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The centerfold of a magazine refers to a gatefolded spread, usually a portrait such as a pin-up or a nude, inserted in the middle of the publication, or to the model featured in the portrait.[1] In saddle-stitched magazines (as opposed to those that are perfect-bound), the centerfold does not have any blank space cutting through the image.

The term was coined by Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine.[2] The success of the first issue of Playboy has been attributed in large part to its centerfold: a nude of Marilyn Monroe.[3] The advent of monthly centerfolds gave the pin-up a new respectability, and helped to sanitize the notion of "sexiness".[4] Being featured as a centerfold could lead to film roles for models, and still occasionally does today.[4]

Early on, Hefner required Playboy centerfolds to be portrayed in a very specific way, telling photographers in a 1956 memo that the "model must be in a natural setting engaged in some activity 'like reading, writing, mixing a drink'...[and]... should have a 'healthy, intelligent, American look—a young lady that looks like she might be a very efficient secretary or an undergrad at Vassar.'"[5] Hefner later said that the ideal centerfold is one in which "a situation is suggested, the presence of someone not in the picture"; the goal was to transform "a straight pinup into an intimate interlude, something personal and special."[5]

Though the term has become linked in the public consciousness with erotic material or models, many other magazines such as Life, Time and National Geographic have published fold-out spreads on other subjects.

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