8 Playboy Moments Which Shocked The World

Playboy has always been a pioneering force in terms of sexuality and controversy giving us iconic stories and cover-shoots for decades. However there have been times when the infamous magazine has been the subject of much controversy and scandal the world over. Sometimes this controversy was courted and other times even Hugh Hefner himself couldn’t see what was going to come. But through the years it’s played host to some of the most memorable stories in culture. Here are just eight times that shocked the world…


Women of the Government

woman of the government, playboy, playboy covers,
Real or Fake news?

November 1980

One of the first, ‘Women of…’ Playboy issues, this time featuring women in the government. A government employee  graces the front cover of Playboy and the pages. Controversially the issue hit stands in November 1980 was when Ronald Reagan first ran for president. The subtitle giving a subtle nod to the Watergate scandal years before.

Marilyn Monroe

First issue of Playboy Magazine with Marilyn Monroe.

December 1953

The first ever Playboy issue set the precedent for the future of the magazine with the publication of topless photographs of Marilyn Monroe. The first issue was wildly popular with Monroe embracing the fact she’d posed topless as a struggling actress when it hit the stands. The issue was beneficial for both Monroe and Hefner.

Gloria Steinem

May 1963

No iconic feminist campaigner didn’t grace the cover of Playboy in 1963. Instead she went undercover in one of the infamous Hugh Hefner Playboy Clubs and discovered the extremely strict and horrific working conditions that the Playboy girls were subjected too. It just goes to show the dichotomy of sexual liberation, no one gets 100% right all the time. If you’re interested you can read more about the ‘Bunny’s Tale’ magazine article right here.

Darine Stern

October 1971

These days a black cover model might not seem like a profoundly controversial issue but during the 1970s media and magazines were almost exclusively white. A black model was definitely something that got people talking. Darine Stern went on from being relatively unknown to a high-profile model in Chicago, it would be four more years before there was a black cover girl on Vogue. If you want to learn more about the iconic covers visit our post here 

Alex Haley


Journalist and author Alex Haley was a writer for Playboy during the 1960s and his articles for the magazine regularly shocked the world. He interviewed legends such as Miles Davis and Martin Luther King and Quincy Jones. One of his most shocking interviews was with George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party at the time. His style of writing set the tone for journalism throughout the 1960s.

Bette Davis

September 1962

Iconic Hollywood actress Bette Davis wasn’t a Playboy cover girl but she still has one of the most iconic moments in Playboy history. In 1962 Jazz musician Miles Davis interviewed the screen siren about issues such as culture, politics and race. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind on a number of different issues and that interview became one of the most iconic ever. In fact the in-depth interview style attracted other celebrities to the magazine. The full Bette Davis interview kicked off Playboy’s trend of no-holds bar questioning.

Caroline Cossey


Caroline Cossey is a trans-supermodel who first rose to fame in the lates 1970s until the 1990s when she became the first trans-woman to appear in Playboy magazine. It wouldn’t be until the late 10s that Playboy had a trans-cover girl but they always maintained a position at the forefront of sexual liberation.

Holly Madison

June 2015

When Hugh Hefner’s former long-term girlfriend Holly Madison released her memoir “Down the Rabbit Hole” many people were shocked at the details. People were especially surprised by the fact that life in the Playboy Mansion as glamorous as they’d been lead to believe. The book sparked a feud between the former-romantic partners and it was one that the two were said to never recover from.

 Sarah McDaniels

March 2016

One of the most shocking moves Playboy made during recent time was a switch to non-nudity format. The move was highly decisive as Playboy moved into more digital based millennial readership. But it just goes to show that Playboy will continue to do the unexpected!

We can’t wait to see what the next 60 years bring…

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