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Playboy

The first issue of Playboy
Editor-in-chief Hugh Hefner
Categories Men's magazines
Frequency Monthly
Publisher Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
Total circulation
(2005)
3,005,753
Year founded 1953
First issue December 1953
Country United States
Language English, many others
Website Playboy Playboy UK
ISSN 0032-1478

Playboy is an American men's magazine, founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1953, by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother.[1] The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with a presence in nearly every medium. Playboy is one of the world's best known brands.[citation needed] In addition to the flagship magazine in the United States, special nation-specific versions of Playboy are published worldwide.

The magazine has a long history of publishing short stories by notable novelists such as Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov, P. G. Wodehouse, and Margaret Atwood. Playboy features monthly interviews of notable public figures, such as artists, architects, economists, composers, conductors, film directors, journalists, novelists, playwrights, religious figures, politicians, athletes and race car drivers. The magazine throughout its history has expressed a libertarian outlook on political and social issues.

Contents

History

Playboy's original title was to be Stag Party, but an unrelated outdoor magazine, Stag, contacted Hefner and informed him that they would protect their trademark if he were to launch his magazine with that name. Hefner and co-founder and executive vice-president Eldon Sellers met to seek a new name. Sellers, whose mother had worked for the Chicago sales office of the short-lived Playboy Automobile Company, suggested "Playboy."

The first issue, in December 1953, was undated, as Hefner was unsure there would be a second. He produced it in his Hyde Park kitchen. The first centerfold was Marilyn Monroe, although the picture used originally was taken for a calendar rather than for Playboy. The first issue sold out in weeks. Known circulation was 53,991.[2] The cover price was 50¢. Copies of the first issue in mint to near mint condition sold for over $5,000 in 2002. The novel Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, was also serialized in the March, April, and May 1954 issues of Playboy magazine.

The logo, the stylized profile of a rabbit wearing a tuxedo bow tie, was originally designed by art designer Art Paul for the second issue to be used as an endnote, but was adopted as the official logo, and has appeared ever since.[3][4] A running joke in the magazine involves hiding the logo somewhere in the cover art or photograph. Hefner said he chose the rabbit for its "humorous sexual connotation," and because the image was "frisky and playful."

An urban legend started about Hefner and the Playmate of the Month because of markings on the front covers of the magazine. From 1955 to 1979 (except for a six month gap in 1976), the "P" in Playboy had stars printed in or around the letter. The legend stated that this was either a rating that Hefner gave to the Playmate according to how attractive she was, the number of times that Hefner had slept with her, or how good she was in bed. The stars, between zero and twelve, actually indicated the domestic or international advertising region for that printing.[5]

From 1966 to 1976 Robie Macauley was the Fiction Editor at Playboy. During this period the magazine published fiction by Saul Bellow, Sean O'Faolain, John Updike, James Dickey, John Cheever, Doris Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates, Vladimir Nabokov, Michael Crichton, John LeCarre, Irwin Shaw, Arthur Koestler, Isaac B. Singer, Bernard Malamud, John Irving, Anne Sexton, Nadine Gordimer, Kurt Vonnegut and J. P. Donleavy, as well as poetry by Yevgeny Yevtushenko[6].

Since reaching its peak in the 1970s, Playboy has seen a decline in circulation and cultural relevance because of competition in the field it founded — first from Penthouse, Oui (which was published as a spin-off of Playboy) and Gallery in the 1970s; later from pornographic videos; and more recently from lad mags such as Maxim, FHM, and Stuff. In response, Playboy has attempted to re-assert its hold on the 18–35 male demographic through slight changes to content and focusing on issues and personalities more appropriate to its audience — such as hip-hop artists being featured in the "Playboy Interview".

Christie Hefner, daughter of the founder Hugh Hefner, joined Playboy in 1975 and became head of the company in 1988. She announced in December 2008 that she would be stepping down from leading the company, effective in January 2009, and said that the election of Barack Obama as the next President had inspired her to give more time to charitable work, and that the decision to step down was her own. “Just as this country is embracing change in the form of new leadership, I have decided that now is the time to make changes in my own life as well,” she said.[7]

The magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary with the January 2004 issue. Celebrations were held at Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and Moscow during the year to commemorate this event.

The magazine runs several annual features and ratings. One of the most popular is its annual ranking of the top "party schools" among all U.S. universities and colleges. For 2009, the magazine used five considerations: bikini, brains, campus, sex and sports in the development of its list. The top ranked party school by Playboy for 2009 was the University of Miami.[8]

In June 2009, the magazine reduced its publication schedule to 11 issues per year, with a combined July/August issue and on 11 August 2009, London's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Hugh Hefner had sold his English Manor house (next door to the famous Playboy Mansion) for $18 m ($10 m less than the reported asking price) to a Daren Metropoulos and that due to significant losses in the company's value (down from $1billion in 2000 to $84mil in 2009) the Playboy publishing empire is up for sale for $300 m.[9] In December 2009, they further reduced the publication schedule to 10 issues per year, with a combined January/February issue.

