Home / Magazine Review: Debonair – A Sad Sack Version Of Playboy and Maxim

Magazine Review: Debonair – A Sad Sack Version Of Playboy and Maxim

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There was a time when the Indian magazine Debonair was supposed to be a subdued version of Playboy. It had racy pictures (babes always had their scanty clothes on with lewd poses on various bits and pieces of furniture) and the articles were quite salacious.

But when I picked up the magazine opposite Koshy’s, at the magazine-wala who is considered to be one of the hallmarks of Bangalore, he had a different story to tell. The magazine had nearly been banned a few years back, he told me, and Playboy had yet not been able to make an entry into the Indian market.

He took pains to tell me that there was really no freedom of speech or expression in India. He was upset about a lot of things – the banning of The Da Vinci Code in certain states of India, the attacks against Hussein for his paintings and certain magazines becoming more and more like porn, and yet others, which would get more readership, not being allowed into the Indian markets.

I stood under the canopy of his stall and listened to his words and the pitter-patter of the torrential Bangalore rain. It all seemed too alien to me at that point. India, despite her call centers and big flashy malls, still had a long way to go.

The magazine-stand guy and I were on the same page. It isn't porn that we are in favor of but the concept of freedom of speech and expression being curbed under the guise of morality. Until the time the stuff is being viewed by adults and does not deal with pedophilia or snuff, I fail to see how it is anyone else's business.

As it is, the Bollywood suggestion of sex in the movies is far more vulgar than the act itself. The magazine stall guy continued his rant about freedom of expression not existing in India but my interest in his rant began to wane. I began to leaf through the current Debonair and nearly fainted with what I found there – advice about how to deal with one's in-laws.

All of sudden, I felt I was reading Women's Era and not a racy magazine. The article talked about loving and respecting one's in-laws as they were the husband's parents and that they had brought him into this world. It further went on to state that the hallmark of a strong marriage was mutual trust and respect and attraction in a marriage could be maintained when the foundation was built on love and respect.

Sensible advice but in freakin' DEBONAIR? I was clearly floored. The magazine had degenerated into the worst kind of crap. The editors of the magazine were clearly trying to make it snazzy like Maxim by featuring cars and electronics along with supposedly hot babes and yet keep the moralistic humbugs happy by the auntyji advice.

I found myself picking holes in article after article. For example, any sexually active person knows that after doggie-style penetration vaginal penetration is a no-no for health reasons. But the author of the article, "Seducing A Woman In Style," seemed to be a porno fantasy trip of his own when he wrote the article,

So next time you and your girl are about to have sex: Turn her around, hold her wrists behind her back with one hand, and wrap your other hand around her hair, lightly pull her. Penetrate her doggie style. After a few minutes turn her around, place a hand over her neck and penetrate her frantically in the missionary position until you are done.

I nearly burst out laughing as I read that section but what came out was a hiccup. I folded the magazine within my Outlook magazine, paid for it and exited.

On leafing through the magazine at home, I felt bad for the Debonair guys – the babes in the magazine were complete sad sacks and the magazine lacked overall gloss and style. It is no wonder that Indian "racy" mags are doing so badly, lack of funds, lack of good models, the morality watchdogs breathing down their backs and stiff competition for filmy mags with hot stars dressed far skimpier than their two-cent models or beauty queens.

Maybe it's all for the best that Playboy without a desi version has not made an entry yet into the Indian scene; these guys and their likes would be wiped out.

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About Deepti Lamba

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Great article, SP.

    Hope you feel comfortable back home… Do I sense hints of criticism under the pleasure?

    Israeli magazines have flashy models and the like, but Jewish society, no matter how much you try to jazz it up with the outsider’s bullshit, is still Jewish society. The same may be true in India.

    We used to have one bang up intelligence service. Nothing could beat the Shin Bet. Period. Now, they’re a bunch of clowns. You guys came out with that fantastic sex manual centuries ago, if not millennia ago. But things may have changed… Something to for you to ponder.

  • Ruvy, I’m suffering from bit of a reverse culture shock. Some things have become better and others remain chaotic.

    My own reaction to the glaring gap between the rich and the poor took me by surprise as I am, afterall, an Indian and was used to the chasms in our society but this time round the teeming masses, the noise, the constant activities, color and the massive traffic jams jarred my senses.

