Treats! Rise From the Cultural Ashes of Playboy
By Guy Shepherd

They say a picture is words a thousand words. We have only one: Wow!

Treats! Rise From the Cultural Ashes of Playboy

I am one of five boys—my father a lifelong, Playboy reader. My wife inherited his collection—story for another time.

George Bernard Shaw is attributed with saying, “Youth is wasted on the young”—but so is George Bernard Shaw. That was certainly true for me.

I’ve always been more of a looker than a reader—like my father—so I’m admittedly a Playboy looker, as that magazine was where I thought youth was definitely not wasted on young guys like myself. I wasn’t to be caught reading Playboy, in my defense, so I didn’t… I thought the articles were just a good cover for a guy simply wanting to see beautiful, naked women. (Right?)

A short back and sides about Playboy—before we get to Treats! My father, Frank, is someone you’ll come know—although whether or not you come love him is on you. All my brothers loved him; his wife adores him—as well as most who knew him—and maybe this story explains why.

Six heads of hair walked into Solitro Brothers Barber Shop on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, Massachusetts, every two weeks. Though very young, I was old enough to hear and recall my father’s instructions to barbershop bibliophiles—he delivered them while holding up a Playboy.

“Boys, this is Playboy. In it, are beautiful women. You are free to look at them. But before you do, first open another magazine to its middle. Car and Driver or Sports Illustrated will do,” my father instructed.

One of my brothers picked up another Playboy.

“Now, insert the Playboy into middle of your magazine. And now, just one more thing, find a place in the magazine of your choice, where there are ads on both sides. Now put and keep your thumb in between these pages—at all times. Lastly, and most importantly, if a woman comes in, you just go back to these two, default pages—no one is the wiser.”

The two, Solitro brothers’ smiles matched mine and my brothers’. This, we all know, was a planned man.

Now back to the treat—Treats!, that is.

Better than Playboy. Like Playboy Founder & Publisher Hugh Hefner, Treats! Founder & Publisher Steve Shaw saw that neo-progressive Puritanism was creating a market opportunity—just as post-war Puritanism of the ’50s had done. The latest crusade by progressives has only increased the appeal for tasteful nudity, instead of generating shame for female nudity. Shaw, similar to Hefner, created something that demands our attention and support. It turns out “treats” is an art term for what the mainstream thought was dirty, nasty and shameful—it’s also what Shaw and his compatriot artists thought men wanted to see and, if necessary, read.

The result—Treats! improved on Playboy a couple of ways:

It brings back nudity as an art form—something it had been for millennia until progressive Puritans tried to shame naked ladies back into the closet. Treats! is a treat for the senses.

It revisits elegant nakedness. You probably (hopefully) don’t leave PornHub displayed on your wall-sized flat screen, but you can have treats! open on your coffee table. I shared the magazine around—high marks on its refined, high-minded aesthetics. My surveys are always weighted toward women. (Because who cares what men think?)

I can say with confidence that my mother would agree. My father actually used my mother’s name for his Playboy subscription. The mail man would knock at the door once a month and say, “Mrs. Shepherd, your Playboy is here.” (Hey, he meant the magazine!)

My mother would shake her head as my father and the postman giggled. They’d all go inside and have coffee.

My wife saw in Treats!’s sensibility a 21st-century titan, whose rendition of Venus of Urbino checks off all the treats! boxes—Guy married well—including the curiosity box about babysitters (what is going on with that kid in the background?).

No airbrush needed. Treats!, like the women it spotlights, is not cheap—$30 per issue. (An extra $20 monthly will avail access to a very robust, Patreon channel populated with great photo shoots to carry you over between issues.) But Treats! is a bargain, in a world where a salad costs $15 and Scotch is $20.

Evidence of its value: past issues already trade at multiples—even photographs on its pages sell for thousands. Also, none of the perfection before you has been airbrushed to perfection. Did you notice the image at the top of the page? (If not, look again.) She is totally unairbrushed—the women and photographers are that good.

With regards to the writing around the photographs—I promise I will start reading right after I do my penance and read Playboy’s article archive. Daily Beast describes Treats!‘s editorial sensibility as center-left—a refreshingly liberal view in a woke, censored world. Seriously, and to their credit, Treats! articles are consistent with their creative aesthetic.

  • The latest, Treats! issue features an article on actor Paul Wesley—comparable to a young Mel Gibson—with nothing woke about that interview. Wesley talks of work and loves, while Treats! staffers don him in clothes any guy would actually be into wearing. (Take note, GQ; this pub. knows men’s fashion.)
  • Treats! also explores the rise in popularity of cannabis. The article, “Elevated Perception,” is a demonstration of how brands, design, artists and poets can address stigmas and open minds—as well as lines of commerce.
  • Treats! makes no apologies for what it likes—case in point: they’re going public with a central-casting-looking artist in angst. Devon Jordan’s work is executed with an artist’s good filter and feel. What do Paul Revere, Andy Warhol and Devon Jordan have in common? They all had friends of shared concerns in positions to help elevate their interests.
  • If there is one thing all taste makers bend a knee to, it’s expensive time pieces. Watch aficionados are like straws stirring the marketplace drink of man-centric advertising. Men’s media would not exist without guys and our affinity for fine watches—a great, demographic filter (from wealth, education and aesthetic, to wallet, mind and taste). Those with this sensibility keep the lights on.
  • And Good for them.  Treats! celebrates their own. Randal Slavin, the guy behind the camera and featured in “The Fly the Wall” captures for our pleasure our most guarded celebrities at their authentic, down-to-earth best—both in pictures and words.
  • Treats! also treats those who champion nudity as art. The magazine not only to connects you to the next great artist, it’s also a linked-in network to find and follow the supply chain of talent needed to make art.

Ultimately, They say a picture is words a thousand words. I have only one: Wow!




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