TRUMAN CAPOTE’S HAMPTONS STUDIO | THE INTENTIONALLY UNTENDED LOOK

It’s not to say that I’m not a fan of his written works, but what I love Truman Capote for more are his brilliantly bitchy Black & White Ball of 1966 to celebrate the release of In Cold Blood, and his subdued and soothing studio hidden among the scrubs in the heart of the Hamptons that he personally designed as his own private oasis. I believe that most of these pics of the Mid-century modern beach studio were actually taken in 1965 (except for the last pic of Capote seated in his robe), though this story is from the archives of Architectural Digest, ca. 1976. Sadly, it no longer looks quite as charming as it does in these old photos. Through subsequent updates by later owners the beach studio has been sterilized a bit and is sorely lacking Capote’s self-proclaimed intentional untended chic and quirky touches.

1965– Truman Capote standing on the ledge of the fireplace in the living room of his Hamptons country studio near Sagaponack on the South Fork. –Image by © Condeˆ Nast Archive/Corbis

From Architectural Digest, 1976–

It is virtually impossible to find his Long Island home in the Hamptons, but that’s exactly the way he wants it. Hidden behind scrub pine, privet hedges and rows of hydrangea bushes is Truman Capote’s two-story, weathered-gray beach house near Sagaponack on the South Fork.

He lives in the heart of the Hamptons—a stretch of rolling potato fields and lush farmlands married to the nearby Atlantic Ocean. A year-round farming community and a summer place for city people, it is here that antique farmhouses vie with modernistic glass houses for the dunes and fields. Mr. Capote once called Sagaponack “Kansas with a sea breeze.”

1965– Author Truman Capote relaxes in a wicker chair outside his Long Island home in the Hamptons. –Image by © Condeˆ Nast Archive/Corbis

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THE PROSE-LOVING PRIZEFIGHTER | BOXING CHAMPION GENE TUNNEY


“Normally, I could hit hard enough, 
as anyone who studied my fights might have known. But the impression was that I was essentially defensive, the very reverse of a killer, the prize fighter who read books, even Shakespeare.”

–Gene Tunney

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A 1st generation American of Irish descent, James Joseph ‘Gene’ Tunney is ranked among the top heavyweight boxing champions of all time.  The epitome of the self-made man, Tunney was one of seven children who quit school at 15 yrs old, served in the marines (crowned U.S. Expeditionary Forces champion) during WWI, and was a lumberjack for the J.R Booth Company of Ottawa. While in Canada he kept the fact that he was a boxing champ to himself, claiming he “wanted the solitude and the strenuous labors of the woods to help condition himself for the career that appeared before him.”

Of 82 bouts, Gene Tunney lost only once, was knocked down only once (by Jack Dempsey, no less), and was never knocked out.  A thinking man’s boxer, he was known as an intelligent, defensive boxer who “treated boxing as a sweet science” and would out-point his opponents, unlike many of the sluggers (Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, etc.) of the day.  Tunney also possessed great punching power, and could stand toe-to-toe when needed– like when he defeated Harry ‘The Human Windmill’ Greb with an unrelenting punishment of body blows that brought the brawler down.  He was reigning world heavyweight boxing champion from 1926-1928, and was also crowned Ring Magazine’s first-ever ‘Fighter of the Year’ in 1928.

1928 was also the year Tunney married his beautiful bride, Polly Lauder.  She was a wealthy well-healed socialite (related to the Carnegie family) whose father, George Lauder, Jr. was a philanthropist and accomplished yachtsman who once held the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic yacht passage ever made. Upon their marriage, Tunney promised his bride that he would quit boxing for good. True to his word, he would defend his boxing title just once more (after his rematch with Jack Dempsey) against challenger Tom Heeney of New Zealand. The couple made Stamford, Connecticut their home and raised four children together.

