When we hear the word Playboy, the iconic image of a silhouette of a rabbit wearing a tuxedo bow tie springs to mind. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine (known for its centrefolds of naked women), was a self-made man who created a fantasy for legions of men from his kitchen table.
The classic red velvet jacket over black silk pyjamas and velvet slippers is a signature look that Hefner was known for. With a fancy cigar in one hand and a crystal glass of scotch on the rocks in the other, he had an infinite supply of women offering their bodies and worshipping at the altar of the Playboy Mansion. Hefner became a sex and style icon extraordinaire for men everywhere.
His death may be the only death in history where no one will say, “He’s in a better place now.”
Playboy Enterprises, created in 1953 during sexual conservatism, impacted the sexual revolution and brought sexual freedom.
“Racism, war, bigotry, but sex itself, no. What a sad cold world this would be if we weren’t sexual beings… I mean, that’s the heart of who we are”
The first ever issue was sold in December 1953 featuring Marilyn Monroe as a centrefold and on the cover. The Hollywood icon was in life as she is in death a sex symbol and a muse.
Since then, many actresses, models, and singers have posed as cover girls.
Playboy was the first ever magazine to put a black woman on the cover when no other magazine would.
However, there has always been controversy following the Playboy Era. Feminists claim Hugh Hefner is responsible for creating the ‘Pseudo Hef’ type: a man who idolises the lifestyle of collecting and disposing of women’s bodies like objects.
Holly Madison, star of The Girls Next Door, released a tell-all memoir called Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a former Playboy Bunny. She shined a light on what life was really like in the Mansion.
“There are two sides to every coin and even the most fantastic fairytale has a dark underbelly.”
She reveals that sex with Hefner was an unsaid requirement, a price that must be paid in exchange for a lavish decadent lifestyle of fancy food and expensive clothes.
“Hefner blurred the lines of consensual sex when he persuaded the bunnies to take Quaaludes before joining him in an orgy.”
In 1963, Gloria Steinman, an American feminist, journalist and social-political activist, went undercover posing as a Playboy Bunny. She said that models were treated like disposable objects and forced to undergo painful beauty procedures such as being forced to wear excruciating body contouring costumes.
Though it may be the end of an area, the iconic Playboy Bunny will always live on.