The Playboy Philosophy is a sometimes rambling, disorganized discourse, because the writing of each new installment brings forth a succession of ideas and feelings that vie for expression. We put them down as they occur to us. When we have concluded the series, we will probably edit it into a more disciplined form as a book, but for magazine publication, this more direct, organic approach suits our purpose, since the Philosophy is intended as a living statement of our beliefs, our insights and our prejudices.
This issue we had intended discussing modern America's sex attitudes and behavior, but that fascinating subject will have to wait for a month or two, for another related concern-censorship-has been too forcibly and personally thrust upon us to be denied additional comment. On June 4th, we were arrested in our home on charges of "publishing and distributing an obscene publication." If that fact seems incredible to our readers, the full story behind the arrest is even more unbelievable. It serves to emphasize a point we discussed in earlier installments of the Philosophy regarding the importance of the separation of church and state in a free society.
The arrest was allegedly prompted by the nude photographs of Jayne Mansfield appearing in the June issue of Playboy. Were these photographs the real reason for the action taken against us? Or is it possible that The Playboy Philosophy itself, critical of the church-state implications in the Chicago justice recently meted out to comedian Lenny Bruce, and emphasizing that true religious freedom means freedom from as well as freedom of religion, supplied the motive?
Knock, Knock. Who's There?
The Mansfield melodrama began late on a Tuesday afternoon. We were asleep in our home (or, as Time reported it, in our "humble 40-room pad on Chicago's North Side"). We had been working all through the previous day and night on the August installment of the Philosophy and retired in the late morning to grab 40 overdue and badly needed winks. We'd gotten about half that number when the intercom beside our bed buzzed us awake. It was our housekeeper, who informed us that four of Chicago's finest were at our arrest and that CBS-TV was there also, with cameras.
The charge, we were told, was obscenity-someone had objected to the pictures of Jayne Mansfield in the June issue and managed to get a warrant for our arrest. Now, it should be mentioned that a violation of the Chicago obscenity statute is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $200 for the guilty; it is not uncommon, when the charge is a minor one, to serve the warrant and arrange for the booking and posting of bond at a time convenient to all concerned. We asked our housekeeper, therefore, to request that the officers contact our attorneys the following morning and make arrangements through them for accepting the warrant, etc. At this point the melodrama took on some of the attributes of high comedy as our housekeeper misunderstood our instructions-which were given, we must confess, while only three quarters awake. She went downstairs and gave our message, not to the police, but to the men with the TV cameras, who took it to mean that we would have a statement to make to the press through our attorneys the following morning.
We turned over, only half believing that we weren't still asleep and the whole thing just a bad dream caused by the frankfurters and Pepsi we'd consumed just before retiring; we'd managed to get another 1½ winks when the intercom buzzed us awake a second time. We got our instructions straightened around and our housekeeper signed off to carry them down to the officers of the law; ½ a wink later the intercom buzzed again. The policemen had refused to listen to her, she said; what's more, they had followed her back into the house and were, at that moment, in the hallway just outside our room. She was trapped in another part of the house-unable to return to her office, which opens onto our private quarters, for fear they would follow her there also.
Now fully awake, and convinced that the franks and cola had nothing to do with the situation, we decided it was time to call our lawyer; we reached him, appropriately enough, at a meeting of the Civil Liberties Union. We dressed to the thumpity-thump-thump of police fists pounding on our bedroom door. The protectors of law and order were contemplating breaking it down when our attorneys arrived.
From that point on, with our legal representatives on the scene, the police were most courteous. We drove to headquarters, were booked, posted bail ($200), and were free in less than half an hour.
But why, Irv Kupcinet wondered in his column in the Chicago Sun-Times the next day, had four armed huskies of the Chicago police force been required to arrest "one nonviolent publisher"? Perhaps, we suggested to Kup, they sent extra men along on the chance that one or two might get lost in our swimming pool with the Bunnies. But we couldn't help speculating on the obvious attempt to make a public spectacle of the arrest. Who, for example, had tipped off the TV stations, so that television cameras were at the house waiting when the police arrived?
Whatever Happened to Baby Jayne?
The Number One Question is, of course, what prompted the arrest in the first place? Very obviously Playboy is not obscene-previous attempts to censor the magazine when we first began publishing were vigorously and successfully fought in the courts and Playboy has firmly established itself, in the years since, as a major publication on the contemporary American scene.
The press and news commentators of radio and TV tended to treat the arrest as a joke, and if the implications of governmental censorship were not so serious, we would have, too. "Just to balance things out," said Alex Dreier on his WBKB-TV news show, "the National Geographic also has a great issue this month!" Tony Weitzel commented in his column in the Chicago Daily News: "Now that four husky gendarmes have succeeded in pinching Hugh Hefner for printing Jayne Mansfield unretouched, the June Playboy mag is a collector's item." Walter Winchell wondered whether or not it might just be another publicity stunt perpetrated by Jayne herself. It wasn't. Jayne, in fact, expressed surprise over the photographs' appearing in Playboy. "Those pictures were supposed to be used to publicize the European version of the film," she said. "I have no idea how Playboy got them. But when Hefner wants something, he usually finds a way of getting it." Actually, Miss Mansfield and the producers of the movie had invited Playboy's photographers onto the set to shoot the exclusive pictures and Jayne had posed in a separate session for the June cover.
Irv Kupcinet wrote, in his Sun-Times column: "The obvious question about the arrest of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner on obscenity charges based on the Jayne Mansfield nudes in the June issue is: Why now? Playboy has been publishing nudes of voluptuous dishes for years." Conceding that Jayne is a bit more voluptuous than most, the question is still a good one: Why now? Jayne first appeared in Playboy as a Playmate of the Month back in February of 1955, and we chronicled her career in a half-a-dozen issues after that, as she went from a bit part in the Broadway show Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, wearing a towel even smaller than her role, to stardom in Hollywood, where she eventually dispensed with even the towel, in her Promises, Promises!
The June 1963 issue of Playboy includes eight pages of photographs of Jayne Mansfield nude in bed and bubble bath during the filming of Promises!, co-starring Tommy Noonan, Mickey Hargitay and Marie McDonald. Some of the pictures show a man (Tommy Noonan) on the bed, too. It is this, explained Chicago Corporation Counsel John Melaniphy, when pressed for an explanation by the press, that makes the June issue of Playboy obscene. Besides, he continued defensively, he's received a lot of complaints, and the caption under one of the photographs states, "she writhes about seductively"; and in another, she is described as "gyrating." The captions, according to Melaniphy, "arouse prurient interests and defeat any claim of art."
Mr. Melaniphy thus appears to be making an interesting legal assumption-that a picture of a nude must either be obscene or a work of art. That, of course, is one of those assumptions that is aptly described as unwarranted. It is quite possible for a nude to be neither-and failing to qualify as one in no way establishes any criteria for assuming it to be the other. The pictures of Jayne in the June issue are, in our opinion, simply candid photographs of a movie in the making. The important thing it, they are not obscene-clearly and conclusively-for pictures far more brazen than these have been cleared of obscenity by the Supreme Court, appear regularly in a number of other magazines available on newsstands and by subscription (via Post Office approved second class mail) throughout the U.S. and in motion pictures, also, including films that have been passed by the Chicago Film Censor Board! (And we'll have more to say about this a bit later.)