Gene Tunney seldom spoke about his days in the ring with his children. His son Jay, who wrote “The Prizefighter and the Playwright: Gene Tunney and Bernard Shaw,” recalled that the first time had any inkling of his father’s fame was in 1944. The family went to the rodeo at Madison Square Garden, and Roy Rogers, riding out on Trigger, announced that Gene Tunney was in the crowd, and spotlights shone on where he was sitting. “At first I thought the lights were for me,” his son, Jay Tunney said. “But then there was this huge wave of applause.” And rightly so.  Gene Tunney was a class act.

World champion athletes — from top row, left to right; Babe Ruth (baseball), Gene Tunney (boxing), Johnny Weissmuller (swimming), Bill Cook (hockey). Bottom row, from left to right; Billl Tilden (tennis), Bobby Jones (golf), Fred Spencer and Charlie Winters  (6-day bicycle race). — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

August 27th, 1927, Speculator, NY — Gene Tunney, heavyweight champion of the world, who will defend his title against the former title holder, Jack Dempsey, in Chicago, September 22nd, is daily engaging in light training. He will not start heavy work until he reaches Chicago about September 1st. Here, Tunney is engaged in his favorite recreation, reading. — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

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BANDITS’ ROOST, NYC | AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET

Jacob Riis was born the third of fifteen children on May 3rd, 1849 in Denmark. He was a carpenter by trade when he headed to the United States in 1870. Like a lot of immigrant folks, he was unable to find work when he landed on New York’s hard-scrabble streets, and sought shelter wherever he could– often spending the night sleeping on the floor in temporary police station shelters. Through perseverance and hard work Riis landed a gig with a NYC news bureau in 1873, which eventually led to him becoming a police reporter for the New York Tribune. All too familiar himself with life on the NYC’s mean streets, he made it his personal mission to use his position to become the voice for the city’s suffering poor– especially the children. Jacob Riis strongly believed that the “poor were the victims, rather than the makers, of their fate.”

Manhattan’s Lower East Side, particularly the wretched areas known as Mulberry Bend and Bone Alley were teeming with poverty, violence and disease– “The whole district is a maze of narrow, often unsuspected passage ways—necessarily, for there is scarce a lot that has not two, three, or four tenements upon it, swarming with unwholesome crowds.” Jacob Riis wrote the epic, “How the Other Half Lives, Studies Among the Tenements of New York” published in 1890 (which also featured his iconic photography) to expose the horrible truth.

In 1895, Teddy Roosevelt sought Jacob Riis out, wanting to assist him in his efforts anyway he could. Then the acting President of the Board of Commissioners of the NYPD, Roosevelt asked Riis to personally show him the daily routine of street cops. On their first outing together, they uncovered nine out of ten patrolmen totally absent while on duty. Riis wrote of this, and it got the attention of everyone at the NYPD. The two became great friends, and after becoming President of the United States, Roosevelt said of Riis–

“Recently a man, well qualified to pass judgment, alluded to Mr. Jacob A. Riis as ‘the most useful citizen of New York.’ Those fellow citizens of Mr. Riis who best know his work will be most apt to agree with this statement. The countless evils which lurk in the dark corners of our civic institutions, which stalk abroad in the slums, and have their permanent abode in the crowded tenement houses, have met in Mr. Riis the most formidable opponent ever encountered by them in New York City.”

If it were not for the tireless work of Jacob Riis, the city’s poor may have long suffered with little hope. Riis was eventually successful in having the most crowded and dangerous areas torn down and replaced with new public parks and playgrounds. The infamous Mulberry Bend and Bone Alley areas gave way to Columbus Park, the Hamilton Fish Park and a public swimming pool, respectively.

In his last dying days, Riis recounted to a friend, “Now that I have to fight for almost every breath of air, I am more thankful than ever that I have been instrumental in helping the children of the tenements to obtain fresh air.”

Bandit’s Roost (1888), by Jacob Riis, from “How the Other Half Lives.” Bandit’s Roost, at 59½ Mulberry Street (Mulberry Bend), was the most crime-ridden, dangerous part of all New York City.

