Playboy: The Iconic Magazine That Changed History

An October 13, 2015 photo shows a November 2015 issue of Playboy magazine in Washington, DC. Playboy said Tuesday it will stop publishing nude photos in its iconic magazine for men, throwing in the towel in the face of rampant online pornography. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

When the first Playboy magazine was published in 1953, it was difficult to believe that something that controversial could make a name for itself.

At the height of its popularity, everyone knew about Playboy magazine. There were plenty of opinions on it, but there’s no doubt that it forever changed the pop culture landscape in America.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of Playboy or looking to learn more about this iconic publication, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go through everything you need to know, from its humble beginnings to its current influence.

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started.

It Begins With Hugh Hefner

The man, the legend: Hugh Hefner. He started by working as a promotion copywriter at Esquire. Then, the magazine decided to move its offices to the Big Apple.

After World War II, men’s magazines were predominantly focused on the outdoors. Most of these magazines were connected by a male bonding that was formed in the war. There weren’t too many publications tailored to the bachelorhood state of a young man’s life before they settled down.

That’s where Hugh Hefner came in.

He decided to stay behind in Chicago and start a magazine of his own. He only spent $600 to get it started. It appeared in December 1953 with the one and only Marilyn Monroe gracing the cover.

She didn’t pose for the cover, but High purchased the infamous Nude from the John Baumgarth calendar company. Although they did not ask Marilyn for her permission, the scarlet’s reaction was quite casual and humorous. During a time of sexual repression, this was a revelation.

While many people associate Playboy magazine with its risque photography of beautiful young women, it was also home to many memorable interviews. Some that may come to mind include the Miles Davis interview, Vladimir Nabokov, or even the one with Jimmy Carter.

The Sexual Revolution

As Playboy magazine continued to make a name for itself, the so-called ‘lifestyle’ followed. Hugh Hefner built an enterprise full of private clubs, with cocktail waitresses dressed in bunny outfits. He would also throw elaborate parties at the Playboy mansion, encouraging an envious combination of hedonism and allure.

Hefner spent years of his life in this compound, surrounded by women. He was also able to expand the mansion to include a grotto, tennis and basketball courts, a gym, and a waterfall.

The ’70s and ’80s were the perfect time to be a blonde with ‘mammary tissue that appears to be injected with helium,’ as the New York Times described it. This became the standard of sex appeal that Playboy embraced.

When Playboy came out, it had to face the backlash of both conservatives and the feminist movement. Playboy was fueled by the rebellion against marriage constraints placed on men. It explored the option of sexual liberation without the guilt.

This came with its own mixed bag of benefits and tragedies. Plenty of Playboy bunnies have come forward with their own troubles that came from a lifetime of grandiose partying. At the same time, others continue to praise the fortune of being part of one of the most influential empires of all time.

The Rabbit Head Logo

As far as the iconic rabbit head logo, it was designed by Arthur Paul. He was the magazine’s first art director, and it appeared on the cover of every issue since the second. Hugh Hefner chose a rabbit because it’s cheeky, but there’s also a sexual connotation.

When you consider the playful humor of the publication, the logo is a perfect fit. The tuxedo adds an idea of sophistication, and it stands out from the competition since no other magazine had something that stood out so prominently.

Arthur Paul mentioned that he didn’t realize how important the rabbit logo would be and that he would have redrawn him a dozen times if he had known. However, he figures that none of the newer versions would have been as iconic as the first.

How Playboy Influenced the World

There was a time in the early 2000s when you couldn’t enter a shopping mall without seeing the Playboy logo plastered on different apparel. Playboy was also seen as a sort of right of passage for young men who were introduced to the magazine by older brothers.

There was even a reality show that followed Hefner and his main Playboy bunnies around the mansion.

It wasn’t long before Playboy became the biggest men’s magazine globally, selling about seven million copies a month at the peak of its success. Playboy changed how we talked about sex in the mainstream world, and it became a powerfully ubiquitous brand.

New magazines tried to emulate, but they always fell short. Hugh Hefner understood that men liked to look at pictures of pretty women, but they also wanted to read interesting articles. At the time of its launch, that was quite the radical shift.

Where Playboy Is Headed

Although it may not be as current as it once was, Playboy continues to be circulated in the Western world. Sexting and easy access to nude photographs has made the appeal of the magazine less potent.

In 2015, Hefner and the top editors stopped publishing photos of naked women to broaden its audience but quickly brought it back in 2017. Before Hugh Hefner’s death, he sold the mansion to the son of a billionaire investor.

Now Playboy is part of the nostalgic culture that seems to be quite prevalent. People look back at its influence with a sense of admiration and continue to adorn themselves with the iconic bunny logo whenever they have the chance.

This article proves that the Playboy empire is far from over. In fact, there’s plenty of opportunities for it to make a comeback.

An Empire Like No Other

Regardless of how you felt about Playboy, it’s undoubtedly made a name for itself. You hear the name when you’re an adolescent, and it’s difficult to escape after that. When it comes to such a successful publication, one has to wonder how it all came to be.

As Playboy continues to shift and shape itself to fit the modern era, it’s exciting to know what will come next.

Looking to start your own business that might become as big as Playboy? Then you’ll want to take a look at the business section of our blog! We have plenty of tips and tricks to help get you started.