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PLAYBOY ASIA - Take in the exquisite view with the International model, Chloe Rose. On the set of a home overlooking the ocean with the photographer, Henrik Pfeifer, Chloe lounges by the pool in a pink bikini as the camera snaps away.

“I’ve been modeling for five years,” she says of her career. We first caught sight of Chloe through her photographer. “I was surprised — one day, I found a shooting request while just checking emails. I am grateful that Henrik Pfeifer found me!”

When it comes to posing nude, Chloe says it comes to her very naturally. “I [wanted] to be a Playboy model because it is an honor and because the photos are tastefully taken,” she shares. “I feel very comfortable being nude!” Want to see more from Chloe? Check out all her previous pictorials, right here on Playboy.
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PLAYBOY ASIA - The international model, Chloe Rose, loves the morning time. Just waking up on set, Chloe is dressed in lavender lingerie in her bedroom as the sun creeps in through the windows, and the photographer, Henrik Pfeifer, captures her beautifully. “What makes me, ‘me?’ I am of Asian and South African descent,” she says.

“[Also,] my cheerful temperament. I’m a playful and loving person, so I like to make the people around me happy.” Chloe has been modeling for a few years now. “I love my job and give the very best in all I do. I first started back in 2013,” she says, though her collaborations with Playboy began in 2018.

“I was surprised! One day I found a shooting request for Playboy while just going about my day and checking my emails. I felt honored — Playboy is so legendary!” As for posing nude, Chloe loves it. “I feel very comfortable being nude.

I think my body is very feminine, and I like it that way.” Want to learn more about Chloe Rose? Check out all her features right here on Playboy.


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PLAYBOY ASIA - March 2020 Playmate, Anita Pathammavong, is absolutely radiant in this stunning pictorial from the photographer, Ali Mitton. Covered in sunlight, gold, silk, and marigolds, Anita finds pure bliss on set. “Marigolds fill the pool, and I breathe in the verdant aroma as the florists trim their stems,” she describes of the shoot, “I am naked; all around me, the energy is strong.

The confidence I feel today is the result of an ever-evolving journey of exploration and self-acceptance.” From the water to lounging in nothing but gold jewels, Anita’s beauty is a force of nature. When it comes to posing for Playboy, Anita believes she manifested it. “I honestly feel like I spoke it into existence,” she beams.

“I was working with Patricia Meier-Viet, who showed me her May 1993 Playmate pictorial in Playboy Germany. I decided then, ‘I’m going to do Playboy.’ A few months later, I was talking to my friend, Fo Porter, the April 2019 Playmate, and she asked me how I would feel about posing for Playboy. Next thing I know, I have an interview with the casting director!” Learn more about Anita Pathammavong, right here, now on Playboy.


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Katie Jones/Variety/Shutterstock.

PLAYBOY ASIA - In 2019, and we’re still calling women “crazy” to invalidate their emotions

Written by Roslyn Talusan

Days before Mad Queen Daenerys Targaryen and her rage saturated the think piece market, social media was busy obsessing over the rage of another figure in pop culture. Constance Wu, star of Crazy Rich Asians, expressed her own work-related frustrations in two concise and deeply relatable tweets. “So upset right now that I’m literally crying. Ugh. Fuck,” she wrote. “Fucking hell.”

These tweets coincided with ABC’s announcement that Fresh Off the Boat, starring Wu as matriarch Jessica Huang, was renewed for a sixth season. She explicitly “disliked” the renewal, insisting that it was not good news in response to a fan congratulating her. Praised as the breakout star of the series, Wu’s nuanced and authentic portrayal of Jessica humanized the traditional Tiger Mom archetype. After six years, I’d imagine becoming exhausted of playing the same character, and given the current trajectory of the show, it’s not surprising Wu’s ready to move on.

While its first season was refreshing, Fresh Off the Boat is now a shell of its former self, watered down to appeal to wider and whiter audiences. Writer Inkoo Kang points to the infantilization and butchering of Jessica’s character as a sign of the downturn in the show’s quality. Jessica, once unapologetically confident in herself, is now annoyingly self-absorbed to her own detriment. Even Eddie Huang, whose memoir makes up the show’s premise, was unable to recognize any true resemblance to his real life and distanced himself shortly after it premiered.

