Whether you love him or hate him, there’s no denying the effect Hefner’s work has had on both the literary and publishing worlds. In memoriam of Hugh Hefner’s life and career, we’ve put together a list of some of the most notable authors and interviews published in Playboy to prove that yes, some people really do read it for the articles.
I had so much fun making the featured image that I couldn’t not also make a full cover. Enjoy. / Image Via The New Yorker, Photoshopped by yours truly.
If you’ve got a subscription to Playboy, be sure to check out the Playboy Archive for digital copies of magazines ranging from 1954 to 2007.
1. An Interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Image via Wikipedia
In 1964, just after he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sat down with Alex Haley for a series of interviews, which were then edited together for the magazine’s January 1965 issue. The interview is the longest interview King gave to a publication. Ever. King speaks of his observations of the Civil Rights Movement (at that point) and the first time he remembered experiencing racism. He was forced to stand on a bus, not too dissimilar to Rosa Parks’ story, which later inspired him to stage a bus boycott.
2. Haruki Murakami, author of Norwegian Wood
Image via Time Magazine
Japan’s most popular author and one of the “world’s greatest living novelists”, Haruki Murakami has written bangers like Norwegian Wood, 1Q84, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Kafka on the Shore. ‘The Second Bakery Attack‘, first published in 1992, was later published in a collection of short stories called The Elephant Vanishes: Stories.
3. Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-Five
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Vonnegut first appeared in Playboy in a 1973 interview. Most notably, though, the magazine was the first to publish an excerpt from Armageddon in Retrospect, Vonnegut’s first posthumous collection. The collection features several new short stories, a letter Vonnegut wrote to his family during his time as a prisoner of war in World War II, drawings, and a speech written shortly before his death.
4. Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road
Image via CMG Worldwide
Playboy published two of Kerouac’s stories during his lifetime: Before the Road, a short story prequel to On the Road published in 1959, and 1965’s Good Blonde.
5. Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451
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During the first years of Playboy’s life their budget only allowed for reprinted stories, and in 1954 they published a serialized version of Fahrenheit 451. ‘The First Night of Lent’, Bradbury’s first original story for the publication in 1956, was among the first previously unpublished stories the magazine sent to print.
6. Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Image via The New Yorker
Atwood’s first foray into Playboy was in 1991 with the publication of ‘The Bog Man’. ‘The Bog Man’ recounts the discovery of a 2,000 year old man during a trip between a Canadian student and the married archaeology professor she is in love with. Atwood’s other works published in Playboy include The Bad News (2006) and The Age of the Bottleneck (2008).
7. Gabriel García Márquez, author of Love in the Time of Cholera
Image via Inspire Portal
Published in 1971, Marquez’s short story ‘The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World‘ is about a ridiculously handsome dead body that washes up onto shore and enchants an entire village. If you’re unfamiliar with Marquez’s work, I absolutely recommend A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings.
8. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels
Image via Ian Fleming
According to John Cork, founding member of the Ian Fleming Foundation, “by 1960 Ian Fleming, James Bond, and Playboy magazine became a nearly synonymous cultural force, truly united with Playboy‘s publication of [Fleming’s story] The Hildebrand Rarity.” Fleming’s 11th book, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was published simultaneously as a hardcover in Britain and serialized in Playboy from April to June 1963.
9. Roald Dahl, author of The BFG, The Witches, and many others
Image via Penguin Books
Dahl’s only non-children’s book, My Uncle Oswald, was based on ‘The Visitor’, a story written for and published in Playboy in May of 1965. You wouldn’t think a beloved children’s author would fit in with the publication but Dahl describes main character Oswald as “the greatest fornicator of all time”, so. Dahl’s first original story for Playboy was ‘A Fine Son’, published in 1959.
10. Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22
Image via Biography.com
Heller refers to his short story ‘Yossarian Survives’ (published in Playboy in 1987) as a lost chapter of Catch-22. The story describes Yossarian’s training at Lowry Field Air Force base in Denver, Colorado. Fans interested in reading this ‘lost chapter’ can find it in Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories and Other Writings.
11. Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club
Image via Chuck Palahniuk
Palahniuk is no stranger to getting published in Playboy, but I’m including him for a reason very close-to-home. When I was twelve-years-old, rifling through my best friend’s stepfather’s magazines, I found what would eventually become one of my favorite short stories. Palahniuk’s controversial short story ‘Guts‘ was first published in the March 2004 issue of Playboy. ‘Guts’ is part of Palahniuk’s short story collection Haunted: A Novel.
12. Hunter S. Thompson, father of Gonzo journalism
Image via Rolling Stone
‘The Great Shark Hunt‘ graced Playboy‘s pages in 1973 and was later published in a book of autobiographical essays of the same name. Over his career, Thompson’s work appeared in Playboy on a number of occasions.
13. Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories.
Image via Mom Advice
In the January 1984 issue of Playboy, Capote retold some of the most outrageous stories from friend and playwright Tennessee Williams’s life. It wasn’t the first time Capote was featured in the magazine. He was also the subject of a 1968 interview about his writing career, the role of Jewish writers in the American literary scene, and his views on capital punishment.
14. An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates, author of 56 novels, and a lot more.
Image via Lewis Center for the Arts
The 1993 interview calls Oates:
one of the most prolific writers in America. Her critics even complain that she writes too much. She has written more novels than Nobel laureate Saul Bello, more short story collections than John Updike, more books of essays than Norman Mailer, more words of poetry than Emily Dickinson and more plays than Chekhov. Critic Harold Bloom considers her “our true proletarian novelist.”
Featured image via The New Yorker, improved via my own photoshop abilities.