American Playboy 

 

September 2017. My wife and I saw the news that Hugh Hefner had died at the age of 91. We both had Hef stories, mostly about visits to the mansion or Hollywood-related events. We reminisced about having a private view of a controversial public figure. There’d be days of Hefner stories on the web, countered by attacks and a dismissive, “he was a dinosaur who outlived his times” tone in prestige media.

The magazine, which certainly changed mass attitudes towards acceptable levels of female nudity and sex in general, lived long enough to have seen its readership decimated by the internet making that type of subject matter free. In that one regard, Playboy is not much different than Time or Newsweek; it’s still a worldwide brand, but it’s no longer a moneymaking magazine empire. Within mere weeks of Hugh M. Hefner’s death, #metoo would enter the culture with hurricane force; from a cynic’s or even a friend’s point of view, Hef’s exit timing was frankly lucky.

Earlier that year, Amazon aired an authorized docudrama, American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story. It’s pretty good, semi-Mad Men in mood. This is a documentary with some dramatic re-creations, an awkward format at best, but the balance between the real footage and the recreations is smartly handled. Matt Whelan, playing Hefner, does fine, though the scene recreations didn’t call for great acting.

He started out as far from the world-class swinger the world would later see him as. An adolescent dream of working for Esquire hadn’t worked out. Launching his own men’s magazine was a bold risk for someone without money of his own. In the early Fifties, Hef was shy, cerebral and still somewhat provincial.

Episode 2 shows the last-minute change of the magazine’s name and symbol from Stag Party to Playboy, and the birth of the rabbit logo that took an art director fifteen minutes to create and endures to this day as a worldwide symbol of woo-hoo commercialized sex. Buying a Marilyn Monroe nude photo, done for a calendar years before she became famous, now seems like such an obvious idea, it’s amazing that Hefner was the first. By present-day standards it’s comical how little it cost, but it was the publicity gimmick that launched them. The first issue of Playboy was undated and didn’t even name the publisher because nobody knew if there’d be a second one.

One subtle thing the filmmakers don’t point out: don’t be shocked, but at the beginning, other than the gatefold, the women weren’t naked. They were saucily posed to not conceal very much, but the magazine hadn’t quite gone as bold as we tend to remember it. Shows like this usually oversimplify the past (in the case of the unfashionable Fifties, smear it altogether) but this is a fair look at the times (1952-55 so far), delivered without much condescension.

Hefner gives a lot of credit to the behind-the-scenes people who were its first staff, including Richard Rosensweig, who I’d know decades later. A fascinating sidelight was marketing whiz Victor Lownes, who in a sense was the “real” playboy, the man who taught Hef a lot of his ring-a-ding-ding swinger’s style. When the circulation manager became one of the models, it’s both a quirky anecdote about how small a group it was, and a preview of the upcoming defense of Hefner against charges of sexism: Hey, women like doing this! It’s empowering! Well…sometimes…maybe.

The next American Playboy was about the creation of the Playboy Clubs, for a quarter century as famous as the magazine itself, a chance to sample the world of the magazine in person. Like Henry Ford, or Steve Jobs, or Walt Disney, Hugh Marston Hefner made his mark by expertly redefining concepts he didn’t invent. There were other “key clubs” before Playboy’s. There were plenty of nightclubs that dressed their waitresses, hatcheck and roving “cigarette girls” in provocative uniforms. Having no experience in running clubs or restaurants, he sensibly went into business with one of Chicago’s established restauranteurs, Arnie Morton, who set up a jazz club with a sexy gimmick.

At first the waitresses would be called Playmates, and they’d wear nightgowns. There were obvious practical problems with the idea. Someone came up with bunny costume version #1, introduced on Hef’s short-lived first TV show, 1959-60’s Playboy Penthouse. It was close to the costume we once knew, but it was rabbit-white, to be changed later to darker shades of satin. The ears were realistically, but unattractively long, and the tuft of bunny tail too big. It’s like looking at a slightly disconcerting early rendering of a cartoon character.

Like the moment in Chaplin when Robert Downey Jr first puts on the mustache, derby, and cane; with the addition of detached cuffs, Playboy cufflinks, and a collar with bow tie, the bunny costume suddenly snaps into place and becomes the classic one we recognize.

