I first heard about Playboy when I was in high school, which was well after Hugh Hefner started publishing it in 1953. I probably wasn't aware of Hugh Hefner until much later. Editors of magazines weren't exactly celebrities among my circle of friends.
He was almost a year younger than my father. Both served in World War II -- Daddy with the Sea Bees in the Pacific. Hefner, an infantry clerk in the Army, wrote for a military newspaper. (Wikipedia) They were both raised in conservative Methodist households.
And that, friends, is where their similarities ended.
Daddy didn't curse or drink, and by the time I was in high school, he had quit smoking. I doubt that he ever saw a Playboy and certainly never bought one or brought one into our home.
We lived in a college town just north of Oklahoma City and I never saw Playboy magazines on the shelves for sale. I learned later that it was against a city ordinance to display it. It was kept 'under the counter.' People could buy it, but they had to ask a clerk to get it for them.
As I said, I first heard about Playboy in high school. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. The editor of the local newspaper came and talked to us about getting short stories published. I don't remember his name, but he smoked a pipe, rode a motor cycle, and fought Oklahoma's then new and now repealed helmet law. And he had just had a short story accepted for publication by Playboy. He said they published the best short fiction because they paid the best money.
That's the way it still works. Publications that pay the best get the best submitted there first.
That local newspaper editor was in excellent company. Over the years, Playboy published writers like Jack Kerouac, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Truman Capote, Haruki Murakami and three of my favorites Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, and Jean Shepherd. In fact, that was my first exposure to Jean Shepherd's work -- the same Jean Shepherd who wrote A Christmas Story of "You'll shoot your eye out, Ralphie" fame.
I'd been warned by some of my male classmates about the questionable nature of Playboy -- nude women and racy cartoons, oh my. So of course I had to see for myself. but I couldn't go into a local convenience store and ask for one. They'd recognize me.
A trip to a book store in the mall in Oklahoma City was necessary. I am glad to report that -- barring the naked women -- the fiction, cartoons, interviews, articles (I didn't read the ones on economics) and the Playboy Advisor were well worth the effort to get the magazine.
I remember one letter to the Advisor from a soldier in Vietnam. He explained that he had availed himself of female company which he seemed to think was normal since he was so far away. He was concerned that his girlfriend back home, might be cheating on him. What should he do? The advice? That he should remember she was as far away from him as he was from her.
Later, I came to appreciate the reasonably good taste with which they displayed the naked ladies. When my son found some truly disgusting magazines in the Dempsey Dumpster at the car wash across the street from our house, I loaded him up and took him to the mall in Oklahoma City. He was too embarrassed to go into the book store while I bought a copy of Playboy for him, so he waited in the mall pretending to window shop at any of the other shops.
The Vargas drawings of nudes were always beautiful. Gahan Wilson's cartoons were surprising and funny. And there really was written material worth reading.
When I was a caseworker for the Welfare Department I ran across the most unusual Playboy Magazine. One of my clients had been injured in an industrial accident and was deaf and blind. We communicated through his wife. She would sign my questions in his hand and he would answer them. He had a subscription for Playboy in braille. It was covered top to bottom and front to back with the bumpledy language I could not read. And no pictures.
His wife translated into his hand my feigned surprise "You've rubbed all the pictures off!" He had a wonderful laugh. And he was proof-positive, that some men did get Playboy just for the articles.