The musician wants to be on the cover for her next birthday, and it might be just what the magazine needs for its rebrand
Dolly Parton at the CMA awards in Nashville on 13 November 2019. Photograph: Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock
It’s been a year since Playboy rebranded itself as a woke publication by making activists pose naked underwater (to represent sexual fluidity, apparently). If they are looking for a less tedious way to stay relevant, here’s an idea: put Dolly Parton on the cover for her 75th birthday.
In an interview with 60 Minutes Australia, Parton made it clear she has no plans of retiring – in fact, she wants to be on the cover of Playboy for her next birthday.
“It would be such a hoot, I don’t know if they’ll go for it,” she said.
Playboy, which has been trying to capitalize on gender equality in the past few years, should seriously consider the offer. If Parton made the cover a second time (she had her first cover at 32), she would become the oldest woman to do so, after Jane Seymour, who posed at 67 in 2018. Not that age should matter, of course, but for Playboy, it seems it does – the average age of a Playboy model in 2010 was 25.
Parton, 74, is a successful woman; happy in life, love and work and although she doesn’t like to call herself a feminist, she has drawn great attention to women’s struggle for workplace equality. Her musical adaptation of 9 to 5 spoke to how entitled men feel to women’s bodies; indeed, Parton herself has come a long way since journalists thought it was OK to ask what her measurements were in interviews.
When Parton last appeared on the cover of Playboy, she did so after rejecting offers to pose nude several times. She eventually agreed, but stayed clothed. She later said that going nude “was so totally not me. I would never do that … it was just a fun thing to do.”
But while Parton is clear about her own boundaries around nudity, it seems Playboy is not. In 2015, when Hugh Hefner was still alive, Playboy made the decision to get rid of its nude covers. In 2018, Playboy announced it would go back to having nude covers and then in 2019, Playboy re-branded again with a team of millennials it hoped would help it to stay relevant.
And sure, there shouldn’t be a problem with the mag trying to keep up with the times – only, Playboy hasn’t even tried to conceal how its newfound wokeness is a shallow form of piggybacking. During the rebrand, the photographer Ryan Pfluger told the New York Times he was asked to shoot Ezra Miller but “make it queer”. Playboy’s new head of marketing even told the Times what their new strategy was, saying: “Look, I think the target audience is ‘Let’s be relevant’.”
So it’s a wonder that anyone is still interested in Playboy, let alone Parton. And yet, as America’s national treasure, she stands a solid chance of making them cool again. Plus, Parton reckons she might still fit that same outfit from her 1978 cover: “My boobs are still the same!” she said.