Claim: The tiny stars that appeared in or near the letter 'P' on the cover of Playboy magazine were a code indicating how many times Hugh Hefner had bedded that month's centerfold.
Example: [Asimov, 1992]
Origins: The small stars that appeared on
Playboy magazine covers were a distribution code used to designate the advertising regions for different editions of the magazine. The edition indicators used by Playboy for advertising purposes between 1955 and 1979 had no obvious meaning or purpose to the general
public, and sometime during the 1960s the rumor began that they were a code indicating how many times Hefner had slept with the current
centerfold or (on the assumption that Hef always slept with the centerfolds) his personal rating of how good a bed partner the playmate was. The stars usually appeared inside the letter 'P' on the cover but sometimes were outside of it, leading to a variation of the rumor positing that when the stars appeared on the outside, Hefner had failed in his attempts to bed that month's featured model. (The truth was that the stars were always printed in a dark color, so they were placed on whichever background was lighter: the letter 'P' in the masthead, or the cover just adjacent to the letter 'P'.)
Although the rumor was a bit silly, it certainly didn't stretch credulity too much to suggest that the rich and powerful bachelor publisher of the world's largest circulation men's magazine might employ "casting couch" techniques in choosing women to pose for his publication, or that he might brag about his conquests in a sly way.
Last updated: 22 June 2006