When a man buys a magazine that has on its cover and centerfold some of the most beautiful and sexiest women in the world in all their naked glory, it is not hard to pinpoint the reason why they spend their hard-earned cash on a monthly basis for a single publication. But once you get your fill of all those sexiness and mammary glands and generous buttocks of young women and occasionally celebrities, there is actually a treasure trove of articles in the magazine that men just love to read and learn from. I am sure you would have done a double-take by now, but really, Playboy Magazine does have great articles.
The Playboy History
Hugh Hefner first published Playboy Magazine in December 1953. It was supposed to carry the name of Stag Party, but an outdoor magazine beat them to the use of the name Stag. Hefner also considered the name of The Gentlemen’s Club, before finally settling on Playboy on the suggestion of Alexx Mills, a former employee of the Playboy Automobile Company based in Chicago.
The first issue featured Marilyn Monroe in the centerfold. With a cover price of only 50 cents, the issue sold out with all 53,991 copies being snapped up in weeks. And to think that the picture was originally intended for a calendar and not for the magazine itself.
Right from the start, articles were part and parcel of the men’s magazine. Known writers and authors became part of Playboy. Interviews of famous celebrities were also published and it became popular for the depth and breadth of its coverage.
Numbers and Economics Behind Playboy
The magazine’s sales reached its peak in the 1970s. Competition from similar magazines like Penthouse, Gallery and Oui, as well as from more risqué publications like Hustler, led to a decline in sales. Publications like FHM, Maxim and Stuff also affected the sales figure of Playboy. The advent of the Internet and the relative easy access to naked pictures and pornography also put a dent on Playboy’s numbers.
Today, the magazine’s selling price is so low that the money it brings in through sales is not even enough to cover for the cost of the publication. Hefner, however, continues to publish the magazine because of the value, advertising and prestige it brings to its other businesses that also use the Playboy name. If he shuts down the magazine, the sales of his moneymakers, like Playboy clubs, ClubJenna website, etc, may suffer. In other words, the magazine serves as an advertisement for the rest of the Playboy empire.
The Playboy Interviews
Playboy has been known to conduct wide ranging and in-depth interviews with various personalities from different fields. They have interviewed everyone from Paul Simon, who unflinchingly admitted of his cold relationship with his music partner Art Garfunkel and disdain for the songs of Barry Manilow, to John Lennon, who talked about the turbulent dynamics that led to both the success and demise of The Beatles.
The raw anger of Malcolm X was also felt in his Playboy interview. He unapologetically suggested that a plane crash that killed 120 white people was proof of karma and God’s wrath. In contrast, the character and sincerity of Martin Luther King Jr. was shown clearly when he declared the importance of non-violence, his rejection of rioting and his unequivocal denial of the presence of communists in the leadership of the civil rights movement.
The magazine is also known for espousing liberal opinions on political and social issues. Playboy was also able to show the true person behind then Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who admitted to lusting after other women and committing adultery in his heart, while refusing to pass judgment on the action of other people. Carter won the presidency and while he may not have had the greatest four years, nobody could deny that he was a good person.
Playboy Literary Articles
While the magazine is known for its pictures of naked women, the articles are not to be scoffed at either. Hugh Hefner has actually been given an award by the literary organization called PEN USA for Playboy Magazine’s untiring support of unchampioned writers and for fighting censorship as well.
Literary writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, Michael Crichton, Arthur Clarke, Vladimir Nabokov and Margaret Atwood have all contributed short stories to Playboy. Some of the other famous articles include the following:
1. Yossarian Survives – a 1987 short story by Joseph Heller of “Catch-22” fame. The article was supposed to be the lost chapter of the famous book.
2. The Visitor – a Roald Dahl short story that was the basis for his only non-children’s book entitled “My Uncle Oswald.”
3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – the Ian Fleming classic about James Bond was actually published in three parts by Playboy in the middle of 1963.
4. The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World – from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the literary giant who brought us “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” This was published in the magazine in 1971.
5. The Second Bakery Attack – a short story by the noted Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
6. Trials of the Warlock – a short story written by the Pulitzer Prize winner Norman Mailer, who is best known for the best selling novel “The Naked and the Dead.”
7. The First Night of Lent – one of the first original stories to appear in Playboy. Ray Bradbury, the man behind the 1953 classic “Fahrenheit 451,” wrote this short story. The book “Fahrenheit 451” was actually serialized by the magazine in 1954 at a time when Hefner could only afford a budget for the reprinting of stories.
8. Before the Road – a 1959 article written by Jack Kerouac as a prequel to his 1957 classic entitled “On the Road.” He also contributed “Good Blonde” to Playboy in 1965.
9. Armageddon in Retrospect – from Kurt Vonnegut, the writer of “Slaughterhouse 5.”