12 Crazy Cool Facts About Playboy Magazine Before It Went Clean

playboy magazine rebranding
Photo Credit: FIDalwood/Flickr (cropped image)

Playboy is rebranding, shedding the nudity for more PG-13 pictorials. Considering that the Internet has completely saturated the erotica market, I can’t say I’m surprised. Disappointed? Perhaps.

Because this is the end of Playboy as we know it, here are 11 sexy facts about Playboy Magazine. Consider this a vigil.

1. Hef’s Mom Helped Start It

In 1953, Hef and and a business partner needed some startup for their magazine. They raised $8,000, of which about a grand came from Hef’s mother and brother.

2. Playboy Was An Instant Hit

It usually takes time for a business venture to really get going, but not Playboy. With Marilyn Monroe elated on the cover and stark inside, Playboy’s inaugural issue (50,000 prints) sold out in a few weeks.

3. November 1972

Speaking of mind-blowing sales figures, the November 1972 issue featuring Swedish model Lena Soderberg is the highest-selling issue of Playboy ever — 7,161,561 copies. However, the November 1972 issue has another piece of historical significance. A cropped version of Miss Soderberg’s centerfold has been the standard test image by which graphic designers measure and compare color, transitions, uniform images, and sharp edges. No image has been more important in the history of imaging and electronic communications. Lena Soderberg is considered to be The First Lady of the Internet.

4. Playboy Interviewed Some Of The Most Influential People In The Country

Aside from scantily clad women, Playboy also boasts a rich history of interviews with some of the most influential and important figures of our time. The magazine has conducted interviews with Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, former President Jimmy Carter, director Stanley Kubrick, tech legend Steve Jobs, and jazz great Miles Davis.

5. Literary Works Began Gracing The Pages Early

Playboy has also been well-known for literary works published within its pages. It began with a serialization of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Playboy has also included literary works by Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, Roald Dahl, Joseph Heller, and Chuck Palahniuk.

6. Playboy Had An Issue For Super Smart People

The November 1985 issue of Playboy featured seven female Mensa members showing the world more than just their intellect. The feature was devised by a 20-year-old reporter named Donna Howell, who also appears in the spread. Howell said of the pictorial:

“[The Playboy feature is] a sort of crusade… to let everybody know that it’s okay — indeed wonderful — to be glamorous as well as gifted, smart as well as sexy, and proud of both assets.”

7. Playboy and LGBT Rights

Hef has long been a supporter of gay rights and his magazine is a reflection of that. In September 2012, Hef penned an article entitled “Sexual Freedom,” in which he endorsed marriage equality. In 1955, Hef also published the Charles Beaumont short story “The Crooked Man,” in which a straight man lives in a world where a homosexual majority routinely discriminates against him. The story incited backlash from the readership, to which Hef responded:

“If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society then the reverse was wrong, too.”

8. Just Because You Can’t See…

… doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy Playboy. Starting in December of 1970, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped began producing a braille version of Playboy, without pictures or advertisements. In 1986, the Library of Congress stopped producing braille issues of Playboy, since Congress had withheld $103,000 in library funds. Incidentally, Congress held the exact amount of money necessary to produce 1,000 braille copies of Playboy. Congress’ action led to several lawsuits and ultimately a judgement against the Library of Congress. Federal District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ruled that ceasing to produce the braille version of Playboy violated the First Amendment rights of the blind.

9. The Celebrity Appeal

Playboy has long been a magnet for many celebrities to shed their images (and their clothes). Notable celebrities who bared it all for Playboy include Lindsey Lohan, Denise Richards, Drew Barrymore, Kim Kardashian, and Tara Reid.

10. Jayne Mansfield (June 1963)

Speaking of celebrities posing for Playboy, the June 1963 issue featuring actress Jayne Mansfield actually got Hef arrested. The pictorial showed Jayne Mansfield writhing and gyrating in an attempt to distract a fully-dressed man from reading. Hef was arrested in Chicago and tried for obscenity. A jury of 11 women and a single man was unable to reach a verdict.

11.┬áHef’s Work Is Not Appreciated Everywhere

In many parts of the world, Playboy is banned, including India, mainland China, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Iran, Saudi Arbaia, and Pakistan. In 2006, Playboy hit newsstands in Indonesia. Despite featuring no nudity, members of the Islamic Defenders Front (IDF) protested vehemently and Erwin Arnada, Playboy Indonesia’s editor-in-chief, was arrested and charged with indecency. After a lengthy trial process, Arnada was sentenced to two years in jail by the Supreme Court of Indonesia.

12. The Next Time You’re In Hollywood…

… take a look at the huge white iconic ‘HOLLYWOOD’ sign on Mount Lee in Los Angeles. Hef is the reason it still stands. In 1978, Hef organized a group to donate $27,777.77 to renovate the dilapidated sign. This group consisted of newspaper publisher Terrence Donnelly, film producer Giovanni Mazza, Blue Book-founder Les Kelley, actor Gene Autry, singer Andy Williams, Warner Bros. Records, shock rocker Alice Cooper, businessman Dennis Lidtke, and Hef himself.

They each bought a letter.

h/t Real Clear

Robert could go on about how he was raised by honey badgers in the Texas Hill Country, or how he was elected to the Texas state legislature as a 19-year-old wunderkind, or how he won 219 consecutive games of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots against Hugh Grant, but those would be lies. However, Robert does hail from Lewisville, Texas, having been transplanted from Fort Worth at a young age. Robert is a college student and focuses his studies on philosophical dilemmas involving morality, which he feels makes him very qualified to write about politicians. Reading the Bible turned Robert into an atheist, a combative disposition toward greed turned him into a humanist, and the fact he has not lost a game of Madden football in over a decade means you can call him "Zeus." If you would like to be his friend, you can send him a Facebook request or follow his ramblings on Twitter. For additional content that may not make it to Liberal America, Robert's internet tavern, The Zephyr Lounge, is always open