Wanting to move on from a shitty job to do better and greater things is obviously a universal experience, so I was shocked at how strongly people jumped at the chance to condemn Wu’s actions. HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali was not surprised by her tweets, alluding to industry gossip regarding her “reputation for being rude, petty, mean-spirited, and ungrateful.” It’s astounding that it’s 2019, and we’re still out here painting women as “divas” to minimize and invalidate their emotions.

I couldn’t expect much better coming from the man who sicced his hundreds of thousands of followers on a traumatized college student in defense of Chelsea Clinton. As the story of Wu’s Twitter outburst spread, more people began to regurgitate Ali’s casually sexist argument. The backlash boils down to this: *Fresh Off the Boat *“made” Constance Wu the star she is today, and she should be grateful for the opportunity. She’s a spoiled diva, difficult to work with. So many people lost their jobs when their shows got cancelled, so Wu should keep her mouth shut and be happy for the rest of the cast and crew.

This intensely negative reaction to Wu vocalizing her frustration is rooted in her identity as an Asian-American woman. Popular media and social structures still code Asian women as being submissive, delicate, soft-spoken and respectful. Culture writer Clara Mae points to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s portrayal of Mantis (Pom Klementieff) as an example of the “Lotus Blossom” stereotype.

According to the comics, Mantis is a powerful celestial being and a capable martial artist with telekinetic abilities. Despite her strength, James Gunn completely nerfs her in his adaptation of her character. In the films, Mantis is introduced as a white man’s servant, whose only power is sensing and manipulating emotions. By reducing her to a socially awkward empath, the MCU perpetuates the harmful notion that Asian women are fragile and docile.

As visible Others, Asian women face nasty consequences when we refuse to conform to the one-dimensional ideals projected onto us. After Ariana Grande callously came for “all them blogs” last month and noticed my shitposts where I called her a “bitchass buzzard,” her fans spent over a week harassing me, flooding my mentions with disturbingly racist, misogynist comments. Using much more violent words, they demanded my silence and that I apologize to her. When I refused to back down, the hate only intensified—I should’ve been grateful that she was so benevolent so as to message me in the first place.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been punished for standing up for myself, nor will it be the last. Even though I did directly apologize to Grande, it wasn’t enough to satiate her fans. Their issue wasn’t about accountability, it was that I needed to “learn my place.” Similarly, people continued to berate Wu after she posted a lengthy note clarifying her comments, and apologizing for her “insensitivity.” *Fresh Off the Boat* ’s renewal meant Wu had to pass on a project that she was passionate about, one that she saw as a challenge. She meant to express her disappointment at missing an exciting opportunity, and not necessarily her dislike of the show.

Even if Wu was actually vocalizing her dissatisfaction with the show, so what? Like the rest of us, the cast of Game of Thrones has been forthright about their disdain for the show’s ham-fisted and nonsensical final season. Lots of people lost their jobs when filming wrapped last year, and for many of the actors, this was their first big role. Yet no one has dared to brand Kit Harrington or Emilia Clarke as ungrateful or spoiled.

Regarding her so-called reputation on set, I think Natalie Portman did a better job of summing up my thoughts: “If a man says to you that a woman is crazy or difficult… That’s a code word. He’s trying to discredit her reputation.” Wu has a track record of being outspoken about social issues, speaking up for more diverse media representation (her understanding of blackface leaves much to be desired), and calling out the Academy for awarding known sexual harassers like Casey Affleck and Matt Damon. I wouldn’t be surprised if these rumors were just gossip to retaliate against Wu for refusing to tolerate someone’s bullshit.

