During the Swinging Sixties, few people swung more than Playboy magazine publisher, Hugh Hefner. In 1969, Hef offered the public a chance to vicariously experience a piece of his swinging lifestyle by launching a TV show called, “Playboy After Dark.” Set in his penthouse, or possibly a studio tricked out to look like one, “Playboy After Dark” was essentially a big cocktail party presided over by a very genial Hef.
A typical show featured a mixed crowd of fifty or sixty people milling around or lounging on couches drinking, smoking, and carrying on like they were having a great old time. The older guests wore suits or evening gowns, while the young people favored bell bottoms, paisleys, love beads, and headbands. There was always a celebrity guest or two to be interviewed, as well as some of the popular musical acts of the day, including Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, James Brown, The Grateful Dead, and Iron Butterfly.
Clips of some of the musical performances are now available on Youtube, and they provide some tasty little nuggets of pop culture history. It’s positively surreal to see a very clean-cut Hef in his tuxedo “rapping” with the musicians and self-consciously uttering the occasional “groovy” and “far out.” Interestingly, some of the artists played live while others lip-synched for some reason. Either way, though, it’s a lot of fun to watch some legendary names in rock and roll, often sporting some truly wild get-ups, back in their early days. To check them out, go to Youtube.com and search for “Playboy” and any of the band names listed above. Enjoy!
By Wayne Wayne, the world’s foremost authority on the legendary band The Modest Lads