it was like espionage. I had to make up some awful excuse (that still worked) to get my AOL parental rating to "Mature," and then spent most of the next day surfing the Interwebs. But those were just pictures of naked women... when I went over to my other friend's house, who had a computer IN HIS ROOM, with NO PARENTAL RESTRICTIONS... let's just say we saw things that would make me gag today.
                                  11 years, 10 months ago
                                  I never thought about it, but you're right, when I was a kid the porn I saw before my parents got the internet was pretty tame. I saw a few Playboys and Hustlers and thought I'd seen it all. When the net first came out I remember the video clips were just that, clips, like less than 10 seconds, but in those 10 seconds there were far more damaging subject matter than in a whole Hustler magazine. I had a friend that had a huge 4 GB HD that was filled with 10 second or less clips and small even on those low resolution screens, I thought that was all the porn the internet could hold back then, it boggled the mind. Now with hour long 720p porn you can fill terabytes.

                                  I do feel really sorry for kids now a days, it's one thing to see a naked woman back in the day and another to see hard-core and some times illegal porn like it is today. Its also so easy to get now, that makes it even worse.
                                    11 years, 10 months ago
                                    Boy, Playboy has nothing on what you can find on the internet nowadays. I remember when I stumbled across my dad's nudey magazines. The stuff you can find on the internet makes that old stuff look like a J.Crew catalog.
                                      11 years, 10 months ago
                                      Heh, so funny how this is a pivotal moment in many young mens' lives. I was in 8th grade at the time (maybe 7th, can't remember exactly) and I was working on a project for school (some sort of model; I think it was of an atom bomb). I was in the basement at my dad's tool bench looking for something, and I opened up an old printer paper box and did a double take - it was full of dirty mags! And there were two other boxes beneath it! From that point on I made quite a few trips down there while the family was out of the house. ;-)
                                        11 years, 10 months ago
                                        Classic article, I was a huge comic collector and at the local comic/card shop there were "Olivia" cards with drawings of naked chicks, very Betty Paige pinup and fantasy stuff. The dirty old dude who ran the shop would sell them to me and tell me not to let my Mom know where they came from. Needless to say those cards were locked away deep in the mess that was my room. I too was raised by my Mom so no porn in the house, but one of the 'hood kids we all ran with's Dad had the master collection of porn, videos hundreds of mags, etc. all locked in the downstairs closet. I'd like to say we didn't break into that house when the family was on vacation and each select on VHS porno, but that would make me a liar.
                                          11 years, 10 months ago
                                          The tool bench! Of course! I never thought of looking THERE. Seriously, if this becomes my highest scoring article, my mother is going to be so proud. (Oh, brother...)
                                            11 years, 10 months ago
                                            Very nice article here man! I remember I found a few of my Dad's Playboy's in a closet once when I was 10 and one day he came home early and caught me going through them. I was expecting to get into a lot of trouble but instead he said, " Don't worry son. It's perfectly natural for you to want to look at naked women. In fact I'm glad and I'm proud of you! Here look at all you want..."

                                            Then he went upstairs and pulled out a box with hundreds of old Playboy's, Penthouses, Galleries and the like.

                                            "Here you go, I don't need these anymore, just hide them in a place where your Mom won't find them."

                                            After that day I was never in need of nudie mags again. He would just give me his old ones when he was through.

                                            I always thought they put some kind of glue on the pages to keep them closed while they were on display in the store so no one could look at them. It wasn't until years later that I found out the real reason why the pages were always stuck together.

                                            Thanks for the memories. Great article. T.U. #22
                                              11 years, 10 months ago
                                              My first moment came after a day of playing in a field behind our neighborhood. We always made forts and had mud rock battles or raced bikes down the hill. The grass was tall and thin, so we'd occasionally find sports illustrated, all kinds of music(found my first cd in that field way back in 1987). One could even find the occasional kick ass toy like a large leader-1 that some butthole took from my desk and gave to the teacher. Anyways, I didn't get to play one day because of a baseball game. I came home and went to my room thinking it was atari time(yes, I still had an atari). My little brothers and their friends ran into the room giggling. They opened a magazine and BAM!!! there it was. I'd never seen anything like it. It wasn't just a Playboy. It was a Hustler. They hid it and I paid close attention for later viewings. But the giggling continued. They then quietly walked into the living room where the only VCR was. They found a porno, which I vividly remember and recently found out was called Wet Evidence aka Sheets of San Francisco. Because of the circumstances, I barely got to see anything, but I vividly remember enough detail to have found it again.
                                                11 years, 10 months ago
                                                So totally down with an RJ convention! ;-)

                                                Thought I would throw in a female perspective: we too were curious about 'grown-up' ladies at a certain age...my dad was a Penthouse man, apparently, as I discovered his 'stash' one afternoon while rooting around the workshop for something else. I was intrigued, and even showed them to a couple of my close friends...we marvelled at how (we hoped) we might look when we were older, and wondered what it would feel like to have a 'boy' doing 'those things' to you.

                                                I agree a certain more innocent something has been lost to the ages...it never ceases to amaze me just how much porn is out there on the interwebs!!
                                                  11 years, 10 months ago
                                                  My first foray into playboy happened one day before school when i was in 3rd grade. I was watching Bozo the Clown in the kitchen and waiting to walk up to the bus stop when i noticed a magazine in a black plastic bag cover thing under a bunch of newspapers. It had already been ripped open by my father so i removed the magazine and it was a playboy. Lets just say I had alot to talk about with my friends when i got to school that day. The funny thing is, I enjoyed the comics more than the nudity. I guess i was just too young to realize I had just looked at the thing that every man is obsessed with: the female body.
                                                    11 years, 10 months ago
                                                    You, however get a thumbs up for a splendid article. Quiet narrative and descriptive
                                                      11 years, 10 months ago
                                                      Heck with the magazine. I remember when Playboy TV was part of the premium cable package. Channel 50b here in Boston. When no one was in the room, my cousins, friends and I would turn it to The Playboy Channel with the sound down. My introduction to porn. One of the highlights of being a boy (or girl if your not prude)
                                                        11 years, 10 months ago
                                                        Hi-C Ecto Cooler needs to come back. SERIOUSLY!
                                                          11 years, 10 months ago
                                                          good as usual!
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