The harshness behind the overall reaction to Wu’s tweets demonstrates the implicit yet widely-held hostility towards Asian women. It’s unreasonable to expect anyone to sacrifice their ambitions for the sake of their community, and punishing someone for safely vocalizing their frustration is outright dehumanizing. The egregious insinuation that Fresh Off the Boat “made” Wu, as if she has no talent or creativity of her own, simply reeks of sexism. Gratitude can exist alongside frustration—the existence of one doesn’t subtract from the other. Emotions are a complex part of the human experience after all, but as it stands, humanity isn’t afforded to angry, insubordinate Asian women.
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PLAYBOY ASIA - Based on the true stories of a Chinese-American pro-domme, this web series is flipping the script

Written by Diana Hubbell

Mistress Yin first sashays onto the screen wearing head-to-toe leather, mile-high stilettos and a facial expression that says she means business. By day, she’s a top law student, but when duty calls, she heads to her private dungeon full of artfully arrayed toys designed to inflict both pain and pleasure. The new 10-part web series Mercy Mistress delves into her life as a queer, Asian-American dominatrix in New York City. Each episode spotlights a different client with a different kink, while simultaneously advancing Mei Yin Chen’s character development—think High Maintenance with less weed and more orgasms—and tackling societal preconceptions about queer femme sexuality and sex work in today’s world.

When I meet the real Mistress Yin, a.k.a. Yin Q, she’s sipping pinot noir in a plush downtown Manhattan hotel bar, seated across from director Amanda Madden and actor Poppy Liu, both of whom co-run Collective Sex, a group that aims to decolonize stories about sex and sexuality through media. In person, Q has a soothing, almost meditative voice and speaks with precision and authority. She is an activist, a published author, a mother, a Barnard grad with an MFA from The New School, and for more than two decades, a professional dominatrix and BDSM practitioner. Though there’s a thin fictional varnish over the show, everything in Mercy Mistress from bondage to foot fetishes is grounded in her own experiences.

“Every character is based on a person or a conglomerate of people that I’ve met and the stories are true stories,” Q says. “I’ve seen an incredible spectrum—everything from a circus clown to lots of artists. One of the things I wanted to stress through our story was the healing component. Even if people are coming to heal from a certain trauma in their life, there is the capacity to ritualize desires and create a connection that can be transformative.”

Although the show offers viewers an undeniably voyeuristic pleasure, Q hopes that it transcends mere entertainment and helps educate the general population about a world that is often marginalized or misunderstood.

Mercy Mistress comes at a moment when the future of sex workers in the United States is especially precarious. In March, President Trump signed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), a move that would hold website publishers responsible for any third-party content soliciting sex work. FOSTA-SESTA makes no distinction between consensual sex work and coerced sex trafficking. It also punches a gaping hole in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a vital piece of legislation that states that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” As a result, the bills have already drawn widespread criticism from internet freedom of speech activists, as well as sex workers and those who advocate for their rights.

Courtesy Collective Sex/Mercy Mistress

“Over the last few years with the internet and social media, sex workers have been able to create alliances and become a stronger political force. The bill that has just passed basically takes away those platforms of information sharing and will further criminalize legit sex work and drive sex traffickers underground,” says Q. “There are survivors of sex work traffickers who are protesting against SESTA and FOSTA. They are with us in our meetings saying if these bills had been in place when they were being victimized, they would never have been rescued.”In this climate, she argues, it is crucial that the population understands what’s going on and what’s at stake. “That why it is so important that we make mainstream media that people can relate to on a story level,” says Madden. “I feel that’s sometimes the best defense against misinformation.” Mercy Mistress is hardly the first commercial work to attempt to shed light on sex work and BDSM. The last few years alone have given us The Deuce, George Pelecanos and David Simon’s gritty tale of the rise of the porn industry; The Girlfriend Experience, inspired by the 2009 Steven Soderbergh sleeper drama starring Sasha Grey as a high-end call girl; and the inescapable 50 Shades of Grey juggernaut. Unlike Mercy Mistress, which features a diverse cast and crew, many of whom have ties to the queer and kink scenes in New York, all of these more mainstream productions keep the lens focused on predominantly white, heterosexual characters.

