page one playboy late-breaking stories funk bartok wedding dark elvis
Frankie "Kash" Waddy
Frankie "Kash"
Inside the World of a
P-Funk Time Lord
Beau Boeckmann
Custom Car Nirvana
at Galpin Ford
Kenny Gravillis
Kenny Gravillis
Smart Art for Hip Hop
and Hollywood
T.J. Hooker
T.J. Hooker
Desperate Hours of a
T.V. Ham
Five-O Undercover
Daredevil Alley
Daredevil Alley
Super Joe Reed, Janet Lee, Evel Bowevel
King Crimson
King Crimson
Prickly Prog-Rockers
Hold Court on Sunset
Kam Fong
Kam Fong
a.k.a. Chin Ho Kelly
The Five-O Farewell
George W. Bush
Regime Change
The Case for One Term
40 Years
January 1963
Playboy Magazine
Kris & Rita
30 Years
Kris & Rita – 1973
20 Years
Iron Man – 1983
Kerry Von Erich
10 Years
Kerry Von Erich
Previously on Five-O
Issue Two
Swingtime Strippers
Issue One
New World Evel

Playboy's 1963 January issue finds America's most well-respected literary cheesecake rag in classic form. Sure, other magazines published the musings of William Saroyan, William Buckley, Budd Schulberg and Norman Mailer, but did they also have the courtesy to give you an erection? I don't think so.

The cover says it all. The rascally rabbit sipping champagne in his smoking jacket and slippers, in a den decorated tastefully in whorehouse red, aloof and self-satisfied amidst a gallery of creamy-thighed, pert-breasted trophy girls framed on his wall.

At an even one dollar the copy, the January issue is brimming with upbeat energy, an optimistic view of the new year and all the years yet to come. And why not? America the Beautiful was at its peak: square-cut corners were giving way to a curvy creativity, hometown girls across the land were proving the value of getting laid for fun, Man was set to explore space, maybe even the moon, the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement was poised to eradicate racism, and the President was humping Marilyn Monroe in between keeping the world safe from Ivan the Terrible.

Just months before, in a grandmaster's strategem of executive brinksmanship, JFK had sent those Russkie ICBMs packing from Castro's wily Cuba. The threat of instant global annihilation had never been more real. But we had faced it down big time. Things were great, and could only get better.

Good God, if they only knew!

Hailing from the era where sexual harassment in the office was taken as a recurrent subject of cartoon amusement, this holiday issue is chock-full of goodness from the age of solid-state, push-button convenience. Nary a hint of the impending Beatlemania lurking just off the national radar is to be seen (in fact, there's no inkling yet Hef was even aware of that bastard child of country and R&B - a.k.a. Rock and Roll). Hef would try to remedy that much later by hanging out with Fred Durst. But for now, Playboy's dogged chronicling of jazz, beat poets and all-around 1963 hipness fills out this large issue.

And of course, el sexo delicioso. Scoping out the nudie revue of '62, we're struck again by how well the perfect balance between foxy and wholesome is maintained. There were no overtones of call girl professionalism to be found. And a tuft of pubic hair would still be taboo for another ten years, when the race to the bottom courtesy of guys like Bob Guccione officially began.

This was the land before implants. But remember - it was also the age before breast REDUCTIONS, as demonstrated by of the 39-inch bra-busters of models like Avis Kimble, Jan Roberts, Pamela Gordon and Unne Terjesen. The women of this era also represent many different types of shapeliness, from sprightly and petite to massively stacked. Platinum blond is the chic coif providing counterpoint to Betty Crocker flips and beehivish high-rises. These vintage babes are hot - they probably still are!

Elsewhere, there seems to be more creative uses of printing, design, paper stock, die cutting etc. than usual, even for the magazine that set the trend, including a cool profile of the late author Ernest Hemingway. In fact, capitalizing on a popular trend of the day, the issue comes complete with a grown-up "coloring book" insert, which ends with a girl in a wedding dress being stood up by her no-good playboy boyfriend. But it's done in that early, more playful than isn't-casual-sex-great decadent attitude - downright quaint in these troubled times.

And one can only marvel at the advances made in electronics and miniaturization over the four last decades. Boggle at the 3-pound monster of a "portable" radio retailing for just 80 bucks! A 19-inch, black-and-white TV WITH remote control for only $259.95 in 1963 dollars? Six Andy Williams, Doris Day and Ether Merman records for $1.99? Dude, I am so there!

But wait. Just when things are completely going his way, could it be that Hugh Hefner has finally met his match in the form of a published letter by John A. Crane, Unitarian minister from Santa Barbara? Crane's attack on Playboy's objectification of women is made all the more astounding by the fact that he's not a fire-and-brimstone Baptist bible-pounder, but an intelligent, reasonable, lucid, probably liberal individual with a gift for narration.

Writes Preacher Crane: "Not only does Playboy create a new image of the ideal man, it also creates a slick little universe all its own...It is a universe for rather elegant and refined consumers, and girls are the grandest of all consumer goods. A girl is something, like a sports car or a bottle of Scotch or an Ivy League suit, that is meant to be used and enjoyed by men. But always with flair, with polish. There need be no entangling, no stifling alliances or obligations. Girls are playthings, and once enjoyed will have to be set aside and replaced with others new and fresh."

By Jove, I believe he's got it!

Hef's waffling, long-winded self-justification pales next to the Unitarian party-pooper's silver-tongued indictment. Score one for the Holy Man. Still, all I can say to impressionable kids across America is this: if God didn't want you looking at Playboys, He wouldn't have hidden them under your bed.

Even though he pans "Naked Lunch" in this issue (too messy, too weird), give Hef credit: one thing that quickly jumps out at the reader is how well-written and eloquent his content is. One can easily track the very real decline in American literacy just by perusing Playboy's articles in reverse chronological order.

Sweet 1963. Despite the halo of Leisure and Liberty sheltering every good American and freeing up lots of time to imagine what women looked like under their sweaters, there were signs of trouble ahead - the world was firmly entrenched in the nuclear paranoia of the Cold War. Trouble was brewing in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Unrest was beginning to simmer on the home front as the first of Hippy generation started making for college. And of course this was to be the year Bobby Dylan turned George on to pot. Then there were those "bad boy" Rolling Stones lurking in the shadows. And crack-shot creep Lee Harvey Oswald was practicing lone gunman-style for his downtown Dallas rendezvous that autumn.

But you'd never know it from this issue, an encapsulation of everything spirited, sensual, good and right with our young nation at the time. Good times and great boobies. Come on Preacher Crane, please - don't be hatin'.

— Robot John

>> Check out our coverage of the September 1962 Playboy <<

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