Hugh Hefner, leader of the sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion, dies at 91 in Los An­ge­les

Ripon Bulletin - - Local/state -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — Hugh Hefner turned silk pa­ja­mas into a work uni­form, women into cen­ter­folds and sex­ual de­sire into a world­wide mul­ti­me­dia em­pire that spanned sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­can life.

With Play­boy, he helped slip sex out of the con­fines of plain brown wrap­pers and into main­stream con­ver­sa­tion.

In 1953, a time when states could legally ban con­tra­cep­tives and the word “preg­nant” was not al­lowed on “I Love Lucy,” Hefner pub­lished the first is­sue of Play­boy, fea­tur­ing naked pho­tos of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and an ed­i­to­rial prom­ise of “hu­mor, so­phis­ti­ca­tion and spice.”

The Great De­pres­sion and World War II were over and Play­boy soon be­came for­bid­den fruit for teens and a bible for men with time and money, primed for the mag­a­zine’s pre­scribed evenings of dimmed lights, hard drinks, soft jazz, deep thoughts and deeper de­sires. Within a year, cir­cu­la­tion neared 200,000. Within five years, it had topped 1 mil­lion.

Hefner, the pipe-smok­ing em­bod­i­ment of the life­style he touted, died at his home of nat­u­ral causes on Wed­nes­day night, Play­boy said in a state­ment. He was 91.

By the 1970s, Play­boy mag­a­zine had more than 7 mil­lion read­ers and had in­spired such raunchier im­i­ta­tions as Pen­t­house and Hus­tler. Com­pe­ti­tion and the in­ter­net re­duced cir­cu­la­tion to less than 3 mil­lion by the 21st cen­tury, and the num­ber of is­sues pub­lished an­nu­ally was cut from 12 to 11. In 2015, Play­boy ceased pub­lish­ing images of naked women, cit­ing the pro­lif­er­a­tion of nu­dity on the in­ter­net but re­stored its tra­di­tional nu­dity ear­lier this year.

Hefner and Play­boy re­mained brand names world­wide. Asked by The New York Times in 1992 of what he was proud­est, Hefner re­sponded: “That I changed at­ti­tudes to­ward sex. That nice peo­ple can live to­gether now. That I de­con­tam­i­nated the no­tion of pre­mar­i­tal sex. That gives me great sat­is­fac­tion.”

Hefner ran Play­boy from his elab­o­rate man­sions, first in Chicago and then in Los An­ge­les, and be­came the flam­boy­ant sym­bol of the life­style he es­poused. For decades he was the pipesmok­ing, silk-pa­jama-wear­ing cen­ter of a con­stant party with celebri­ties and Play­boy mod­els. By his own ac­count, Hefner had sex with more than a thou­sand women, in­clud­ing many of pic­tured in his mag­a­zine. One of rock n’ roll’s most deca­dent tours, the Rolling Stones shows of 1972, fea­tured a stop at the Hefner man­sion.

Through­out the 1960s, Hefner left Chicago only a few times. In the early 1970s, he bought the sec­ond man­sion in Los An­ge­les, fly­ing be­tween his homes on a pri­vate DC-9 dubbed “The Big Bunny,” which boasted a gi­ant Play­boy bunny em­bla­zoned on the tail.

Hefner was host of a tele­vi­sion show, “Play­boy After Dark,” and in 1960 opened a string of clubs around the world where wait­resses wore re­veal­ing cos­tumes with bunny ears and fluffy white bunny tails. In the 21st cen­tury, he was back on tele­vi­sion in a ca­ble re­al­ity show — “The Girls Next Door” — with three live-in girl­friends in the Los An­ge­les Play­boy man­sion. Net­work tele­vi­sion briefly em­braced Hefner’s em­pire in 2011 with the NBC drama “The Play­boy Club,” which failed to lure view­ers and was can­celed after three episodes.

Cen­sor­ship of the mag­a­zine was in­evitable. Play­boy has been banned in China, In­dia, Saudi Ara­bia and Ire­land. In the 1950s, Hefner suc­cess­fully sued to pre­vent the U.S. Postal Ser­vice from deny­ing him sec­ond-class mail­ing sta­tus. 7-Eleven stores for years did not sell the mag­a­zine. Stores that did of­fer Play­boy made sure to stock it on a higher shelf.

Women were warned from the first is­sue: “If you’re some­body’s sis­ter, wife, or moth­erin-law,” the mag­a­zine de­clared, “and picked us up by mis­take, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to Ladies Home Com­pan­ion.”

Play­boy proved a scourge, and a temp­ta­tion. Drew Bar­ry­more, Far­rah Fawcett and Linda Evans are among those who have posed for the mag­a­zine. Sev­eral bun­nies be­came celebri­ties, too, in­clud­ing singer Deb­o­rah Harry and model Lau­ren Hut­ton, both of whom had fond mem­o­ries of their time with Play­boy. Other bun­nies had trau­matic experiences, with sev­eral al­leg­ing they had been raped by Hefner’s close friend Bill Cosby, who faced dozens of such al­le­ga­tions in re­cent years. Hefner is­sued a state­ment in late 2014 he “would never tol­er­ate this be­hav­ior.” But two years later, for­mer bunny Chloe Goins sued Cosby and Hefner for sex­ual bat­tery, gen­der vi­o­lence and other charges over an al­leged 2008 rape.

Hefner

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