While there’s no shortage of bare flesh in any of them, each in its own way fetishizes commerce more than copulation. In The Deuce, sex work is inseparable from hustle and exploitation in a ruinous depiction of 1970s New York. The Girlfriend Experience follows law student-turned-escort Christine Reade (Riley Keough) through a dream-like, glass-encased world of luxury hotel rooms, lobbies and restaurants, all rendered in a muted palette of beige, onyx and ash. Sex here is transactional, regardless of whether or not fat envelopes of cash change hands. Meanwhile in 50 Shades, the camera lingers seductively over Mr. Grey’s (Jamie Dornan) fleet of automobiles and blingy watches, while the two main characters engage in a whole lot of bland missionary.

Actors and directors in all of the aforementioned productions did some measure of homework. Maggie Gyllenhaal of The Deuce admits to changing her mind about pornography after speaking with retired sex workers. After a number of Skype interviews with escorts, The Girlfriend Experience’s director Amy Seimetz remarked, “I think what they really wanted to see was an actor’s portrayal that wasn’t villainizing them or making [the job] look super-easy, because it is work.” Dornan, however, claims to have needed a shower after visiting a BDSM dungeon and appears both ignorant of and disgusted by his subject matter.

“That is so damaging to the community that you’re trying to portray, that you’re monetizing,” Q says. Attitudes like that are part of what Q, Madden and Liu are hoping to combat, in part by going as far as possible to humanize their characters. Mistress Yin is neither a victim of circumstances nor a sensationalist happy hooker à la the 2007 series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, but rather a fully realized, functioning member of society. Much of show’s dramatic and comedic potency rests in the tension between her steely-eyed dominatrix persona and her day-to-day life. When the PVC comes off, we find out that like Liu, who was born in Xi’an and raised in Minnesota and Shanghai, she has a Chinese immigrant mother. And unlike The Girlfriend Experience, in which the protagonist snaps that she has no friends, Liu’s character has a healthy social and sex life outside of work.

“I have friends who hold gatherings for pro-dommes to get together to talk about how they handle clients and share dangerous clients—basically everything from self-care to how to file your taxes,” says Q, who insists that consensual sex work isn’t inherently alienating. That network of industry professionals helped when it came to research. To get into character, Liu followed real pro-dommes into their dungeons to observe sessions with the clients’ permission.

“Some of the clients were OK with me domming as a baby domme,” Liu says. “There was a lot of support in all of this and I definitely felt humbled going in as a student.”

Unlike Dornan, Liu says she enjoyed the learning process and never flinched at the show’s risqué scenes. From masturbating in a backroom to wielding a cane or a flogger, everything stayed within her comfort zone, with one exception: “The only discomfort was when I was in a full leather catsuit. Trying to rest basically meant being bent at a 45-degree angle,” she says with a laugh.

“Welcome to the femme-domme paradox,” Q says wryly. “What it means to a powerful, dominant woman and yet you can’t move.”

Courtesy Collective Sex/Mercy Mistress

Clearly, Collective Sex’s inclusive approach struck a chord, since people from all over pitched in more than $77,000 to their crowdfunding campaign. “We saw so many people from the leather community come together to make this,” Q says. “Emails poured in about how relieved they were to have an authentic voice from within the community speak their story.”Still, even with more donations than they ever bargained for, the pilot’s budget pales in comparison to the cool $12 million poured into the pilot for *The Deuce. *The trio in front of me describe working for little more than “Metrocard money” and scrimping to stretch their resources as far as possible. “Making film is expensive. Who’s going to have access to that to get their story out into the world and whose stories are left out?” Liu says. “That’s why we have these huge gaps in stories and why we keep seeing the same narrative over and over again.”

