From the waaaaay-back machine comes this post from July of 2009 on The Selvedge Yard blog featuring some vintage looks at the various incarnations of one of the most recognizable logos in the history of brand I.D.: the Playboy “bunny.”
The images immediately brought back a vivid memory from my childhood: my mom and dad sitting up in bed one lazy Sunday morning each having a leisurely read–mom with a check-out aisle, crafting mag and dad with a Playboy. No, I did not grow up in a hippie commune or a swinger household devoid of morals. But, my parents–both naturalized citizens–were probably feeling out the recent relaxing of tightly wound, nuclear family values of the previous few decades and, well, Playboy magazine must have seemed like a rather innocuous part of the discovery process.
This was circa 1971-or-2 and a man was definitely still a MAN. But things were changing rapidly and, as women were becoming increasingly independent, self-reliant and gaining control over their reproductive destinies, the sexual ideal of a woman was apparently also in need of an upgrade.
I remember dad’s magazine being about three or four times the thickness of mom’s, yet staple-bound nonetheless as if in defiance of the laws of physics. I mention this because my memory is that my dad was actually reading his magazine, where my mom seemed to be flipping through the pages of hers–something that now seems quite ironic now. His expression and demeanor revealed nothing of the magazine’s lurid contents and seemed more appropriate for a Popular Mechanics or perhaps Business Week.
Well, Playboy certainly was “thinking man’s porn” and, at least for a few decades, its issues boasted a higher proportion of emerging artists and writers than “Girls of the Big Ten.” Still, none of those words and images would have been possible without those “bunnies” baring it all, or at least most of it. And, while those pictorials seem rather tame compared to today’s internet porn, I don’t doubt that their net effect was the same any way you slice it.