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Playboy editor to share bunny tales

HOLMES BEACH, Florida — Everything you ever wanted to know about Playboy playmates lives in the mind of Gretchen Edgren, a 75-year-old churchgoing retiree in Holmes Beach.

A few tidbits: Playmates tend to like music and animals, dislike egotistical men and liars, and most often come from the state of California. And, as expected, the women are shapely: Their most common bra cup size is C, and they boast an average measurement of 35-23-35.

Edgren, a contributing editor for Playboy magazine, is bringing 50 years’ worth of these playmate factoids on Monday to the Island Branch Library in Holmes Beach.

She has interviewed hundreds of playmates for her five books on the Playboy empire.

The only thing they had in common was good looks. Some regretted the decision to pose nude, but most didn’t, Edgren says.

“They came from every conceivable walk of life. Some of them were really, really intelligent,” Edgren said. “And some of them sort of spent all their time hanging out at the beach.”

The library event is billed as a scholarly discussion on the writing craft by a 40-year editor of an iconic national magazine.

But Edgren has been around long enough to know that the subject of Playboy and its playmates rarely revolves around the articles.

“People want to know about Hef, the parties,” she said.

That’s Hugh Hefner. And, yes, she has known him since the late 1960s and still speaks to him by phone or in person several times a year.

But, no, she doesn’t show up in any of her own five books chronicling a half-century of Playboy Mansion parties, gossip and playmates.

She is a married, churchgoing mother of two. Not that it matters, she said.

“You assume that because I work for Playboy that I’m kind of libertine. I’m not,” she said. “Or you think because I go to church I’m sort of prude. I’m no prude at all.”

She definitely sees nothing wrong with women displaying their bodies and says Hefner has always been respectful of the women in his employ — from bunnies to editors.

Playboy emerged on the scene in 1953 at the speartip of the Sexual Revolution.

The magazine is now considered tame compared with the many more hardcore options on the market.

It has continued to lose circulation as many of its potential customers moved to more explicit magazines, video pornography and, eventually, the Internet.

Even so, the question is always raised. Is it immoral?

“If I really thought that what I was doing was really that immoral, I wouldn’t be doing it,” Edgren said. “I don’t think that it is.”

Edgren joined Playboy in 1967 as an associate editor after working for 11 years as a newspaper reporter in Oregon and Puerto Rico.

She was named senior editor in 1974 and held the post until her semi-retirement to Florida in 1992.

Aside from the occasional retrospective, Edgren’s work with Playboy now consists only of helping to put together the magazine’s annual feature, “The Year in Sex.”

Edgren spends her days combing through the news for sex scandals, unseemly escapades and scantily dressed celebrities to come up with the tongue-in-cheek photo collage.

“It’s a year’s worth of reading trash,” she said.

This year’s list, due to hit newsstands early this month, will include the usual celebrity suspects and one or two familiar political faces, she said.

Mark Foley will make an appearance, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair.


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