Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. 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. 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 generally reflects a liberal editorial stance.
HistoryPlayboy'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. 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. 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.
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 Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, John Irving, Anne Sexton, Nadine Gordimer, Kurt Vonnegut and J. P. Donleavy, as well as poetry by Yevgeny Yevtushenko.Macauley also contributed all of the popular Ribald Classics series published between January 1978 and March 1984.
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.
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.[
In June 2009, the magazine reduced its publication schedule to 11 issues per year, with a combined July/August issue and on August 11, 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.In December 2009, they further reduced the publication schedule to 10 issues per year, with a combined January/February issue.
On July 12, 2010, Playboy Enterprises Inc. announced Hefner's $5.50 per share offer ($122.5 milion based on shares outstanding on April 30 and the closing price on July 9) to buy the portion of the company he does not already own and take the company private with the help of Rizvi Traverse Management LLC. The company derives much of its income from licensing rather than the magazine. On July 15, Penthouse owner FriendFinder Networks Inc. offered $210 million (the company is valued at $185 million), though Hefner, who already owns 70 percent of voting stock, does not want to sell. January 10, 2011 The publisher of Playboy magazine has agreed to a sweetened offer by founder Hugh Hefner to take the company private for $6.15, 18 percent premium over the price of the last previous day trading. A tender offer is expected to initial by January 21, 2011 and the deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.
The Playboy InterviewBesides its centerfold, a major part of Playboy for much of its existence has been the Playboy Interview, an extensive (usually several thousand-word) 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." 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.
CirculationOn 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.
Playboy is still the largest selling "men's magazine", selling about 2.6 million a month in the U.S.
In 1970, Playboy became the first gentleman's magazine to be printed in braille.
Bans on the sale of PlayboyIn 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 was launched in April 2006, but controversy started before the first issue. Though the publisher said the content of the Indonesian edition will be different from the original edition, the government tried to ban it by using anti-pornography rules. (The Indonesian government cannot ban any medium.) A Muslim organization, the Islamic Defenders Front (IDF), opposed 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.
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, despite staunch opposition from many women's groups.
In bookstores throughout the world it is common for Playboy, as well as other adult publications, to be wrapped in opaque plastic bags and put on a higher shelf than other magazines, keeping them out of the reach of curious children. Before 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 printed in jet 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 thus be slid in and out of the wrapper for viewing, as opposed to the modern sealed plastic bags, which was much to the advantage of certain individuals.
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 Australia-wide edition of Playboy was the January 2000 issue.
LitigationOn 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.
- 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.
- Marilyn Monroe (December 1953) (Never actually posed for Playboy itself)
- Jayne Mansfield (February 1955)
- Mara Corday (October 1958)
- Ursula Andress (June 1965)
- Carol Lynley (March 1965)
- Kim Basinger (February 1983)
- Janet Jones (March 1987)
- Drew Barrymore (January 1995)
- Daryl Hannah (November 2003)
- Denise Richards (December 2004)
- Svetlana Khorkina (November 1997 Russian edition)
- Katarina Witt (December 1998)
- Tanja Szewczenko (April 1999 German Edition)
- Joanie Laurer (November 2000 and January 2002)
- Gabrielle Reece (January 2001)
- Kiana Tom (May 2002)
- Torrie Wilson (May 2003 and March 2004 [the latter with Sable])
- Amy Acuff (September 2004)
- Amanda Beard (July 2007)
- Ashley Harkleroad (August 2008)
- Linda Evans (July 1971)
- Suzanne Somers (February 1980 and December 1984)
- Dana Plato (June 1989)
- Shannen Doherty (March 1994 and December 2003)
- Farrah Fawcett (December 1995 and July 1997)
- Women of Baywatch (June 1998)
- Claudia Christian (October 1999)
- Shari Belafonte (September 2000)
- Brooke Burke (May 2001 and November 2004)
- Susie Feldman (August 2008)