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THE WEDNESDAY SHAMELESS PLUG | TSY x BLIPMAGAZINE’S WINTER ISSUE

Online magazine. Yuck. Please don’t ever refer to TSY as an “online magazine.”

Call it a… hell, I don’t know what you’d call it. And please don’t ever refer to me as a blogger. It makes me cringe, dunno why, but it does.  The only words that make me cringe more– ointment, moist, slacks. Use them all in a sentence in my presence–  prepare yourself for projectile vomit.

Now back to “online magazine.” It’s clearly one of the shittiest terms ever used to describe blipmagazine, in my humble opinion.  It’s the creation of Frederick Barthelme (former Editor of Mississippi Review, and Director of The Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi), who invited several of his staff members to come along to create what would become– blipmagazine.

Well, what is it exactly, you’re still asking?

“It’s a renegade outfit. And we like it that way. Literary rogue nation unto ourselves.
In fact, we’re gunning for one corner of the axis of evil, according to certain American politicos.”
–Courtney Eldridge of blipmagazine

“And what is The Selvedge Yard, you ask? Well, porn, mainly. That’s right, it’s good old-fashioned porn, the way God intended, offering up a little something-something for every body. What, you got cars, bikes, motorcycles, movie stars, centerfolds, style icons, textile design, punk rock—it’s BMX one day; Jean Cocteau the next… At the crossroads of auto-erotica and Americana, The Selvedge Yard is a celebration of that greatest of American tales: the open road.”

–Courtney Eldridge, blipmagazine

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20TH CENTURY AVANT-GARDE ICON | TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME JEAN COCTEAU

“An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.”

–Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau.  Quite possibly the most important art icon of the 20th century, who could seemingly do it all, and with great style– painter, poet, playwright, novelist, actor, film-maker, the list goes on and on. But he was first and foremost a poet at heart– and a truly incredible one at that.

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Stunning photo of Jean Cocteau by Irving Penn.  Damn, the man had style.  Borrowing a page out of The Duke of Windsor’s book– perfectly pairing classic menswear patterns with elegance and ease. “Penn made this portrait of Jean Cocteau during a 1948 trip to Paris for Vogue.  Each thread of Cocteau’s tie, vest, and suit is etched in light and shadow; the patterns and the texture pop out in vivid, tactile detail.  The drape of his coat over an extended arm adds drama and balance to the composition. Cocteau is dressed in the sartorial attire of a dandy, which, by all accounts, he was.  There is an air of flamboyance about him, until you look at his face.  His dead-serious expression registers the fierce intelligence of a keen observer, as if he is taking our measure while deigning to allow us to take his.” –Philip Gefter via

August 1955, France– Picasso with Jean Cocteau at a Bullfight –Image by © Vittoriano Rastelli/Corbis Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau knew one another for nearly fifty years. They met in 1915 following Picasso’s departure from martre, where Cocteau’s friend, the poet Max Jacob, had shared an atelier with the painter– one using the only bed by day, and other by night. Picasso made an immediate and lasting impression on Cocteau, who considered him as one of his three masters. via

Jean Cocteau sketching model Elizabeth Gibbons in a Chanel dress in his hotel bedroom (Castille in the Rue Cambon), surrounded by posters of his latest theatrical productions, photos of friends, medicine bottles, books, stage sets and pencils, 1937.  –photo by Roger Schall via

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | TOM WOLFE THE ORIGINAL THIN, WHITE DUKE

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“There are just two classes of men in the world, men with suits whose buttons are just sewn onto the sleeve, just some kind of cheapie decoration, or—yes!—men who can unbutton the sleeve at the wrist because they have real buttonholes and the sleeve really buttons up.”

