Playboy in its early years was certainly an innovative magazine. In contrast, or rather complement, to the buxom beauties, the magazine’s inclusion of jazz and literature, plus references to Nietzsche and psychoanalysis, gave it a highbrow edge not found in today’s magazines, in which articles on socially relevant topics, rather than aesthetic matters, provide the weight. Moreover, Playboy‘s editorial vision really did encapsulate a lifestyle, whereas today a “lifestyle” magazine is not one guided by philosophy, but by consumer choices. Of course, Playboy is in fact largely credited with creating the modern urban male consumer
Like bohemian writers in tweed jackets or jazz musicians playing avant-garde music in gray suits, Hefner wore conservative clothing while radically changing America’s views on sex. Recently I discovered a tattered paperback called “Big Bunny,” written by Joe Goldberg in 1967. The book chronicles Hefner and his empire and includes the following passages:
Black-haired, instense, slightly under six feet, he looks, in his often-photographed costume of white button-down shirt, orange cardigan sweater, slacks, loafers and pipe, like a college senior on his way to class.
[Hefner’s] dress is conservative-casual. His suits are custom-made Continental or Ivy League — he has two complete wardrobes. But he says, “Taste isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you develop. When I came out of the war, I was wearing the broad shoulders, wide lapels like everybody else. But when I went to work [as a copywriter] for Carson’s [a Chicago department store], I discovered Ivy and Brooks Brothers and wore it consistently thereafter.”
That is, until he started wearing pajamas all the time. Lastly, let this be a lesson to our younger readers: There was a time when it was possible to wear conservative clothes unironically, keep your hair neat and smoke a pipe, and not be considered a young fogey. — CC
Photo from the Chicago Tribune.
Hef is now an old d*****bag surrounded by brainless and not even pretty bimbos. The magazine is also worthless as far as non-pictorial content.
Brilliant find as always, Christian!! Let’s pray that the youth will heed those wise words at the end of your essay…..If only it were that easy ….sigh….
he wore the ivy clothing in an attempt to appeal to the mainstream of america in order to sell more magazines…he obviously had no values behind the clothing….I like pretty women but his magazine is currently trash. The girls have fake body parts and the photos are airbrushed. He seems like a pervert
The magazine is a reflection of current tastes, which evidently — for reasons I can’t explain — includes the taste for spray-tanned, fake-boobed, depilated airbrushed bimbos.
If the magazine is trash, it’s because so are we.
“If the magazine is trash…”? Speak for yourself, sir.
Hopefully he is generalizing about american males in general and not about us fine gentleman that post on ivy style
Great post. This is my first time visiting your blog. It is really incredible. I love Playboy of that era.
neat hair, classic American dress, and a full briar, can’t go wrong with that combo.
Forgetting for a moment what Playboy magazine has devolved to in 2014, the original magazine appeared at a time when men, some of them at least, aspired to be urbane sophisticates, instead of the Joe the Plumber slobs that now reign supreme almost everywhere in public and private life. Even guys with degrees can’t manage to leave behind (and presumably don’t want to) their phillistine attitudes, aspirations, and behaviors these days. But since everything is pitched to such a low , readily attainable level now, why bother when easy credit makes everything accessible?
Heinz-Ulrich von B.
Hef is best remembered–if at all–as he was then, and not as he has been ever since.
it was never a great magazine – it was the beginnings of destructive ideas – just the term play’boy’ -heralded the beginnings of the perpetual adolescent. it’s not surprising the culture is in the decline it is today.
All such behavior, when indulged winds up in misery, addiction and decadence whether individuals or an entire culture.
There is nothing ‘new’ in what he did, it’s as old as the decay of any once great civilization
I, too, once I saw a few issues of Playboy, wondered if this was a great put-on or a serious attempt to justify looking at attractive naked woman. Was the end-game of this, so-called nuvo male, to be male of the future? Can one be educated, urbane, sophisticated and strive to be always surrounded by semi-naked women in bunny suits?
I think the key word is *references* to Nietzsche and psychoanalysis. It was mostly surface, and imitative, though definitely quintessentially American, and the ads highly aspirational and aimed at a mass-market consumer. Its ads and copy never quite reached what it aspired to, though the women did, especially in the 70s, before they came all plastic and airbrushed.
In my opinion, Hef holds the distinction of appearing on the most boring episode of Firing Line ever aired.
Playboy’s great innovation was not pinups, or faux-intellectual blather. It was the packaging of both into a new form – the worship of material culture, an unashamed clarion call to consume, and through consumption to achieve the “American Dream” – a car, a boat, the newest unfortunate fashion trend (I’ve gone through every single issue of the magazine through the mid-1970s – Ivy/trad makes appearances both few and far-between), and a blonde woman who is both innocent and dirty, your mistress and your daughter (“Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?” – Donald Trump).
Fascinating artifacts of American culture. Not worth much else. Hef never had good style, and his favorite jazz musician was Stan Kenton, which really sums it all up.
No matter the topic, this site and its commentariat eventually get back to mother’s milk: griping about other people. They’re morons, slobs, sheep, without class or ideas. And pity the poor, brave soul who posts pictures here of his wardrobe. The Romans treated the early Christians better.
But it seems in the DNA of this site to complain and then marvel that the scolding doesn’t bring more people to this style. Because, perhaps, that then allows everyone to once again confirm that people these days are morons, slobs, sheep, without class or ideas. Rinse and repeat.
How about a celebration instead of a perpetual funeral? How about what we like rather than how that makes us a thousand times better than the morons, slobs, sheep, without class or ideas?
I recall sending in a coupon for a free pouch of Mixture No. 79 pipe tobacco, back in 1972. The coupon was in an early 1972 Playboy magazine, I was stationed in Fort Knox at the time. Didn’t know “79” was Hef’s preferred tobacco at the time.
Stuff tasted like anise and soap, and I threw the tobacco away.
Bought a package some years ago, and actually like the tobacco. Have a canister of it that I will tap, once the weather warms up, for golf course smoking.
Light up, if you got it, borrow off Christian if you don’t.
From a site called Ivy Style:
Re : “people these days are morons, slobs, sheep, without class or ideas”.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Of all the people in this world, Keith Richard of the Stones had this to say about Hefner: ” A pimp. High class, but a pimp ! ” If anyone has been around the block the Stones have and no doubt, they know a thing or two when they see a thing or two.
Playboy reminds me of a bit of Rolling Stone – it was the right product at the right time, but as both owners aged, the publications lost relevancy. Both publications served each owners purposes (i.e. Heff’s Little Black Book).
PLAYBOY was not the first men’s magazine to package pinups and “faux-intellectual blather” into a worship of material culture. That (dis)honor goes to ESQUIRE, which displayed this formula, fully formed, from its very first issue in 1933. Hefner briefly worked for Esquire before founding Playboy: he knew who to steal from.
Stan Kenton never was as hip as Miles Davis or John Coltrane, of course, but still he made some great music. I recommend his album “City of Glass”.
Seeing that ad makes me long for the old days, when a pipe or any smoking item could be enjoyed anywhere. I had coffee at the local McDonald’s today with an old pal. Some guy was outside smoking a cigarette, a total outcast.
I wished him a good morning, as I passed.
Oh, for the pleasure of a pipe, while drinking a public coffee, and people watching.
Not ever again.