65 years ago with a $1,000 loan from his mother Hugh Hefner started what we now know as a cultural and social Icon at his kitchen table in Nashville. After months of searching for the perfect picture to launch his first edition he bought a 5 year old Nude picture from a calendar company of Marilyn Monroe when she was still known as Norma Jean for $500. He was a cartoonist at Esquire Magazine and after being Rejected for a $5 raise he left on whim to launch his own magazine equipped with his own design of a bunny in a smoking Jacket. The Magazine sold out in Days!
In a excerpt from a 2007 interview Hefner summed up the infamous Playmate centerfold as:
“The Playmate of the Month, the centerfold, came directly out of the influences of pinup photography and art from World War II and before. But what set them apart was what I described at the time as the girl next-door it all comes from that notion of being fresh, wholesome, all American and a sexual icon. The recognition that nice girls like sex too. Very revolutionary in the 1950’s.”
However, what truly set Playboy apart from a raunchy sex Magazine was the brilliance of incredible fiction, poetry, profound journalism, and venerable Interviews that just so happened to be on the flip side of naked women. Playboy was consistently on the forefront of journalism often publishing controversial authors like Vladimir Nabakov, Norman Mailer, Dorothy Parker, and Margaret Atwood.
The old joke that most people read Playboy for articles was undoubtedly true in a way. Consistently pushing the boundaries of the First Amendment often with Contentious High-brow interviews including; Malcolm X, Fidel Castro, and Miles Davis. As the brand continued into Night clubs and Hef’s very own TV show he lined up equally controversial acts at the time of; Lenny Bruce, Etta James, Sammy Davis Jr., and Bill Cosby.
While the Bond-esque three piece suits morphed into smoking jackets with silk pajamas, and he moved from the Windy City to his palatial mansion in Beverly Hills. Hugh Hefner exudes Sexuality and extravagance. Kitty Cat Now strives for the same image our Kitty Cat’s are empowered by sexuality and certainly not repressed. While the lines are quite blurred by the thought that a stripping agency isn’t necessarily on the forefront of feminism we are in fact a completely female owned and operated company. However, we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Hugh Hefner.
As Hef’s son Cooper (currently the Playboy’s chief creative officer) wrote in the company statement:
” My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand.”
We love you Hef and will miss you dearly as your laid to rest at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery next to your very first Playmate Marilyn Monroe.