The waitress-as-Bunny is one of the most obviously over-the-top sexist ideas that would be associated with the Playboy brand and defines it to this day, even though the clubs closed forty years ago. Despite the image, there was no nudity or sexual behavior involved in being a Bunny. Amazon’s Hef-approved story treads carefully, building its case that this was not all that different from other things young women sort-of willingly went through in those days, such as the deportment “schools” run by airlines, modeling agencies and secretarial schools.

The show is tacitly Playboy’s defense case that the “girls” were the stars and main attractions of the clubs, that they knew it, and usually enjoyed it. Black women testify that they made a lot of money and didn’t feel exploited. Interviews with Jesse Jackson and Dick Gregory offer a defense. A couple of female authors concur that given the tendencies of the times, the Playboy Club wasn’t so bad.

The Sixties were the zenith of Playboy’s influence.  Their second shot at television, Playboy After Dark, 1969-‘71, has remarkably high production value for a syndicated, off-network program. It almost looks like it could have been recorded yesterday. Take a look at any episode on YouTube. Hef makes a good host, reading his lines with ease, and seeming to be enjoying himself. The talent was excellent; the main musical guests in this segment were Ike and Tina Turner.

Now, is the whole thing artificial? Of course. This isn’t his real apartment, and this isn’t a real party, but it feels too much like one to be a total fake. As you’d expect there are lots of pretty women around, but they’re all dressed in mainstream miniskirts, supposedly the dates of the young men who are the less-noticed extras on the set. They aren’t harem girls. Hefner’s commitment to serious jazz and a smattering of serious talk was sincere and added to the perception of a quality show. In addition, it’s remarkable how racially integrated the party guests are for a 1969 show.

It was at this time — the dawn of the Seventies — that Hugh Hefner bought the Playboy Mansion, moving the magazine to the West Coast as well. By now, his DC-9 jet had become a famous flying advertisement for the Playboy lifestyle. This is the Hefner-as-a-public-figure that most people remember. Hefner, at the height of respectability now, became a major patron of the arts. The city-owned Hollywood Bowl hosted the Playboy Jazz Festival every summer.

Some clouds began appearing. After more than a decade of expensive effort, Playboy’s lawyers managed to make the magazine mailable and saleable in most of the US. That had the unintended effect of encouraging imitators. The biggest was Penthouse, with less pretentious writing, but kinkier pictures than Hefner allowed. Hustler was even more down-market. Larry Flynt, its rather undiplomatic owner, said “The fundamental problem with Hugh is he will not admit that he is a pornographer.”

It all hit Playboy at a time when some of the bets they’d made at the top of the market were souring. A record label and a movie production company drained cash. The most expensive mistake may have been Great Gorge, a ski resort and luxury hotel within driving range of New York and Philadelphia. It failed within a few years due to bad planning and bad luck. As big as the magazine was, it was never part of an empire like Time-Life, Warner Bros. or NBC.

The least welcome intrusion on Hefner’s sexual revolution was one he didn’t expect. Playboy and Hefner were set up to defend themselves against people they considered puritans and anti-sex crusaders, with an attitude that ranged between righteous and gleeful. But their real enemy, the one with staying power, was feminism. For all the coy jokes and the magazine’s attempts to co-op that movement, over time it clearly hurt Playboy’s progressive self-image, and cultural clout, badly. American Playboy offers Hugh Hefner’s rare, rueful acknowledgment that he underestimated what was glibly dismissed as “women’s lib.”

The Amazon docudrama loses some of its focus after this point. Some inter-business intrigue is well detailed and dramatic. The company, and Hefner, talked themselves into another risky venture: gambling. This tangled Playboy in endless trans-national fights to keep their gaming licenses. He ended up selling the jet, which he later called his worst decision. The mansion continued to prosper for decades, longer than the magazine did. It was more than just a shrewd real estate move out of freezing Chicago to booming California; it became Hef’s prime fantasy showpiece, the Cinderella’s Castle of a libertine’s five-acre theme park. It was a valuable icon to the company, a photo backdrop, and a key part of the Playboy mystique.

