Playboy has expanded since its’ inception in 1953 to the Playboy Club & Playboy Bunny in 1960 to Playboy TV in 1982 and Playboy Fashion in 2002 to the 60th anniversary in 2013. The company has grown from being a conservative entertainment magazine for men to a liberal enterprise with various media outlets that allows all types of women to have a voice free from censorship and embrace their constitutional rights under the first amendment through visual art.
Playboy has changed the game, and continues to be groundbreaking till this day! So, I just want to take a moment to appreciate a little history of Playboy that led us to today.
Check out the Top 10 list of the Most Iconic Playboy Issues in the gallery below:
Further reading and information about each issue is listed in the caption/description of each photo above and continued with details below:
December 1953: Marilyn Monroe, first issue: see content here
March 1954: Inspired by Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, in a stance against censorship and defense of literature as necessary both to the humanity of individuals and to civilization. This issue is a cornerstone in supporting the expression of our first amendment rights for freedom of speech and freedom of press, as the novel suppresses the historical role of book burning and creates a path for removing censorship to allow self expression, open education and resources, and potentially even support entrepreneurship. Read about how Fahrenheit 451 is the book for our social media era.
January 1959: this issue is popular because enclosed is the centerfold of American model and actress, Virginia Gordon. She was chosen as Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for this issue and her featured centerfold was photographed by Ron Vogel. Virginia was 22 when she became a Playmate and by 23 she was Miss January.
October 1971: Darine Stern became an icon as the first African-American model to grace the cover of Playboy magazine as a symbol of black beauty in popular culture. Learn more about her career, here.
January 1972: Playboy breaks ground with their first centerfold showing full frontal nudity: Playboy goes from conservative to liberal as the free love movement presses forward in popular culture and media. This issue features a Playmate Review with Liv Lindeland, Cynthia Hall, Willy Rey, Danielle de Vabre, Cathy Rowland, Janice Pennington, Karen Christy and five others, an outstanding six-page pictorial of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, several nude models recreated as tarot card figures in Tarot: A Fresh Look at an Arcane Art with text by Ray Russell, and so much more.
November 1972: THE highest selling edition of Playboy Magazine with 7.16M copies sold. After starting the year off with full frontal nudity and expanding overseas, this issue was and is still the highest selling edition of Playboy featuring a provocative cover photo of Lenna Sjööblom holding a gumball machine between her legs as the metaphorical “pearls” for a woman’s clitoris… She became known as the “first lady of the internet” when her centerfold helped create the Jpeg file, read more about how that came into being, here.
November 1980: This issue’s “Women of the U.S. Government” cover photo sparks controversy when people start to wonder what politics could look like with attractive, liberal women in government positions. It was the perfect way to get women acknowledged for their brains and beauty by supporting women to be free, creative and do anything they set their minds to, regardless of society’s standards and gender roles.
Jan/Feb 2014: The featured cover photo of supermodel Kate Moss was photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for the publication’s 60th Anniversary Issue. Kate Moss was an icon during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s; so it seemed fitting that she would one day grace the cover of Playboy cover wearing the further iconic Playboy Bunny outfit.
Jan/Feb 2016: Pamela Anderson is an actress and model known for her roles on TV series like Home Improvement, Baywatch and V.I.P.. She has become the most iconic Playmate in Playboy history. My favorite cover photo/issue of her is from February 1991, but she has been on 13 other Playboy covers, including this Jan/Feb 2016 issue which was the last nude cover girl.
March 2016: This issue is an homage to Snapchat, photographed as a selfie of Sarah McDaniel wearing a cute crop top and underwear, with the caption “heyyy ;)” — I remember when this issue first came out and I heard the news about Playboy’s no nudity policy, I said to myself, Oh, this should be interesting. Playboy magazine without nudity? How is this going to sell? This was definitely a bold choice, but over the years, I’ve really come to respect and appreciate Playboy’s new endeavors. They’ve expanded their digital base with blogs and comic series, Playboy Magazine Archives and for those who want a little extra special feature, Playboy Plus.
Playboy has come a long way since 1953. They have shown their consistent support of women, break the ground for new campaigns and concepts in popular culture, and shake the status quo. That’s what it’s all about, having the freedom to publish whatever you want and they’ve done so much more than that. They’ve published what society needed to give us a push forward in the right direction. Thank you, Playboy. Continue to be iconic and be unapologetically uncensored.