Play On, Playboy



What many of you may or may not know is that well before the days of Playboy’s Penthouse andThe Girls Next Door Hugh Hefner hosted his very own show called Playboy After Dark. It had a short run (too short if you ask me) between 1969-1970. The show was thought to be quite controversial back in the day due to Hefner’s colorful guests (catch the drift?). Hefner invited the best and brightest Jazz musicians/singers to chop it up and showcase their talent for an always bizarre audience (miscellaneous Playboy girls, regular hot shots, Hefner and his buddies). Needless to say, the white folks had it shut down swiftly. While, of course, there are problematic and straight up strange dynamics on the show, it gets me a bit nostalgic for quality television I’ve never known. I know you’re going to watch the clips and be like “Isa…Really?” but there’s always a role for powerful white people willing to share the wealth. Good liquor, good acoustics, lots of airplay. What white man is willing to hand the mic over to the political/talented musicians of our generation? Jon Stewart? That douchebag from Karmaloop TV? All we have is Mario Lopez hosting a show in which JC and Lil’ Mama judge Filipinos breakdancing. I mean, shit, it doesn’t get more absurd than that! (Don’t fret, I love America’s Best Dance Crew as much as the rest). Anyway, here are some of my favorite performers/performances featured on Playboy After Dark. Unfortunately, there’s limited archival video footage available. I wanted to show you the clip of Nat King Cole (my heart) but these will have to do…this one’s for my fellow jazz and funk enthusiasts:

James Brown “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”

Sammy Davis Jr “I Gotta Be Me”

Choppin’ It Up with Frank Laine

Ah, the good ol’ days…


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