A short history of Playboy
While working as a copy writer for Esquire, Hugh Hefner was busy dreaming of producing his own publication. His goal was to create a magazine which encapsulated everything that the modern gentleman required. Interviews, cartoons, articles and of course, beautiful women. Using $8000 of investment money from his friends and his mother, the first issue of Playboy was published in 1953.
A man on a mission, Hefner was determined to reshape America's attitude towards sex and bring it firmly into the mainstream.
Unsure of whether he would ever get the money to produce another issue the magazine did not even contain an issue number, but Hefner did have something which he believed would give him the edge. The first issue was to feature naked pictures of none other than Marilyn Monroe. With this sexy ace up his sleeve the magazine quickly sold out and overnight turned Playboy into the most infamous publication on American shelves.
Playboy's infamous first edition has gone down in history thanks to its iconic cover star.
In today’s world it’s hard to imagine the shockwaves that a magazine like Playboy sent out when it was released. America’s attitude toward sex leaned heavily towards the conservative at the time, and Hefner's unashamed attitude towards this taboo subject was a kick in the teeth to the moral values held at the time. On television married couples couldn’t even be seen in the same bed for fear of implying sex, and Hefner soon found himself on major news networks arguing against an ultra-conservative agenda which didn’t want their boat rocking in the slightest. The magazine was by no means the first one to contain nudity or sexual images, but it was the first one that took sex from the seedy underground and into the public mind set.
In its heyday Playboy had some of the best writers in the world producing articles and short stories, and even had their own TV show which featured the biggest stars in showbiz mingling with Hef and the bunnies.
During the 1960’s and 70’s the magazines popularity grew, reaching a peak readership of around seven million in the early 1970’s. After the stifling conservatism of the 1950’s, the 60’s brought with it a more relaxed attitude towards sex. Despite being influential in the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, the magazine was soon to lose its top billing to far more explicit material.
Now in his 80's, the Hef can still be found in his LA mansion with a plethora of girls doting on him.
During the 1970's publications such as Penthouse and Hustler were released, offering the public explicit images that Playboy was determined to stay clear. This, combined with the rise of home-video in the early 1980’s posed a serious threat to Playboy's place in the market. In response to this Playboy decided to cash in on the prestige of their brand and expand into other areas including clothing, beer and of course fragance.
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Today the brand is still going strong, with Playboy's net worth being valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Big things from small beginnings.