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Playboy The Celebrities 2006

Playboy The Celebrities 2006
English | 192 pages | pdf | 91.92 MB
It could be argued that Playboy magazine got its start with celebrity photography—or, more properly, with one photo-graph of one extraordinary celebrity. In the very first issue, we printed the now-iconic image of Marilyn Monroe that had been shot in 1949 by photographer Tom Kelly. Playboy is more than images, of course, and the images in Playboy are not just of celebrities. But the Marilyn Monroe photo came at the right moment in our culture—and that, perhaps more than any other single reason, was why the magazine succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.
When I first saw this picture—bought from the John Baumgarth Company in Chicago—I realized I was seeing the future. I knew this photograph would be the defining image of my new publication. I hoped America was ready for a sophisticated magazine that would offer more than awkward gestures toward sex and beauty—a magazine that would exist beyond the purview of the barbershop or the mechanic’s garage. Even so, I wasn’t certain about the future. I put no date on that first issue because I wasn’t sure there would be a second.
It’s difficult for me to realize now how much has come out of that photo of Marilyn, and how much it changed our culture. In a way—in terms of the history of censorship and of American sexual politics—Marilyn’s picture is as signifi-cant as Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Much of this was Marilyn Monroe’s doing. She had the beauty and the courage to pose for the pictures. Once rumors leaked out of the existence of the photos, Marilyn’s studio asked her to deny their authen-ticity, but her calm response—that she had been doing what comes naturally—won the nation’s heart. She already had the momentum, having brought spark to Monkey Business and a much-commented-upon walk to Niagara. She had shocked the press by wearing a gold lamé dress to an awards ceremony, and had impressed us with the quip, “You would think all other women kept their bodies in vaults.”
Marilyn was special; she performed for the camera with a bold and direct manner. She used her vulnerability and beauty to create a bond with her audience. Because she was comfortable in her body, she invited the male gaze and turned it into art. She epitomized sex as natural. “If I have to be a symbol,” she said, “it might as well be for sex.”
“It could be argued,” said Richard B. Woodward in his essay “Iconomania,” “that the Playboy empire, with all the social change it has brought to the world, was built on this image. Through no plan of her own, Marilyn revolutionized the country’s attitudes toward nudity and self-promotion. She was the first actress to prove that taking off your clothes for Playboy can amplify your career, not end it.”
Most people who had seen the original calendar saw Marilyn defaced—the printer had added an implausible two-piece swimsuit to her natural form. We showed her as she truly was, the real thing, the genuine article. And we set this jewel in a sophisticated context: a celebration of the good life, a world of wine, feasts, fast cars, and fine fiction.
The publication of the Marilyn photos staked a claim to the newsstand that still endures after fifty years. We subsequently turned our attention at the magazine to Europe, publishing figure studies of Anita Ekberg, candid shots of Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. We followed up with three pictorials of Brigitte Bardot. Their films were playing in art houses and were the definition of sophistica-tion. Eventually, we found American contenders. Oddly, a photograph of Jayne Mansfield led to my arrest in 1963 by an overzealous Chicago police department. I’ve always thought the bogus prosecution had less to do with nudity and more to do with the defense of Lenny Bruce in the “Playboy Philosophy.”
Some of the pictorials were labors of love. John Derek brought us shots of each of his wives (Ursula Andress, Linda Evans, and Bo Derek). Joe Hyams persuaded Elke Sommer to pose unclothed, a state he said was nearly permanent.
Over the years Playboy magazine has been known for its cele-bration of the Girl Next Door, who could, I suppose, be viewed as the antithesis of celebrity. The Girl Next Door is the woman we encounter every day—at the department store, the office. She is neither unattainable nor unworldly. She is real. And this is the basis of her charm. But there is a connection between the movie stars and the Girls Next Door, and it is in their shared inclusiveness, in their will-ingness to allow the viewer to join them.
Much has been said about photographs as icons, about the person captured in an instant outliving the scripted appearances in movies. There seems to be some of that at work here. More people remember the shots of Ursula in a mountain stream than have seen the moment she rose from the water in Dr. No. More people have seen Playboy’s figure study of Ekberg than her romp in the Trevi Fountain.
Most critiques miss the collaborative input from the person in front of the camera. Raquel Welch, one of the last of the classic sex symbols, came from the era when you could be considered the sexiest woman in the world without taking your clothes off. She declined to do com-plete nudity, and I yielded gracefully. The pictures prove her point. At the other extreme, Farrah Fawcett would not take her clothes off unless someone else in the room did too. The unsung photo assistant who volunteered deserves your thanks. Of course, he got to go around saying he and Farrah were naked in the same room.
We can’t deny that much of our fascination with these photos is driven by the underlying curiosity of what a celebrity looks like without her clothes. That curiosity is elemental. This book reveals movie stars, pop stars, athletes, the wives of boxing champions, supermodels, and former girlfriends—the entire rainbow of feminine beauty—in a manner that speaks to this elemental curiosity.
And then there are the girls who first caught the atten-tion of the world as Playmates, and who returned the favor. Pamela Anderson, Anna Nicole Smith, and Jenny McCarthy are now household names.
It is a powerful combination, celebrity and naked skin. Enjoy.H HUGH M. HEFNERDownload from:



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