Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

Helen Gurley Brown took male objectification to the masses, from that famous bearskin rug to today's waxed idols SLIDE SHOW

Topics: Burt Reynolds, Helen Gurley Brown, Levi Johnston, Magic Mike, Mark Wahlberg, Sex,

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    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    1972: Burt Reynolds, Cosmo Centerfold

    During an episode of the “Tonight Show,” guest Helen Gurley Brown asked Burt Reynolds (filling in for Johnny Carson as host) to pose nude for Cosmopolitan. Reynolds agreed, and in March 1972, the world got a glimpse of Smokey and his bandit. Women swooned, Reynolds’s career soared — and the idea of a male centerfold seemed like it might have legs.

    During an episode of the “Tonight Show,” guest Helen Gurley Brown asked Burt Reynolds (filling in for Johnny Carson as host) to pose nude for Cosmopolitan. Reynolds agreed, and in March 1972, the world got a glimpse of Smokey and his bandit. Women swooned, Reynolds’s career soared — and the idea of a male centerfold seemed like it might have legs.

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    1973: Playgirl Magazine Founded

    Inspired by the sight of Burt buck naked, Playgirl Club owner Douglas Lambert launches Playgirl magazine. Though the magazine never quite catches on with its intended audience, it still manages to make a powerful stand for the existence of the female gaze.

    Inspired by the sight of Burt buck naked, Playgirl Club owner Douglas Lambert launches Playgirl magazine. Though the magazine never quite catches on with its intended audience, it still manages to make a powerful stand for the existence of the female gaze.

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    1977: Schwarzenegger Disrobes For Cosmo

    Despite the success of centerfold Burt Reynolds, Cosmo didn’t make male centerfolds a regular feature. Its second centerfold did not appear until two years after its first; a few years later, body builder/future governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in Cosmo’s pages.

    Despite the success of centerfold Burt Reynolds, Cosmo didn’t make male centerfolds a regular feature. Its second centerfold did not appear until two years after its first; a few years later, body builder/future governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in Cosmo’s pages.

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    1991: Marky Mark Shows Off His Calvins

    The music video for “Good Vibrations” made it clear that Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg wasn’t afraid to show off his body — and his subsequent ads for Calvin Klein underwear solidified his reputation as a sex symbol.

    The music video for “Good Vibrations” made it clear that Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg wasn’t afraid to show off his body — and his subsequent ads for Calvin Klein underwear solidified his reputation as a sex symbol.

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    1996: Ewan MacGregor Goes Full Frontal

    Young Scottish actor Ewan MacGregor gets fully naked in “Trainspotting,” a trick he repeats — to the delight of man-candy fans everywhere — in numerous films, including “The Pillow Book” and “Young Adam.”

    Young Scottish actor Ewan MacGregor gets fully naked in “Trainspotting,” a trick he repeats — to the delight of man-candy fans everywhere — in numerous films, including “The Pillow Book” and “Young Adam.”

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    2008: Playgirl Goes Online ...

    After 35 years in publication, Playgirl announced that it would cease print publication and go online only in early 2009. Fortunately for glossy smut lovers, the end of print Playgirl turned out to be merely a hiatus; buoyed by press from Levi Johnston’s semi-naked spread, the magazine returned as a quarterly print publication in early 2010.

    After 35 years in publication, Playgirl announced that it would cease print publication and go online only in early 2009. Fortunately for glossy smut lovers, the end of print Playgirl turned out to be merely a hiatus; buoyed by press from Levi Johnston’s semi-naked spread, the magazine returned as a quarterly print publication in early 2010.

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    2009: Scott Brown’s Centerfold Past Revealed

    In the run-up to Boston’s senatorial election, it’s revealed that candidate Scott Brown was once voted “America’s Sexiest Man” — a title he celebrated with an appearance as Cosmo’s June 1982 centerfold. The jury is still out on whether Brown’s campaign was aided by his beefcake past; his subsequent victory made it clear that it certainly didn’t hurt.

    In the run-up to Boston’s senatorial election, it’s revealed that candidate Scott Brown was once voted “America’s Sexiest Man” — a title he celebrated with an appearance as Cosmo’s June 1982 centerfold. The jury is still out on whether Brown’s campaign was aided by his beefcake past; his subsequent victory made it clear that it certainly didn’t hurt.

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    2011: Fassbender Gets “Shameless”

    The NC-17 saga of sex addiction “Shame” gained press attention for numerous reasons—but one of the most notable was Michael Fassbender’s decision to bare all numerous times in the film.

    The NC-17 saga of sex addiction “Shame” gained press attention for numerous reasons—but one of the most notable was Michael Fassbender’s decision to bare all numerous times in the film.

    Gurley show: From Burt to Magic Mike

    2012: The Era Of “Magic Mike”

    Forty years post-Burt, Steven Soderbergh sent the media into a tizzy with this male stripper movie. Despite decades of proof that women enjoy looking at sexy naked men, the movie somehow still manages to shock and awe, though hopefully its box-office success will finally help ensure that the objectification of the male body will start to become more mainstream.

    Forty years post-Burt, Steven Soderbergh sent the media into a tizzy with this male stripper movie. Despite decades of proof that women enjoy looking at sexy naked men, the movie somehow still manages to shock and awe, though hopefully its box-office success will finally help ensure that the objectification of the male body will start to become more mainstream.

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As the groundbreaking author of “Sex and the Single Girl” and editor of Cosmopolitan, Helen Gurley Brown was known as a leading voice in the second wave of feminism, and an outspoken advocate for female sexual pleasure. With the help of Cosmopolitan, she has left behind a legacy of teaching women to embrace their bodies and explore their sexual pleasure.

Less discussed, however, is her impact on another aspect of female sexual liberation: the freedom she gave women to openly admit their enjoyment of the nude male form.

With the debut of Burt Reynolds as Cosmo’s first male centerfold, Brown loudly announced that men weren’t the only ones who enjoyed a little eye candy — and that the male body was just as capable of being objectified as the female form.

Brown’s insights on the desirability of the male body may not have caught on quite as quickly as her thoughts on oral pleasure, but they still managed to jump-start a slow but sure revolution. Forty years after the publication of Burt in the buff, male centerfolds can still be seen as a novelty … but at least there have been quite a few more of them for lusty women (and other admirers of the male body) to enjoy over the years.

Lux Alptraum is a writer, sex educator and CEO of Fleshbot.

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