If yesterday you asked me what I thought about Playboy magazine I would gladly tell you that I am completely ignorant toward the subject (hoping you wouldn’t hear my underlying biased tone). But boy am I glad that I don’t genuinely enjoy knowingly being ignorant toward things.
Did you know that Playboy published fiction by some of the biggest names in literature?
Image Via The Rumpus
In her editorial for The Guardian, Amy Grace Loyd, literary editor for Playboy magazine for six years, gives us an interesting look into her literary career working for a magazine that is known more for male entertainment than it is for its editorials.
Loyd writes about her controversial first assignment- commissioning a series of essays on Nabokov’s Lolita, and about how working for a sexist magazine didn’t distract her from making the literary aspect of the publication credible. She also touches on how she views Playboy magazine’s original ideals reflecting upon readers today. I personally have never picked up a Playboy magazine, and a part of me wouldn’t want to pick one up for my own personal beliefs, but I’m glad I like to keep an open mind because Loyd’s experience certainly helped me ease into the magazine’s existence.
Did you know that Playboy magazine published editorials written by Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, and Margaret Atwood? If you did, you’re cool, but if you didn’t, welcome to the club. What struck me the most about this piece was Loyd’s overall understanding of her position as an editor and a woman within this awkward and controversial crossover between naked women and Esquire-esque articles. Apparently, the naked women were actually a way to lure readers into the editorials, a reality that Loyd needed to understand and explain to others in order to basically continue making a living. She just couldn’t possibly afford to let the commodifying of a woman’s body get in the way of her job. (Pun intended)
A part of me wonders if the pressures of earning an income swayed Loyd into this perception of the women in the magazine, but nonetheless, she seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed fighting the battle against social norms and stigmas. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t see much fighting needing to be done in 2017 since we’ve already fallen so deep into the acceptance of social deviances, i.e. Trump. Loyd’s nostalgia for Hugh Hefner’s dedication to a consistent structure of Playboy magazine leaves me to believe that maybe the magazine is actually worth a look-see.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 interviewabout 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.
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.