A Fond Farewell to the Iconic Playboy Magazine 1953 - 2020
And Its Inspiration and Shared Models with the FastDates.com Calendars

by Jim Gianatsis / FastDates.com
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June 2020 - This April 2020 I received in the mail the Spring 2020 edition of Playboy magazine, the once widely selling monthly men’s magazine, having in the last year cut back to a 4-times a year Quarterly with the loss of nearly all its advertising over the past decade.  The magazine was still larger than ever, now 236 pages perfectly bound on thick coated paper with an art paper cover.

Six weeks later in May 2020 I received a postcard from Playboy telling me it was their last regularly published print edition, and I could redeem the remainder of my subscription with membership on their Playboy.com website. A cultural phenomenon that took us out of the conservative years following World War 2 and opened the way for sexual freedom, free speech, and the open admiration of beautiful women had ended after 67 years – nearly three quarters of a century -with hardly a whimper and anyone noticing. A victim of the digital age, online sex, the Women’s and Equal Rights LBQGT movements.

Playboy had reached a peak of 7.4 million monthly subscribers in 1975. But in the last two decade, the magazine’s circulation which had dropped to under 500,000 sales per issue and in the last year with the loss of advertsing revenue had to cut back to publishing four issues a year at still a loss of $7 Million per year.

When Legendary Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away in 2017, The magazine was handed over to Hefner’s son Cooper Hefner who had been serving as chief content officer at Playboy Enterprises from 2016. Hefner’s daughter Christy Hefner, who had taken over as publisher when Hugh had retired from running the ship, stepped down for her 10 year reign as publisher. Cooper tried to take the magazine in a new direction, replacing the glamour nude centerfolds his father had favored, with much more conservation non-explicit fashion magazine semi-nudity.

It didn’t work, in part, perhaps for lack of marketing. But I think also because it lacked the good writing and short stories of past decades, and ignored all the cool things that guys like from cars, to music, to sports. Cooper was booted from Playboy Corporation last April 2019 to “launch a new venture” for himself and join the Air Force Reserve.

New Playboy CEO Ben Kohn then tried a new direction for Playboy in hopes to keep it alive. That spring of 2019 Playboy became too politically correct and almost unrecognizable from the Hefner editorial formula, instead embracing the LBQGT movement and racial minorities in its editorial content and nude pictorials that included a male transvestite and big ass overweight (fat) Black women. By trying to be all things to everyone, Playboy lost the last of its historical straight male audience.

Like most sexually active young boys, my first experience with Playboy began by seeing copies of it at a friend’s parent’s house back in the early 1960s, then buying my first copy off the newsstand when I was just 12 years old. I became enamored with beautiful girls, the less clothes the better, and by age 13 was approaching the summer break college girls in swimsuits at the beach to ask them if I could take their photo.

In December 1953, Hugh Hefner published the very first edition of Playboy. However, the magazine’s first edition didn’t have the date of the publication on the cover since Hugh Hefner was still unsure whether or not the magazine would be successful enough to warrant future editions. This was an understandable concern given that Hefner was selling copies of the first edition out of the office he had set up in his home’s kitchen. However, Hugh Hefner’s concern about the magazine not being successful turned out to be all for naught, as the first edition of Playboy flew off the magazine stand shelves. Within a matter of weeks, the magazine had sold over 50,000 copies.

A big part of the first edition’s success is no doubt attributable to Playboy’s very first cover girl, Marilyn Monroe. Interestingly enough, though, Monroe never actually signed a contract to appear in the magazine.

Before Marilyn Monroe became a household name, she was a struggling actress in desperate need of cash. To earn a little money, she posed nude in 1949 for photographer Tom Kelley. Monroe was paid $50 for the photos shoot, and Kelley sold the photos to a calendar company called Western Lithograph Company.

Playboy cover marilyn Monroe with Huge Heffner

Less than a year later, though, Marilyn Monroe’s acting career took off after she appeared in the films “Asphalt Jungle” and “All About Eve”. By 1953, Monroe was one of the most famous actresses in all of Hollywood. However, Western Lithograph Company stilled owned the rights to the photos that Monroe had taken in 1949, and Hugh Hefner purchased the rights to those photos for $500. The photos were used as the first edition’s centerfold, and Marilyn Monroe was named “Sweetheart of the Month”.

Following the magazine’s publication, Marilyn Monroe decided to meet any controversy that might ensue head on by agreeing to an interview where she explained that the photos had been taken at a time in her life when she was desperate for money. Marilyn Monroe’s career never took a hit from the photos in the first edition of Playboy, and she and Hugh Hefner went on to become close acquaintances.

In addition to the Marilyn Monroe photos, the first edition of Playboy also featured a number of nude photographs of far less famous women, several men’s lifestyle articles, a fictional story about detective Sherlock Holmes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and more.