The Playboy Interview

Besides its centerfold, a major part of Playboy for much of its existence has been the Playboy Interview, an extensive (usually several thousand-word) Q&A discussion between a notable individual and an interviewer (historian Alex Haley, for example, served as a Playboy interviewer on a few occasions; one of his interviews was with Martin Luther King Jr.; he also interviewed Malcolm X, then coauthored his autobiography). One of the magazine's most notable interviews was a discussion with then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter in the November 1976 issue in which he stated "I've committed adultery in my heart many times."[10][11] David Sheff's interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared in the January 1981 issue, which was on newsstands at the time of Lennon's murder; the interview was later published in book format.

Another interview type section, entitled "20Q" (a play on the game of Twenty Questions), was added in October 1978. Cheryl Tiegs was the first interviewee for the section.[12]

Circulation

Image of Lena Soderberg used in many image processing experiments.

The best-selling Playboy edition was the November 1972 edition, which sold 7,161,561 copies. One-quarter of all American college men were buying the magazine every month.[13] On the cover was model Pam Rawlings, photographed by Rowland Scherman.

Perhaps coincidentally, a cropped image of the issue's centerfold (which featured Lena Soderberg) became a de facto standard image for testing image processing algorithms. It is known simply as the "Lenna" (also "Lena") image in that field.[14]

Playboy is still the largest selling "men's magazine", selling about 2.6 million a month in the U.S.[15]

In 1970, Playboy became the first gentleman's magazine to be printed in braille.

Bans on the sale of Playboy

In many parts of Asia, including India, mainland China, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Brunei, sale and distribution of Playboy is banned. In addition, sale and distribution is banned in almost all Muslim countries (except Turkey) in Asia and Africa, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. However, it is sold in Hong Kong. In Japan, where genitals of models cannot be shown, a separate edition is published under license by Shueisha.

An Indonesian edition launched in April 2006, but controversy started before the first issue. Even the publisher said the content of the Indonesian edition will be different from the original edition but the government was trying to ban it by using anti-pornography rules, since the Indonesian government cannot ban any medium. A Muslim organization, the Islamic Defenders Front (IDF), opposed to Playboy on the grounds of pornography. On April 12 about 150 IDF members clashed with police and stoned the editorial offices. Despite this, the edition quickly sold out. On April 6, 2007 the chief judge of the case dismissed the charges because they had been incorrectly filed.[16]

In 1986, the American convenience store chain 7-Eleven removed the magazine. The store returned Playboy to its shelves in late 2003. 7-Eleven had also been selling Penthouse and other similar magazines before the ban.

In 1995 - after a 36 year ban - Playboy was returned to shelves in Ireland. Many women's groups in the country asked for the ban to remain in place [17].

In bookstores throughout the world, it is common for Playboy, as well as other adult publications, to be put on a higher shelf than other magazines, keeping them out of the reach of children. They are also often wrapped in opaque plastic bags so as to not reveal the cover. Prior to the late 1980s, Playboy was usually covered with a heavy paper wrapping, similar to paper bags commonly found in grocery stores, with the famous bunny head logo imprinted in black on both sides; however, up to and into the 1970s in the United States, mailed issues using the "plain brown wrapper" did not indicate the Playboy name or logo. The magazine could be slid in and out of the wrapper for viewing, as opposed to the modern sealed plastic bags.

Playboy was not sold in the state of Queensland, Australia during 2004 and 2005 but returned as of 2006. Due to declining sales, the last edition of the Australian edition of Playboy was January 2000.

Litigation

On the January 14, 2004, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Playboy Enterprises Inc.'s (PEI) trademark terms "Playboy" and "Playmate" should be protected in the situation where a user typing "Playboy" or "Playmate" in a browser search was instead shown advertisements of companies that competed with PEI. (The decision reversed an earlier district court ruling.) The suit started on April 15, 1999, when Playboy sued Excite Inc. and Netscape for trademark infringement.[18]

Photographers

Many notable photographers have contributed to Playboy, including Ken Marcus,[19] Richard Fegley,[20] Arny Freytag,[21] Ron Harris,[22] Tom Kelley,[19] David Mecey,[23] Russ Meyer,[24] Pompeo Posar,[25] Suze Randall,[26] Herb Ritts,[27] Stephen Wayda,[28][29] Sam Wu,[30] Mario Casilli,[31] Annie Leibovitz,[27] Helmut Newton,[27] and Bunny Yeager.[32]

Modeling pay

Playmate of the Month Modeling Payouts
Year Amount
1959–1960 $500
1961–1965 $1,000
1966–1967 $2,500
1968–1969 $3,000
1970–1977 $5,000
1978–1983 $10,000
1984–1989 $15,000
1990–1999 $20,000
2000–2006 $25,000
Playmate of the Year Modeling Payouts
Year Amount
1960–1963 $500 plus $250 bonus
1982–today $140,000, an automobile, and a motorbike.

