Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner poses for a portrait at his Playboy mansion in Los Angeles
Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner poses for a portrait at his Playboy mansion in Los Angeles, California, July 27, 2010.REUTERS

After its first issue 62 years ago with a nude photo spread of actress Marilyn Monroe was launched in 1953, the iconic Playboy magazine is set for a major revamp in March next year. The magazine has decided to stop publishing nude photographs of women.

The magazine blames the internet for the change. Its chief executive Scott Flanders said: "You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it's just passe at this juncture." The print magazine will still feature women in provocative poses but they will no longer be fully nude.

The magazine will continue with its tradition of investigative journalism, in-depth interviews and fiction but it hopes to adopt a gentler, hipper image that will appeal to male urban millennials. The magazine's circulation has dropped from 5.6 million in 1975 to about 800,000 currently, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. As Flanders said, the magazine had sought to answer a key question: "If you take nudity out, what's left?"

It is not a drastic step for the magazine though. It has already made some content safe for work to be allowed on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, says Flanders.

And in August last year, its website totally did away with nudity. As a result, Playboy executives said the average age of its reader dropped from 47 to just over 30 and its web traffic jumped to about 16 million from about 4 million unique users per month.

So what will the new Playboy magazine offer? According to its chief content officer Cory Jones, there will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be PG-13 and will be "a little more accessible, a little more intimate." Whether there will be a centerfold remains to be seen.

The magazine will adopt a cleaner and more modern style, said Jones while its sex columnist will be a "sex-positive female" writing enthusiastically about sex. Flanders said the target audience will be young men who live in cities. "We're going after the guy with a job," he said.

Playboy, which was listed in 1971, was taken private again in 2011 by Hugh Heffner, 89, and Rizvi Traverse Management, an investment firm founded by Suhail Rizvi, a publicity-shy Silicon Valley investor, the New York Times said.

And on the decision to dispense with nudity? "Don't get me wrong. Twelve-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it's the right thing to do," Jones told the NYT.