Pop quiz: What has a $500 price tag, its own velvet-lined suitcase and more melons than the fruit aisle at Whole Foods? *Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds*, the new 720-page, 32-pound limited edition due out from Chronicle Books on Thanksgiving Day.
Hugh Hefner has been fulfilling male fantasies with a heavy dose of *fromage* since 1953, and he's probably bedded the lion's share of the 600-plus pinups inside—and paid for plenty of implants along the way.
But yes, you *can* read it for the articles: Paul Theroux, Jay McInerney and Robert Coover among others have contributed odes to a cultural icon that was born back when Hef bought some nude pix of Marilyn Monroe for his new magazine. Fifty years later, the mag is still irredeemably cheesy—and it still moves 3 million copies a month. Not bad for a guy who wears pajamas all day.
- Jared Paul Stern