Playboy Explained

Publisher:Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
Category:Men's magazines
Total Circulation:3,005,753
Circulation Year:2005
Language:English, many others
Editor:Hugh Hefner
Editor Title:Editor-in-chief
Firstdate:December 1953
World Headquarters:Chicago, Illinois
Website:Playboy Playboy UK

Playboy is an American men's magazine, founded in Chicago, Illinois, by Hugh Hefner and his associates, which 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 such novelists as Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov, and Margaret Atwood, as well as 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.


Playboys 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.[1] 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 designed by art designer Art Paul for the second issue 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.

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".

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 underwent a revamp with its February 2009 issue. The visual format of the Contents pages were altered, the Playmate News was expanded to two pages, the Playboy Forum feature was moved to the end of the magazine, the Grapevine feature and three introductory photos of the Playboy Interview were changed from black and white to color, and the page count was reduced to 122,[2] down from the previous issue's count of 172.[3]

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-style 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."[4] [5] 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.


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.[6] 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.[7]

Playboy is still the largest selling "men's magazine", selling about three million a month in the U.S.[6]

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.[8]

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 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 paper wrapping, similar to paper bags commonly found in grocery stores, with the famous bunny head logo imprinted in black on both sides.

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


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.[9]


Many notable photographers have contributed to Playboy, including Richard Fegley, William Figge, Arny Freytag, Ron Harris, David Mecey, Russ Meyer, Pompeo Posar, Suze Randall, Herb Ritts.[10], Stephen Wayda, Sam Wu, R Scott Hooper, Mario Casilli[11], Annie Liebowitz[10], Helmut Newton[10], and Bunny Yeager.

Modeling pay

Playmate of the Month Modeling Payouts
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
1960 - 1963$500 plus $250 bonus
1982 - today$140,000, an automobile, and a motorbike.

During the 1960s and 1970s all PMOY's received pink automobiles, the hue of pink used was known as "Playmate Pink", the same shade as awarded to Mary Kay's independent sales force, a frequent source of confusion.

Photo editing

There is some controversy over airbrushing (or, in recent times, image editing) that is done on the photos featured in the magazine. Some readers say that this kind of photo-editing takes away from authenticity and makes photographs look unnatural.

One example was the case of Pamela Anderson and the "disappearing labia". In Anderson's February 1990 Playboy centerfold appearance, there was a rear-view photo with her legs slightly apart and her labia minora visible. In reprints in later "Newsstand Specials" as well as a poster-sized print, she had been "defeminized," this area having been painted over in the color of the object in front of which she was standing.

Similarly, in Rena Mero's ("Sable") first Playboy shoot, one photo of Mero lying on her back was edited to add pubic hair over her genitalia. However, in the 50th Anniversary issue, this picture was printed in its original, unedited state.

Rival adult magazine Hustler and owner Larry Flynt has often been critical of Playboy and airbrushing. This has led Hustler to promote the fact that their nude pictorials are never airbrushed and are completely natural.



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

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:





International editions

(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[22] 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, which is the official website for Playboy Enterprises, and an online companion to Playboy magazine. The site has been available online since 1994.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25]

See also


General compilations
Anniversary collections
Interview compilations

External links


Notes and References

  1. Playboy Collector's Association Playboy Magazine Price Guide
  2. Playboy magazine; February 2009
  3. Playboy magazine; January 2009
  4. Playboy Interview with Jimmy Carter, Playboy, November 1976
  5. McGill University website excerpt
  6. The Girls Next Door: The New Yorker
  7. The Rest of the Lenna Story
  8. 'Playboy' charges thrown out of court. 05/04/2007. ABC News Online
  9. Netscape, Playboy settle search trademark case - CNET
  10. "Playboy at 50" Christies Sale 1325 (December 17, 2003)
  11. Web site: Mario Casilli, Playboy Photographer. 2007-11-06. Vintage Playboy Mags.
  12. / world of playboy / events
  13. The Playmate FAQ
  14. Playboy undressed video game women - Aug. 25, 2004
  15. Web site: Harkleroad to be in August Playboy magazine. 2008-05-26.
  16. "Playboy Magazine Enters Estonia"
  17. "Playboy Magazine Enters Georgia, Plans to Conquer Market"
  18.,,1697987,00.html "Jakarta struggles with the politics of pornography as Playboy comes to town"
  19. Party Time in Milan as Playboy Comes to Town
  20. Web site: Philippine Playboy won’t show full nudity. 2009-03-08. 2008-03-27. Associated Press. MSNBC.
  21. "Playboy Takes On World With Big Video Expansion"
  23. Playboy Web Space
  24. NLS Reference Circular: Magazine Program (2007)
  25. The Braille Forum, June 2000