Playboy magazine in the 50’s
We are proud to introduce this new 5-part series of articles and also a new contributor to Hejorama magazine, the world famous Doc Brown. Travel with us, through space and time with the best articles from Playboy Magazine.
- Soundtrack of the report
- The Playboy Mansion
Intro by Alex:
You might wonder what this is all about and probably don't see the link between Playboy magazine and Hejorama. You might think we have started Hejorama out of our pure love of travel but the truth is that all we want is to build an empire like Hef and eventually live in the Hejorama Mansion surrounded by dozens of gorgeous foreign ladies.
We've always liked Playboy Magazine and I can assure you that we read the articles. I can hear the laugh. Well, that's exactly what this column is about. You probably believe that Playboy is just a saucy publication filled with naked ladies, we intend to demonstrate that it's a saucy magazine with naked ladies AND fascinating articles.
For this task we have recruited a time traveler of exception, the fantastic Emmet "Doc" Brown. We asked him to go back in time and read all the edition of Playboy he could find along the way.
Dear traveler friends, I'm very proud to have been selected for this mission by Team Hejorama. Let me explain how it's going to work. This new column will be divided in five parts, one dedicated to each decade since the 50's—first issue was in December 1953. I have read all the Playboy magazines I could find and selected all the articles that we found interesting for one issue per year. Of course, I have only selected things related to travel and international affairs in one way or the other. The idea of Team Hejorama is to observe the evolution of society over the last 50 years through the lens of the magazine. So it's both travel in time and space that we will accomplish in the coming months with this new column.
Buckle up in my DeLorean and get ready for the ride of a lifetime, Great Scott!
Let's start with the first issue that I could find. Unfortunately it's not the very first number but the second one, January 1954. At that time the magazine was only 50 pages mostly in black & white and featured only a few naked ladies. Definitely not the most interesting issue but there's a lot of really cool illustrations and cartoons.
I liked the Sherlock Holmes story, A scandal in Bohemia and enjoyed reading it again, 40 years after I discovered the infamous detective and read all of the novels. This one has an interesting international plot and features a complicated love story that was probably the reason for being picked by the Playboy editors.
Finally there's also a fun double-page with jokes by Hef himself about the typical corporate American Christmas Party. I didn't really get all the jokes I think as I've never been part of corporate America!
This issue doesn't have many good articles for us. In the first years, there was nothing much about travel in Playboy. I guess it became a gentleman thing to do only later.
The article Broadway's Turkish Delight was interesting because I learned from it that there was once a musical adapted from a French book by Marcel Pagnol that the kids from Team Hejorama used to read in primary school. I don't really see why there was an exotic dance by a Turkish girl in it though...
The issue has a great piece on curry with some history and explanations why they eat very spicy curry meals in warm countries. I also liked how the author says that a curry is a great meal to cook on a date and that the right girls will love it. There's actually several recipes at the end of the articles if you want to test it!
Also, in March 1956, Pakistan became the first Islamic Republic. But no mention of that was made in Playboy yet.
In April 1957, IBM started to sell the first FORTRAN compiler. But you probably don't care about that and want to know what's in the Playboy issue. First of all, I recommend the Playboy vision of Ancient Egypt, the caption makes it quite realistic I think.
This issue features the first article of a fascinating column for us: The Playboy International Datebook. I found it amazing because it gives an incredible view of what Playboy recommends to do abroad. For instance, in 1957 American people could still do a "wild stopover" in La Havana, remember the Cuban Revolution only happened in 1959. They also talk about the polar bear safaris in Norway. Are there still polar bears there in 2011?
This issue has one of the most interesting article of the decade Wizards of a Small Planet. Author Anthony Boucher writes about how science-fiction from the beginning of the century is becoming reality (in the 50s) and underlines the influence of this literature on science. For sci-fi nerds like me it's a really amazing thing to read. For us everything seems so easy and possible now but in 1958, it's been not even a year since the first human was sent into space. And they will need to wait 11 more years for Jules Verne prophecy to come true when Neil Armstrong will step foot on the moon.
I found also quite interesting the long portrait of Alfonso de Portago, a Spanish wealthy aristocrat who died in the crash of his Ferrari at 28. Not necessarily my potential idol but I understand that he can be a model for Playboy: rich, handsome, successful and an international playboy. A sort of James Dean if he was born in a rich aristocratic family in Europe. I prefer James Dean.
And to finish the now regular International Datebook. For summer 1958, the cool things do were to go see the Running of Bulls in the south of France, attend the Jazz festival of Newport, RI, and finally attend the pageant contest of Laguna Beach. Suit up!
By the end of the 50s the magazine was almost double in size with nearly a hundred pages. I found quite a lot of interesting articles in this one. First there's an article called The voyage of the Peanut that obviously caught my traveller attention. But honestly I didn't get it so I can't say that you should read it. However you should check the short articles Oriental Sex in Broadway and Oriental Sex in Las Vegas, that talks about the great success of Asian girls in several shows. I wonder if it was still the case ten years later when the Vietnam War started.
This issue features also a great article by Jack Kerouac about the Origins of the Beat Generation. The International Datebook doesn't has have anything really exciting this year but is still worth a look for some retro travel ideas. And you can also have a laugh with the American views on the huge success of Vespas motorbikes in Europe.
That's it for this first edition of the Doc Brown chronicles: Playboy magazine. Come back next month for the following decade: the exciting 60's and the rise of the Playboy empire.