Hugh Hefner, R.I.P. by Steve Stav

I’m sure that an editor or two – and possibly a few peeps – might be curious as to my thoughts on Hugh Hefner’s passing. And so, on a borrowed laptop while on vacation, here goes: One has to be of a certain age, startlingly enough, to realize the influence of Hefner’s Playboy magazine in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. In that span, an unparalleled compilation of literature, journalism, art, cartoons, advertisements and yes, photos of nude women. Unparalleled. Until the staple was eliminated, Playboy’s Christmas issues were often thicker than municipal phone books. Many famous novels and short stories debuted in Playboy; Ian Fleming’s James Bond was once a frequent presence. In high school, I learned more from Playboy than any formal education… humor intended, but I did read it cover-to-cover. Old issues, new issues – an amazing curriculum, altogether. More than anything, “The Playboy Interview” influenced me to be a journalist. Hefner’s garnered scorn from feminists was countered by the opinion that nude modeling – and sex – was empowering for women; as that concept’s validity can be debated ad infinitum, what cannot be contested is the fact that Hefner was a stalwart champion of free speech. The publisher defended not only his magazine from the pious and status-quo guardians in courts of law; he also provided defenses for others – most notably, for Lenny Bruce. The last 30 years or so saw a decline in content and readership for Playboy, as it increasingly struggled to be relevant in changing times; that may be an indictment of the times, as well as editorial decisions made by others as Hefner relinquished control as he aged. While Hefner’s passing could be viewed as a footnote to a crumbled empire – and while, as any man, the hedonism icon can be faulted and praised – one should not forget the progress he once so fervently aided.

Steve Stav

Also in EPB:

Forever Miss August: Cancer Takes Playmate Sharry Konopski At 49, by Steve Stav

PLAYBOY AFTER DARK revelation!‏ by Tom Kipp

Deep Purple “Hush” from Playboy After Dark

Comments are closed.