That’s how we became part of its orbit, for a while, 30 to 40 or so years ago. My own path to Holmby Hills started at the towering Playboy building on Sunset Boulevard. The publisher supported the arts and donated lots of money, as well as special and rare movie projectors we could never have located, let alone afforded, to Filmex, the Los Angeles film festival where I was the general manager. I used to meet with Richard Rosensweig, for decades one of HMH’s top executives, coordinating press releases. Hef must have liked us. We got top level treatment now: lavish fundraising parties at the mansion.

My wife had a separate path to 10236 Charing Cross Road (just south of Sunset Blvd, just east of UCLA). At the start of the Eighties, and for many years thereafter she was the national “print booker”—film copies controller—for Sam Goldwyn, Jr. In addition to her usual job, sending movies to theaters around the country, she was Goldwyn’s handler of the Bel Air Circuit, a term that appears in no film textbook, but is well understood within the film industry.

The Circuit was an informal group of several hundred Los Angeles-based stars and celebrities like Hefner, studio bosses, TV network execs, and top media investors who had 35mm theatrical projection equipment in their living rooms. Anyone in that charmed circle could screen the latest films at home for free. Dealing with them, being a studio’s facilitator or gatekeeper, was a coveted job within a job.

Of this privileged group of about a dozen, eight of them were women. They had regular thank-you group get-together lunches, courtesy of the Playboy mansion. That’s what went on at the Playboy mansion, day after day, evening after evening: not orgies, but sedate thank-you social events planned to gain influence, gain money, or both. Naturally, Hef’s genial hospitality was remembered when he wanted a film. How many women turned up their noses at the invitations? Few if any. People were less politically correct than we think.

In the early Nineties, at one of these luncheons, my wife did her usual thing of cutting through the vague goodwill and asking Hugh Hefner an innocent question: can we see the baby pictures of Marston? It was a lightning cue. He ran out of the room and proudly brought the album. As the women passed the album around the table, there was a natural ooh-ing and aah-ing; for 170 years baby pictures have always elicited that response. But there was also something else: a timeless joy in un-Playboy-like fatherhood that seemed almost poignant.

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  1. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Gary McVey: In addition, it’s remarkable how racially integrated the party guests are for a 1969 show.

    We’ve talked about it before, but the people blathering today about representation don’t seem to have any conception of what was going on starting in the 60s and into the 70s.  If anything, black people tended to be a bit over-represented, and were the only minority of any number at the time.  Except for Jews, of course, but they were also over-represented, both in front of and behind the camera, particularly well behind, in the form of studio execs.

    These kids today should learn some perspective and get off my lawn.

    • #1
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: In addition, it’s remarkable how racially integrated the party guests are for a 1969 show.

    We’ve talked about it before, but the people blathering today about representation don’t seem to have any conception of what was going on starting in the 60s and into the 70s. If anything, black people tended to be a bit over-represented, and were the only minority of any number at the time. Except for Jews, of course, but they were also over-represented, both in front of and behind the camera, particularly well behind, in the form of studio execs.

    These kids today should learn some perspective and get off my lawn.

    When I moved to L.A. in the late Seventies: On screen, minorities, to Hollywood, still meant black and not much else. In NYC, I never knew people with gardeners or housekeepers, let alone nannies or maids or cooks. There were certainly some of those people in the rarefied canyons of Park Avenue or Central Park West but there was no reason for other, normal human beings to encounter them. But the liberal Hollywood of almost fifty years ago, already sensitive about portrayals of African-Americans, was still dismissive about Latinos, a much larger minority group all around them. This isn’t mere anecdotal stuff: I saw this repellent upper class condescension first hand.

    I wasn’t impressed.

    EDIT: Yeah, get off my lawn too.

    • #2
  3. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    “Hustler was even more down-market” made me laugh. 

    • #3
  4. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    • #4
  5. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    thelonious (View Comment):

    “Hustler was even more down-market” made me laugh.

    I know that many of my fellow members laugh at the whole idea of drawing distinctions. 

    • #5
  6. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    With some exaggerated claims of sexism out there, it’s easy to ignore real, valid ones.

    • #6
  7. Macho Grande' Coolidge
    Macho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Great post, Gary.

