Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hugh Hefner

Publisher of Playboy magazine -- via the New York Times. A polarizing and contradictory figure who did much to free American sexuality while simultaneously objectifying women globally. In 1953, Hef created what was in essence a "dirty magazine," containing images that nearly every American male of a certain age pleasured himself to. At the same time, the mag contained absolutely top-notch fiction, journalism, and interviews that were anticipated by the mainstream. (For writers and artists, Hef was a godsend, as he was one of the few publishers in recorded history who paid people what they were worth.)You may have come for the pictures, so to speak, but if you kept reading past the fatuous lifestyle pieces, you could actually learn something. Playboy had an international cultural reach, its bunny logo as recognizable as a Coca-Cola sign.

While Hef espoused socially liberal causes and freedom of the press, he also created a psychic space for men that kept them adolescent as "swingers," supposed non-conformists who aped Hef's cosmopolitan lifestyle. Behind the scenes, he was a very controlling figure who infantalized women. In the end, he cocooned himself inside the mythical universe he created.His influence is inescapable; he stands there grinning, pipe clenched in teeth, silk robe unbelted and ready for action -- a James Bond of sex.