Auction Prices of “Playboy”‘s First Issue: By The Numbers

Marilyn Monroe cover for 'Playboy,' Dec. 1953 (NY Daily News)

Marilyn Monroe cover for ‘Playboy,’ Dec. 1953 (NY Daily News)

As I noted earlier today, a first issue of “Playboy” is scheduled to be auctioned off later at Nate D. Sanders in Los Angeles. (For all I know, it could’ve already happened.) The issue is expected to be sold for about $2.7K.

I wanted to see if this estimate was in line with how much previous first issues of the periodical sold for.

A 2011 “Icons and Idols Hollywood” auction held by Julien’s Auctions opened bidding for the “Playboy” first issue at $1K-1.5K. The winning bid was $7K+. I also checked eBay, but all the first issues listed were for reprints, not originals, so I didn’t count those.

If this auction proceeds (or proceeded) anything like Julien’s did four years ago, the issue could very well sell for a lot higher.

Obscenity Tests via Federal Standards: By The Numbers

Kim Kardashian in 'Playboy,' 2007 (The Trent)

Kim Kardashian in ‘Playboy,’ 2007 (The Trent)

I’ve never wanted to go into law (except when I watch “How to Get Away with Murder”), but if I did, there are two areas of the field that I’ve always found fascinating: intellectual property and obscenity laws. The first topic doesn’t apply here, but the second topic has all the business in the world of being covered here.

There are so many facets of obscenity, but today we’re looking at how federal standards define the term, as the First Amendment of free speech doesn’t extend to protect obscenity. A few different tests have been put in place from time to time to establish a baseline of what’s obscene and what isn’t.

Here’s how that’s changed over the years:

Number of obscenity tests: 3

The Hicklin Test, 1879 

This one was adapted from an 1860s British case. It became standard stateside when it was used in 1879 to prosecute D.M. Bennett, who was charged with obscenity when he tried to send out free-love information through the mail (this also upheld the Comstock Act).

The Hicklin test defined obscenity as material designed to corrupt impressionable minds (whether they were young or not).

– The Roth Test, 1957

This test overturned the Hicklin test, and set a new standard: Material would be considered obscene if the nature of the work deviated from a conventional norm and turned into “a prurient interest.” (Nerdy side note: in statistics terms, would that be two or three deviations from the mean? Would it be 95% or 97%? Would the prurient interests exist in the remaining 5% and/or the 2%?)

But exactly what a “prurient interest” was was never defined further.

Years later, this one was also responsible for Justice Potter Stewart’s now-famous quote on obscenity: “I’ll know it when I see it.”

– The Miller Test, 1973

Here, the Supreme Court Justices got slightly more specific as they struggled to define obscenity. Here are the three main points:

(a) whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards” would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest

(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law

(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

In layman’s terms, this would be:

a) Is it creepy, disgusting and/or explicit (according to your vanilla friends and neighbors)?

b) Does it run afoul of state law?

c) Is it worth anything to the greater good/society?


I love how all of these descriptions are so vague. Seriously, no one can define obscenity. What’s “prurient” to one person may be perfectly standard to another. But then, studies have shown that there’s not really such a “normal” fantasy, but there are varying degrees along the spectrum. And I’m willing to bet it’s the same with defining obscenity.


Kim Kardashian Magazine Nudity: By The Numbers

Kim Kardashian, 'Paper' Magazine 2014

Kim Kardashian, ‘Paper’ Magazine 2014

“Break the Internet,” indeed. Kim Kardashian’s “Paper” magazine cover shoot debuted yesterday, and it’s already the talk of the town (and inter webs) due to her various nude shots.

In photos taken by Jean-Paul Goude, Kardashian poses mooning the camera (as the image above teases), and then goes balls (or boobs) to the wall and poses full frontal holding up her dress around her knees. This is the first time Kardashian has shown so much in a more artsy magazine.

Let’s take a look at how Kardashian’s nude magazine appearances in 2014 compare to the “W” magazine ones in 2010. (In terms of nude posing in magazines, we’re not counting “Playboy” because that would skew the sample.)

“W” Magazine, 2010:

Number of Cover Shots: 2

Number of Total Shots: 10

Number of Shots Sans Clothes: 10

Bare Butt: 2* (*one more prominent)

Bare Boobs: 2* (*shots where nipple is visible)

Full Frontal: 1* (*everything bare from the navel up)

(Technically, both cover shots are full-frontal, but text bars obscure the good stuff.)


“Paper” Magazine, 2014:

Number of Cover Shots: 1

Number of Total Shots: 4

Number of Shots Sans Clothes: 3

Bare Butt: 2

Bare Boobs: 2

Full Frontal: 1



#ThrowbackThursday: ‘”Playboy” Halloween Party

'Playboy' Halloween Party

‘Playboy’ Halloween Party

Does it surprise anyone that Hugh Hefner throws an annual Halloween bash? Because it shouldn’t. (Full disclosure and no joke, the man is one of my personal heroes.)

I love that this picture shows the old “Girls Next Door” crowd: Kendra Wilkinson, Bridget Marquardt, and Holly Madison. Those were some great seasons.