    I’m 56.  The number of friends that did not have a Playboy or ten somewhere in their rooms growing up, into high school and a bit beyond, is zero.

    Nudity isn’t pornography.

     

    • #7
  8. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    I’ve often been fascinated by figures like Elvis or The Beatles, who seem to be ground-breaking leaders of social change, when in fact they were just really good at figuring out where everybody was going and then leading them there.

    That may sound insulting, but it’s not meant to be.  That’s a valuable skill.  Mr. Hefner certainly earned a good living doing so…

    • #8
  9. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Your conversations are always fascinating- this one maybe more than usual. Where else would we ever hear this stuff? 

    • #9
  10. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Macho Grande' (View Comment):

    Great post, Gary.

    I’m 56. The number of friends that did not have a Playboy or ten somewhere in their rooms growing up, into high school and a bit beyond, is zero.

    Nudity isn’t pornography.

     

    Nudity is a common component in pornography. It depends on how it’s presented. Playboy I would categorize as soft-porn but porn none the less. We all know what you and your teenage friends were using it for.

    My uncle had them just laying on the coffee table when we’d go visit him. He was a swingin kind of guy who lived pretty hard. I think in his my mind, showing off his Playboy stash was a sophisticated thing to do. He was a “I read Playboy for the articles” guy. 

    • #10
  11. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Another great article – thank you, Gary!

    But I would have learned more if you had included pictures. I am not a keen student of Playboy, so I have no idea how, for example, the bunny costume evolved. I am not requesting nudity – just pictures to help understand the points you are making. From a marketing and business perspective (which is the angle you take), there are things to be learned in this history.

    The irony of Playboy being done in by Feminism, the other “beneficiaries” of the Pill and Abortion, is pretty rich,.

     

    • #11
  12. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    thelonious: I think in his my mind, showing off his Playboy stash was a sophisticated thing to do. He was a “I read Playboy for the articles” guy.

    Who wasn’t that guy?

    But, seriously, the interview was always a journalistic endeavor that made news. Jimmy Carter’s ’76 campaign used it to “soften” his reputation as a morally unbending lay Baptist preacher. (“I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”)

    John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s interview appeared two days before Mark David Chapman killed him.

    Alex Haley interviewing Miles Davis? Mike Wallace grabbing the last interview from Jimmy Hoffa?

    • #12
  13. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve often been fascinated by figures like Elvis or The Beatles, who seem to be ground-breaking leaders of social change, when in fact they were just really good at figuring out where everybody was going and then leading them there.

    That may sound insulting, but it’s not meant to be. That’s a valuable skill. Mr. Hefner certainly earned a good living doing so…

    Isn’t this famously what politicians do? “See that sun coming up over there? My administration will make sure that happens every day! Sunlight for all!”

    • #13
  14. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve often been fascinated by figures like Elvis or The Beatles, who seem to be ground-breaking leaders of social change, when in fact they were just really good at figuring out where everybody was going and then leading them there.

    That may sound insulting, but it’s not meant to be. That’s a valuable skill. Mr. Hefner certainly earned a good living doing so…

    Isn’t this famously what politicians do? “See that sun coming up over there? My administration will make sure that happens every day! Sunlight for all!”

    The occasional politician is a leader – Churchill or somebody who leads his people through difficult times.

    But you’re right.  Most politicians are followers. 

    • #14
  15. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):

    “Hustler was even more down-market” made me laugh.

    I know that many of my fellow members laugh at the whole idea of drawing distinctions.

    I think the laugh comes because it’s an understatement.  Playboy strove to be intellectual and upper-crust, while Hustler was happily at the bottom of the barrel.

    • #15
  16. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    I had no idea, when I got up this morning, that the first thing I’d do after breakfast is read up on the history of Playboy! American AND Brazilian. I only thought of the latter because I once read a story that was once in it. Anyway, the magazine’s vicissitudes south of the border were not quite the same as those in the U.S., though I’m pretty sure both editions fizzled for the same reason: you can find lots more pix of nude women on the Internet. And for free. For most, uh, consumers, literary quality is surely secondary.

