Hugh Hefner was born in Chicago in 1926. Then there was the psychology department of the University of Illinois, where the young man was still drawing with enthusiasm.
At this time, he came up with the idea to create his own magazine. In 1953, the native of Chicago raised a small amount for the publication of the magazine - six hundred dollars was a loan, a thousand was given to him by his mother, and another eight thousand were given by investors.
Originally, the title was supposed to be "Stag Party". Cartoonist Arv Miller has even created a tuxedo deer logo for the new edition. However, just a month before the magazine's release, the men's "Stag Magazine" claimed the title. Hefner had to borrow the name from a small company "Playboy", where his acquaintance was selling cars. The emblem was created later by another artist - Arthur Paul used the Bunny hare, dressing him again in a tuxedo.
Hefner didn't even have an editorial office. He had to draw, adjust, compose and glue the layout of the room right in his kitchen. The author wondered how he can attract potential readers. And then Hefner remembered how soldiers in the army had attached photographs of female movie stars over their beds. So Hugh had a bold idea - to place a beauty on a spread, whose photo could then be hung on the wall. Developing his idea, which was not trivial at that time, Hefner even thought about what to place a stereo photo.
At that time, stereo cinema became very popular in America. However, the businessman figured out how much the glasses would cost, which would have to be placed in each room, and abandoned this idea. Hefner got in touch with his longtime acquaintance John Baumgart, who in Chicago just released calendars with beauties. For $ 50, Hefner bought a photograph of the young actress Norma Jeane Mortenson, who later took the pseudonym Marilyn Monroe. It was she who flaunted on the cover of the first issue.
But the funds raised by Hefner were barely enough to print the issue, there could be no talk of any advertising. Then Hugh went to exchange, he sent messages to large retail chains selling printed publications that serious people from Esquire were behind the magazine. Hefner himself briefly worked in this respectable publication. He positioned himself as the manager of American News Co. These messages affected the small independent network Empire News Co. Published in December 1953, the magazine with a circulation of 52 thousand dollars quickly sold out at a price of half a dollar. Hefner himself did not expect such a success and did not really plan to continue the release, so he did not even put a serial number on the cover. The success allowed Hefner to pay for the next issue.
Since 1955, Hefner slightly changed his tactics - he began to place in the magazine photographs not only of movie stars, but also of non-professional models. The first such "girl of the month" was an editorial staff member who took the fictitious name for such a case, Janet Pilgrim. Then such a thought seemed revolutionary - sexy girls, as it turned out, lived not only in Hollywood, but literally nearby. In the 1950s, Playboy sold out instantly, and at the end of the decade the magazine's circulation had already reached a million dollars. For the year, Hefner made over $ 6 million in retail sales alone. Then he decided to develop the idea of a sexy beauty living next door.
In 1959, an advertisement appeared in Playboy, offering to acquire a membership in the Gaslight club in Chicago. Hefner received more than three thousand reviews from readers, which gave him the idea of starting his own club. It opened, of course, in Chicago in February 1960. In the same year, similar establishments opened in New York, New Orleans and Miami.
Those who paid $ 25 for membership in an elite club were waiting for a restaurant, bar, cabaret and jazz. And the atmosphere here was created by the "Bunny girls", another of Hefner's ideas. The beauties dressed in tight-fitting suits were adorned with a fluffy ponytail and bunny ears. But men were forbidden to touch them!
These beauties have become a real sex symbol of the 60s. In Playboy itself, Bunny's Girlfriend was presented as a lucrative profession. Advertising brochures were issued especially for new candidates, which promised a career and earnings of up to $ 200 a week. By the mid-60s, Playboy already had 30 clubs with over a million members. In total, the brand has sold 2.5 million of these "keys" for a total of $ 60 million.
In those years, the magazine became truly cult. Publishing really serious texts on the pages of the edition became a successful move of the creator. There were interviews with Fidel Castro, Nabokov, Andy Warhol, Martin Luther King. By the early 70s, Playboy's circulation had grown to 7 million, a record for glossy magazines. The annual profit of the magazine was 11 million.