One thing is certain: The crew behind Mercy Mistress has no interest in repeating that narrative. They’re not trying to compete with glossier productions, but rather to do something entirely new and tell a story in a way it hasn’t been told before.
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PLAYBOY ASIA - Irreverent and revolutionary, Art Paul brought to life Hugh Hefner’s vision of a sophisticated urban lifestyle

Written by Dan Hyman

Nearly 40 years ago PLAYBOY’s then editorial director Arthur Kretchmer shared a cab from the airport with a stranger. An international consultant, the woman proved an intriguing chat. When Kretchmer mentioned he worked for PLAYBOY, the company whose logo, he boasted, was the second most famous on Earth—behind only Coca-Cola—she smiled and proceeded to disagree. She’d spent much time in Asia and had just returned from Africa; without a doubt, she told Kretchmer, “yours is the most recognized logo in the world.” Kretchmer chuckles as he retells this story. The woman may have thought she was toasting him or PLAYBOY or perhaps Hugh Hefner. But she was in fact saluting Art Paul.

Paul was Hefner’s very first hire—founding art director of the nascent PLAYBOY—and he quickly proved his worth, drafting the now ubiquitous Rabbit Head in less than an hour. Certainly his best-known creation, the symbol is just one of his countless contributions to PLAYBOY.

As Hef put it in his cartoon diary, Paul’s fundamental mission was to “really give the magazine a class look.” Charged with crafting the publication’s overall visual aesthetic, Paul had loftier ambitions.

“I set out to change illustration itself by pushing artists and illustrators to be more personal, expressive and innovative,” Paul tells me via a long e-mail correspondence before we meet in person. And he doubled down on the magazine’s progressive attitude and voice, he says, through its design. “I was guided by PLAYBOY’s spirit of change and the idea that there should be no ‘high’ art or ‘low’ art, that good design could be applied to anything.”

He aimed to make each issue of the magazine a flight of graphic fancy. To read PLAYBOY, Kretchmer says, was to be taken on “an adventure, a visual experience as much as a reading experience.” Indeed, within the design community PLAYBOY quickly became the go-to destination for the world’s hottest artists and illustrators to showcase their talent. Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, James Rosenquist and Ed Paschke are a small selection of the well-known artists whose work appeared in PLAYBOY thanks to Paul.

Above: In 1969, the 10th-floor entrance to the art department at Playboy's Chicago headquarters showcased pieces across a variety of media. Photo by Dwight Hooker. Inset: Paul circa 1985. The Art of Playboy, a documentary about Art Paul by filmmaker Jennifer Kwong, is currently in development. (Inset photo courtesy Suzanne Seed)

In the magazine’s inaugural issue Hefner wrote about the PLAYBOY man, who enjoys life’s finer things: “mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.” It was Paul who translated this ideal into visual form.

“The idea that PLAYBOY was a sophisticated product, that’s all Art Paul,” says Robert Newman, former design director of New York and Details, among other publications. “He’s the one who gave PLAYBOY its up-market, sophisticated and sensual feel.” The proof was in the pages, which regularly featured fine art that could have come straight out of a gallery. And Paul didn’t limit himself to the traditional options of paintings and illustrations to accompany articles; he also solicited work across wildly varying mediums, from mixed-media creations to plaster and resin sculptures to stone and acrylic assemblages.

Paul’s approach to design—liberating artists from the constraints of strict editorial direction—was radical at the time.

“In the 1950s, illustrations tended to be dictated by editors, with art directors following orders,” Paul says. “Someone would pick a scene from a story and present it literally, with a caption in case it was not literal enough—a real straitjacket of a formula.” By contrast, he says, “I asked that the illustrator interpret the sense or feel of the story—what gave it its power.”

Paul expected illustrators to deliver bold, metaphorical and even discomfiting works—whatever best complemented an article. “He let them rip,” one art director says with a laugh. Take, for example, Jerry Podwil’s painting that accompanies the December 1974 article Getting Off: a diapered baby slumps near a broken rattle, hand burrowed into its nappy in an apparent act of masturbation. That kind of freedom was attractive to artists.

“I never called anybody to do work for us who said, ‘Nah, I’m not interested,’” says Tom Staebler, who started in PLAYBOY’s art department in 1968 and eventually became Paul’s protégé, then successor. “I don’t care who it was or how big a name they were—they all wanted to work for PLAYBOY.”

But suggest that his work was highly influential and the modest Paul will shrug it off. Then again, he doesn’t need to sing his own praises; others do it for him. “He was a brilliant visionary and truly a master of magazine architecture,” says Newman.

