Steve Hirsch, Larry Flynt Rumored Buyers of Playboy?

from – Playboy, the iconic men’s magazine that introduced millions of young boys to their first female breast, could be heading for life support after a deal to sell the struggling publication to Iconix Brand Group collapsed. At least that explains the magazine’s choice of has-been actress Tara Reid to grace the cover of its biggest issue, the double year-ender.

The magazine’s obviously cutting costs. Unfortunately, so is the rest of the media industry. But now questions are being raised whether Iconix was the right company for the deal in the first place.

Iconix, which owns such companies as London Fog and Danskin, said it backed out of the deal after it decided “it would be too complicated to separate the Playboy brand from the company’s other assets,” according to Bloomberg News.

And, it got involved in the first place, for what reason? The chance to have three girlfriends at the same time like founder Hugh Hefner, maybe?

Iconix said it was leery of the Playboy’s adult content both in print and online.

Both segments are under assault from the media recession on the one hand and by the onslaught of free content, including porn, on the Internet, where Playboy operates pay Web sites.

Licensing, which Iconix specializes in, makes up only a small part of Playboy’s revenue stream, accounting for $8.7 million of its $56 million in revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Playboy has slashed cost drastically and overhauled its management over the past year to keep the company afloat. Newly appointed CEO Scott Flanders, who replaced founder Hugh Hefner’s daughter Christine in June, is working to find a buyer. Meanwhile, the company is expected to post a significant loss on the year.

The only bright spot is that Playboy’s stock has been rallying lately on the prospect that a buyer will step forward and pay a small premium for the stock. The stock is down today on the Iconix news.

Vivid Entertainment Group, the biggest porn producer, and Hefner’s longtime nemesis Larry Flynt, are the next two logical buyers. “I’ve heard there are a couple of suitors, but no details,” says Paul Fishbein of Adult Video News.

Hopefully someone will step up. What will Tiger Wood’s babes do if they lose that payday?

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