is an American men's lifestyle and entertainment magazine. It
was founded in Chicago in 1953, by
and his associates, and
funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. Notable for
its centerfolds of nude and semi-nude models (Playmates), Playboy
played an important role in the sexual revolution and remains one
of the world's best-known brands, having grown into Playboy
Enterprises, Inc., with a presence in nearly every medium. In
addition to the flagship magazine in the United States, special
nation-specific versions of
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, Saul Bellow, Chuck Palahniuk, P. G. Wodehouse, Roald
Dahl, Haruki Murakami, and Margaret Atwood. With a regular
display of full-page color cartoons, it became a showcase for notable
cartoonists, including Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Cole, Eldon
Dedini, Jules Feiffer, Shel Silverstein, Erich Sokol,
Roy Raymonde, Gahan Wilson, 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, although it often interviews
The front cover of the first issue of Playboy, December 1953
After a year-long removal of most nude photos in
Playboy magazine, the
March-April 2017 issue brought back nudity.
1 Publication history
1.3.1 2016–2018 changes and brief ending of frontal nudity
1.4 Circulation history and statistics
2 Features and format
2.3 Rock the Rabbit
3 Other editions
3.3 International editions
4 Litigation and legal issues
6 See also
8 External links
Marilyn Monroe from the first issue of Playboy, December
By spring 1953, Hugh Hefner—a 1949
University of Illinois
University of Illinois psychology
graduate who had worked in Chicago for Esquire magazine writing
promotional copy; Publisher's Development Corporation in sales and
marketing; and Children's Activities magazine as circulation
promotions manager—had planned out the elements of his own
magazine, that he would call Stag Party. He formed HMH Publishing
Corporation, and recruited his friend Eldon Sellers to find
investors. Hefner eventually raised just over $8,000, including
from his brother and mother. However, the publisher of an
unrelated men's adventure magazine, Stag, contacted Hefner and
informed him it would file suit to protect their trademark if he were
to launch his magazine with that name. Hefner, his wife
Millie, and Sellers met to seek a new name, considering "Top Hat",
"Gentleman", "Sir'", "Satyr", "Pan" and "Bachelor" before Sellers
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.
Hefner chose what he deemed the "sexiest" image, a previously unused
nude study of Marilyn stretched with an upraised arm on a red velvet
background with closed eyes and mouth open. The heavy promotion
centered around Marilyn's nudity on the already-famous calendar,
together with the teasers in marketing, made the new
a success. The first issue sold out in weeks. Known
circulation was 53,991. The cover price was 50¢. Copies of the
first issue in mint to near mint condition sold for over $5,000 in
The novel Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, was published in 1953 and
serialized in the March, April and May 1954 issues of Playboy.
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
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 12,
actually indicated the domestic or international advertising region
for that printing.
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,
Seán Ó Faoláin, John Updike, James Dickey, John Cheever, Doris
Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates, Vladimir Nabokov, Michael Crichton, John
le Carré, 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. Macauley also contributed all of the popular Ribald
Classics series published between January 1978 and March
Since reaching its peak in the 1970s,
Playboy saw a decline in
circulation and cultural relevance due to competition in the field it
founded—first from Penthouse, then 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.
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
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.
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.
launched limited-edition products designed by a number of notable
fashion-houses such as Versace,
Vivienne Westwood and Sean Jean. As a
hommage to the magazine 50th anniversary,
MAC Cosmetics released two
limited-edition products, namely a lipstick and a glitter cream.
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
2009 was the University of Miami.
In June 2009, the magazine reduced its publication schedule to 11
issues per year, with a combined July/August issue and on August 11,
Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that
Hugh Hefner had
sold his English Manor house (next door to the famous
for $18 m ($10 m less than the reported asking price) to
another American Daren Metropoulos the President and co-owner of Pabst
Blue Ribbon. Also that due to significant losses in the company's
value (down from $1 billion in 2000 to $84 million in 2009) the
Playboy publishing empire is up for sale for $300 million. 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 million based on shares outstanding on April
30 and the closing price on July 9) to buy the portion of the company
he did 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. On July 15, Penthouse
owner FriendFinder Networks Inc. offered $210 million (the company is
valued at $185 million), though Hefner, who already owned 70 percent
of voting stock, did not want to sell. In January 2011, the
Playboy magazine agreed to an offer by Hefner to take the
company private for $6.15 per share, an 18 percent premium over the
price of the last previous day of trading. The buyout was
completed in March 2011.
2016–2018 changes and brief ending of frontal nudity
"This is what I always intended
Playboy Magazine to look like."
—Hugh Hefner, when asked about making
In October 2015,
Playboy announced that starting with their March 2016
issue, the magazine would no longer feature full frontal nudity.
Playboy CEO Scott Flanders acknowledged the magazine's inability to
compete with freely available
Internet pornography and nudity;
according to him, "You're now one click away from every sex act
imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture".
