There is not one red-blooded man who has not either heard of or seen a playboy magazine. First memories of stealing Dad’s stash and hiding them under the bed to look at them furiously, or going to a friend’s house and encountering their father’s magazine, examining every detail and the center-fold with furious excitement, always under the fear that you’ll be caught.
Later as teens, probably you’ve had your own collection, and would stare at images of wild and sexy women that would fill your fantasies and dreams, which would mark you for the type of girl you’d fall in love with. Petite blonde or voluptuous brunette, Playboy provided it all, and stoked the desires of young men, and even women everywhere. And the word ‘bunny‘ would never be seen as the same.
Playboy was the defining power of sexiness in many people’s lives and set the trend of what was up and coming in the porn industry too. The two were linked inextricably, and Hefner didn’t shy away from that, launching many careers of porn stars, models and now celebrities who have Playboy to thank for their start.
It’s pretty amazing to think that this innovator, lasted so long stretched across decades which included women’s right movements and the sexual revolution. A visionary who was not afraid to break the rules and was tapped into the undercurrent of the nation when it came to sexuality, spoke to widening the definition of vanilla sexuality and brought whole new worlds to the average person who might not have had a lot of sexual experience. It defined manhood, and played upon images of beauty, which Hefner promoted with zeal. Maybe he did have a penchant for blonds but the kinds of beauty he included ran the spectrum of races, and for the time period he started in, he revolutionalized exposure of multi-racial models who graced the cover and center-folds of the magazine.
Iconically, he’ll be buried to his favorite blond, the one who started it all, Marilyn Monroe, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, Calif. He died of natural causes peacefully at his home, but his death tells nothing of the exciting and star-studded life he led.
The parties he had are epic and everybody wanted to be invited to his mansion. And he himself became an icon for sexual freedom and revolution in a modern era where porn flourishes and society only has remnants of the huge cultural barriers Hefner faced when he first started his magazine, from his mother’s kitchen in 1953, borrowing a hefty $8,000 to get it launched. That issue sold 50,000 copies and the rest is history.
His son Cooper Hefner, the chief creative officer at Playboy Enterprises, issued a public statement yesterday once his father’s death was announced saying that, “My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, (gay) civil rights and sexual freedom.”
The legacy of Hugh Hefner on the world of erotica and porn will live on, and as everyone who’s ever been touched, excited and intrigued by Playboy already knows, it’s futile to limit one’s dreams and fantasies, so might as well give in to them and enjoy.
Cheers Hef! RIP!