The Marilyn Guitar
Early in 1953...
In December 1953, Hugh Hefner published the first issue of Playboy Magazine, featuring Marilyn Monroe as cover girl and centerfold. Playboy would go on to become one of the most important media empires of the 20th century. Meanwhile, that first centerfold – a nude Marilyn Monroe stretched with an upraised arm against a red velvet background – would become one of the most iconic images of all time.
More than a quarter-century later, Chicago woodcarver Stan Farr decided he was going to set that famous pose to music by creating a guitar with the form and features of the first Playboy centerfold. He called it "The Electric Lady," and his plan was to make 100 of these guitars and sell them through an ad in Playboy.
Jeff Johnson saw this ad in 1979, in a Playboy issue that coincidentally featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover. Johnson bought one of these guitars, and was surprised to hear from the makers a week later when they asked to have it back. It seems only three had been made, and the other two were stolen from their showroom window in Chicago.
No more were ever made. Johnson's guitar is the only one known to exist.
Now more than six decades after Playboy's launch, and more than three decades after a thief thwarted Stan Farr's efforts to make 100 of these guitars, Jeff Johnson has decided to finish the job. Through his business, Paradise Woodworks, Johnson plans to make 100 reproductions of Stan Farr's masterpiece.