An Essay on Playboy's Architecture and Biopolitics

By Beatriz Preciado

Design objects, bachelor pads, and multimedia rotating beds as expressions of the relationships among architecture, gender, and sexuality.

Distributed for Zone Books

Hardcover $29.95 T £24.00





Design objects, bachelor pads, and multimedia rotating beds as expressions of the relationships among architecture, gender, and sexuality.

Published for the first time in 1953, Playboy became not only the first pornographic popular magazine in America, but also came to embody an entirely new lifestyle that took place in a series of utopian multimedia spaces, from the fictional Playboy's Penthouse of 1956 to the Playboy Mansion of 1959 and the Playboy Clubs of the 1960s. At the same time, the invention of the contraceptive pill offered access to a biochemical technique able to separate (hetero)sexuality and reproduction, troubling the traditional relationships between gender, sexuality, power, and space.

In Pornotopia, Beatriz Preciado examines popular culture and pornographic spaces as sites of architectural production. Combining historical perspectives with insights from critical theory, gender studies, queer theory, porn studies, and the history of technology, and drawing from a range of primary transdisciplinary sourcestreatises on sexuality, medical and pharmaceutical handbooks, architecture journals, erotic magazines, building manuals, and novels—Preciado traces the strategic relationships among architecture, gender, and sexuality through popular sites related to the production and consumption of pornography: design objects, bachelor pads, and multimedia rotating beds. Largely relegated to the margins of traditional histories of architecture, these sites are not mere spaces but a series of overlapping systems of representation. They are understood here not as inherently or naturally sexual, nor as perverted or queer, but rather as biopolitical techniques for governing sexual reproduction and the production of gender in modernity.


$29.95 T | £24.00 ISBN: 9781935408482 304 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 8 color illus., 20 b&w illus.


  • Compellingly written and funny as well as troubling, Pornotopia is certainly one of the architectural highlights of the year.

    Times Higher Education


  • Linking masculinity to domesticity, playboy bunnies to barbies and pornography to new orders of the political, Preciado rewrites the history of sexuality in terms of a radical reorientation of interiority and exteriority. With equal parts daring, nerve and sheer originality, Preciado describes, theorizes and explains the emergence of a new spatialization of sex, a pornotopia no less, that exceeds Hugh Hefner's playboy universe and comes to describe the arrangements of bodies and buildings within modernity. Breathtaking!

    Jack Halberstam

    author of The Queer Art of Failure and Gaga Feminism

  • Better known as a theoretical provocateur in gender and sexuality studies, Beatriz Preciado's architectural training shines in this fascinating book about the built spaces of Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner's bunny empire, and the cultural fantasies they materialize. Pornotopia is a genre-busting work that implodes traditional distinctions between topics and fields in an entertaining and enlightening fashion. Serious scholars of architecture and culture should have it on their bookshelves next to works by Joel Sanders, Beatriz Colomina, Annmarie Adams, Mark Wigley and Bernard Tschumi.

    Susan Stryker

    Ph.D. Director, Institute for LGBT Studies, University of Arizona