    Relocation is never easy but I’m sure it will be a matter of time before I will become part of the masses:)

  • Deepti,

    The one thing about America that I really miss – aside from Oreos and M&M’s being cheap – is the reliability of the society created there. Things happen on time and in order. There is no such orderliness in this country, and I suspect the same is true in your homeland.

    Could it be this that has you so jarred?


  • anonymous


    Your article is interesting and bold. But to my surprise I was completely unaware of the fact quoted by you in this article.

    Do you have the technical explaination as to why “doggie-style penetration after vaginal penetration is a no-no for health reasons”.

    I hope your answer will help others too..

  • deepti,
    my applauds for a well written article.but i just wish you’d kept men’s desires in mind before penning it down. the example quoted by you indicates some ignorance on your part when it comes to sex.
    doggie-style penetration, by all means is vaginal-pentration only.its only that the position differs.refer kamasutra for more.hence that was a seductive way given over there.
    anyways…overall nice views.my admiration for the same.

  • Rashid Tanweer

    I wonder, why the freedom of speech occur to the world, when it came to the girl naked. Nakedness of girls, in accordance with historical facts, just like femenism is because of the men’s own interests, hence giving it the name freedom.
    What freedom would be there in the society, if they torch bearers of freedom of speech would be giving us the nude pics, but put us in jail when someone would try to rape their sisters.
    Or when someone would like to have a relationship with their own daughters. WHy would not the world have thought of the idea like this kind of freedom before 1850s. While they can think of socialism and democracy and making men busy in industry or cultivation since more than 1000 BC.

    This is just an excuse of men’s madened sickness to keep their eyes cool. Do let me know if you have found Hef Hughner’s daughter posing for play boy. NEVER, you see. Thats why these freedom bearers are hippocrites.

    For the puer rule of thumb, any mind that can think can easily draw conclusion that
    “The more freedom of self expression the more anarchy it will create”.
    Hence we have a concept of LAW.
    The more strictness of law there is, the more civilized we would be.
    Now dont you givge me example of America, they might have been industrialists, Capitalists, but also they are murderous barbarians. And it can be seem throught the American History, strating from the War against Native Americans, to Hiroshima to Russia to Afghanistan, and finally Iraq. And now they are looking towards Iran. WHat more examples would you be needing for freedom of expression changing into a Mass destruction.

    This and other such things are bullshit, THe thing of need is to realize the importance of Law. Read Kant’s theory and try to look into yourselves. Rather than thinking about other women nude, you should be looking for covering and protecting others.

    Freedom of speech and expression, is nothing but a delusion. How many women dop you think would be proud of their nakedness, if they were not given a million dollars for posing nude.

    Its all just a crap. No weightage, historically and by nature, we humans are here to invent, to rule, to live among animals to prove that we are different from them. Not to pose nude and prove that that girl’s ass is perfect and to fantacize and corrupt our Mind with such garbage.


  • rohit

    it appears your knowledge on sex is quite dim… doggie-style sex doesn’t necessarily mean anal penetration. In fact usually it doesn’t. The article in debonair was therefore correct.

  • S Vyas

    I believe. Just as your opinion may be right does not mean that the Moral Bandwagon is wrong. All people have a right pf speech and action. This varies from Culture to Culture. A striptease may be common place is US but in India its a strictly unthinkable. Pros and Cons. Lots. Arguable. Endless. Such things thus are best kept untouched.

  • i have many collection to debonair magazine to 1972 -2009.

  • Nneruj

    Wow! What naivete! Asking how old you are, Deepti, may not behove me, but I can make out that you are mis-informed or shall I say, ‘partially-informed’ about sex. Why did you assume – and make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ & ‘me’ – that ‘doggie-style’ position means buggery or anal sex? Because it doesn’t!! ‘Doggie-style’, if I may enlighten, just means that the woman is on all ‘fours’ when the man penetrates HER VAGINA from behind! Hey, just because you’ve been to America doesn’t raise your IQ, OK? Stop being so pretentious! And just FYI, I’m a merchant-mariner since the last 2 decades, so I know more than you about life in America & the rest of the world (having lived almost everywhere) as well as sex 😉 But when I return to India, I don’t look down condescendingly upon the ‘natives’ and behave like a pretentious fool.

