Thursday, December 16, 2010
I got a bunch of vintage Playboy magazines from the 1960s and 70s at Battersea car boot sale last Sunday for £1 each. Usually, to be a true car booter, you need to get up at dawn and get there for 7am. Not Battersea, which starts at a very reasonable 1:30pm.
Although Playboy is perhaps the epitome of a porno mag, or the most famous anyway, what's great about the old issues are the covers (the examples above are not the best example, perhaps, but still pretty good) and the writing. I can't quite imagine moronic lads magazines such as Zoo, Nuts and Loaded publishing stories by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Vladimir Nabokov, Ian Fleming and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr – who all feature in the Playboys I bought.
The 1960s issues are very demure, showing breasts only. The 1970s go a step further and show pubic hair. The 1980s and 1990s were when porn got gynaecological – legs open and close-ups. Modern porn and its obsession with shaved pubic hair I find quite bizarre, a bit unsettling and somewhat prepubescent.
The magazine on the right features illustrations by Alberto Vargas, a famous illustrator of pin-up and glamour girls. In the 1930s and 40s he worked for Esquire magazine, and became world-famous; he also painted movie posters. By the late 1950s and throughout much of the 1960s he was working for Playboy, where his work became steadily more explicit (but not that much). In the 1970s he designed a few record covers including Candy-O by The Cars.