Carrie Pitzulo

Bachelors and Bunnies

The Sexual Politics of Playboy

University of Chicago Press 2011

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network June 6, 2011 Erin Lee Mock

Playboy is having (another) moment. Since its fiftieth birthday in 2003, the brand’s relevance has risen after a period of decline. The Girls Next...

Playboy is having (another) moment. Since its fiftieth birthday in 2003, the brand’s relevance has risen after a period of decline. The Girls Next Door, a reality television show about the goings-on at Hugh Hefner’s Los Angeles mansion, was a breakout hit starting in 2005, and it eventually spawned two spin-offs and a lot of merchandise. Though The Girls Next Door and the second coming of Playboy clubs suggest that the brand has a place in the twenty-first century, reflections on its place in the twentieth are even more numerous. Hefner’s impact has been reconsidered in several documentaries, the most recent of which is Brigitte Berman’s acclaimed Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel (2009). More recently, NBC picked up The Playboy Club for Fall 2011, which is set in the Chicago club in the 1960s. Ads for the show proclaim the brand’s importance: “A provocative drama about a time and place in which a visionary created an empire, and an icon changed American culture.”

Scholars too are reconsidering Hefner and Playboy‘s contribution to American literature, art, politics, and, of course, sexuality, in the twentieth century. On the heels of Elizabeth Fratterigo’s Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America and Steven Watts’s Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream, historian Carrie Pitzulo’s new Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy (University of Chicago Press, 2011) explores the pages of the magazine from its inception in 1953 to the end of its heyday in the 1970s. Pitzulo offers fresh and provocative readings of the notorious Playmates, but also discusses aspects of the magazine that have garnered less attention, including the popular Playboy Advisor column of the 1960s-70s. Bachelors and Bunnies is an exciting new feminist entry into the ever-broadening scholarship on Playboy.

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