At the time, the first edition of Playboy was a truly ground breaking entrance into the market, bringing controversial, sexual topics and photographs into center stage for the first time in American history. This bold angle had the potential to either make or break Playboy right from the start, and Hugh Hefner was certainly aware that the first magazine was an “all or nothing” business decision.

As history now shows, though, the first edition of Playboy was published at the perfect time, and Hugh Hefner was able to both ride and help usher in a wave of sexual liberation that would make Playboy one of the most successful publications of all time.

Below, the final Spring 2020 edition of Playboy which was now become a quarterly. It's page count was huge with 236 pages and it still had 3 Playmate pictorials to have a Playmate for each Month. But there was virtually no advertising to support all its expensive editorial content and its huge corporate staff salary and operating overhead . Even with 500,000 copies sold per issue, the magazine was loosing $7 Million a year.

Playboy magazine final edition Spritn 2020 photo picture

The 66 year-old magazine is ceasing regular production of its print edition and moving ahead with a “digital-first publishing schedule,” CEO Ben Kohn wrote in an open letter Wednesday afternoon.
Citing the brand’s robust licensing and e-commerce business as well as its growth in digital video subscriptions and on social media, Kohn said ongoing internal discussions at Playboy about the future of the print magazine were hastened this week by disruptions to the magazine’s production and supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s no surprise that media consumption habits have been changing for some time,” he wrote. “And while the stories we produce and the artwork we showcase is enjoyed by millions of people on digital platforms, our content in its printed form reaches the hands of only a fraction of our fans.”

While the print edition will cease regular production, Kohn added that Playboy plans to continue to publish some special editions and collections in print next year. “Print is how we began and print will always be a part of who we are,” he said. “Over the past 66 years, we’ve become far more than a magazine. And sometimes you have to let go of the past to make room for the future.”

The announcement caps several years of efforts at Playboy to adapt its once-iconic print edition to the digital age, including scrubbing all nudity from its pages in 2016 only to bring it back a little more than a year later, reducing its frequency from 12 issues to six, and then ultimately relaunching it last year as a quarterly product with a higher-quality paper stock and no advertising

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Pamela Anderson

When I began working in the motorsports industry in the late 1970s, I began shooting and using beautiful models in the advertising I produced for companies like Moto-X Fox, Yoshimura, White Brothers, Sunstar, Fieldsheer, Bates Leathers, Mikuni Carburetors and many others. And needless to say my girlfriends were usually models that I had met through working together.

I always wanted to work with the most beautiful models I could find from the best model agencies.  being based in Los Angeles since 1983, I started booking Playboy centerfolds as my models through the actual Playboy Modeling Agency which was located in the Playboy Building on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills.  In 1989 I talked my client Mikuni Carburetors into letting me produce their first original Mikuni Calendar. Mikuni had been buying a preprinted nude model calendar with Mikuni’s name overprinted on it, and giving it away to their dealers and distributors at Christmas.  The first original Mikuni Calendar was published in 1990 featuring my photo of Playboy Playmate Teri Lynn Doss on the cover holding a Mikuni Cover, with stock nude photos inside of Penthouse Pets which I had licensed from Penthouse Photographer Steven Hicks. The new Calendar was sold through ad in Cycle News and it was a big hit!

Fast dates Calednar Covr 1919 Pamela Anderson

For the next 1991Mikuni Calendar I convinced Mikuni to budget for me to photograph the entire Calendar with the models posing with actual race bikes that used Mikuni. Yoshimura was sending over to my studio their 1990 GSX-R7560L AMA Superbike being raced by Miguel DuHamel. I phoned over to Playboy models and asked who they might have for me to book for the shoot with the Youshimura bike, and they said they had a beautiful new 19-year old girl just moved down to Los Angeles from Canada, who had just shot her Playboy centerfold pictorial, but it was still a few months from being published. Her name was Pamela Anderson.  Within just a few months Pamela Anderson would become one of the most famous pinup models and soon actresses, movie - Barb Wire / TV - Baywatch and Home Improvement, in the world.

Along with Pamela Anderson, I hired and photographed two other Playboy Playmate centerfold for the 1991 Mikuni Calendar – Teri Weigel and Tawni Cable, together with other centerfold models from Penthouse and Hustler.

Pamela Anderson graced the cover and was featured in Playboy more times than any other Playmate. Her first cover in February 1991 (above in the White and Heart shaped bustier on Red Station fro Valentine's Day) appeared a few months after our new 1991 Fast Dates Calendar with her on the cover was released.

