The first issue of Playboy December 1953
Editor-in-chief Hugh Hefner
Categories Men's magazines
Frequency Monthly
Publisher Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
Total circulation
Year founded October 1, 1953 [2]
First issue December 1953
Country United States
Language English, many others
Website Playboy Playboy UK
ISSN 0032-1478

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.[3] 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.[citation needed] 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, Chuck Palahniuk, P. G. Wodehouse and Margaret Atwood. With a regular display of full-page color cartoons, it became a showcase for notable cartoonists, including Jack Cole, Eldon Dedini, Jules Feiffer, Shel Silverstein, Erich Sokol and Rowland B. Wilson.

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.[4]




Playboy'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.[5] 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.[6][7] 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.[8]

The Editorial Board of Playboy in 1970. Back, left to right: Robie Macauley, Nat Lehrman, Richard M. Koff, Murray Fisher, Arthur Kretchmer; front: Sheldon Wax, Auguste Comte Spectorsky, Jack Kessie.

From 1966 to 1976 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, Jean Shepherd, 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

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) 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."[16][17] 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.[18]


Image of Lena Soderberg used in many image processing experiments.

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.[19] 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.[20]

Playboy is still the largest selling "men's magazine", selling about 2.6 million a month in the U.S.[21]

In 1970, Playboy became the first gentleman's magazine to be printed in braille.

Bans on the sale of Playboy

Many in the American religious community opposed the publication of Playboy. The Louisiana pastor and author L. L. Clover, in his treatise Evil Spirits Intellectualism and Logic, writes in 1974 that the publication encourages young men to view themselves as "pleasure-seeking individuals for whom sex is fun and women are play things." Clover also decries the inclusion of sexual material in popular films. "Parents and leaders could remove these lewd stumbling blocks in a very short time if they so desired. The sad truth is that many of them . . . tacitly approve of an illegitimate sexual atmosphere." claimed the clergyman.[22]

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 most Muslim countries (except Lebanon[23][24] and Turkey) in Asia and Africa, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. However, the magazine 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 hit the stands. 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.[25]

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.[26]

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.


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.[27]


Many notable photographers have contributed to Playboy, including Ken Marcus,[28] Richard Fegley,[29] Arny Freytag,[30] Ron Harris,[31] Tom Kelley,[28] David Mecey,[32] Russ Meyer,[33] Pompeo Posar,[34] Suze Randall,[35] Herb Ritts,[36] Stephen Wayda,[37][38] Sam Wu,[39] Mario Casilli,[40] Annie Leibovitz,[36] Helmut Newton,[36] and Bunny Yeager.[41]


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.

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

This map shows the countries where Playboy is published. The dark pink indicates the countries where regional editions of the magazine are produced today and the lighter pink indicates the countries where regional editions of Playboy were once published.

(starting at the accompanying date, or during the accompanying date range)



  • Australia (1979–2000) — see specific article
  • Georgia (country) (2007–2009)[50]
  • Hong Kong (1986–1993)
  • Indonesia (2006–2007)[44]
  • Japan (1975–) — see specific article
  • Norway (1998–1999)
  • Portugal (2009-)[51]
  • Sweden (1998–1999)
  • Taiwan (1990–2003)
  • Turkey (1986–1995)

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[52] 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 Playboy.com, which is the official website for Playboy Enterprises, and an online companion to Playboy magazine. The site has been available online since 1994.[53] 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. 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.[54] 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.[55]

In 2010 Playboy introduced "The Smoking Jacket", a safe-for-work website designed to appeal to young men, while avoiding nude images or key words that would cause the site to be filtered or otherwise prohibited in the workplace.[56]

In May 2011 Playboy introduced i.playboy.com, a complete, uncensored version of its near 700 issue archive, targeting the Apple iPad. By launching the archive as a web app, Playboy was able to circumvent both Apple's App Store content restictions and their 30% subscription fee.

See also


General compilations
  • Nick Stone, editor. The Bedside Playboy. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1963.
Anniversary collections
  • Jacob Dodd, editor. The Playboy Book: Forty Years. Santa Monica, California: General Publishing Group, 1994, ISBN 1-881649-03-2
  • Playboy: 50 Years, The Photographs. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2003, ISBN 0-8118-3978-8
  • Nick Stone, editor; Michelle Urry, cartoon editor. Playboy: 50 Years, The Cartoons. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004. ISBN 0-8118-3976-1
  • Gretchen Edgren, editor. The Playboy Book: Fifty Years. Taschen, 1995. ISBN 3-8228-3976-0
Interview compilations


