Playboy: An Auction, A Radio Show, A Cartoonist and Me



Wednesday marked the Year of the Bunny, an auction held at Christie's in New York City in which many Playboy commissioned items found new homes. In Playboy's typical glorification of breasts and beautiful women, the content of the auction was a mixture of sculpture, original comics and photography of famous names such as Marilyn Monroe, Bridget Bardot, Anna Nicole Smith, Brooke Burke, and even Heidi Montag photographed by world renown photographers such as Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Peter Beard, Sante D’Orazio and Patrick Demarchelier. Prolific artists such as Tom Wesselmann and Salvador Dali, were tied to some of the auctioned pieces with Wesselmann's Mouth #8 sold for a realized price of $1,874,500 and Dali's Playmate After Rokeby Venus for $266,500. The auction catalogue describes the Dali piece as:

In this perfect pairing, Salvador Dali reinterprets the Playboy Playmate for Playboy magazine. Known to "outrage or dazzle each generation," Dali captures the classic beauty in his unique and surreal artistry similar to the way that Playboy pushed boundaries while also celebrating the female form. This convergence of talent found its way into the pages of Playboy but the painting became the centerpiece of Hefner's bedroom for the past several decades.

While attending the auction preview, I asked some of the staff about reactions to the content, always eager to learn how people respond to sexual content outside of the Museum of Sex. And I was treated to some fantastic responses. Apparently, a young family came into the gallery with the mother instructing her young sons, "Eyes glued to the floor, boys" or another mother explaining to her children that "daddy is going to be a while," while some more proper women of a certain age were just completely unsure what they had stumbled upon.

Some of my favorite items on sale were the original comic panels. Some fellow visitor at the viewing were so genuinely impressed to see these pieces in person, experiencing them as fine art rather than inclusions in the magazine for the first time. My love for these original comics may be slightly biased...I've been spending the last few months working on an exhibition on sex and comics, which is set to open at the Museum in late January. With each exhibition, I live, sleep and breath the content. This year I was fortunate enough to attend New Yorks ComicCon, my first visit to the convention. For those that have never been it is an incredible and overwhelming experience, with vendors and stalls of comics as far as the eye can see, people dressed up as their favorite characters a la cosplay. There was a hall of gaming, merchandise and an artist alley where you could actually interact with the creators of your favorite comics. While there I had the honor to meet Doug Snyed, a cartoonist that has been working with Playboy since 1963.

Both a lovely and talented man, I offered to give him a tour of the Museum after the craziness of ComicCon had ended, and thankfully he took me up on my offer. I got to hear all about his adventures at ComicCon and the incredible fact that in seeing Playboy as a part of his artist bio, women are ever eager to show him their breasts. While sitting for a quick portrait only intended to include their faces, they are often so excited by his relationship with the famous men's magazine, they want to have to have the have additional parts of their anatomy memorialized in the sketch, speaking to the numbers of women that have at some point fantasized about being featured in the pages of Playboy.
The Museum of Sex has had a growing relationship with Playboy over the years, and I'm so thankful to people like Chip Rowe, the Playboy Advisor, who has always had a sweet spot in his heart for us. I was honored to be featured on his radio show for Sirius XM's Playboy Channel.

I have always wanted to meet Hugh Hefner, not out of interest in being a girlfriend or a playmate, but to have the opportunity to chat with a man that revolutionized sex so tremendously. As a prolific collector of sex, meeting him would be a dream come true for a "curatorofsex" like me...Fingers Crossed!

To learn more about the auction:
To learn more about Doug Snyed:
To learn more about Chip Rowe's Playboy Advisor Show: and my visit on his show:

Photos Courtesy of Heidi Hutson for Doug Sneyd