LOS ANGELES, US - "D'oh!" doesn't even start to cover it. Marge Simpson - the blue beehived matriarch of America's most loved dysfunctional family - is Playboy magazine's November cover, the magazine said on Friday.
Simpson, tastefully concealing her assets behind a signature Playboy Bunny chair, is the first cartoon character ever to front the glossy adult magazine, joining the ranks of sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Crawford.
Playboy said the cover and a three-page picture spread inside was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the "The Simpsons" and part of a plan to appeal to a younger generation of readers.
Scott Flanders, the recently-hired chief executive of Playboy Enterprises, told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview that the Marge Simpson cover and centerfold was "somewhat tongue-in-cheek."
"It had never been done, and we thought it would be kind of hip, cool and unusual," Flanders told the newspaper. He said the magazine hoped to attract readers in their 20s compared to the average Playboy reader's age of 35.
Playboy also promises a story inside called "The Devil in Marge Simpson". The issue arrives on newsstands on October 16.
Playboy magazine's circulation has slipped in recent years in the face of competition from the Internet, which offers free and plentiful pictures of naked women online.
The magazine's circulation fell 9 percent as of the end of June 2009, according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
But Flanders told Reuters earlier this week that there were no plans to close the print edition. "Over my dead body will we quit producing the magazine in print," he said.
Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie have already been honored this year with a set of U.S. postal stamps marking the 20th anniversary of the longest-running comedy series on U.S. television.
Animated series "The Simpsons" debuted in December 1989 with a Christmas-themed episode called "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire." It has won 24 primetime Emmys and was renewed by Fox television earlier this year for two more seasons.