Playboy magazine may bring to mind voluptuous centerfolds and airbrushing, but Hugh Hefner’s men’s mag was actually an effective editorial force. From in-depth interviews to fiction writing and essays, Playboy elevated itself above some tawdry titty mags while simultaneously helping shape culture at large.
Horny guys caught with bawdy magazines often claimed they were reading for its articles; while this may have been partly true, this wasn’t entirely accurate: these publications provided more than just sexually provocative imagery and comedic entertainment: many profound texts can be found within its pages.
Gore Vidal brought his trademark erudition and push back against gender norms to the typically male readership of Time Magazine with his groundbreaking article entitled, “The Sexual Conspiracy of the Power Elite”. At that time it was revolutionary!
Marylin Monroe was one of Playboy magazine’s earliest cover models in 1949 and sold the photographs she posed nude for as a way to supplement her income as an actress struggling to make ends meet. While selling them was controversial at the time, it is commendable that she used this opportunity to market herself effectively.
Playboy magazine has always been known for its progressive content. Their early coverage of HIV/AIDS remains influential today, drawing attention to both its severity and encouraging the creation of condoms while raising awareness about it. Their new leadership team has assured their staff they will take progressive stances that elevate Playboy beyond mere sexuality.