As a semi-struggling writer, I would like to say a few words about Hefner, the quintessential Playboy…
Let’s also take a moment to remember that “I read Playboy for the articles” is more than just a joke.
Way back when I was up to the nose in puberty and the Internet didn’t exist for us commoners, when I did happen to come across a ‘Playboy’, I’d … err … peruse the pictures quite a bit… After a while, the reading addict I am, would inevitably get caught up in one of the articles and start reading it. And then all of them. To be honest, I was surprised at how well written some of those were.
That said, I’ve never bought a ‘Playboy’ or similar magazine as an adult… (much as to some college friends’ disagreement!). Mainly because it was the magazine that many men used to help with their masturbation efforts, but there was also a reason to look at the magazine, post-wank!
The Playboy’s literary aspect was vast… most readers would agree with me on this aspect.
Mentioned below are some of the many such pieces that further substantiates this, and just does not view Playboy with the brand marketing it is associated with.
Now to highlight its literary aspect…
(Attached below is the 1968 Playboy issue, copied from the net) …
It’s December 1968 and you grab a magazine at the local newsstand (picture given above)
The table of contents includes the following… A quartet of short stories by Alberto Moravia… a symposium on creativity with contributions from Truman Capote, Lawrence Durrell, James T. Farrell, Allen Ginsberg, Le Roi Jones, Arthur Miller, Henry Miller, Norman Podhoretz, Georges Simenon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, William Styron and John Updike..
Humor pieces from Jean Shepherd and Robert Morley… An article on pacifism in America by Norman Thomas… A piece on how machines will change our lives by Arthur C. Clarke…An essay on “the overheated image” by Marshall McLuhan… Contributions from Eric Hoffer and Alan Watts…An article in defense of academic irresponsibility by Leslie Fiedler…A memoir of Hemingway by his son Patrick… Eldridge Cleaver interviewed by Nat Hentoff…A travel piece by the espionage novelist Len Deighton…And the first English translation of a poem by Goethe.
Yes, folks, that was Playboy!
And lest you think that issue was a fluke, an overstuffed Christmas goodie, the ad for the January 1969 issue promises a story from P.G. Wodehouse, an article by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, fiction from Robert Coover and Sean O’Faolain, and a never before published tale by Lytton Strachey.
Now back to Hef and Playboy…
Playboy’s pages became cherished terrain for writers who wanted to experiment and stretch their boundaries. Playboy “was bold and frank… Contributors over the years have included a galaxy of stars, among them Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, Margaret Atwood, Shel Silverstein, Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin and Joyce Carol Oates.
Sure, the reason most of us started reading Playboy was for the girls!
While most of its competitors were in the business of porn/ eroticism, plainly for the monetary aspect… Playboy appealed to a considerably broader audience than what its brand identity suggested… In other words, “if you take the nudity out, what’s left?”
Over the years, to be fair, Playboy faced the same issues that porn companies have faced for years. How do you make money in a landscape overflowing with free pornography?
Adult-industry experts lament at the porn glut and wonder how to stay alive. Playboy finds itself now just as disposable as the beautiful women who have worked for it as models over the years.
Hugh Hefner, once told Playmates at a reunion: “Without you, I’d be the publisher of a literary magazine.”
And then what is a piece nowadays without the mention of the Big T!
I would be lying if I said that I was never a fan of Hefner, but more so, I can emphatically state that his magazine has and had more academic excellence than many may realize.
Of course, when buying a Playboy Magazine and checking out, please don’t forget to ask for a brown paper bag!