  1. ^ http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2075955,00.html
  2. ^ [1]| Playboy Enterprises FAQ
  3. ^ Seib, Christine (December 9, 2008). "business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/media/article5310203.ece". The Times (London). Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  4. ^ http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/reviews/specialty-releases/e3ic2e2d16144df098ad1a6f395c130a824
  5. ^ Playboy Collector's Association Playboy Magazine Price Guide
  6. ^ Faye, Marcia, "Art Paul: The art of designing Playboy", iitmagazine (Spring 2009)
  7. ^ Heller, Steven and Vienne, Véronique, The Education of an Art Director Allworth Communications, Inc., (2005)ISBN 1581154356, 9781581154351 pp. 174–180
  8. ^ "Snopes.com". Retrieved May 20, 2009.
  9. ^ Kennedy, Thomas E., "A Last Conversation with Robie Macauley," Agnii, Vol. 45, 1997.
  10. ^ Seib, Christine (December 9, 2008). "Hefner's daughter Christie walks away from Playboy Enterprises". The Times (London). Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  11. ^ ""Top Party Schools 2009," Playboy magazine, May 2009.".
  12. ^ "www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/recession/6007514/Hugh-Hefner-sells-LA-property-as-financial-crisis-hits-Playboy.html". The Daily Telegraph (London). August 11, 2009. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  13. ^ Vancore, Andrew; Heher, Ashley (2010-07-12). "Bunny bid: Hefner offers to buy rest of Playboy". The Sun News (Associated Press). Retrieved 2010-07-16.[dead link]
  14. ^ Vancore, Andrew (2010-07-16). "Penthouse bids for Playboy". The Sun News (Associated Press). Retrieved 2010-07-16.
  15. ^ "Playboy agrees to Hefner buyout offer". The Times Of India.
  16. ^ Playboy Interview with Jimmy Carter, Playboy, November 1976
  17. ^ "McGill University website excerpt".
  18. ^ "playboy.com / world of playboy / events".
  19. ^ "The Girls Next Door: The New Yorker".
  20. ^ "The Rest of the Lenna Story".
  21. ^ "Audit Bureau of Circulation".
  22. ^ L. L. Clover, Evil Spirits, Intellectualism and Logic (Minden, Louisiana: Louisiana Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary, 1974), pp. 18-19
  23. ^ http://articles.nydailynews.com/2003-03-30/entertainment/18232125_1_arabic-version-arab-world-al-jazeera-satellite-channel
  24. ^ http://www.albawaba.com/news/index.php3?sid=244050&lang=e&dir=news
  25. ^ "'Playboy' charges thrown out of court. 05/04/2007. ABC News Online".
  26. ^ http://news.google.ie/newspapers?id=JN0gAAAAIBAJ&sjid=B2sFAAAAIBAJ&dq=playboy%20ireland&pg=2550%2C4757731
  27. ^ "Netscape, Playboy settle search trademark case - CNET News.com".
  28. ^ a b "www.vintageplayboymags.co.uk/Photographers/".
  29. ^ "www.imdb.com/name/nm1460800/bio".
  30. ^ "www.imdb.com/name/nm0294682/".
  31. ^ "www.ronharris.com".
  32. ^ "www.davidmecey.com/about.php".
  33. ^ "www.imdb.com/name/nm0000540/bio".
  34. ^ "www.imdb.com/name/nm1997612/".
  35. ^ "www.lycos.com/info/suze-randall.html".
  36. ^ a b c ""Playboy at 50" Christies Sale 1325 (December 17, 2003)".
  37. ^ ""Playboy at 50" Christies Sale 1325 (December 17, 2003)".
  38. ^ "Welcome to Stephen Wayda Photography".
  39. ^ James R. Petersen, Playboy Redheads, Chronicle Books, 2005, p127. ISBN 0811848582
  40. ^ "Mario Casilli, Playboy Photographer". Vintage Playboy Mags. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  41. ^ "www.bunnyyeager.com/about.html".
  42. ^ "Harkleroad to be in August Playboy magazine". Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  43. ^ "Playboy Magazine Enters Estonia", Alo Raun, Postimees, 2007-06-07. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  44. ^ a b c "Jakarta struggles with the politics of pornography as Playboy comes to town", John Aglionby, January 30, 2006, The Guardian. Retrieved June 23, 2007.
  45. ^ Party Time in Milan as Playboy Comes to Town, Corriere della Sera. Retrieved on 2008-12-08.
  46. ^ "Playboy published also in Latvia". bnn-news.com. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  47. ^ "Playboy Macedonia" from October 1 2010
  48. ^ Associated Press (2008-03-27). "Philippine Playboy won’t show full nudity". MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  49. ^ a b "Playboy Takes On World With Big Video Expansion", By Richard Covington, International Herald Tribune, November 3, 1993. Retrieved June 23, 2007.
  50. ^ "Playboy Magazine Enters Georgia, Plans to Conquer Market", Nino Edilashvili, The Georgian Times, 2007-05-21. Retrieved June 23, 2007.
  51. ^ Portal Imprensa (2009-03-26). "Portugal will have its own version of Playboy magazine from this month". Portal Imprensa. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  52. ^ [2][dead link]
  53. ^ "Playboy Web Space". Archived from the original on 1996-12-20.
  54. ^ "NLS Reference Circular: Magazine Program (2007)".
  55. ^ "The Braille Forum, June 2000".
  56. ^ Don Babwin (2010-07-21). "Playboy busts out of mold on the Smoking Jacket". Associated Press.
Author:Bling King
Published:Sep 24th 2011
Modified:Jan 10th 2012
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