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Growing up with Playboy

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, has died at age 91. His passing stirred up memories of Playboy from my youth.

I was about 13 when a bunch of my friends and I pooled our pocket change to buy our first copy of Playboy.

We were embarrassed to look at the magazine together, so though some perverse logic, the group decided to cut up the magazine and we all got different sections. Because I was the youngest, I wound up with sections on proper attire, the Playboy Philosophy, and an interview with General Tito of Yugoslavia and no photos, except of Tito.

We discovered in that issue that Playboy was opening Playboy gentleman clubs all over. For $100 a year, a sophisticated and debonair gent could get a Playboy key that allowed you entrance to any club in the world to hobnob with celebrities and watch the Playboy “Bunny” waitresses do the “Bunny Dip” as they served drinks.

We couldn’t afford a key and besides they weren’t opening a club in Youngstown, Ohio, so, we opened our own Playboy Club.  We found an old shed, painted the door gold and put a Playboy Bunny symbol on it.

It wasn’t much of a bunny hutch. It was actually an old chicken coop — with chickens still in it. But that didn’t stop us. We just hung up some “Bunny pictures,” kept the lights low and pretended we were in a swanky Playboy Club.

I have to say, though, the chickens made lousy hostesses. They were always getting the orders wrong. And when we strapped these little bunny ears on, they just looked plain ridiculous. Plus, they would peck at you whenever you tried to order a drink.

Nevertheless, we’d go to our club once a day and sit around old card tables on wooden boxes and order dry Martini’s that tasted like Cherry Cola and discuss the Playboy Philosophy. Most people remember Playboy as being all nude pictures but it actually provided social advice to the young men of the era through the Philosophy and Playboy Advisor.

For example, we learned things like a gentleman on a date always walked next to street with the lady away for the curb to protect her from being splashed by puddles from the road. But we all knew the real reason was if a runaway car careened off the street unto the sidewalk, the guy would get killed first.

Some of the stuff in the magazine made no sense to us. The Playboy adviser would say, “your tie tack should always be in the middle of the ‘shirt placket’ so it centered the front of your Windsor knotted tie.”

“What do you think a ‘placket’ is?” I would ask. “I don’t know,” my buddy Mike would respond. “What’s a tie tack? And who’s Windsor?”

We diligently read the magazine’s advice on how many blue, black and brown suits we should have in our wardrobe, even though we probably didn’t have one suit between the six of us. And we became knowledgeable connoisseurs of fancy cars and stereo systems long before we reached the financial ability to buy any of those things.

The club lasted for a few years until we got to dating age and could drive cars. That’s when we abandoned our Playboy Club and chose reality.

— Myron Kukla

Myron Kukla is the author of several books of humor including Guide to Surviving Life available online at: https://squareup.com/store/myronkuklabooks. Email him at myronkuklabooks@gmail.com.

Reflections of Erma