Patty Farmer, Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music (Beaufort Books)
For sixty years, Hugh Hefner and his Playboy magazine have been easy targets for lampoon and parody. With their fixation on the care and feeding of the male libido, they have attracted plenty of both. But there has always been more to Playboy than preoccupation with sex. Ms. Farmer and contributing writer Will Friedwald give evidence that the magazine, night clubs, TV shows, jazz polls and festivals of the Playboy empire have made substantial contributions to popular music, especially jazz. In the authors’ telling, Hefner’s own deepening sophistication about jazz led to increased public acceptance of the music. The chapters on the Playboy Clubs in New Orleans, New York and Miami are convincing about that, particularly in regard to Hefner’s policy against racial discrimination. The book’s occasional public relations undertone is a minor flaw. Solid research and good writing overcome it.