In 1971 Playboy Enterprises listed its shares on the stock exchange. Thanks to his American success, Hefner also targeted foreign markets. So, in August 1972 the German version of the magazine appeared, and three months later the Italian one. "Playboy" began its march around the world - editions appeared in turn in France, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Spain.
But by the mid-1970s, clubbing was a whole different story. People tried to dance and make acquaintances in such establishments. The Bunny Girls were of no interest in this regard. Outright porn films and dime peep shows began to gain popularity. This led to a drop in the popularity of Hefner's clubs, which began to close one by one.
There was only one area left that brought in income comparable to the sale of the magazine itself - the London casino. It appeared in 1964 and by the end of the 70s it had become the most famous gambling house in all of Europe. Arab oil sheiks, who loved roulette and poker, spent their millions here. Experts estimated the profit from one such casino up to 26 million a year, all in all "Playboy Enterprises" in 1980, thanks to clubs and casinos, earned 163 million.
Such successes could not but upset competitors. As a result, the largest casino chain in the UK, Ladbrokes, began a targeted campaign against Playboy. A complaint was filed with the gambling commission about the violation of the law on lending to customers. After scandalous proceedings in 1981, the business in London was sold.
There was hope for a similar establishment in Atlantic City. There, Playboy Enterprises and Elsinore completed the joint construction of a complex of a casino, hotel and club. This project cost about $ 150 million. However, the scandal in Europe led to the refusal to issue a gambling license to Hefner. He had to sell his business package to partners.
Such problems with the gambling business led to the loss of almost half of the company's income in the early 80s. And society again turned its face to moral values. In the press, feminists and AIDS fighters attacked Playboy. In America itself, in 1985, the magazine's circulation fell to 4 million. And Reagan's creation of the Anti-Pornography Commission led to the transfer of the magazine from regular counters to specialty stores.
There was no time for luxury - Hefner even sold his famous 119-meter Big Bunny aircraft for 4 million. This airbus had its own dance floor, cinema, bedrooms for 16 guests, a bed with a unique bedspread made from Tasmanian possum fur. The tycoon lost 1.5 million on this sale. In 1982, the company's troubles resulted in the dismissal of the company's president, Darrick Daniels. And in 1985, Hugh's daughter Christie Hefner took over the management of the empire. After a stroke, the father himself could not actively participate in business.
The new head of the company began by finding new directions for business. However, they were not directly related to the publishing industry itself. The brand's success was now linked to the established Playboy Entertainment division, which produced video products. And later, its own cable TV channel appeared.
I must say that Playboy appeared on television for a long time. Since October 1959, the Playboy's Penthouse program was released, which later became Playboy After Dark. Christie Hefner has caught the trend - home video has become fashionable. So "Playboy Entertainment" began to release a video version of its magazine, and a subscription to its own channel cost Americans 10-15 dollars a month.
The new division in 1990 already brought in 28 million. But on income comparable to that given by casinos, video began to be given already in the mid-1990s, thanks to access to international markets. In addition, the much more explicit Vivid and Spice TV channels have appeared. Over time, the geography of TV channels expanded - in addition to the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America were added (22 TV networks in total).
Home video in the late 90s was available in 200 countries around the world. At the turn of the century, it was Playboy Entertainment that became the most profitable direction of the company. All in all, the empire brought in more than $ 100 million a year. At the same time, in 2002, "Playboy Entertainment" exceeded the famous figure of a London casino by 6 million, earning as much as 32 million.
Today, in addition to video, the company's Internet division also operates, Playboy Online opened in 1997. Already in 2003, it began to make a profit. The company also makes money from advertising, from the sale of rights to its logo. It is placed on women's T-shirts and chains. Hugh Hefner himself has focused on rest since 2000 - he lives in his mansion with 7 girls at the same time, aged 18 to 28 years. And on December 31, 2012, the 87-year-old empire creator married again, this time to the 27-year-old blonde model of his magazine.