The Secret Vice, by Tom Wolfe

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In 1952, a promising young pitching prospect out of Washington and Lee University showed up for a tryout with the New York Giants (the baseball Giants, that is– they hadn’t yet decamped for San Francisco).  The prospect made a decent showing: three innings, three men on base, no runs scored.  Good screwball, nice sinker, not much heat.  “If somebody had offered me a Class D professional contract,” says the prospect– whose name was Tom Wolfe– many decades later, “I would have gladly put off writing for a couple of decades.”  But the Giants cut Wolfe after two days, and he became a giant of another kind. (Via)

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

Recently, in the wake of the recession, Wall Street greed, and the wreckage of Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns et al, the term “Master of The Universe” keeps getting thrown around to describe these fallen titans of Lower Manhattan.  Whenever I hear this term I always think of the man who penned it, my nominee for the TSY Style Hall of Fame, Tom Wolfe.

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1970s, New York City — Author Tom Wolfe — Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis

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Cultural Chronicler is another term that also gets thrown around a lot– I mean one well reviewed novel and Bret Easton Ellis was the voice of his generation (I remember I lived through it), but few American wordsmiths can actually lay claim to writing about the people and events that shaped a lot of the last 50 years of the 20th Century as a largely inside observer, and in the process coining some phrases that became part of the popular lexicon.

Tom Wolfe always managed to get underneath the surface of events and reveal the most primal of human emotions-greed, arrogance, courage, humor, longing-and come up with phrases like “Radical Chic”, “The Me Generation”, “Social X-Ray”, “The Right Stuff”, and one of his favorites “Good Ol Boy” which he used to describe the racecar driver Junior Johnson.

Other than being an avid reader of Wolfe’s work I have a somewhat personal connection.  For a few years we lived in the same NYC neighborhood and while I can never say I spoke to him, he was impossible to miss.  A tall man, with an aquiline nose Wolfe was always decked in an immaculate white suit, high collar Jermyn Street custom dress shirt, splendid tie, pocket square that screamed dandy, white shoes, and occasionally white hat.  His style was very much like his writing, elegant but with a sense of humor and irony.  I mean who dresses like that anymore!  Yet Tom Wolfe looked crisp on the hottest of days.

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Tom Wolfe — the American journalist, pop critic and novelist, 1980. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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TRUMAN CAPOTE’S ICONIC & BITCHY BLACK AND WHITE BALL OF 1966

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When Capote threw a party at the Plaza for the release of his epic “In Cold Blood”, the biggest stars came calling.  But little did they know that it would be Capote’s coup de grace, as he masked the world’s most important faces, in a calculated move that controlled the elites of politics, power and prestige.  It was the night Capote made 500 friends, and 15,000 enemies.

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Arguably, one can say that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” catapulted Truman Capote’s stardom to a level that very few writers ever reach.  It was a work so special, with a style of prose so signature, it would stir literary heavyweight Norman Mailer to openly praise Capote as “the most perfect writer of my generation.” Capote himself would later say that Breakfast at Tiffany’s was the turning point in his career. Still Capote knew he could go further, professing– “But I’m nowhere near reaching what I want to do, where I want to go. Presumably this new book is as close as I’m going to get, at least strategically.”

This “new book” Capote was referring to was “In Cold Blood”, and it would do more than enough to get him where he wanted to go.  Upon its release in 1965, “In Cold Blood” created a wave of acclaim and controversy that would carry Capote for years to come, and make him one of America’s most talked about writers ever.  And a work of art this important deserved a grand celebration that was equally epic.

So in 1966, Capote decided to host a party that would be his “great, big, all-time spectacular present” to himself.  Some might even say that the 1966 Masked Black and White Ball was truly one of his greatest works ever.

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Truman Capote arrives at the Plaza Hotel holding hands with Mrs. Katherine Graham, the guest of honor.  Mrs. Graham was the president of the Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine.  — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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No stranger to celebrity, Capote was already a fixture in New York City’s elite social circles, and knew very well how to play the game.  A masterful manipulator of self-promotion, he knew that this was much more than just a celebration—it had the potential to be a major publicity opportunity for “In Cold Blood”, and the ultimate act of self-aggrandizement.

The task before Capote now was no easy one.  How could he devise the perfect, titillating, gimmick for the party he planned to hold for himself?  One that would create a spectacle like none ever seen before, that would hold both the media and fans breathless?  Well, the answer was pure genius.

