Playboy is not just a magazine. It has established itself as more than a brand, you can call it an empire. An American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine founded by Hugh Hefner and his associates in Chicago way back in 1953, the magazine still remains a symbol of the outgoing male culture.
Initially, called “Stag Party”, Playboy played an important role in the sexual revolution of the later 1900s. Known for its centerfolds of nude and semi-nude models, it soon became a known brand, and grew into Playboy Enterprises, Inc. Its special nation-specific versions are published worldwide.
Hefner, the man behind this huge empire and the Playboy brand, were both promoted as symbols of the sexual revolution. Ridiculed for many years as vulgar, adolescent, abusive and obsolete, both gained huge success with time.
Hefner’s gutsy approach took Playboy to astounding heights. In December 1953, Hefner published the first issue of the magazine with Marilyn Monroe’s nude calendar shoot as its centerfold. The magazine sold over 54,000 copies at 50 cents each. In 1963, one of its issues included nude pictures of an American actress. It led to Hefner’s arrest for showcasing vulgarity and obscenity. However, the charges were soon dropped as the jury was unable arrive at a decision.
Hefner chose a rabbit as the magazine’s mascot since he associated rabbit with humorous sexual connotations. By 1970, Playboy’s rabbit head logo reached such heights of popularity that readers could merely draw a rabbit head on an envelope and expect their message to reach the desired destination. Another huge step was taken in 1970, when Playboy launched its first braille version, becoming the first-ever men’s magazine for the blind people. It took Hugh Hefner’s influence beyond “dirty” pictures and publications.
Even after six decades of glorious fame, Playboy remains to control the men’s magazine sector to this day with over 2.6 million sales a month in the U.S. alone. While Hugh Hefner will forever remain the icon of the sexual revolution.