  • Sex God

    “Doggie style” does not mean anal sex! Either you are very inexperienced and have a mischievous lover, or you are just very inexperienced. I’d volunteer in the interest of journalistic integrity to assist you with a bit of field research but that would be inappropriate. LOL

  • Deepak

    I think enough education on sex for Deepti and guys you do not have to make it appear as if you are Masters and Johnson on sex.What she simply meant as I can make out is anal sex.it is a well written article and I agree with her comments on the degradation of the magazines in India.Debonaire of the 70s did open forum which made it possible for some very talented actresses to gain entry to Bollywood.Finally the mere fact that she came from USA to India is no reason for native man to hate her.whatever India is today is because of NRIs.I know I will get millions to criticize my statement but I stand behind it and can give million examples .

  • Indian Guy

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    First off Doggie style doesn’t necessarily have to be Anal & it can be Vaginal secondly non doggie style can be Anal as well – So clearly she is out of the loop as far as Sexual knowledge is concerned.. We are not even talking about Safe SEX yet.

    Furthermore the guys and their likes with that magazine were perhaps the only source of any information available for a lot of youth in totally uptight Indian morality. Clearly Deepti is unsure whether she wants proper advice in a magazine or sad sacks and I wonder if she even is aware of the fact that Womens era is basically written for women and mind you it also provides advice on sex & relationships at times and at times even pictures of Women dolled up in a Sexy Sari(remember soft porn). As for the likes that she tries to mock Deepti is even worse oviously being an adult had to hide the Debonair inside of an Outlook ..was it guilt issues that she has or that she has perhaps only enjoyed Anal doggie style or may be just imagined it.

    As for Playboy being better magazine, Porn in any form is just that “Porn”, be it a top Indian actress getting drenched in the Rain on screen in a movie or blonde in a high resolution photograph in Playboy or her so called sad sacks in Debonair or the erotica that is carved on Indian temples its meant to titillate and to get the likes of Deepti and other people turned on in one form or another.

    And as for calling the women in the magazine sad sacks, I wonder if she considers a street Prostitute or the sad sacks in Debonair inferior to a Movie Actress or Gals in High Resolution Photographs and herself somewhere in between there. Fact is they are different women making different choices some to survive some to get a mansion an expensive handbag and so on. Perhaps Deepti just needs to get laid exactly the way it is described in the magazine and may be then she can find out and comment on it better as now clearly she is speaking without any experience or knowledge.

    Finally is she even aware that the owner of Playboy has been with a whole bunch of women (doesn’t really say much for him either going by her arguments on sleezebags – not that Hefner is right or wrong – it’s his choice to make) so I wonder if she actually is supporting this practice ???.

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    Men and Women have tough time with Sexuality as it is If she cannot make things better then she should at least not make things worse by putting out stupid articles on subjects she has no clue about. If someone is not breaking any laws and putting out magazines that men get or women (Deepti) as in this case did get and enjoying it and the fact that they have had the magazine going for so many years clearly shows that they have something going right for them. As for the Sleeze in the Debonair is she even aware that a Saree and Blouse is perhaps the biggest sleeze there is that Men specially for most young men growing up with raging hormones (living in single room family homes) have to go through. So a little nudity in the magazine is not really any worse then what most men endure day in day out, besides for some it might help them spice up their marital life and for others its a Release. So in future please take the time and actually dwell into & understand the Psyche of Men growing up & living in India in conditions that are perhaps sexually more frustrated than anywhere else in the world until then try writing about articles on Mayb Tea making or something of that sort maybe you might do a bang up job.

    Good Luck [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • Anish

    Ended up on your blog as I went searching on what happened to some old brands (Debonair was one). Enough and more has been said about your statement on sex positions so let me not comment there. But that apart a very good article. Its true that even today you have Ram Sene beating women in Pubs all in the name of Moral police, and sometimes things as simple as like Pink CHaddis do make a differnce. But at the end it is always a cat and mice game when it comes to freedom of speech versus censorship in India.

  • I think the guy meant v@ginal doggy-style and not an@l doggy-style. lol

  • Missing those days

    Thanks for this post. During my bachelor’s days, almost every guy in the hostel used to have a ‘Debonair’ or ‘Fantasy’ under his bed. Both these magazines were targeted for male audience with very little left to the imagination. That was way back in early 2000s. There were several vendors near Kanpur railway station.

    Then someone decided that we will turn rapists if we read such stuff and those magazines were either banned (‘Fantasy’) or asked to tone it down (‘Debonair’). That was genuine Indian stuff. Somehow digital pics don’t give the same feel. I wish I had saved some of those magazines. May be it’s not too late and the way our country is going, I should save some of the Maxims or FHM for my son.