Playboy is a men's magazine founded in 1953 by Hugh Hefner. Playboy is one of the world's best known brands. The magazine has a carefully crafted image which promotes a libidinous lifestyle for men, the main elements being beautiful women, expensive cars, and the various accoutrements of luxury, extravagance and quality. Versions of Playboy are published in many countries and in different languages.
The magazine is published monthly and features photographs of nude women, along with various articles on fashion, sports, and consumer goods, and often short fiction by top literary writers as well. Over the years, Playboy has published many interviews with celebrities from various fields by notable writers such as Alex Haley; these interviews are often of a high literary caliber and some have been reprinted in book form. These interviews are largely responsible for Playboy being available in certain university libraries, as well as the long-running joke quoted by many men: "I only read it for the articles!"
A few of the notable authors who have had works published in Playboy include John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Alex Haley, Stephen King and many more.
The magazine is owned by Playboy Enterprises, a publicly traded corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange (trading symbol: PLA), having a market capitalization of $262 Million (December, 2002; Source: Yahoo Finance).
Playboy's use of "tasteful" nude photos is often classified as "soft core" adult reading material. More "hard core" pornographic magazines started to appear in the 1960s in response to Playboy's success.
Actually, the earliest photos of models for pictorials and centerfolds are best classified as risque as full-frontal nudity did not appear in the magazine until 1969.
The first centerfold was Marilyn Monroe, although the picture used had originally been taken for a calendar, not Playboy. Hefner purchased the rights to the photos of Monroe along with others.
The first issue, published in December, 1953, did not carry a date, as Hefner was unsure whether there would be a second issue. That first issue was an immediate sensation and sold out within a matter of weeks. Known circulation was 53,991 (Source: Playboy Collector's Association Playboy Magazine Price Guide). The cover price was 50¢. Copies of the first issue in Mint to Near Mint condition can fetch over $5000 in 2002.
The famous Playboy logo, depicting the stylized profile of a rabbit wearing a tuxedo bow tie, was designed by art designer Art Paul for the magazine's second issue and has appeared on every issue since. Hefner said that he chose the rabbit as a mascot for its "humorous sexual connotation", and because the image was "frisky and playful".
Christine Hefner, daughter of Hugh Hefner, became CEO of Playboy in 1988.