Yesterday, Playboy magazine was in the news after releasing the front cover of the first ‘non-nude’ issue in the publication’s 62 year history. The magazine’s decision to stop publishing nude photos was motivated mainly by practical business concerns – unsurprisingly, Playboy had been having trouble getting its content featured on the popular social media platforms that drive web traffic. The magazine’s new format promises to be centered more around journalism and interviews, the target readership being “young men who live in cities.”
As I read this news yesterday I was reminded of another welcome, forward-thinking endeavor of Playboy Enterprises: a television program called Playboy After Dark, which ran for 2 seasons between 1969-1970. Each episode of the show, which was hosted by Hugh Hefner himself, shared the same premise: Hef is having a party, and he’s invited all his cool celebrity friends. The show usually centered around performances of musical guests: Marvin Gaye, The Grateful Dead, Ike and Tina Turner, and many others made memorable appearances on Playboy After Dark. (The “party” format of the show, along with its similar predecessor Playboy’s Penthouse, was quite unconventional for the time. Watching the show now, the party seems to occupy some space between fiction and reality – according to Hefner, real liquor was served at these gatherings.)
This is all important context for what otherwise might have been (and indeed still may be) a strange sight to behold. Here is a gem from Playboy After Dark – a Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac performing a glorious version of “Rattlesnake Shake.” Even a cursory review of the song’s lyrics (or its title, for that matter) will reveal why it was the perfect song to play on a program produced by Playboy Enterprises. And I have to give Hef some credit: it seems like everyone in this video is having a good time.