(1/6/14) Of all the things that significantly helped change sexual mores in America for the better, Playboy stands out as an enduring icon that combines beauty, style, class and intelligence. Now celebrating its 60th anniversary, you can say what you want about its relevance today in the mosh-pit of adult-oriented media, but the fact remains that it is of one of the most recognized brands globally. It’s not just because they were one of the first. It’s because they did it right and built it to last.
Born on a Chicago apartment kitchen table for about $8,000, Hugh M. Hefner’s first edition featured Marilyn Monroe and was an instant sensation. While Playboy quickly became noted for its elegant photography and strict attention to detail, ‘Hef’ insisted that the magazine carve out a sophisticated niche by including literary works by some of the world’s most renown writers. Eventually, this also included covering the political, cultural and entertainment shifts of the turbulent times through “The Playboy Interview” which became a celebrated feature rivaling the centerfold as an edition’s most notable component.
Courageously persisting in the face of constant pushback throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, Hef continued to build the Playboy brand by expanding into nightclubs, fashion and electronic media, even hosting his own syndicated television program, “Playboy After Dark.” In the early 80s, he launched Playboy TV (originally, The Playboy Channel), a visionary move that was well ahead of the proliferation of specialty cable/satellite channels. As the network grew and progressed with original programming, our personal connection to the Playboy saga emerged. In 1998, they launched what would become the hit series, “Sex Court,” starring the amazing Julie Strain and our very own Alexandra Silk. Okay, perhaps it’s an itty bitty part of a much more substantial tale, but it’s a very special one here. Getting to know the legendary and incredibly generous Hef was remarkable in every way and he remains very dear to both of us.
Sixty years have passed since Marilyn graced its first pages and the Chicago apartment has given way to the famous Mansion, but the Playboy phenomenon continues strong into the 21st Century. Entrenched as a cornerstone in America’s sexual revolution, Playboy’s history of innovation and pushing boundaries is an enduring legacy that we celebrate and hope will be built further upon. Yes, keeping up with the times presents many challenges, but that’s just part of any business–and likely the basis for many other great discussions. For now, we just offer a hearty “Happy Anniversary” to the whole Playboy family along with our wishes for many more great years to come.