Hugh Hefner Quotes
Kenyan Writer NG’ANG’A MBUGUA takes a look at Hugh Hefner’s life
It was quiet a while before those of us who grew up in rural areas — and poor neighbourhoods heard about Playboy magazine and the things that it made young men in middle class families do in their private time. Suffice it to say that the lithe subjects it featured on its racy covers was sufficient to turn any young stallion’s imagination on fire.
At that point, it did not matter who the publisher was. It probably is now because Hugh Hefner, the silk pajamas-wearing founder of the magazine that changed the way the world views the human body and the desires that animate it is no more.
This is not just the turning of another page in the colossal publishing story. Hefner literally raised the curtain that elevated the human body into a theatre on which the fantasies of the world played out in many a middle class home where his magazine was enjoyed — it is hard to say read — behind closed doors.
Hefner, who died on Wednesday aged 91, founded a trailblazing brand that would help usher in the shifting attitude towards sexuality. AFP, quoting a statement from Playboy Enterprises, said Hefner died of natural causes in his Beverly Hills home — the famed Playboy Mansion.
Anyone who has read the autobiographies of the men and women who lived through the swinging sixties all the way to the flower power movement will no doubt have experienced the far-reaching power that Playboy magazine and its eclectic publisher has had on the social mores that have come to define our attitude towards sexuality and the human body as both art and theatre.
Described as a self-proclaimed master of marketing, Hefner’s mastery of self-promotion made it impossible to untangle his image from his empire.
“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,” his son Cooper Hefner, Playboy Enterprise’s chief creative officer, said in a statement.
Well past retirement age Hefner continued to take an active role in the editorial side of his magazine, choosing covers and Playmates each month. The word playmates, of course, refers to the models who posed in various states of undress in the centrefolds of the monthly magazine that Hefner started in 1953. Incidentally, part of the seed money was a $1,000 dollar from his mother and another contribution from his brother. Interestingly, he had initially considered calling his magazine Stag Party.
In a sense, his glorification of the female body can be credited for the rise of the socialite, whose singular claim to fame is her ability to excite public interest merely by use of one’s physical geography and the eventual rise of reality TV as a global social entertainment industry.
Late into his life he also frequented nightclubs and maintained a bevy of young girlfriends, a lifestyle he credited with keeping him young both in and out of the bedroom.
In a 2003 interview with AFP, Hefner said he “would like to be remembered as somebody who had a positive impact on the changing social sexual values of his time.”
In an earlier interview, he said: “When I saw that skirt lengths were going down instead of up and that, instead of a celebration after World War II, we were getting repression and conservatism, I knew that wasn’t progress.”
He decided to do something about it, starting a magazine that dispensed with much by way of clothing for the women that it featured as models. And like many of these models, Playboy’s best days are behind it. By 1975, it was selling about 5.6 million copies a month, according to CNBC. This dropped to 3.0 million in 2006 and further to 820,000 in 2015. However, what it lost in circulation, it gained with revenues in a television series as well as the notorious Playboy Clubs.