‘Playboy’: Read it for the articles

Shelley Blundell

As a card-carrying member of the female gender, I have often heard other women complaining about their boyfriends’ affinity with Playboy. Phrases like: “Every time I turn around, he has another one,” or “He says he reads it just for the articles, but who does he think he’s fooling” are frequently used to justify their anger at their significant others’ affinity with the scantily clad lady magazine.

Well ladies, I have news for you: Playboy actually does have more than bare-chested broads in it. In fact, the articles are some of the best in the nation.

Now before a minivan full of militant feminists comes along to beat the bejesus out of me, let me tell you something else. Playboy Enterprises, Inc., is now run by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s daughter, Christie. And she is one of the most well-known feminist leaders in the country.

Playboy, started by former Esquire-employee Hefner in 1953, has seen its share of ups and downs. But it has also been a forerunner in its field, publishing eminent artists, poets, writers and even musicians since its inception.

Let me give you some examples.

In September 1962, young writer Alex Haley interviewed jazz musician Miles Davis for the first segment of Playboy‘s interview section. Davis, a relative unknown in the pop music scene, was and is still considered by many to be the greatest jazz musician who ever lived. In fact, Playboy regularly ran articles about the jazz scene in the 1950s; one of the first mainstream magazines to do so. Since then, writers for Playboy have interviewed Jimmy Carter, John Lennon, Yasser Arafat, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Fidel Castro, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Playboy also features quite an extensive list of famous alumni contributors. Kurt Vonnegut, along with writers Ian Fleming, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Clancy and Margaret Atwood, all had fiction works published in the magazine.

The names Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali ring a bell? Both artists worked with Hefner producing artwork for Playboy for many years and some of the magazine’s best-selling editions feature work from these two world-renowned artists.

In October 1971, Playboy joined the ranks of magazines such as Glamour, who chose to break the color barrier and feature African-American women on their covers, despite publishing fears that doing so would alienate advertisers. Darine Stern was the first black woman to appear on the cover of Playboy, but Playboy had explored the color boundary six years earlier, when Jennifer Jackson was featured as their first black Playmate in March 1965.

And if all this evidence of Playboy‘s other achievements doesn’t make a “noteworthy articles” believer out of you, consider this:

According to Playboy.com, the Library of Congress has been distributing a Braille edition of Playboy since 1970, and is still highly sold. Maybe there is something to the articles, after all.

Shelley Blundell is a senior magazine journalism and history major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]