Hefner agreed with the decision. The redesigned Playboy, however,
would still feature a
Playmate of the Month and pictures of women, but
they would be rated as not appropriate for children under 13. The
move would not affect PlayboyPlus.com (which features nudity at a paid
subscription). Josh Horwitz of Quartz argued that the motivation
for the decision to remove nudity from the magazine was to give
Playboy Licensing a less inappropriate image in India and China, where
the brand is a popular item on apparel and thus generates significant
Among other changes to the magazine included ending the popular jokes
section and the various cartoons that appeared throughout the
magazine. The redesign eliminated the use of jump copy (articles
continuing on non-consecutive pages), which in turn eliminated most of
the space for cartoons. Hefner, himself a former cartoonist,
reportedly resisted dropping the cartoons more than the nudity, but
ultimately obliged. Playboy's plans were to market itself as a
competitor to Vanity Fair as opposed to more traditional competitors
GQ and Maxim.
Playboy announced in February 2017, however, that the dropping of
nudity had been a mistake, and furthermore for its March/April issue
reestablished some of its franchises, including The
and Party Jokes, but dropped the subtitle "Entertainment for Men"
inasmuch as gender roles have evolved. The announcement was made by
the company's chief creative officer on
Twitter with the hashtag
In early 2018, and according to Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles
Playboy was reportedly "considering killing the print
magazine," as the publication "has lost as much as $7 million annually
in recent years."
Circulation history and statistics
Playboy edition was the November 1972 edition, which
sold 7,161,561 copies. One-quarter of all American college men were
buying or subscribing to the magazine every month. On the cover
was model Pam Rawlings, photographed by Rowland Scherman.
Perhaps coincidentally, a cropped image of the issue's centerfold
(which featured Lena Söderberg) became a de facto standard image for
testing image processing algorithms. It is known simply as the "Lenna"
(also "Lena") image in that field.
Playboy became the first gentleman's magazine to be printed
in braille. It is also one of the few magazines whose microfilm
format was in color, not black and white.
Features and format
Playboy cigarette lighter with the distinctive rabbit logo
Playboy's iconic and enduring mascot, a stylized silhouette of a
rabbit wearing a tuxedo bow tie, was created by
Playboy art director
Art Paul for the second issue as an endnote, but was adopted as the
official logo 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".
In an interview Hefner explained his choice of a rabbit as Playboy's
logo to the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci:
The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning; and I chose it
because it's a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping - sexy. First it
smells you then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like
caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful,
joking. Consider the girl we made popular: the
Playmate of the Month.
She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a
young, healthy, simple girl - the girl next door . . . we are not
interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who
wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow
mentally filthy. The
Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is
naked, well washed with soap and water, and she is happy.
— "Hugh Hefner: 'I am in the center of the world,'" by Oriana
Fallaci, LOOK Magazine, January 10, 1967
The jaunty rabbit was quickly a popular symbol of extroverted male
culture, becoming a lucrative source of merchandizing revenue for
Playboy. In the 1950s, it was adopted as military aircraft
insignia for the Navy's
VX-4 fighter-evaluation squadron.
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 and American Nazi Party
George Lincoln Rockwell
George Lincoln Rockwell in the April 1966 issue, then
coauthored Malcolm X's 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." David Sheff's
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.
Rock the Rabbit
"Rock the Rabbit" was an annual music news and pictorial feature
published in the March edition. The pictorial featured images of
rock bands photographed by music photographer Mick Rock. Fashion
designers participated in the Rock the
Rabbit event by designing
T-shirts inspired by Playboy's rabbit head logo for each band. The
shirts were sold at Playboy's retailers and auctioned off to raise
money for AIDS at LIFEbeat: The Music Industry Fights AIDS.
Notable bands who were featured include: MGMT, Daft Punk, Iggy Pop,
Duran Duran, Flaming Lips, Snow Patrol, and The Killers.