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Candice Bergen holding her white bunny mask at Truman Capote’s epic 1966 Black and White Ball. — Image by © Elliott Erwitt

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“IT NEVER GOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME” | GONZO — HUNTER S. THOMPSON

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Hunter S. Thompson  –photo ©Al Satterwhite

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I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

— Hunter S. Thompson

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America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

— Hunter S. Thompson

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Hunter S. Thompson  –photo ©Al Satterwhite

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Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming– “Wow! What a Ride!”

— Hunter S. Thompson

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ICONIC AMERICAN IMAGES BY DANNY LYON | THE BIKERIDERS AND BEYOND

ohio river danny lyon

“Crossing the Ohio River” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1966

In the 1960s & 70s, writer and photographer Danny Lyon made a name for himself covering the Southern Civil Rights movement, and  went on to give the world 3 incredible works– The Bikeriders, in which he chronicles his travels as a member of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan, documenting the large-scale demolition of our country’s greatest city back in 1967, and Conversations with the Dead in which he photographs and writes about Texas inmatess in 6 different prisons, Billy McCune in particular, over 14 months time. Danny Lyon’s images are iconic, and he is considered by many as the gold standard for motorcycle photography to this day.

“If ‘The Wild One’ were filmed today, Marlon Brando and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would all have to wear helmets. I used to be afraid that when (Hells) Angels became movie stars and Cal the hero of the book, the bikerider would perish on the coffee tables of America. But now I think that this attention doesn’t have the strength of reality of the people it aspires to know, and that as long as Harley-Davidsons are manufactured other bikeriders will appear, riding unknown and beautiful through Chicago, into the streets of Cicero.” –Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon The Bikeriders

“Cal, Elkhorn, Wisconsin” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

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"Route 12, Wisconsin" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon.

“Route 12, Wisconsin” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1963

from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon

“Racer, Schererville, Indiana” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1965

"From Lindsey's room, Louisville" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --1966.

“From Lindsey’s room, Louisville” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1966

"Racers, McHenry, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Racers, McHenry, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Goodpaster, Hobart, Indiana" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Goodpaster, Hobart, Indiana” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Field meet, Long Island, New York" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Field meet, Long Island, New York” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66.

"Racers, McHenry, Illinois" from the Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Racers, McHenry, Illinois” from the Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1965

"Broken gear box spring, New Orleans" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Broken gear box spring, New Orleans” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Torello Tachhi's back, Loudon, New Hampshire" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1963-66.

“Torello Tachhi’s back, Loudon, New Hampshire” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1963-66

"Seventeenth Annual World's Largest Motorcycle Blessing, St. Christopher Shrine, Midlothian, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon.

“Seventeenth Annual World’s Largest Motorcycle Blessing, St. Christopher Shrine, Midlothian, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon

"Corky at home" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Corky at home” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Jack, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Jack, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, 1965

New York Eddie's, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“New York Eddie’s, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Andy, meeting at the the Stoplight, Cicero, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa

“Andy, meeting at the the Stoplight, Cicero, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Benny, Grand and Division, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Benny, Grand and Division, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"From Dayton to Columbus, Ohio" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“From Dayton to Columbus, Ohio” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Memorial Day run, Milwaukee" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon   --circa 1965-66.

“Memorial Day run, Milwaukee” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Brucie, his CH, and Crazy Charlie, McHenry, Illinois"  from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Brucie, his CH, and Crazy Charlie, McHenry, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Cal, Springfield, Illinois" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Cal, Springfield, Illinois” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Big Barbara, Chicago" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Big Barbara, Chicago” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Outlaw camp, Elkhorn, Wisconsin" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Outlaw camp, Elkhorn, Wisconsin” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Clubhouse during the Columbus run, Dayton, Ohio"  from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Clubhouse during the Columbus run, Dayton, Ohio” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Funny Sonny packing with Zipco, Milwaukee" from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Funny Sonny packing with Zipco, Milwaukee” from The Bikeriders by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1965-66

"Chopper, Milwaukee" fro The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon  --circa 1965-66.

