CHICAGO (CBS) — Playboy Magazine, which has kept its corporate headquarters in Chicago for 60 years, is moving most of the company out west to Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, Playboy Enterprises announced it would move its art, editorial and photo departments to the Los Angeles office starting in May.
Founded in Chicago by Hugh Hefner in the early 1950s, the company had already been reducing staff in Chicago and, although not official yet, the move seems to signal the company will eventually move its entire headquarters to L.A.
“I’m really sorry to see it go and I’m sure that, you know, Hef will be closer to the offices. He’ll be able to walk probably to work, but it’s just a time that I feel is still not ready to go away yet,” said Candace Jordan, who came to Chicago as a Playboy Bunny in 1974.
“I moved right into the Playboy Mansion. It was a great gig,” Jordan said.
She said people “in the know” at the company believe this latest move is part of a plan to close the corporate headquarters in Chicago, in favor of L.A.
“I’m just thinking if they’re moving to L.A., the whole concept of this magazine was the ‘Girl Next Door’ and I’m not sure they’re in L.A. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me,” Jordan said.
A Playboy spokesperson said the future of the rest of the company in Chicago isn’t set in stone yet.
The company released a statement saying “some of the magazine’s Chicago employees have been asked to relocate, while others have been asked to stay in Chicago to ensure a seamless transition.”
“They’ve been kind of steadily cutting their workforce here in Chicago, so all of those things seem to kind of add up to a move,” said Lynn Marek, a senior writer at Crain’s Chicago Business. “Even though they’re still not willing to say this is a move of the corporate headquarters, it sure looks like it.”
Marek said news of more downsizing at Playboy’s Chicago office has been building for months.
“I think they’ve had about 175 employees here as of last summer, but they’ve been steadily cutting that number over the past couple of years. So really, in terms of workforce reduction, that’s already happened,” Marek said.
Looking back, Jordan said she feels lucky to have done six covers for the magazine. She lived in the Playboy Mansion and said it should all remain a part of the city she calls home.
“You know, it’s just, it’s the end of an era that began in Chicago and I thought it should stay in Chicago in some way, shape or form,” Jordan said.
Hefner founded Playboy in Chicago in 1953, and produced the first issue in the kitchen of his Hyde Park neighborhood home. He went on to turn the publication and its nude models and centerfolds into a cultural mainstay.
From 1965 to 1989, Playboy was headquartered what is now again called the Palmolive Building – 919 N. Michigan Ave. – which advertised the magazine’s presence with 9-foot illuminated letters at the roofline.
Since 1989, Playboy has leased space in Streeterville at 680 N. Lake Shore Dr., originally called the American Furniture Mart and now named Lake Shore Place.
The magazine said no final decision has been made yet about whether its entire Chicago operation will move to L.A.