There's something about Playboy covers from the 1970s that just seems a little swankier than your modern-day cover. Perhaps we're overly nostalgic, or maybe we have a fondness for the more natural physiques exhibited on these vintage covers, but either way we had a great time rounding up the very best of Hef's picks from the freewheeling decade.

Playboy kicked off the very weird '70s with this July 1970 cover, featuring an upside down woman swimming in the nude. Experts praised Hugh Hefner's magazine for moving beyond the tiresome "Naked Girl Up Against a Dry Wall" cover style. Of course, the '70s were all about the water, with "Jaws" becoming the most successful movie of all time until that space film came along and ruined everything.
Keep reading for Raquel Welch, the first cover twins and the first cover where a woman gets, er, "handy" with herself.

Who doesn't love them some twin porn? The October 1970 issue capitalized on that fetish, featuring the first-ever twin cover models, Mary and Madeleine Collinson, who promptly disappeared into obscurity with their little trophy.

'71 probably wasn't the best year for Playboy covers in this particular decade (that would be 1974, as you shall see), but at least August 1971 made up for the lackluster earlier months with this one, featuring Cathy Rowland in a pair of short shorts. Who likes short shorts? Everybody, damn it.



Oh, Susan Miller, September 1972. You vanished into history with the rest of these amazing Playboy cover models, but there's no justifiable reason why you aren't our concubine to this very day. First of all, you are not wearing any pants. Second, you have nice legs and you are bending over and showing off your assets. Third of all, is that a Playboy tattoo? Here's hoping it's real ...



There's nothing we don't like about the cover for the February 1973 issue. Here's the model, in contemplative pose, wearing just the right amount of "little clothing" and being her adorable self. We saw this once in a bookstore about 10 years ago and thought of it the moment we decided to create this list. That's how we know there is a God.



It's April 1973, and a first-class postage stamp costs 60 cents. Playboy costs one dollar. Put that together with a model licking a postage stamp on the cover of the Playboy and you have something we would pay $400 for -- in 2009 money.


November 1973
. If Cigar Aficionado ever produced a cover half as hot as this one, maybe people would actually buy that bizarre magazine. Playboy knows what to do with a cigar, though, although we'll try not to think of the connotations of "cigar + chick" because then we'll suddenly remember Monica Lewinsky.


April 1974. Now, this is what we're talkin' about: finally, Playboy graces us with a great, fully-featured, undoctored (we hope) display of pure butt. Marlene Morrow kind of looks like Goldie Hawn here, but thankfully she's more Young Goldie Hawn, before Scary Goldie Hawn took over.



June 1974
and the United States in crisis, with Watergate raging on. That wasn't the only thing raging at the time -- especially after everyone spotted the cover of this issue, notable for the Playmate of the Month slipping a nip. Hell, she may have invented the now-common practice. (Also, the photographer's name is Sandy Johnson and the playmate's name is Cyndi Wood. Tell me about it.)


July 1974
continued Playboy's incredible run of covers that year with another of our favorite images: the wet T-shirt, partially lifted up. This is definitely not one of those issues where you read all the articles -- in fact, how could anything inside ever top that first image of Carol Vitale in all her glory?


It was a boiling-hot summer in August 1974 when Playboy Playmate Jean Manson and photographer Lynnda Kimball hatched the idea of appropriating that ridiculous sunscreen ad with an ice pop and a bunch of confused cartoon tots. Whatever their motivations, the idea served to sufficiently distract America -- most people didn't notice that Playboy had raised the newsstand price by 25 cents.


Playboy continued its unstoppable year with the October 1974 issue, which starred Ester Cordet in four rapturous poses. Do we really need to know anything else about Ester Cordet, like what her GPA was and her favorite color? No, all we need to remember and cherish is the Bardot-esque hotness on display here.


Ah, October 1975. With this issue, Playboy finally admitted that bored, naked lesbians were 10 times hotter than airbrushed straight women cavorting against awkwardly-placed furniture. These "stunning portraits of women in love" are much sought-after by the magazine's biggest fans.

November 1975
is the month Playboy finally put a woman touching herself on the cover. The world was a happy place during those four weeks, we're pretty sure.



Ever since we saw Julianne Moore's nude scene in "Short Cuts," we've come to appreciate and even seek out images of women wearing T-shirts and nothing else. June 1977's covergirl, Patti McGuire, is the answer to all our prayers, and she's been out there whole time, sandwiched between headlines about Telly Savalas and Robert Blake, who "tells everyone to stuff it." Yikes.


Playboy's choice for their July 1978 cover model is an interesting one. First of all, she's Pamela Sue Martin and she's incredibly sexy. Second, she may or may not have actually appeared naked in the pages, considering she was just posing to promote her starring role on "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries," which is strange enough. Oh, and she was also on "Dynasty" after appearing in these pages, a rare case of actually moving up the ladder following a Playboy shoot.


Raquel Welch's non-nude appearance in Playboy's December 1979 issue perfectly rounded out a decade of censorship, pointy nipples and bad television. Welch was then in a period of career adjustment after huge film hits in the '60s and even bigger disappointments in the 1970s. For example, perhaps starring as a transsexual in the box-office disaster "Myra Breckinridge" was a misguided attempt to be taken seriously. Luckily, Playboy named her the sexiest star of the decade and she entered the 1980s where she belongs -- on top.

From the Web:


Naughty Hotties (Maxim)
Mario and Princess Have a Sex Tape (College Humor)