The makeup artist spends two hours perfecting your makeup — MAC’s Blankety and Faux lipstick over Spice lip liner, the 1990s nude-lip bombshell trifecta, then tops it all with shimmering crystal gloss.

The hairstylist spends an hour fussing over your coiffure — foaming mousse squirted at the roots, then hot rollers, then merciless teasing to wrest a cream-puff bouffant from your brittle, bleached “kinderwhore hair.

You are costumed — fishnet shrug, platform heels, rhinestone belt slung about your hips, and nothing else — then led onto set. You stretch, twist and wrap yourself around a silver pole mounted on a riser to recall a strip club stage.

All the while, Madonna’s “Erotica” plays over and over through the studio speakers as the photographer calls commands to elicit the best pose — lengthen, hips forward, pull up and in — drubbing the sounds so deeply into your muscle memory that every time you hear the song in the future, you will suck in your stomach, involuntarily. Your cheeks ache from smiling.

All this work to present the simulacrum of so-called effortless sexuality as a Playboy pinup.

Last week, seemingly lost amid the new coronavirus news, Playboy announced that the company will stop publishing a print edition. The spring 2020 issue is the last. A quiet exit for a magazine that liked to make noise, beginning with its splashy debut 67 years ago, when Hugh Hefner put Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

Ben Kohn, the chief executive of Playboy, said in a news release that the worsening pandemic had disrupted “content production and the supply chain.” The brand will live on through licensing and the website, but the print edition, signature centerfold and all, is bound for history.

I was invited to model for Playboy in 1996, for what was surely the nerdiest feature after “Women of MENSA” ran 11 years earlier. “The Women of the Internet” is a howler of a theme now (not to mention it was a joke on “The Simpsons”), but back then, the internet was not yet a mainstay, so my role as a conference host on the Well, an online community, was enough to secure my bona fides.

I came of age under the shadow of AIDS and then lived among the ACT-UP activists, leather women and renegade sex workers of San Francisco. I understood that erotic media had meaning as a creative outlet, as a defining force within a subculture, and as a safer means of pursuing pleasure.

There’s no doubt that the production of pornography can be rife with exploitative practices. To me, though, when it was done thoughtfully, it was not uniformly a social ill.

By the time of my involvement with Playboy, I was in my 20s, and the magazine was already regarded as a camp antiquity. I boarded a jet to Los Angeles with my roots touched up and my tongue in cheek. Viewing pinups as part cheesecake tradition, part high femme cosplay, I was happy to put my queer shoulder to the wheel.

When the issue was published, everyone I knew rushed to the newsstand for a copy. My friend Mols shelved it next to her Ginger Spice issue. My parents bought a copy but — Freud would approve — kept it in its plastic wrap.

I opened my copy with shaking hands, anxious to see the results. I was half delighted, half incredulous. All that posing, all that preening, all that lip gloss: I’d been turned into someone utterly unrecognizable.

My dearest friend, who had known me since our punk days in the East Village, offered an assessment that I still quote: “You look like a Texas oilman’s wife named Babs or Linda.”

I’m not interested in building “a feminist case for Playboy,” because my reasons for modeling in the magazine had little to do with a desire to pass any feminist litmus test. (I tell anyone involved in any aspect of erotic entertainment that allowing yourself to be drawn into performative equivocation is not your obligation. What the person challenging you wants, usually, is to argue to the point where you relent, admitting they’re right.)

I was proud to model for Playboy because … why? I never could say, precisely. Then I realized that being proud was a singular feature unto itself.

I had already been a stripper for years, and knew, to a wounding level, the degree to which typical working conditions in the sex industry were substandard. The facilities were sometimes dangerous and often poorly run, not for lack of means but for lack of care, and the management, at best, treated you like a cog in a thong.

This photo opportunity was a chance to work in an atmosphere of utmost courtesy and proficiency. What I had to offer, it suggested, had value, even status.

What a shame that Playboy’s aesthetic was so absurdly limited, as this is the treatment that every erotic performer, of any size, shape, race, phase of adulthood, gender identity or sexual orientation should have. It’s what everyone deserves: a level of professionalism that borders on subversive.

It was 2009 by the time I attended a party at the Playboy Mansion. My friend Masuimi was performing, so I rounded up my girl Vee, herself a former stripper, as my date. Dressed in retro pinup attire, we boarded the van that would shuttle us from the parking garage to Mr. Hefner’s California estate.

Being surrounded by all the hair spray and the skimpy outfits jogged loose memories for us. Vee was reminded of going to a hotel room for a party as a dancer, and she and her bodyguard were held up at knife-point by the client.

By contrast, the mansion felt like a safe haven — security everywhere, lavish buffet, a dance floor, a body-painting station. Mostly, Vee and I wandered the grounds checking out the exotic animals and hunting for D-list celebrities. Look, by the buffet, David Hasselhoff! Over there by the fountain, Pauly Shore!

We found the infamous grotto, but nobody was in it; ditto the spongey-floored pool house nook known as the “orgy room.” I suspect part of the reason they were empty was because most guests were busy snapping photos and nobody wanted to do anything that would be incriminating if posted on social media later.

Mr. Hefner was there, but he was cordoned off behind a velvet rope in a cabana next to the dance floor. He wore his trademark robe and pajamas, his coterie of blond girlfriends flanking him, and partygoers could step up to the velvet rope and snap a photo of him, as if he were a zoo exhibit.

By the end of the party, we’d logged enough time in bunny-land to last a lifetime. The magic had left the building, and what lingered was a sense that some glorious era had long ago ended: an era that had nothing to do with us, and was instead the ghost of a dream.

Mr. Hefner, who died in 2017, was able to transform his own reality, in the way that only a wealthy, able-bodied, straight white male could, into a world of Yes. But by merging high-low culture and elevating the stature of the models involved in Playboy, he showed more largess in shaping a personalized reality than most iconoclasts.

It may seem retrogressive and goofy to feature naked girls next door, or professional women, or internet nerds as sex symbols, but an angle of it remains avant-garde — that sexual women needn’t be shunted to the shadows.

In fact, they walk among you, even as the magazine itself became as much a corny mainstay as Wonder bread. (How fitting that in 2016, the mansion was sold to the heir of Hostess, maker of the Twinkie and, yes, Wonder bread.)