    There are, or have been, many other-than-American versions of Playboy, and I think you can read about ’em all on Wikipedia. I wouldn’t be surprised if each one’s history is, except for its end, different. To summarize Brazil’s: it only came into existence in 1975, and at first with a different name, because a government minister flatly refused to allow “Playboy” to appear. So for a few years it called itself Men. Then the dictatorship relaxed a bit, and the magazine started showing not just the real name but the logo. Which it could, because it was paying Hef’s company royalties.

    My research (here, “research”=”also looking at Portuguese Wikipedia”) tells me that the main reason Brazil ever got this magazine was, America had it. Not all Brazilian culture works that way, but quite a bit does. The son of a publishing magnate decided this had to be a fine idea, and for a while, it was. The country’s unelected leadership wasn’t too obstructive, although it never was helpful. Unlike English Wikipedia, which dutifully remarks on the dictatorship’s dreariness and just assumes you know how such a thing works – or just assumes you assume the whole continent is soldiers and shoeshine boys – the Portuguese account gives a few details. There were censors, and there were ways to fox them. I have not yet learned the Portuguese for “bait and switch,” but I have now confirmed my guess what it is for “wet T-shirt.” I get the idea the middle-echelon military officers who actually passed judgment were either very literal-minded and by-the-book, or just the opposite, depending on which philosophy got the work off their desks faster. The rules may have been very wordy, and technicalities that didn’t actually displease everybody could always be found.

    • #16
  17. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):

    “Hustler was even more down-market” made me laugh.

    I know that many of my fellow members laugh at the whole idea of drawing distinctions.

    I think the laugh comes because it’s an understatement. Playboy strove to be intellectual and upper-crust, while Hustler was happily at the bottom of the barrel.

    That’s not what I found amusing about it. It wouldn’t be Coc compliant to explain why I found it amusing.

    • #17
  18. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):

    “Hustler was even more down-market” made me laugh.

    I know that many of my fellow members laugh at the whole idea of drawing distinctions.

    I think the laugh comes because it’s an understatement. Playboy strove to be intellectual and upper-crust, while Hustler was happily at the bottom of the barrel.

    Hustler was about five feet below the bottom of the barrel.  I think Juggs ranked higher than hustler on the class-o-meter.  

    • #18
  19. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Hef was the subject of the deep philosophical question shared by my fellow teen males: “Yeah, but is he really happy?”

    Like many great questions, there is the answer you are supposed to give and the one you wished was true.

    • #19
  20. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):

    “Hustler was even more down-market” made me laugh.

    I know that many of my fellow members laugh at the whole idea of drawing distinctions.

    I think the laugh comes because it’s an understatement. Playboy strove to be intellectual and upper-crust, while Hustler was happily at the bottom of the barrel.

    Hustler was about five feet below the bottom of the barrel. I think Juggs ranked higher than hustler on the class-o-meter.

    Juggs, hmm? Reminds me of my favorite porno mag which none of us ever saw: Al Bundy’s “Bigguns”. I still laugh all these years later just thinking about the tittle. I mean title.

    • #20
  21. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve often been fascinated by figures like Elvis or The Beatles, who seem to be ground-breaking leaders of social change, when in fact they were just really good at figuring out where everybody was going and then leading them there.

    That may sound insulting, but it’s not meant to be. That’s a valuable skill. Mr. Hefner certainly earned a good living doing so…

    He refined the rough edges from porn and gave the magazine a distinct attitude. I’ve mentioned some other famous people who basically took an idea and made it saleable. Ford didn’t invent cars, but he made them cheaper and standardized; Jobs and Wozniak didn’t create the personal computer, but Jobs’ marketing made it seem not only un-intimidating, but chic; Disney didn’t invent animation, but he managed to turn barnyard animals into cuteness, not easy to do. 

    • #21
  22. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):

    “Hustler was even more down-market” made me laugh.

    I know that many of my fellow members laugh at the whole idea of drawing distinctions.

    I think the laugh comes because it’s an understatement. Playboy strove to be intellectual and upper-crust, while Hustler was happily at the bottom of the barrel.

    Hustler was about five feet below the bottom of the barrel. I think Juggs ranked higher than hustler on the class-o-meter.

