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Almost 70 years ago in the bad old days, some would say they were good, when political correctness was not in vogue, Hugh Hefner a psychology graduate with a partial loan of $1000 from his mother published the first edition of Playboy magazine, featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover with her iconic grin and golden hair and as the inside centrefold with little else.

Since that first edition many female stage and screen stars have been featured on Playboy covers including Madonna, Sophia Loren, Jane Fonda, Cindy Crawford, Raquel Welch and Barbra Streisand. Andy Warhol made the cover in January 1986 making him the only male to ever feature on a Playboy cover.

However the magazine was not only about naked females. Famous writers such as Ian Fleming, John le Carre, Alberto Moravia, Roald Dahl, Jack Kerouac and others all wrote stories for Playboy. High profile celebrities and politicians of the day were interviewed with some people purchasing the magazine purely for the articles. In many ways the magazine was revolutionary. It championed women’s and LGBTQ rights and marijuana and cannabis reform long before political correctness came to the fore.

The first edition sold over 50,000 copies. November 1972 edition was the bestselling individual issue selling in excess of 7 million copies worldwide and was even published in braille. By December 2017 Playboy magazine sales plummeted to 400,000. 2017 saw the publication became bi-monthly after 63 years of consistently performing as a bestselling monthly magazine. By 2019 Playboy was published quarterly and in the disastrously Coronavirus filled 2020, it was relegated to an online publication under new management.

Hugh Hefner passed in 2017. His multi-million-dollar empire now struggles to reinvent itself as a marketer of clothing, gaming and sexual wellness. A Playboy magazine collectors’ group was formed in 2017 and now has a membership of over 4000. Most past editions of Playboy can be purchased for under $10 with some of the early editions selling for thousands of dollars. In 2002 a copy of the first Marilyn Monroe edition sold for US$5000.

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