Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Playboy Enterprises Inc.
Playboy Enterprises Inc.

Playboy Enterprises Inc.

Twenty-seven-year-old Hugh Hefner, a former sociology student at Northwestern University, started Playboy magazine in Chicago in 1953. The first printing of 50,000 copies, which featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover, sold out quickly. By publishing photographs of nude women and promoting the concept of sex as recreation, the magazine became a much-discussed phenomenon of American popular culture. Annual sales of Playboy grew from $4 million in 1960 to about $175 million at the end of the 1970s, when it had a circulation of about six million and ranked among the top 10 magazines (in terms of circulation as well as sales) in the United States. Meanwhile, from 1960 to 1986, Hefner's company operated the “Playboy Club” chain of nightclubs. By the late 1970s, Playboy employed about 4,000 people around the country. In 1982, Christie Hefner, the 29-year-old daughter of the founder, took charge of the company, which was moving into television and video products. By the end of the century, annual revenues stood at about $350 million, and Playboy employed about 500 people in the Chicago area. Playboy's revenues and circulation fell in the early 2000s as it faced tough competition from a series of new so-called lad mags, such as Maxim and FHM. It soon began to offset these losses, however, by emulating the graphics and photograph-heavy pages of its new competitors and expanding into the Internet market with Playboy .com.