Pamela Andeson

In 1951, Hugh Hefner was working as a copywriter for Esquire, a job he would soon quit after being denied a $5 raise. Soon after this, Hefner would go on to start the magazine that would later make him wealthy. Hugh Hefner, though, was certainly not always wealthy. Hefner, who would soon become the embodiment of riches and luxury, was only able to start Playboy thanks to a $1,000 loan from his mother. It didn’t take long though for this small investment to pay dividends. The very first issue of Playboy was published in December of 1953 and featured a centerfold nude image of none other than Marilyn Monroe. The magazine was a near instant success, with the first edition selling all of its near 54,000 copies in just a few weeks.

Just a few months later, the novel that would reach international fame, Fahrenheit 451, was serialized in the March, April, and May of 1954 issues. This trend of featuring high-profile names and works such as Marilyn Monroe and Fahrenheit 451 is one that Playboy would continue from that point forward. Women who would go on to pose for the magazine would include celebrity actresses such as Farrah Fawcett and Margot Kidder, sports stars such as Amy Acuff and Amanda Beard, and musicians such as Samantha Fox and Debbie Gibson, just to name a few. The magazine would also continue to publish high-profile interviews, serialized novels, and original comics.

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Fast Dates Caledar 1992

Above: Playboy Playmate Keri Kinnel was featured on the cover and inside the 1992 Fast Dates Calendars, and in an advertising camping i produced for Sunstar Motorcycle Sprockets.

The Mikuni Motorsports PInUp Calendars really took off in the early 1990s and within the next few years we had 7 titles in total with Fast Dates Race Bikes, Iron & Lace Custom Bikes, Berm Busters Motocross, Hot Waves Personal Watercraft, Garage Girls PinUp, and Ripped Pavement  Action Roadracing, and Custom Iron Bike Only. Each of the 12 months in each Calendar required a separate photos shoot with a bike and model, so I was shooting almost non-stop throughout the year. We were also filming the “Making of the Mikuni Calendar” videos with the models, and had our Calendar shoots filmed for the “American Iron” TV series on the Speed Channel.

The Bentlry Twins

And when it came to choosing models, I was always trying to book the most beautiful centerfold and celebrity models in the world. From Playboy we had Playboy’s 40th Anniversary Playmate Anna Marie Goddard, Playmate of the Year Natalia Sokolova, Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends(above) The Bentley Twins Amanda and Sandy, and so many more. Along with many cover centerfold models from Penthouse and Hustler, plus many celebrity Porn Stars.

Amanda Bentley

Hugh Hefner's live-in girlfriend Amanda Bentley was featured on the cover an inside the 2003 Iron & Lace Custom Motorcycle Calendar, and together with sister Sandy in that year's Garage Girls and Berm Busters Motocross Calendars.

I discovered many other celebrity models and actresses who got their start in the Calendars including Joanna Krupa, Jamie Pressly – My Name is Ed, Leeann Tweeden - Fox Sports, Josie Bissett – Melrose Place, and Cindy Margolis – Top Internet model of the 1990s.

Iron & Lace 1993

The FastDates.com Calendars and I owe so much to Playboy magazine and the dream of founder Hugh Hefner His dream of featuring beautiful women in his magazine, inspired me from boyhood on through my career in photography, journalism, advertising and marketing.  With Playboy sharing with me with those same beautiful women I had the privilege to photograph and work with for 30 years. We will miss the old Playboy magazine.

Tamara Witmer

Playboy Playmate Tamara Witmer was one of my favorite models who I dated and photographed for multiple FastDates.com Calendars, and she hosted our annual LA Calendar Motorcycle Show.

Tamara Witmer 

The Playboy Mansion is located In Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California, near Beverly Hills. The mansion became famous during the 1960s when the media began to cover the lavish parties thrown by Hefner. In its heyday the Mansion had a staff of 70 people including butlers, chefs, grounds keepers, zoo keepers, maintinance and security. Every Sunday Hefner had movie night at the Mansion for his Playmates and guests. He had over 4,000 movies organized in a library up the staircase by his bedroom.

The mansion has 22 rooms with a theater room with built-in pipe organ, a game room, three zoo/aviary buildings, a tennis court, basketball court, a waterfall and a swimming pool area, a basement gym with sauna below the bathhouse and much more. It was designed by Arthur R. Kelly in 1927. In later years as the Magazine could not support Hef's lavish lifestyle and the Mansion, he began renting it out for lavish private event on the back lawn.

In 2016 the Playboy Mansion went up for sale fro $200 Million with the terms that Hefner could live in/ rent the Mansion until he died. The Mansion was purchased for $100 Million by Daren Metropolous, the co-owner of Hostess Brands.

