The joke “I read Playboy for the articles” takes on a whole new meaning when you learn that Roald Dahl wrote some of them.
Yes, you read that right; beloved children’s author Roald Freaking Dahl published work in Playboy.
Think about it: Charlie and ‘The Chocolate Factory’…? James and the ‘Giant Peach’…?
Ha, not quite.
But the fact that the magazine was just as filled with interviews, articles and fiction pieces by writers like Dahl, as it was with exploring the beauty of the female form, is relevant if you want to debate the value of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s contribution to society. Something the interwebs have been doing since his death was announced this week.
I’m not saying you should consider Playboy for your Feminist Bitchez Book Club (although the discussion would teach you a lot about your friends). But you can’t look at Hugh Hefner’s life’s work and ignore his magazine’s literary legacy.
Sixty years ago, Hefner hired Playboy‘s first literary editor, Auguste Comte Spectorsky, hoping to source writing of substance to publish alongside of nudie spreads each month. That was his vision of the kind of reader that he wanted to attract; a man interested in prose and pussy.
And he made that happen. Hefner once said to a group of former Playmates at a Playboy reunion, “Without you, I’d [just] be the publisher of a literary magazine.”
The publication interviewed some of the most influential people of the time; for example, Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr, John Lennon, Miles Davis and Malcolm X.