Playboy: Old and New

Playboy Magazine, June 1972
(Liv Lindeland)

A few days ago I received several old Playboys I had purchased from an Ebay dealer. I got all three issues that feature Liv Lindeland (January 1971, June 1972 and December 1979), September 1973 (my birth month), January 1974 (20th Anniversary Issue) and several others for the authors and articles. They smell old are are very fragile but the staples, covers, and centerfolds are all intact. The subscription cards (blown and stapled), surprisingly, are in place as if the magazines have never been opened.

Sears Give-n-Take Stretchslaks
Playboy, June 1972

Isn’t this advertisement just hilarious? I love it. No Playboy today would wear anything called “Stretchslaks”. Times sure have changed. There are also a LOT of cigarette and pipe advertisements. And liquor ads. I’ve only opened two of the magazines from their protective plastic sleeves and have spent a couple hours just looking at the many interesting and humorous advertisements. The magazines from that era contain nearly two and a half times as many pages as they do today and I’d say half of the space is advertising. Playboy Magazine today has very few advertisements.

The subscription price hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years. I recently added a year onto my current subscription for $12. In 1971 a one-year subscription was $10. What has changed is the cover price. In 1971 the cover price was one dollar; today it is $5.99.

Columbia Tape Club
Playboy, January 1971

One thing that hasn’t changed is the amount of expensive gadgets reviewed in Playboy. Today it’s robot vacuums, pricey watches, expensive cars, digital cameras and high-end audio/video equipment. In the early ’70s it was microwave ovens, movie projectors, telephone answering machines, crude electric shavers and 8-track cassette player/recorders. It’s fun to flip through the old issues to see what was the bleeding edge of technology was around the time I was conceived.  Do you belong to a CD or DVD club?  Probably not.  iTunes and Napster were probably the kiss of death to Columbia House’s music clubs.  I remember belonging to a CD club and before that a tape club where you pay, like, one dollar for eleven CD/tapes if you promise to buy four more at regular club prices in the next year.  Except shipping and handling was like $5.99 for each of the free ones.  Then they kept sending you the special club selections every month whether you wanted them or not.  Then they bothered you incessantly about paying for the unwanted music.  I was born too late to join an 8-track tape club.  Do you know who helped invent the 8-track cassette?  Hint: He also invented the first business jet and based in on a Swiss fighter aircraft.

Silverstein Around the World
Playboy, January 1971

Shell Silverstein is the man. Few people familiar with his children’s poetry books know that he was a longtime cartoonist for Playboy and that he lived at the Playboy Mansion for a time.

Also in the works: two poetry books for kids, one to be called Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out and Other Poems, and a comic-strip anthology, Say It Once.

We all know the first book would eventually be published under the title Where the Sidewalk Ends.

As with every issue of Playboy, I love the articles best.  In the two old issues I’ve thumbed through so far there are many articles and letters about the Vietnam War, abortion (pre-Roe v. Wade), women’s liberation, marijuana legalization, the environment, government corruption and domestic and international politics.  In fact, if you change the dates and names, many of the articles and letters would read as if they are contemporary works.  You’d think we’d have moved past those issues in forty years.

So, if you ever find yourself scratching your head for gift ideas for me and don’t want to spend more than five or ten dollars, just order an old issue of Playboy Magazine.  You can’t go wrong.  December 1953 would be nice (It’ll set you back more than five or ten dollars.  Try >$6,000). :)

One Reply to “Playboy: Old and New”

  1. […] recently received several old Playboy Magazines I had ordered from Ebay. Initially I was humored by the advertisements and technology of the late […]

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