A Tribute to Hugh Hefner

I spotted this post on Facebook by a friend who has been a guest on my Ready for Love radio show several times and he has some interesting insights that I want to share. Since I have the privilege and the opportunity to be on the radio and to talk to people quite literally around the world, about relationships and intimacy every week, I feel that I should take a few minutes and share some comments about one of the pioneers who blazed the trial that made it possible for me to do this. So, please take a few minutes and read what Ernest Greene has to share. There are also more details in the comments on his Facebook page, so I included the link below. I’ll also include a link to the interviews that I’ve done with Ernest Greene about his work and his book Master of O and with his wife Nina Hartley. We’ve had some very interesting conversations ~

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Now then, I’m going to post a laudatory obit for Hugh Hefner, who I had the pleasure of meeting on a number of occasions. Some people on here aren’t going to like what I have to say. So I’ll just get the jump on that by telling them to fuck off now, because I won’t be responding to any hostile posts from them. In fact, if anything I don’t like shows up here, I’ll rip it apart, let it stay up long enough for whoever wrote it to blow a gasket and then delete their comment and my response. Next, I will delete whatever else they said and block them. So go ahead and waste your time on that exercise in futility if you wish. I get it that you considered this man Satan’s offspring and are probably dancing in circles on his grave along with Gail Dines and James Dobson. That’s all about you and not about him, who he really was and what he really stood for.

Let me start out with a couple of personal recollections before posting links to other obits i consider worth reading.

I met Hef late in his life when friends of ours took us up to the mansion for movie night in his screening room. On every occasion he was perfectly charming and civilized, well-informed and broadly read. He could not have been more gracious or a better host.

I also know some not-so-nice-things about the way he ran his business, for which there is no excuse. As for the way his lifestyle infuriated many, fuck that shit. I’m sure their own lives have a few aspects worthy of “examination.”

Much of the freedom we – and I mean all of us including those who despised him – enjoy to talk candidly about sex we owe to him. He fought that battle for us at huge personal expense for years and years, and not just for the right to print nude pictures. He helped get some of the most important writers of a generation into print with commentary that could have appeared nowhere else. Shall I list a few? How about Vladimir Nabokov, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Lenny Bruce, Terry Southern, William Buckley, Saul Bellow, Truman Capote, Shel Silverstein, Jules Feiffer, Joseph Heller, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Alex Haley, Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, P.G. Wodehouse, Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter Thompson?

But those are all male writers. Guess that figures, right? Wrong. The roster also included Margaret Atwood (yes, the same Margaret Atwood who wrote “The Handmaid’s Tale”), Urusula Le Guin, Alice Denham, Alice Turner, Germaine Greer and Joyce Carol Oates.

Then there was his unwavering support for reproductive choice, civil rights, Gay rights, the anti-war movement and the decriminalization of drugs.

Oh, and there was also this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/hugh-hefners-surprising-civil-…

Among other things, his short-lived TV show, “Playboy’s Penthouse,” desegregated late-night viewing to an extent not seen again for two decades.

But of course, because he paid for all that by publishing a magazine that traded in sexualized images of women and lived a not very private private life that embodied an attitude toward sexual hedonism he drove people like Gloria Steinem (who wrote savagely of her experience working as a Playboy bunny at one of Hef’s clubs) to unparalleled heights of rhetorical fury. Steinem compared the experience of a woman reading Playboy to that of a Jew reading “Mien Kampf,” a chunk of hyperbole as objectionable to Jews as anything Hefner ever published was to Steinem. If you visit Jezebel or Slate today, you’ll get all the dirt so there’s no need for me to recycle it here.

Hefner was a complicated man, neither an angel nor a devil. He took his causes seriously. He was also a shrewd businessman who not only made himself rich off the increasingly relaxed mores of the post-war era but helped to shape its esthetic tastes. In some ways, both Playboy and James Bond were products of that changing climate and influences on it.

He tried to celebrate his vision of sexual freedom in his private life, with lavish parties at his Holmby Hills mansion and his parade of woman companions who seemed to remain twenty forever while Hef just kept on getting older. In many ways a rather inhibited individual, I was never sure he was having the great time he always insisted he did. He was a workaholic and I always suspected that much of his flamboyant self-indulgence was brand promotion. It was not a way of life that aged well, but though I’m sure the press will dwell on it with lip-smacking venom, I really found it rather sad toward the end. Nor were his most celebrated relationships models of liberated harmony. He was often characterized as controlling and selfish by the women who knew him most intimately. Like most larger-than-life public figures, in private he was not the image he projected.

None of which negates his accomplishments in making sex a discussible subject and a topic for serious political examination from which his friends and foes both benefitted.

Okay, here’s The NYT obit that probably sums up the official line on Hef in that NYT way we tend to take as the last word. Despite his failings, his vices, his failure to evolve with the era on some very important issues, he was and will always be a hero to those who believe that free and open discussion of sexuality will always be worth fighting for in a society still far from at peace with its own sexuality: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/obituaries/hugh-hefner-dead.html

Facebook post – https://www.facebook.com/ernest.greene2000/posts/10213077074108788

More Details about Ernest Greene and my interviews with him – http://www.readyforloveradio.com/ernest-greene/

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