What’s your take on Hugh Hefner and the Playboy empire he created in 1953? Misogynist? Genius? Visionary with smarts enough to align himself with everybody from Marilyn Monroe (first Playmate of the Month) to Shel Silverstein? One of the greatest marketing minds of the modern era; prophet of the Sexual Revolution; smut peddler; last of the Romantics; total dilettante; or maybe a combination of all of those things?
No matter how you or time judge Hefner and Playboy, the impact that both the magazine and the lifestyle has had on society is impressive. From the ubiquitous Playboy Bunny to his legal battles over his First Amendment rights, the outspoken man in the smoking jacket has earned a very unique place in America’s cultural history. Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, which Taschen has recently repackaged into a more affordable six-volume set, provides a visual glimpse into the Golden Age of Playboy, when the magazine was at the vanguard of high and lowbrow culture, the changing times, and it challenged the establishment in ways that might seem silly today, but were considered quite subversive in the twenty years following the Second World War. These (totally safe for work) images offer a glimpse into the workings and world of Hef and the magazine he founded.
Playboy issue #1
Hefner at work, with Cynthia Maddox, Chicago 1958
Interior of Playboy Mansion, Chicago 1960
Barbi Benton and Hefner, Miami 1970
Barbi Benton and Hefner, with Jet Bunnies, Los Angeles 1970
Hefner and Benton at Playboy Mansion West, 1970
Playboy’s first African-American cover star, Darine Stern, October, 1971
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hefner and Wilt Chamberlain, Playboy Mansion West, 1977
Farrah Fawcett, 1978