Among its other, more visually appealing features, the venerable men's magazine called PLAYBOY has long contained copious editorial departments of the non-pictorial kind. One of them, Playboy After Hours, covers, among other topics, the movie, television, and music scenes. Over the years, the magazine has lost a good share of its readership, along with its relevancy in relation to society and pop culture. Back in the day, however, Hugh Hefner and his publication were a force that many considered to be leading edge. It's really too bad that many 'zines of this type have turned away from fiction and feature-heavy content and instead populated most of their pages with the "kind of pictures that men like". While a shadow of its former self remains, personally I miss the days when PLAYBOY teemed with stories by Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and Ray Russell, and the multitude of cartoons were usually more clever than coarse.
The Playboy After Hours department of the October, 1974 issue contained a Television column that discussed the upcoming season. Among the shows was a new science-fantasy entitled, PLANET OF THE APES, starring original APES actor Roddy McDowall. It mentioned that it took 3 hours a day to apply his make-up. "Such TV make-up", says the author in a wispy sort of mood, "we haven't seen since President Nixon's last press conference." A less intentional quip, but one that was far funnier, was the statement by one of the producers at a press conference for the show -- with an apparent straight face, no less -- that the new program PLANET OF THE APES was "a story about people"! And, yes, that's Sean Connery of JAMES BOND and ZARDOZ fame, lending his visage to sell Jim Beam.
In the same issue, this time in the Playboy Potpourri column, was a mention of Dr. Donald Reed's famed, but now defunct, The Count Dracula Society. Again, the topic was treated in a light-hearted tone. Still, PLAYBOY would every once in a while include features and tidbits regarding horror, science fiction, and fantasy topics they felt had either some relevance at the time or, at the very least, some interest to the readership. As Monsterologists, we can treat them now as visual artifacts useful in our horror history perambulations.
Unusual Tales #6 - Steve Ditko cover
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