Playboy was started as an American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine, in Chicago in 1953. Hugh Hefner funded the first issue through his friends, and a $1,000 loan from his Mum (bless). Ahead of its time, it gained notoriety for its nude and semi-nude centrefolds. The brand is now known as Playboy Enterprises, Inc., (PEI) and is available in most countries across the globe, in print and online.
The magazine was initially going to be called Stag, but Hefner was threatened with legal action from the publisher of an unrelated men’s adventure magazine. One of Hefner’s associates suggested Playboy and the rest is bunny heaven.The well-known mascot that you can see on all of the merchandise that Wholesale Clearance UK stock, features a stylized silhouette of a rabbit wearing a tuxedo bow tie. This was drawn by Playboy’s art director, Art Paul, for the second issue. He claims it took him less than half an hour. It was quickly adopted as the official logo.
By the 1970s, people writing to Playboy could just draw an image of the rabbit on the envelope and the letter would get where it needed to be.
The very first centrefold in 1953 was Marilyn Monroe, using a photograph taken for a calendar rather than specifically for Playboy. Hefner is said to have selected the sexiest image, that showed Monroe with an upstretched arm, closed eyes and her mouth open. The issue, which was unnumbered because Hefner wasn’t sure there would be a second magazine, sold out in weeks.
Hefner has continued to keep his candle aflame for Marilyn Monroe. In 1992, he brought the crypt next to Marilyn’s in Westwood Village Memorial Park, in Westwood, California for $75,000. He intends to be placed at rest next to her.
The biggest selling Playboy edition of all time was the November 1972 magazine. It sold 7,161,561 copies. The model Pam Rawlings was on the cover.
Playboy became the first gentleman’s magazine to be printed in braille in 1970.
Intriguingly, somewhere deep in the mansion, hidden from view is a secret space that has been nick-named “The Elvis Room.” It is said that Elvis ‘the pelvis’ Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself, once stayed in this room with eight bunnies. Everyone wants to get a look, but Hefner keeps it hidden and has preserved the room. Ooh! I wonder what went on in there!
Hanging pride of place in the library in Hefner’s mansion, is a priceless original Matisse painting. During the 1970s, following a bit of a bender, John Lennon stubbed his cigarette out on the picture. Lennon had argued with Yoko Ono and was feeling a little antsy. The painting still has the burn mark.
The Playboy publishing empire has seen its fortune decline. Hefner blames this on the free availability of porn over the internet. The number of issues per year has been cut from twelve to ten.
Most of the income of PEI comes from licensing these days rather than the magazine.
Since March this year (2016) there is much less full frontal nudity. Playboy CEO Scott Flanders claims, “it’s just passé at this juncture”. This decision will also create a new and less deviant image for Playboy Licensing, and enable them to remarket their brand, particularly in India and China where the apparel is so popular, but full frontal nudity is a no-no.
Hefner’s girlfriends get a bit of a rough ride (ahem). They have to abide by a 9 pm curfew, and if they don’t, they risk losing the $1000 allowance they are paid per week. They are not allowed to have other jobs, but they do get a car, medical coverage, and apparently assistance with the cost of ‘cosmetic surgeries’.You may have a fantasy or two about spending time locked in the mansion with a bunny or two, but think again. Rumour has it that it’s absolutely filthy. Although the mansion employs 70 or so staff, many of the girlfriends have untrained dogs – as in not house trained – and they crap and pee all over the carpets, and sprinkle the curtains. Most of the furniture is said to be dated and shabby, and one Playboy bunny’s book highlighted the existence of old, stained bedding and mattresses. It stinks, not to put too fine a point on it! In addition, you need to be careful where you bathe… The famous grotto, scene of so many swinging ‘parties’, was the subject a Los Angeles County Department of Public Health investigation in 2011, after over 120 guests of the mansion became ill, and it was discovered that the murky waters of the whirlpools in the ‘grotto’ contained the bacteria responsible for causing Legionnaire’s disease – a severe form of pneumonia. Just ewwwwwwwwww! I just can’t get that image out of my mind now… Hefner was responsible for the renovation of the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee, Los Angeles, which had become dilapidated and fallen into disrepair. He organized a group who donated the $27,777.77 needed for renovation, including Terrence Donnelly, Giovanni Mazza, Les Kelley, actor Gene Autry, singer Andy Williams, shock rocker Alice Cooper, Dennis Lidtke, and himself. They each bought a letter.