Playboy is an American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine. It was founded in Chicago in 1953, by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner’s mother. Notable for its centerfolds of nuude and semi-nuude models (Playmates), Playboy played an important role in the seexual revolution and remains one of the world’s best-known brands, having grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc. (PEI), with a presence in nearly every medium. In addition to the flagship magazine in the United States, special nation-specific versions of Playboy are published worldwide.
The magazine has a long history of publishing short stories by notable novelists such as Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov, Saul Bellow, Chuck Palahniuk, P. G. Wodehouse, Roald Dahl, Haruki Murakami, and Margaret Atwood. With a regular display of full-page color cartoons, it became a showcase for notable cartoonists, including Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Cole, Eldon Dedini, Jules Feiffer, Shel Silverstein, Erich Sokol, Roy Raymonde, Gahan Wilson, and Rowland B. Wilson. Playboy features monthly interviews of notable public figures, such as artists, architects, economists, composers, conductors, film directors, journalists, novelists, playwrights, religious figures, politicians, athletes, and race car drivers. The magazine generally reflects a liberal editorial stance, although it often interviews conservative celebrities.
The front cover of the first issue of Playboy, featuring Marilyn Monroe, December 1953
After a year-long removal of most nuude ph0tos in Playboy magazine, the March–April 2017 issue brought back nuudity.
The magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary with the January 2004 issue. Celebrations were held at Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and Moscow during the year to commemorate this event. Playboy also launched limited-edition products designed by a number of notable fashion-houses such as Versace, Vivienne Westwood and Sean John. As a hommage to the magazine 50th anniversary, MAC Cosmetics released two limited-edition products, namely a lipstick and a glitter cream.
The magazine runs several annual features and ratings. One of the most popular is its annual ranking of the top “party schools” among all U.S. universities and colleges. In 2009, the magazine used five criteria: bikini, brains, campus, seex and sports in the development of its list. The top ranked party school by Playboy for 2009 was the University of Miami.
In June 2009, the magazine reduced its publication schedule to 11 issues per year, with a combined July/August issue. On August 11, 2009, London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Hugh Hefner had sold his English Manor house (next door to the famous Playboy Mansion) for $18 m ($10 m less than the reported asking price) to another American, Daren Metropoulos the President and co-owner of Pabst Blue Ribbon and that due to significant losses in the company’s value (down from $1 billion in 2000 to $84 million in 2009), the Playboy publishing empire is up for sale for $300 million. In December 2009, they further reduced the publication schedule to 10 issues per year, with a combined January/February issue.
On July 12, 2010, Playboy Enterprises Inc. announced Hefner’s $5.50 per share offer ($122.5 million based on shares outstanding on April 30 and the closing price on July 9) to buy the portion of the company he did not already own and take the company private with the help of Rizvi Traverse Management LLC. The company derives much of its income from licensing rather than the magazine. On July 15, Penthouse owner FriendFinder Networks Inc. offered $210 million (the company is valued at $185 million), though Hefner, who already owned 70 percent of voting stock, did not want to sell. In January 2011, the publisher of Playboy magazine agreed to an offer by Hefner to take the company private for $6.15 per share, an 18 percent premium over the price of the last previous day of trading. The buyout was completed in March 2011.