Time, Inc., Richard J. Durrell, 4 March 1974-21 November 1983; S. Christopher Meigher III, 28 November 1983-16 December 1985; Donald M. Elliman, Jr., 23/ 30 December 1985-21 November 1988; Elizabeth P. Valk, 28 November 1988- present. New York, New York.
Richard B. Stolley, 4 March 1974-5 April 1982; Patricia Ryan, 12 April 1982- 18 May 1987; James R. Gaines, 25 May 1987-present.
3,311,139 (newsstand: 1,892,969; subscription: 1,418,170 as of 31 December 1987).
Vicki L. Tate
In December 1953, Hugh M. Hefner published the first issue of his new magazine, which lacked a cover date because Hefner was unsure how long it would need to remain on the newsstands. 1 The response to the magazine was immediate and positive. From the beginning, Playboy proved to be a winner. Even after thirty- five years, it remains the most popular men's magazine in America.
Hugh Hefner saw that there was a terrific void within the publishing field in the area of men's magazines. His vision was to fill that void with a totally new magazine. The intent of this new magazine, which Hefner called Playboy, was to give the postwar urban male what he wanted, a magazine filled with sophistication and style, appealing to the mind and body of the educated man. In the mid-1950s this was the market that was not being satisfied by any of the maleoriented magazines. Esquire* was the model for much of what Hefner tried to accomplish, but it lacked the editorial courage to continue its initial foray into the sexual realm. Other male magazines dealt in the "crude nude" market, but they lacked any sense of quality. Hefner's basic premise was that if he could create a magazine that appealed to him, it would also appeal to others. Hefner's vision of the ideal male was a suave, sophisticated man-about-town who was sexually liberated and irresistible to women. It was to this audience that Playboy made its pitch.
But what Playboy did was not new. It was a repackaging of tried-and-true material. The basic formula that Hefner used for its content was borrowed from Esquire: college-style humor noted for its risqué cartoons and bawdy jokes, mixed with quality fiction, fashion, and a taste for high living. The other major component came from the men's book tradition: a liberal use of the female body to tantalize and attract its readers.
Though the editorial content had played before, the one thing that made Playboy stand out was its attitude. No longer was sex considered to be foul and dirty. It was a natural aspect of life, to be enjoyed and relished, free from guilt.