“PLAYBOY used illustration in a completely different way,” says Bart Crosby, a Chicago-based designer and former colleague of Paul’s. “They used it metaphorically, representationally. They used these dramatic illustrations that were disturbing sometimes. And Art perpetuated that. He encouraged it. That changed the world of illustration. Even the more conservative publications started to be a bit more bold in what they were doing.”

On a warm fall Chicago morning, Paul welcomes me to the high-rise apartment he has shared for more than four decades with artist Suzanne Seed, his wife of 40 years. Sporting a scraggly white beard and wearing a checked button-down with black pants, he smiles as he rises from his wheelchair, grabs his wooden cane and pats me on the back. He turns 93 this January and has suffered several strokes in the past decade; macular degeneration has left him nearly blind. Still, he moves through his apartment with a joyful curiosity. The space, with its panoramic view of the city and the occasional peregrine falcon soaring by, is breathtaking—not least because it is a tribute to a creative and collaborative life. Nearly every inch of the apartment is covered with art, photographs and trinkets, many created by Paul, Seed and their friends and peers.

Seed serves as my tour guide for the afternoon, Paul trailing behind, nodding in approval when she showcases one of his favorite or most revered works: a whimsical collection of his drawings that seem almost to interact with one another (he calls it “Conversations”); a colorful collage of concentric circles that cries out with youthful whimsy; sketches of faces and heads that line the entryway and lead to an adjoining studio space. Despite his vision problems, Paul sketches frequently. He also plays the keyboard, conjuring ideas that he then commissions one of his composer friends to transform into fleshed-out recordings. Today he plays one of his most recent pieces for me, loudly, over the apartment’s speaker system. The song, a serpentine waltz, floats through the room. Paul closes his eyes and allows it to wash over him.

Art Paul was born in Chicago on January 18, 1925 to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Ukraine with two older children. When Paul was just one year old, his father died. “We were struggling for many years, including during the Depression, but my mother was determined to keep the family together,” he says. He credits his brother, Norman, who wanted to be a sculptor but instead worked to support the family, with stoking his interest in the life of an artist. His development was also aided by his mother, who supported her son’s artistic ambitions; he recalls that she let him paint in the middle of the house “because the light was best there.” Paul accompanied his big brother on weekend trips to the Art Institute, sparking a lifelong fascination with creativity in its endless forms. He came to admire the work of Michelangelo, but he also thought highly of the illustrations he saw in the popular Modern Library books and in the magazines of the 1930s, such as Norman Rockwell’s work in The Saturday Evening Post. High art, low art—it was all simply art to him.

Paul began looking at the world through an artistic lens. Specifically he became fascinated with faces. He preferred to draw them from his imagination, he says, “but when I’d look at each face as people streamed by on the street where I was selling newspapers, or at those faces coming off the train when I went to meet my brother coming home from work, I’d see faces as amazing to me as those I’d dreamed up.”

He won a scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but his studies were interrupted by his service in World War II. Upon his return to Chicago in 1945, he enrolled at the Institute of Design, often referred to as the New Bauhaus for its adherence to the precepts of the seminal German art school. “Design seemed more connected to the world than painting,” Paul says. After graduating, he opened his own illustration and graphic design studio downtown, where he created ads and other work for top-tier clients including department store Marshall Field’s and publisher Scott Foresman. By the time a mutual friend connected him with Hef, Paul was enjoying a comfortable life thanks to his design business.

The two met in the spring of 1953, after Hef had quit his job as a copywriter at Esquire. Hef arrived for their initial meeting at Paul’s downtown studio “looking disheveled, harried, tired, a bit of a wild man seemingly, with a huge roll of tattered papers under his arm,” Paul says. Hef told Paul all about his idea for a new men’s magazine—Stag Party was its title. Hef did his best to persuade Paul to join him.

“I was hesitant, as I had great clients I hated to give up,” Paul says, but he ultimately decided to take the job as art director of what was soon renamed PLAYBOY. Paul says he was swayed by Hef’s promise “to give me the complete freedom to commission the experimental, personal kind of work from artists and illustrators that I had struggled to promote to clients for myself.”

