Save the World/Get Laid: The Vanishing Playboy Persona

Sean Connery Poster

In the early Sixties, especially in New York City, it was clear that Playboy was an enormous cultural force for a new type of emerging male. Hef took the war soldier’s experience and ethos ( Save the world and get laid) many of whom were boys from small town Americana exposed to French, Dutch, Belgian, British and German women for the first time, and fashioned an urbane, globe-trotting, sophisticated, literate, educated, well-dressed gentleman, very much like the one Ian Fleming portrayed with James Bond in his books, Sean Connery in the movies, and JFK in the White House.

In many ways Hef took the returning vet disinterested in settling back home and marrying the girl next door (How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm?) polished him up, and created a persona where he could be reintroduced to society again. He did much the same with young men going off to college (Tim Matheson as Eric “Otter” Stratton in Animal House) as well as many, many young men, like myself, just coming of age. It was an incredibly intoxicating and seminal moment in time.

Obviously, Playboy impacted society for generations, but with ever diminishing influence over the decades. The Playboy today is but a pale, if not, stale imitation of what it once was, or, perhaps little more than a nostalgic curiosity, an ideal of a dream, out of time, like Don Draper of Mad Men, with little of the mesmerizing power over the male psyche it once held.