Is naked 'normal'?

Playboy reverses nudity ban in its magazines

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Hoppin' mad: a brief history of Playboy

The rabbit logo, the infamous mansion (the original in Chicago welcoming guests with a brass plaque reading, "If You Don't Swing, Don't Ring" in Spanish), the naked bunnies were all a result of a $1,000 loan from Hugh Hefner's mother.

How he pitched the magazine to her is unknown, but without the loan contributing to the $8,000 needed to launch the first issue, the 64-year-old illicit "rite of passage for a generation of American men" would not have existed.

The first edition of Playboy, produced from a Chicago apartment, hit the shelves in 1953, featuring Marilyn Monroe posing in the centrefold - an unused photograph from a calendar shoot.

The magazine was an immediate success, selling 54,000 copies at 50 cents each.

If the estimated one quarter of college men were asked why they purchased Playboy, their blushes could be spared by pointing towards its writing and journalism.

In March 1954, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, his seminal work about censorship and authoritarianism, was serialised over three editions. It was to be the first of many esteemed authors' work appearing in the magazine. Other authors published in the magazine included: Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov, Doris Lessing, Hunter S Thompson, Saul Bellow and Margaret Atwood.

Heading into the 1970s, it reached its peak circulation with 7.2 million readers. The first foreign edition of Playboy was launched in Germany in 1972. Since then, 29 editions are published in more than 50 countries.

The first African-American cover star, Darine Stern, appeared in October 1971. In a documentary on the charismatic founder Hugh Hefner, it was claimed that he was "at the vanguard of race issues in the 1960s". Playboy clubs, launched in 1960, in the segregated South were alleged to start turning away customers due to the colour of their skin. When Mr Hefner heard about this, he bought back the franchises and reopened them up to all members, regardless of race.

The circulation of Playboy has decreased significantly since its peak in 1972. In 2016, it attracted 673,473 readers.

In August 2014, the editors relaunched Playboy's website as more suitable for work. Unique views shot up 400% from 4 million in July to 16 million in December. The average age of people visiting the website dropped from 47 to 30.5.

In March 2016, the company made the decision to stop nudity in its magazine. However, the decision lasted a year with new Chief Creative Officer and son of Hugh, Cooper Hefner admitting it was a "mistake".

Like rabbits, the brand has bred far and wide, instantly recognisable with a logo that supposedly took just 10 minutes to make. Shining brightly over its six decades, Playboy has not acted like a rabbit in headlights - instead, it has revelled in it.

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