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Show Business Illustrated

About Show Business Illustrated

Reprinted from August 25, 1961-Time Magazine

Peeking out from newsstands across the U.S. this week were 500,000 copies of a gaudy new biweekly magazine called Show Business Illustrated. Its first issue was 156 pages thick, and it bore a family resemblance to a grown-up girlie magazine called Playboy. SBI is the latest publishing venture of Chicago Playboy Hugh M. Hefner, 35, who is also Playboy's proprietor.

By surrounding the undraped female form with a salable mixture of intellectualia, Hefner pushed Playboy to the top of its field (circ. 1,223,228) in three years. He clearly hopes to do the same with Show Business Illustrated.

Hefner's new baby is a smorgasbord of the performing arts, with just enough glimpses of feminine breast and thigh to entice readers whose theatrical tastes run no higher. It mostly plows tired ground: feature articles on Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and Marlon Brando, plus reviews and listings of coming events that, together with the ads, occupy most of the first 53 pages. SBI's potential readership, says Associate Publisher A. C. Spectorsky (who holds the same title on Playboy), lies somewhere between magazines that cater to movie addicts and those that appeal to longhaired readers who can follow an operatic score. "They leave hundreds of thousands of people behind," says Spectorsky. "We want those people."

Merger was a polite term for the end of USA* 1 and an attempt by Show to put on a little fat. Show has steadily nibbled at Hartford's fortune since its first issue last September, shelled out $250,000 last January to gobble up Hugh (Playboy) Hefner's ill-conceived and short-lived Show Business Illustrated.