The early days of PLAYBOY were harried ones. It was in large part only Hef and Paul putting together the magazine, working so closely that the two would argue about whose turn it was to take out the trash. “The first few issues were like a sketchbook in which Hef and I were feeling our way,” Paul says. “We were clear, though, and of like mind in wanting to do something new and experimental.” Their relationship was one of symbiotic growth: Hef showing Paul how an editor built an issue with gripping content; Paul demonstrating how solid design could complement that content.

“There was a great deal of mutual respect and cooperation,” Paul says. “It was the best of working relationships.”

Top left: Paul's family, including his mother (pictured with Paul), supported his early artistic ambitions. Top Right: Paul climbs aboard a practice flight in the Army Air Corps, circa 1943. Bottom: For Paul's 25th anniversary as art director, the Playboy team thanked him with an appropriately customized card. (Top photos courtesy Art Paul; lower photo by Patty Beaudet)

The first issue they assembled, the landmark December 1953 PLAYBOY, remains of special importance to Paul. After visiting newsstands to research what made a magazine stand out, he realized that a white background would be eye-catching—other designers avoided stark white or black covers because distributors frowned on them.

“Hef had bought a black-and-white news photo of Marilyn Monroe sitting on a car, waving, in a ticker-tape parade,” he recalls. “I blocked out everything but her and added a few blocks to the side to suggest confetti—in which I put a very few small cover blurbs.” He placed it all atop a sea of white, with red text accents. “It looked fresh in the riot of color and mess of cover blurbs on all the other magazines—as did Marilyn’s smile.”

Many of Paul’s early PLAYBOY covers are risk-taking and unorthodox, and sometimes strikingly minimalist. The June 1957 cover, for example, is entirely white but for two black Rabbit Head cuff links; inside, the fiction story echoes this design with a nearly all-white two-page spread save for a lone fly in the upper left corner. Paul hired a technical artist to draw the insect hyperrealistically. “It’s a favorite of designers,” he says of the layout. “They love that I dared to make it almost entirely white space, as if a fly had just landed on the actual page of the magazine.” Inventive design flowed through PLAYBOY, with Paul frequently incorporating die-cut or folded pages into his layouts—something he calls “participatory graphics.”

PLAYBOY’s art department was a thrilling place to work. With set designers and model makers on staff, the art directors had no creative boundaries. “If you could think it up, you could make it happen,” Staebler says. The creative community took notice: In its first 15 years, PLAYBOY received more than 150 honors and was recognized by the likes of the Art Directors Club of New York and the Society of Illustrators. Paul won several hundred awards for his work and toured the world with his Beyond Illustration exhibit, showcasing some of the magazine’s most celebrated art pieces in museums and galleries from Europe to Asia. He even helped shape the magazine’s editorial content: He’s credited with conceptualizing the annual Year in Sex feature, which first ran in February 1977—though, as Kretchmer says with a laugh, in the meeting where Paul introduced the idea, Hef jokingly said, “This is a great job you’ve done. I’m really glad I suggested it.”

Few other art directors become as synonymous with the magazine they work for as Paul did, says Rolling Stone art director Mark Maltais. But after nearly three decades at the helm of Playboy’s art department, Paul sensed his life there had run its course. He left the magazine in late 1982.

Paul spent the ensuing decades working out of his home studio (contributing illustrations to PLAYBOY from time to time), hosting exhibits and showing everywhere from Japan to his native Chicago. In 1986 he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and he received lifetime achievement awards from the Society of Publication Designers, AIGA and Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design.

He has stayed busy into his 90s, continuing to live a life in the arts. In 2016, in partnership with the Chicago Design Museum, Paul created a custom handwritten design for Threadless, the online community of artists: “Tomorrow is a wonderful invention—it is the best definition of hope,” it reads. In 2015 the makers of the popular game Cards Against Humanity commissioned him to create a piece for their limited-edition Design Pack that features illustrated interpretations of George Carlin’s infamous 1972 monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”

Paul chose to illustrate Fuck.

