Hugh Hefner died last week.
He was 91 and expired like some despotic king in his crumbling castle (mansion).
Playboy wasn’t a big thing in my neighborhood (unless, and this is entirely possible) some of the men in the neighborhood were buying it and hiding it someplace. It just wasn’t a playboy-type neighborhood–maybe not middle-class enough.
I don’t think I saw a copy of it till I was in my late teens and then it was at the house of the neighborhood bad boy. His parents were away in Florida and he was hosting some pretty wild parties–pot smoking, sex, etc.
Eric, (the bad boy’s name) had all kinds of sexy novels and girlie mags in his room–I guess his parents didn’t notice or didn’t care. In fact, the tamest one was Playboy. He was very big on “Hef” and the playboy “life-style”.
The photos in Playboy were the first deliberately nude photos of girls I’d ever seen. Up until then, the only nude–actually semi-nude–photos of women I’d seen were in National Geographic. Every year or two one of their wandering reporter-photographers would visit someplace in Africa or the Pacific islands where the women only wore skirts–no tops. This was pretty hot stuff–definitely better than staring at Betty’s and Veronica’s tight sweaters. And, after all, they were only cartoons.
Certainly it was racist, the National Geographic photo-stories.
There weren’t any reports about remote areas with white women–so, basically you had hundreds of thousands of white men looking at articles that just happened to include semi-nude brown women…
Of course, if I hadn’t been incredibly backward in having sex with actual girls, I wouldn’t have given so much weight to photos– Oh well…
I guess I always considered Playboy and Hefner and his ridiculous “philosophy” essentially hypocritical and smarmy.
Did Hefner change American culture? I don’t know. Maybe he liberated American thinking and acting about sex–but it was always at the expense of women. Bunnies? Really?
Most women I ever met were angry and righteously so about the Playboy “lifestyle”– But American media and entertainment, ruled then (and still, mostly) by men kept this image going for a long time.
Maybe the first time it started to change, in movies and TV anyway, was in the Eighties. That’s when the comic books and cartoons and TV shows came up with female Superheros (Superheroins?). They had real power and defeated a host of evil men but somehow they (the female Superheroes) still showed a lot more skin than their male counterparts.
Hefner and Playboy and his sleazy clubs were long since antique remainders of a crumbling American male-dominated sex culture by the time the 90’s arrived.
He and his mansion and his whole world were just embarrassments in the end– not much to mourn here.