During the 1960s and 1970s all PMOYs received pink automobiles. The hue of pink used was known as "Playmate Pink", confusingly the same shade as that of the cars awarded to Mary Kay's independent sales force.

Celebrities

For a full listing, please see List of people in Playboy 1953–1959, 1960-1969, 1970-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999, 2000-2009, 2010-2019.

Many celebrities (singers, actresses, models, etc.) have posed for Playboy over the years. This list is only a small portion of those who have posed. Some of them are:

Film:

Music:

Sport:

Television:


International editions

This map shows the countries where Playboy is published. The dark pink indicates the countries where regional editions of the magazine are produced today and the lighter pink indicates the countries where regional editions of Playboy were once published.

(starting at the accompanying date, or during the accompanying date range)

Other editions

The success of Playboy magazine has led PEI to market other versions of the magazine, the Special Editions (formerly called News Stand Specials), such as Playboy's College Girls[41] and Playboy's Book of Lingerie, as well as the Playboy video collection.

The growth of the Internet prompted the magazine to develop an official web presence called Playboy Online or Playboy.com, which is the official website for Playboy Enterprises, and an online companion to Playboy magazine. The site has been available online since 1994.[42] As part of the online presence, Playboy developed a pay web site called the Playboy Cyber Club in 1995 which features online chats, additional pictorials, videos of Playmates and Playboy Cyber Girls that are not featured in the magazine. Archives of past Playboy articles and interviews are also included. Playboy Cyber Club has opened up a new door for girls interested in posing. It is much easier to access, because it is online. It attracts just about as many as the magazine, and brought a whole new line of girls. Some Playmates start in Cyber Club and work their way to the magazine. In September 2005, Playboy launched the online edition of the magazine Playboy Digital.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has published a Braille edition of Playboy since 1970.[43] The Braille version includes all the written words in the non-Braille magazine, but no pictorial representations. Congress cut off funding for the Braille magazine translation in 1985, but U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan reversed the decision on First Amendment grounds.[44]

See also

Books

General compilations
  • Nick Stone, editor. The Bedside Playboy. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1963.
Anniversary collections
  • Jacob Dodd, editor. The Playboy Book: Forty Years. Santa Monica, California: General Publishing Group, 1994, ISBN 1-881649-03-2
  • Playboy: 50 Years, The Photographs. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2003, ISBN 0-8118-3978-8
  • Nick Stone, editor; Michelle Urry, cartoon editor. Playboy: 50 Years, The Cartoons. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004. ISBN 0-8118-3976-1
  • Gretchen Edgren, editor. The Playboy Book: Fifty Years. Taschen, 1995. ISBN 3-8228-3976-0
Interview compilations
  • G. Barry Golson, editor. The Playboy Interview. New York: Playboy Press, 1981. ISBN 0-87223-668-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-87223-644-7 (softcover)
  • G. Barry Golson, editor. The Playboy Interview Volume II. New York: Wideview/Perigee, 1983. ISBN 0-399-50768-X (hardcover), ISBN 0-399-50769-8 (softcover)
  • David Sheff, interviewer; G. Barry Golson, editor. The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: Playboy Press, 1981, ISBN 0-87223-705-2; 2000 edition, ISBN 0-312-25464-4
  • Stephen Randall, editor. "The Playboy Interview Book: They Played the Game". New York: M Press, 2006, ISBN 1-59582-046-9

References

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  2. ^ Playboy Collector's Association Playboy Magazine Price Guide
  3. ^ Faye, Marcia, "Art Paul: The art of designing Playboy", iitmagazine (Spring 2009)
  4. ^ Heller, Steven and Vienne, Véronique, The Education of an Art Director Allworth Communications, Inc., (2005)ISBN 1581154356, 9781581154351 pp 174-180
  5. ^ "Snopes.com". http://www.snopes.com/risque/celebrities/hefner.asp. Retrieved May 20, 2009. 
  6. ^ Kennedy, Thomas E., "A Last Interview with Robie Macauley," Agnii, Vol. 45, 1997.
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  41. ^ [1]
  42. ^ "Playboy Web Space". http://web.archive.org/web/19961220001705/http://www1.playboy.com/. 
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