“Chopper, Milwaukee” fro The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon, ca. © 1965-66

Four boys, Uptown, Chicago" Pictures from the New World by Danny Lyon  --1968.

“Four boys, Uptown, Chicago” Pictures from The New World by © Danny Lyon, 1968

"Three young men, Uptown, Chicago" Pictures from the New World by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Three young men, Uptown, Chicago” Pictures from The New World by © Danny Lyon, 1965

"Chevrolet Nueva Casas Grande, Chuhuahua, Mexico" from The Paper Negative by Danny Lyon  --1975.

“Chevrolet Nueva Casas Grande, Chuhuahua, Mexico” from The Paper Negative by © Danny Lyon, 1975

"Truck in the Desert, Yuma, California" Pictures from the New World by Danny Lyon  --1962.

“Truck in the Desert, Yuma, California” Pictures from the New World by © Danny Lyon, 1962

"New arrivals from Corpus Christi" from Conversations with the Dead by Danny Lyon  --circa 1967-68.

“New arrivals from Corpus Christi” from Conversations with the Dead by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1967-68

"Hoe sharpener and the Line" from Conversations with the Dead by Danny Lyon  --circa 1967-68.

“Hoe sharpener and the Line” from Conversations with the Dead by © Danny Lyon, ca. 1967-68

"Young man, Hyde Park, Chicago" from Toward a Social Landscape by Danny Lyon  --1965.

“Young man, Hyde Park, Chicago” from Toward a Social Landscape by © Danny Lyon, 1965

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ICONIC BRANDING OF A BUNNY KIND | THE BIRTH OF PLAYBOY MAGAZINE

PLAYBOY BUNNY LOGO SWIMSUIT PLAYMATE

How unlikely would it seem today, if someone were to tell you that they were planning to build one of the world’s sexiest and most recognizable brands– with a logo based on a bunny? Well, that’s exactly what Hugh Heffner did. Seriously, doesn’t it sound kind of nuts? Looking back on the vintage images of the bunnies in their heyday, there is an undeniable naivete and corniness, mixed with an overtly demeaning attitude towards women– and wow, did it work.

Heffner was gifted with an ironic stroke of fate when the original “Stag Club” name that was going to grace his new men’s magazine was legally blocked by Stag magazine. He needed a new handle, and the stag was soon converted to the now iconic bunny, in a historic and innuendo-laden rename. Playboy later ran a pictorial article on Chicago’s Gaslight Club, and was overwhelmed by thousands of readers requesting to join this exclusive key members club. Playboy execs smelled a golden opportunity, and soon plans were laid to open their own private key holder’s club.  All that was needed now was the vision.

After many go-rounds, the decided-upon bunny custom was nipped and fluffed until it met Heffner’s critical approval. They say he was particularly smitten with the tail– go figure. In 1960, when the very first Playboy Club opened– the so-called icon of the sexual revolution was off and hopping. Seems almost more like a misogynist’s ___ dream than a liberating sexual revolution if you asked me.

Liberating for whom, exactly?

Unwilling to lose time in litigation for the "Stag Party" name, Hugh Hefner renamed his magazine "PLAYBOY" and chose a new symbol. Arv Miller transformed his original stag mascot to a rabbit. Founding Art Director Arthur (Art) Paul then created the world-famous Rabbit Head logo.

Unwilling to lose time in litigation for the “Stag Party” name, Hugh Hefner renamed his magazine “PLAYBOY” and chose a new symbol. Arv Miller transformed his original stag mascot to a rabbit. Founding Art Director Arthur (Art) Paul then created the world-famous Rabbit Head logo.

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 Hugh Hefner and Playboy Bunnies at the Chicago Playboy Club  --1960.

1960, Hugh Hefner and Playboy Bunnies at the Chicago Playboy Club.

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