Playboy Magazine: A Lifetime of Controversies

Playboy Magazine has always been surrounded by controversies. The very nature of the magazine attracts scandals, speculations, and publicity. From Hefner’s conquests to magazine’s playmates, the activities and lives of the people associated with the magazine has fascinated, shocked, and ignited the imagination of men throughout the world.

But the name “Playboy” which has now been associated with bunnies, black ties, and stars wasn’t supposed to be named thus. In fact, the magazine’s original title was supposed to be Stag Party. Hefner only changed it at almost the last minute when the Stag Magazine threatened with a lawsuit if they use this name. So Hefner and Playboy’s co-founder Eldon Sellers choose the name Playboy instead. It was named after the Playboy Automobile Company where Seller’s mother hand worked.

The first issue of Playboy Magazine was released in December 1953. It didn’t contain any date as the founders were unsure about how sales will turn out. As it was, the issue was actually sold out within weeks. It had Marilyn Monroe as the centerfold. Circulation of the first issue was pegged at around 54,000. Right now, near mint condition editions of the first issue can sell at $5,000 or more in the marketplace.

Ever since the first success of the magazine, endless scandals had appeared since then. Whether these rumors contained a grain of truth or not, nobody can deny that it is always entertaining to hear them. For example, in the 1950’s to the late 1970’s, the “P” in the Playboy logo contains stars around the letter. Some people claimed that this was the rating Hefner gave the Playmate according to the number he slept with her, her attractiveness, and how great she was in the bedroom. However, the stars were actually an indication of the regional advertising region of that printing.

Aside from controversies surrounding the centerfold and Hefner, Playboy is also notable for its Q-A style discussion with influential individuals of the time. For example, Playboy had featured an interview with Martin Luther King, Yoko Ono, and Malcolm X among others. Jimmy Carter has also been quoted by Playboy as saying “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times”. These interviews reflect the pop culture and the perspectives of different eras.

There are now many editions of Playboy around the world. The magazine has licensed publishers from other countries to adapt Playboy to the local culture and preference. But seldom has there been a success story as large as that of the original.