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Playboy Miscellany
  • December 19, 2013 : 15:12
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In its earliest incarnation, play-boy was a theater term for boy actors who took female roles before women were accepted onstage. (Above, Gwyneth Paltrow as a play-boy in Shakespeare in Love, 1998.) In 1612, Ben Jonson wrote, “The rogue play-boy that acts Cupid, is got so hoarse, your majesty cannot hear him.” Our modern use of “playboy”—a wealthy, hedonistic bachelor—derives from Irish English. The word was made famous by the Irish playwright J.M. Synge, whose tragicomedy The Playboy of the Western World caused outrage when it premiered in Dublin in 1907 (and in New York in 1911). The play itself is far from glamorous. The “playboy” is a poor farmer who, claiming to have killed his father, charms the women of a small town. And the “western world” refers simply to the western counties of Ireland. Yet a gilded concept of the playboy endures to this day, and the title has been bestowed on a range of men, including Porfirio Rubirosa, Lapo Elkann, Warren Beatty, Stavros Niarchos III, Silvio Berlusconi, Jack Nicholson, Prince Azim, Albert von Thurn und Taxis, Paris Latsis, Al-Saadi Gaddafi, Kim Dotcom and Sean Parker.

(Marilyn Sheppard called her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, “the playboy of the western world” before her murder in 1954. Dr. Sheppard’s controversial conviction for this crime may have in part inspired the TV series and movie The Fugitive.)

The government’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment listed seven gangs that use “Playboy” in their name: Southside Playboys (California), Playboys (Colorado), Playboy Crew (Florida), Playboy and Playboy Gangsters (Missouri), Playboy Gangster and Playboys 13 (Washington). Over the years, a host of other gangs have appropriated Playboy's name and branding, including:

PLAYBOY BLOODS-Las Vegas-wear red and black colors and the Rabbit Head logo
PEOPLE NATION-Chicago-wear the Rabbit Head logo with both ears erect
FOLK NATION-Chicago-wear the Rabbit Head logo with left ear cocked
ALMIGHTY VICE LORD NATION-Chicago-have worn the Rabbit Head logo since the early 1960s
DIXIE PLAYBOYS-Florida-a 1980s home-robbery gang that wore the Rabbit Head logo
PLAYBOY GANGSTER CRIPS*-Los Angeles-a crack-dealing gang that used the Rabbit Head logo
*In 1987 the L.A. city attorney made history by filing a civil injunction against this “unincorporated association.”

“Show me any guy, of any age, anywhere in the world, at any time in history, today or tomorrow, that wouldn’t give his left nut to be Hugh Hefner.”
GENE SIMMONS
“As soon as I pop this thing out, I want to do Playboy.”
KIM KARDASHIAN, while pregnant
“Beyond the incalculable public service Playboy performed by printing pictures of attractive naked women was the way it offered a whole attendant lifestyle. It was like a monthly manual telling you how to live, how to play the stock market and buy a hi-fi and mix sophisticated cocktails and intoxicate women with your wit and sense of style.”
BILL BRYSON, The Lost Continent

“To tell the truth, I never read anything in Playboy. I just look at the naked women.”
RED SMITH, sportswriter
“One of the best interviews ever done of me was published in Playboy.… Really, you can read Playboy for the articles.”
KATHLEEN TURNER, Send Yourself Roses
Playboy Centerfolds are an American trophy. The nation’s hood ornament, from the limo of state. Every boy has passed under the shadow of those perfect breasts on the way to adulthood.”
A.A. GILL, To America With Love
Playboy legitimized looking at naked women.”
BRUCE FEIRSTEIN, writer
“I have not only been reading it but suggesting it to my clients.’’
DR. RUTH WESTHEIMER
“There are no old men anymore. Playboy and Penthouse have between them made an ideal of eternal adolescence, sunburnt and saunaed, with the gray dorianed out of it.”
PETER USTINOV
“Some men read Playboy. I read annual reports.”
WARREN BUFFETT
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read more: entertainment, magazine, issue january 2014

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