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Condy Margolis

During the 1990s the most famous pinup model in America, if not the world, was California girl Cindy Margolis who had more digital downloads and search engine hits on the burgeoning new internet than any other model. Her wall posters and calendars were sold in bookstores, music stores and novelty stores everywhere. She was often a guest on the Howard Stern nation wide radio talk show. Hugh Hefner wanted Cindy to shoot nude for Playboy, something Cindy had never done before, but with a payment of $100,000 which was the usual payment for a celebrity pictorial, Cindy was happy to oblige. Normal Playmate monthly pictorials paid $25,000. But Playboy was the gold standard for pinup models. A Penthouse Centerfold paid $15,000. My own FastDates.com Calendar shoots paid $500 fro half a day and $1000 for a full day shoot, which was a normal fee for a model booking, plus an additional 20% paid tho the model agency who also took 20% from the model's fee.

Fastdates 1993 Cindy Margolis

Cindy Margolis was actually a neighbor of mine in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley just northwest of Los Angeles, California. For this cover shoot for the 1993 Fast Dates Racebike Calendar, Cindy and I took a morning flight out of Burbank Airport t o Monterey Airport which is adjacent to Laguna Seca Raceway. Vance & Hones had rented the track for the day with some other teams to test their AMA Superbikes. We get to take National Superbike Champion Jamie James' Yamaha OW01 to the top of Turn One with the iconic Laguna Seca spectator bridge and race building in the background for this amazing cover photo.

Cindy Margolis Playboy Book of Lingerie

Cindy Margolis, along with many of our FastDates.com Calendar Kittens, were regularly featured in the Playboy Newsstand Specials of the 1990d which includes Playboy's Book of Lingerie. The Newsstand Specials featured photo outtakes from the Playboy centerfold shoots, plus new original content with other beautiful models

Hugh Heffner and girlsHugh Hefner on a night out with his girls at the Roxy Music Club on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

Biography of Hugh Hefner
It’s impossible to fully detail the rich history of Playboy magazine without further discussing the life of its iconic founder, Hugh Hefner who was born on April 9, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois. There, he was raised along with his younger brother by his parents Glenn and Grace Hefner, who were reportedly fairly strict Methodists.

At an early age, Hugh Hefner demonstrated an exceptional IQ of 152, but his genius-level intelligence only translated into modest academic success. It wasn’t until Hefner shifted into writing and journalism that he began to excel. In high school, Hugh Hefner founded a school newspaper as well as his own comic series he called School Daze. Both publications were a success, and Hefner realized that he had a talent for producing publications that people enjoyed reading.

However, by the time Hugh Hefner graduated high school, people were far more concerned with the war than they were entertainment publications, and Hugh Hefner himself answered the call of duty by enlisting as a noncombatant in the U.S. Army toward the end of World War Two. Once he was discharged in 1946 after two years of service, though, Hefner returned home to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Within a couple years of graduating, Hugh Hefner married Millie Williams and began working as a copywriter for Esquire. It was a prestigious position, but it was one that Hugh Hefner decided to abandon after he was denied a $5 raise.

Unemployed, Hugh Hefner decided that the next step in his career path would be to return to the roots he established in high school and start his own publication. After raising $8000 from investors, Hugh Hefner founded Playboy magazine.

Hugh Hefner put together the first issue of Playboy in his home and published it in December 1953 using a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe that he had purchased the rights to. The magazine was a near instant success.

During the same time period that his magazine was taking off, though, Hugh Hefner was also plagued with problems at home, and he and his wife were divorced in 1959. A newly single man, Hugh Hefner began to adopt the lifestyle that Playboy was built around. Now in the public spotlight, his luxurious lifestyle and romantic pursuits became just as much a part of the magazine’s image as the publication itself. The Playboy empire exploded with Playboy Cubs worldwide, a weekly TV show on national television ,huge parties at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, and a large Playboy corporate jet that flew Hef and his Playmate around the world.

Playboy Mansion party girls
Calendar photographer Jim Gianatsis partying at the Playboy Mansion with Playboy Playmates in nude body paint. The tall Blond in the center is Heather Rae Young who appeared on the cover and in the 2011-2013 FastDates.com Calendars.

For the rest of his life, Hugh Hefner surrounded himself with beautiful women, eventually becoming somewhat infamous for marrying and divorcing women that were many years younger than he was. However, Hugh Hefner also used his wealth and platform to promote a number of charitable causes, including the restoration of classic films and donations to various cinema courses.

Hugh Hefner lived out his final days in the Playboy Mansion before passing away on September 27, 2017 at the age of 91, and on September 30, he was laid to rest next to Marilyn Monroe in the Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.

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Playboy Playmates in the FastDatesCalendars
A list of Playboy Playmates and Playboy Models featured in the Past Editon FastDates Calendars can be found in Collectors Corner, and you can still purchase those
Past Edition Calendars:


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