Did you or your parents grow up in the 1960s and 70s? Then you are familiar with the "Playboy philosophy" developed and sold by magazine icon Hugh Hefner. The Playboy philosophy decreed that women were just another commodity of a "swinging" lifestyle like a good sports car, stereo ("hifi" in those days) and cigar. Women could be bought, sold and traded in for a newer model when their looks left. Their worth and value was their sexiness and appearance--determined, of course, by men. Or as Donald Trump decreed last year to the New York Times supermodel Heidi Klum "is no longer a 10."
In Playboy clubs across the country, "bunnies" wore corset-like outfits to produce the hourglass figures that pleased men, sometimes actually causing them orthopedic problems. They donned "bunny ears" and a white tail and were told to serve customers with a back-arched, knees-bent "bunny dip."
"Always remember, your proudest possession is your Bunny tail. You must make sure it is white and fluffy," said their job manual sounding like something out of the Onion.
From its first 1953 issue with Marilyn Monroe, through Bo Derek, Suzanne Somers, Farrah Fawcett, Jenny McCarthy, Cindy Crawford, Pam Anderson, Daryl Hannah and Anna Nicole Smith, Playboy managed to collar many famous and beautiful women to pose for nude foldouts.
Many left wingers and progressives were agnostic about the Playboy philosophy. Some credited Hefner, with his eternal bathrobe and pipe, with helping the nation lose its 1950s Puritanism and gray flannel workaholism and enjoy recreational sex and drugs. Women, whose lives could be ruined at the time by unwanted pregnancies, were no longer "bad" if they consented to sex thanks to the Playboy philosophy.
Playboy also addressed social issues according to a 2010 movie called Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel. It rescued orphans during the Vietnam war, supported a group helping runaway young people evade prostitution and was an early civil rights voice, liberating the segregated New Orleans Playboy Club so that African-American men could enjoy bunny dips too, said the movie.
Playboy also gave a mainstream forum for edgy comedians, say its defenders, like Dick Gregory and Lenny Bruce and music greats like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong, The film includes old TV clips of "Playboy After Dark" with folk singers Pete Seeger and Joan Baez.
But many others said that Playboy did nothing more than mainstream pornography from its peep show status (porn was viewed in adult book store peep shows before the Web) to something Dad could read. It is shocking to see Dick Cavett, David Steinberg, Roots author Alex Haley, Robert Culp, Tony Curtis, James Caan, Kiss' Gene Simmons and even the late Rev. Malcolm Boyd, author of Are Your Running With Me Jesus, appear in the documentary as Hef friends.