I’ve just started watching the docudrama American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner story and I was surprised by his very ordinary early life. I think we’ve all known a guy like the young Hugh – shy, awkward and deep thinking.
I have to applaud his commitment to shine a light on the necessity and normalcy of sex in the repressed and puritanical era of the 1950s, when ‘doctors refused contraceptives to single women and the Hollywood production code dictated separate beds for married couples’.
Its impressive that the middle-class young father raised the money to start Playboy magazine (which he’d always planned to name Stag Party) and to purchase the naked photo of Marilyn Monroe that featured as the pin up in the first ever edition. How could he fail with a beginning like that?
The photos that make up the Red Velvet series were taken in 1949 and originally intended for use in a “Golden Dreams” pin up calendar.
That first magazine also featured the first incarnation of the Playboy Bunny – although it quickly came to represent a different creature entirely.
In December 1953 54,000 copies of the iconic first edition were printed. Of course, those sold out quickly, and nearly 70 years later, those first editions are still in demand.
The more I learn about the man behind the Playboy image, the more I find there is to admire. Hugh supported many causes, such as civil rights and expression through sexuality, including gay marriage.