For 70 years, the institution of Playboy has permeated its way into American and global popular culture, perverting objectification of women for sexual liberation. In 1963, feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, was sent undercover for a fluff piece at the infamous Playboy club in Manhattan. Steinem revealed the facade of being a Bunny in her published essay, “A Bunny’s Tale.” Despite advertisements promising glamor, lucrative incomes, and empowerment the Playboy clubs were insidious boy’s clubs that exploited its workers for sexual favors, cheap wages, and poor working conditions.
Bunnies barely made $60 a week, which was only $10 more than the average minimum wage in NYC at the time, despite advertisements promising an average salary of $200-$300 a week. The club took 50% of all charge tips from Table Bunnies, while Hat Check Bunnies could receive no tips at all; they were paid a flat rate of $12 a day. A requirement for hire outlined in The Playboy Club Bunny Manual included forcing bunnies to get internal exams. The women worked grueling hours in uniforms so tight that Bunnies popped the seams if they sneezed. Working conditions were so bad that they often left shifts with bruised, bleeding, and callused feet, empty stomachs, and memories of sexual harrassment; Steinem recalls a night that she lost 5 pounds after working an 8 hour shift.
Today, Playmates like Holly Madison, Miki Garcia, and PJ Masten have spoken out against the sexual, emotional, and physical abuse perpetuated and protected within the world of Playboy. Experiences of assault and manipulation range from forcibly ingesting quaaludes to having unnecessary medical procedures like breast augmentations and botox injections.
The publication centers the experiences and stories of the women that Playboy was built off, recounting the history of Playboy from their point of view and analyzing the role of the corporation within the Women’s Lib and Me Too movements. Playboy’s impact has reached from the intimate surroundings of a teenage boy’s wall to the Hollywood big screen to the board rooms of powerful corporate companies. Facade of Foreplay analyzes the connections Hefner made with industry titans and celebrities like Bill Cosby to create an insidious network of sexual predators interested in power, greed, and control. The glamorous portrayal of Playboy is unraveled to reveal its somber realities.
Fragmentation of one’s self is the byproduct of objectification, leaving behind the dissected and disenfranchised bodies and spirits of the exploited. Graphically, the voice and concept of fragmentation is communicated through high contrast images, detailed typography, and irregular cropping and treatment of imagery.
Fabric is a visual motif throughout the publication, with each texture symbolizing a different era of Playboy. The selection of typography includes a range of sophisticated, formal, and humanistic serif fonts; Eloquent and Operetta communicate the lavish world of Playboy, while the bulbous anatomy and winding letterforms in Bigilla imitate the human form.