Many notable photographers have contributed to Playboy, including Ken
Marcus, Richard Fegley, Arny Freytag, Ron Harris, Tom
Kelley, David Mecey, Russ Meyer, Pompeo Posar, Suze
Randall, Herb Ritts, Stephen Wayda, Sam Wu, Mario
Casilli, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, and Bunny
For a full listing, please see List of people in
1960–1969, 1970–1979, 1980–1989, 1990–1999, 2000–2009,
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:
Jayne Mansfield (February 1955)
Mara Corday (October 1958)
Ursula Andress (June 1965)
Carol Lynley (March 1965)
Margot Kidder (March 1975)
Kim Basinger (February 1983)
Terry Moore (August 1984)
Janet Jones (March 1987)
Drew Barrymore (January 1995)
Denise Richards (December 2004)
La Toya Jackson
La Toya Jackson (March 1989/Nov 1991)
Fem2Fem (December 1993)
Nancy Sinatra (May 1995)
Samantha Fox (October 1996)
Joey Heatherton (April 1997)
Linda Brava (April 1998)
Belinda Carlisle (August 2001)
Tiffany (April 2002)
Carnie Wilson (August 2003)
Debbie Gibson (March 2005)
Svetlana Khorkina (November 1997 Russian edition)
Katarina Witt (December 1998)
Tanja Szewczenko (April 1999 German Edition)
Joanie Laurer (November 2000 and January 2002)
Gabrielle Reece (January 2001)
Kiana Tom (May 2002)
Torrie Wilson (May 2003 and March 2004 [the latter with Sable])
Amy Acuff (September 2004)
Amanda Beard (July 2007)
Ashley Harkleroad (August 2008)
Linda Evans (July 1971)
Suzanne Somers (February 1980 and December 1984)
Teri Copley (November 1990)
Dian Parkinson (December 1991 and May 1993)
Shannen Doherty (March 1994 and December 2003)
Farrah Fawcett (December 1995 and July 1997)
Claudia Christian (October 1999)
Shari Belafonte (September 2000)
Brooke Burke (May 2001 and November 2004)
Susie Feldman (August 2008)
Karina Smirnoff (May 2011)
The success of
Playboy magazine has led PEI to market other versions
of the magazine, the
Special Editions (formerly called Newsstand
Specials), such as Playboy's College Girls and Playboy's Book of
Lingerie, as well as the
Playboy video collection.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
(NLS) has published a
Braille edition of
Playboy since 1970. The
Braille version includes all the written words in the non-Braille
magazine, but no pictorial representations. Congress cut off funding
Braille magazine translation in 1985, but U.S. District Court
Judge Thomas Hogan reversed the decision on First Amendment
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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
South Africa (1993–1996, 2011–2013)
North and South America
United States (1953–)
Argentina (1985–1995, 2006–)
Brazil (1975–) (see
Mexico (1976–1998, 2002–)
Austria (2012–) (only special issues from time to time)
Czech Republic (1991–)
Hungary (1989–1993, 1999–)
Italy (1972–2003, 2008–)
Macedonia (2010– )
Portugal (2009, 2012–)
Slovakia (1997–2002, 2005–)
Hong Kong (1986–1993)
Japan (1975–2009)—see specific article
Georgia (country) (2007–2009)
Australia (1979–2000)—see specific article
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
Playboy magazine. The site has been available online since
1994. 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
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 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.
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 restrictions and their 30% subscription
Litigation and legal issues
Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Netscape
On January 14, 2004, the
Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled
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
Excite Inc. and Netscape for trademark
Many in the American religious community opposed the publication of
Louisiana pastor and author L. L. Clover wrote in his
1974 treatise Evil Spirits Intellectualism and Logic that Playboy
encouraged young men to view themselves as "pleasure-seeking
individuals for whom sex is fun and women are play things."
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 and Turkey) in Asia and
Africa, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Despite the ban on
the magazine in these countries, the official
Playboy brand itself can
still appear on various merchandise such as perfume and deodorants.
While banned in mainland China, the magazine is sold in Hong Kong. In
Japan, where genitals of models cannot be shown, a separate edition
was 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. 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.
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.
Playboy was returned to shelves in the Republic of Ireland
after a 36-year ban, despite staunch opposition from many women's
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.[citation
Playboy was cleared by the Pentagon of violating its rule
against selling sexually explicit material on military property, but
the base exchanges stopped selling it anyway.
In March 2018,
Playboy announced they would be deactivating their
Facebook accounts due to the "sexually repressive" nature of the
social media platform and their mismanagement of user data resulting
from the Cambridge Analytica problem.
Nick Stone, editor. The Bedside Playboy. Chicago:
Playboy Press, 1963.
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.
Gretchen Edgren, editor. The
Playboy Book: Fifty Years. Taschen, 1995.
G. Barry Golson, editor. The
Playboy Interview. New York: Playboy
Press, 1981. ISBN 0-87223-668-4 (hardcover),
ISBN 0-87223-644-7 (softcover)
G. Barry Golson, editor. The
Playboy Interview Volume II. New York:
Wideview/Perigee, 1983. ISBN 0-399-50768-X (hardcover),
ISBN 0-399-50769-8 (softcover)
David Sheff, interviewer; G. Barry Golson, editor. The Playboy
John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York:
1981, ISBN 0-87223-705-2; 2000 edition, ISBN 0-312-25464-4
Stephen Randall, editor. The
Playboy Interview Book: They Played the
Game. New York: M Press, 2006, ISBN 1-59582-046-9
Counterculture of the 1960s
List of men's magazines
Playboy's Book of Forbidden Words
Playboy: The Mansion
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Playboy Magazine Price Guide
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