Hugh Hefner’s Personal Copy of Playboy #1 Can Be Yours

Courtesy of Julien's Auctions
Courtesy of Julien's Auctions

In order to garner attention for his brand-new publication, a men’s lifestyle magazine he titled Playboy, Hugh Hefner took the audacious step of featuring actress Marilyn Monroe in the nude for the debut issue in December 1953. Monroe didn’t pose for the magazine, though: Hefner bought her nude images from a previous modeling session that took place in 1949, before Monroe’s career had taken off. Hefner paid $500 for the photos. He sold out his print run of 70,000 copies. The rest is history.

Following Hefner’s death in September 2017 at age 91, some of his personal effects have made their way to the auction block. The latest collection, which will be featured in a Julien’s Auctions sale running November 30 and December 1, includes Hefner’s personal copy of that first issue, which is expected to fetch between $3000 and $5000. The original cover price was 50 cents.

Courtesy of Julien's Auctions

Also on tap at the auction: a custom-made Playboy Monopoly board game (which is estimated to sell for between $6000 and $8000); a leather Los Angeles Lakers jacket with the Playboy insignia (worth $3000 to $5000); an Underwood Standard portable typewriter Hefner used in college (valued at $300 to $500); his trademark smoking jacket (which should go for $3000 to $5000); and Hefner’s entire personal collection of Playboy, all bound in leather volumes, which experts value somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000. Proceeds from the auction will be directed to the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation, which supports civil liberties and First Amendment rights.

While Hefner’s copy of that first issue is expected to generate considerable interest, it continues to provoke considerable controversy, as using Monroe’s photos was deemed exploitative. She did appear, at least publicly, to have a sense of humor about inadvertently launching Hefner’s empire. “Her famous comment was, ‘I had nothing on but the radio,’” Hefner told NPR in 1999. “And that classic reaction in that very repressive time—because one must remember ... how really conservative the '50s were—for a major star to ... treat it in such a casual way with humor was a revelation, and a very welcome one.”

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you’ll be able to browse the collection in person from November 26 through November 30.

The Mental Floss Store Is Back!

Mental Floss Store
Mental Floss Store

You've been asking about it for months, and today we can finally confirm that the Mental Floss Store is back up and running! Simply head here to find dozens of T-shirts with all sorts of unique designs to choose from, whether you’re in the market for a pi pun, a risqué grammar joke, or something only your fellow bookworms will appreciate. You can even use your new Mental Floss shirt to teach your friends all about scurvy.

Mental Floss Store

If you’re just in the mood to express your love of all things Mental Floss, you can also get our darling little logo on phone cases, tote bags, mugs, baby bibs, and more.

Mental Floss Store

Head on over to the Mental Floss Store to see our entire collection. And if you use the code FLOSSERS at checkout by end of day Sunday, you'll get 20 percent off your order. 

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Wa Wa Wee Wa: The Origin of Borat's Favorite Catchphrase

Wa wa wee wa! Sacha Baron Cohen is back in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2020).
Wa wa wee wa! Sacha Baron Cohen is back in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2020).
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

When Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was released in 2006, a new audience was exposed to Borat Sagdiyev, a “journalist” portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen who had made frequent appearances on the comedian’s Da Ali G Show.

Soon, in our country there was problem: People mimicked Borat’s catchphrases, "very nice" and “wa wa wee wa,” incessantly. The latter phrase was used to denote surprise or happiness on Borat’s part. While some may have assumed it was made up, it turns out that it actually means something.

Wa wa wee wa is Hebrew, which Cohen speaks throughout the film and which helped make Borat a hit in Israel. (Cohen is himself Jewish.) It was taken from an Israeli comedy show and is the equivalent of the word wow. Reportedly, the expression was popular among Israelis, and they appreciated Cohen’s use of it.

The original Borat also sees Cohen singing a popular Hebrew folk song, “Koom Bachur Atzel,” or “get up lazy boy,” among other Hebrew mentions. It remains to be seen how much of it he’ll be speaking in the sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. It premieres on Amazon Prime Friday, October 23.

[h/t The Los Angeles Times]