Back at his apartment, sitting on his couch, Paul flips through a collection of his work. He’s quiet but deliberate, his eyes following the pages as they drift past. He stops and points to the February 1967 cover, a beautiful brunette lying under an unkempt white bedsheet, her body forming the outline of a Rabbit Head as she gazes up with a coy smile. Paul runs his fingers over his long-ago design. In a whisper he says, “That was a good one.” (Playboy)

Art Paul died on April 28, 2018, at the age of 93. The Rabbit Head that he designed remains one of the most recognized logos in the world. Art Paul will be deeply missed by the Playboy family.
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PLAYBOY ASIA - Mushroom powder by way of Four Sigmatic is the new health craze
Written by Mary Ladd

Food fads in the social media age are inevitable and this time it’s coffee’s turn to get a makeover. Thanks to a new superfood company called Four Sigmatic, everyone from athletes to models are all about adding a double-extracted mushroom powder to your brew. Sure, at first read, it might sound unbelievable that a food you’ve had access to all along has such power, but not when you look at the endless positive studies and how other societies have and continue use them: They’re used daily in Asia, and have been used for centuries in Slavic countries for their proven ability to increase energy, fight tumors and support immunity. Ancient Romans actually used to refer to them as the “Food of the Gods.”

The powders listed on Four Sigmatic’s website are divided into, you guessed it, four options: (1) Reishi for better sleep, relaxation and fighting sickness; (2) Chaga for skin, hair and stress management; (3) Lion’s Mane for memory, concentration and digestion; and (4) Cordyceps for athletic performance, energy, sexual performance and libido. “That said, proceed with caution,” Four Sigmatic founder, Tero Isokauppila, jokes. Isokauppila is a Finnish-born, LA-based 13th-generation farmer who grew up foraging with his mother and later studied plant-based nutrition and chemistry at Cornell University. He credits a steady diet of mushrooms for keeping him from being sick for over a decade and also mentions that he naps on a mat made from nails, a modern form of acupressure, that helps him stay energized. Just like his product, Isokauppila is eccentric, but that seems to be what today’s consumers are into — going beyond the normal prescription medications and doctor’s visits in hopes maintaining a their youth. That’s why Moon Juice is an entrepreneurial force and kombucha is in such high demand it is even available in some gas stations now. Really, it’s not much of a surprise that just four years after its launch, Four Sigmatic’s retail products have spread to 55 countries and currently beat out the cold brew category in Amazon sales.

Four Sigmatic has become so popular, that it now has a brick and mortar location in the pseudo-hippie haven known as Venice, CA. Nestled in the Abbott Kinney enclave—betweenice cream shops, clothing boutiques and artisanal stores—is the world’s first ever mushroom coffee shop, The Shroom Room. Packets of mushroom coffee can be ordered to go with mild Central American Arabica beans. There’s also mushroom hot cocoa and a mushroom smoothie enhancer said to better sleep and boost brainpower and energy. Ceramic mushroom mugs and ninja pants line the shelves atop mushroom stools. While it’s all a bit gimmicky to the naked eye, Isokauppila opened the shop in a sincere effort to promote community inspired by his forest-covered birthplace. The staff is friendly—like genuinely friendly—and eager to tell customers about how mushroom can alter their daily lives.

In case you can’t make it to southern California, Isokauppilia also has a book called Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health (Penguin Random House). It’s got an average of 5 stars from 145 customer reviews and yes, as the title suggests, it too is all about his favorite fungus, with tips and a guide to the ten specific types of mushrooms that enhance whole-body health and sustain wellness. It also includes 50 recipes for mushroom-heavy salads, soups, cake and even bacon.

Obviously, Isokauppilia is mushroom obsessed, and his staff is mushroom obsessed too. Some could say maybe a bit too obsessed, but talk to anyone of them and we dare you to not at least question why you haven’t invested in some Reishi powder sooner. At the very least, we suggest you don’t knock it until you try it. The results of fungi consumption just might astonish you. (Playboy)