    Hmm…have to agree. Sometimes making these fine distinctions takes the collective work of the hive mind of Ricochet, home of Conservative Community and Conversation. 

    • #22
  23. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve often been fascinated by figures like Elvis or The Beatles, who seem to be ground-breaking leaders of social change, when in fact they were just really good at figuring out where everybody was going and then leading them there.

    That may sound insulting, but it’s not meant to be. That’s a valuable skill. Mr. Hefner certainly earned a good living doing so…

    He refined the rough edges from porn and gave the magazine a distinct attitude. I’ve mentioned some other famous people who basically took an idea and made it saleable. Ford didn’t invent cars, but he made them cheaper and standardized; Jobs and Wozniak didn’t create the personal computer, but Jobs’ marketing made it seem not only un-intimidating, but chic; Disney didn’t invent animation, but he managed to turn barnyard animals into cuteness, not easy to do.

    Obama didn’t invent communism, but he made it seem less terrifying – even wholesome – not easy to do.

    • #23
  24. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    EJHill (View Comment):

    thelonious: I think in his my mind, showing off his Playboy stash was a sophisticated thing to do. He was a “I read Playboy for the articles” guy.

    Who wasn’t that guy?

    But, seriously, the interview was always a journalistic endeavor that made news. Jimmy Carter’s ’76 campaign used it to “soften” his reputation as a morally unbending lay Baptist preacher. (“I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”)

    John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s interview appeared two days before Mark David Chapman killed him.

    Alex Haley interviewing Miles Davis? Mike Wallace grabbing the last interview from Jimmy Hoffa?

    Playboy was a genuine newsmaker for decades. The Playboy Interview was Hefner’s pride and joy. It was taken very seriously. Another memorable Alex Haley interview: Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. Both interviewer and subject were equally amused at the idea: the black guy interviewing the Nazi. 

    • #24
  25. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Hef was the subject of the deep philosophical question shared by my fellow teen males: “Yeah, but is he really happy?”

    Like many great questions, there is the answer you are supposed to give and the one you wished was true.

    If you happen to have a tachyon beam and a telegraph key, send this message to your teen self: “Yeah, he’s actually happy”.  Towards the end, I don’t know. I last saw him about twenty years before his death. He seemed pretty happy. 

    One thing about the mansion and the magazine headquarters: no drama. Cool and collected. No screamers. 

    • #25
  26. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Hasn’t it been true for quite some time now, that Playboy makes most of their income from licensing the name and the bunny symbol?  Especially in Asia, from what I read.

    • #26
  27. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I’ll mention a couple movies, too:  “A Bunny’s Tale,” with Kirstie Alley playing Gloria Steinem “undercover” working at a Playboy club in New York, and “Posing: Inspired By Three Real Stories,” from 1991.

    Also, I remember a girl I went to high school with in Oregon, appeared in one of the “Girls Of The PAC-10” issues, I think the year after graduating.

    • #27
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I only read it for the drink recipes.

    • #28
  29. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Hasn’t it been true for quite some time now, that Playboy makes most of their income from licensing the name and the bunny symbol? Especially in Asia, from what I read.

    Absolutely true. This goes back decades.  Rather like Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner and Playboy became a licensable brand name that no longer had much connection to the original business (real estate and publishing, respectively). The bunny symbol is still one of the world’s most recognized trademarks. 

    A tangent: some companies have a vastly shrunken market but still exist, like Eastman Kodak, while others are strictly “ghosts”, like Polaroid, whose name shows up to this day on Chinese and Korean made products, 

    • #29
  30. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Hasn’t it been true for quite some time now, that Playboy makes most of their income from licensing the name and the bunny symbol? Especially in Asia, from what I read.

    Absolutely true. This goes back decades. Rather like Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner and Playboy became a licensable brand name that no longer had much connection to the original business (real estate and publishing, respectively). The bunny symbol is still one of the world’s most recognized trademarks.

    A tangent: some companies have a vastly shrunken market but still exist, like Eastman Kodak, while others are strictly “ghosts”, like Polaroid, whose name shows up to this day on Chinese and Korean made products,

    Also Sansui, and Bell & Howell…

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