Hugh Hefner, American icon, has passed.
Really, if anyone was living their best life, it's hard to imagine a more straightforward vision pursued and achieved (at a simply mind-boggling level) than America's least repentant swingin' daddio, Hugh Hefner.
|No idea how one gets from "I have an idea!" to this point|
I've mostly lived in the era of "Fun Uncle" and "Kindly Grandpa" Hef, the Playboy Clubs a relic of prior generations by the time I learned about them. The magazine has always been around, but I've only ever bought one issue, and that was for someone else because I was feeling daffy. The era of Playboy journalism getting scoops, publishing name writers, etc.. was still in play in the 1980's, but fading. Mostly I remember the ads they ran on TV selling subscriptions to Playboy, and, of course, the forbidden stack of Playboy Magazines a few neighborhood dads or older brothers would have, which I never, ever would have stolen a peek at. Nope.
But by high school (the early 90's), even chumps like me were aware that Playboy was less pornography (and I still roll my eyes at people who categorize it as such, but it also isn't for the whole family) and more of a lifestyle magazine for people who at least wanted to believe they were living it up. And boobs. Lots of boobs. And butts. And, Hef guessed correctly. That was a popular formula.
You're not supposed to say Hugh Hefner provided an invaluable service to America in a pre-internet era, but he kind of did. For our more sensitive readers, we'll leave it there. But he also provided a view of the world in which embracing a sex-positive stance (albeit, a deeply problematic one) could get some traction. And, he got Jimmy Carter to say some pretty funny shit.
It was always amazing to know the Playboy mansion was out there, and this average-looking guy had a "private grotto" attached to his pool. It was all so cartoonish, it just felt like a giant ad for the magazine, and I guess it was. Sure, I'm sure Hef enjoyed it all, but it was work, too.
But it is true that the Playboy model has struggled since the mid-90's with the rise of the internet splitting up the varying interests contained in the magazine. By the early 00's, Playboy seemed more successful as a brand or license than as a magazine. They're still struggling to find a model that works that people will pay for, but that's other people's problem now and has been for decades. Hef got to just stay in pajamas and hang out at his mansion all day.
I dunno. You did a really remarkable and weird thing, Hef. And I am sure your regrets are both vast and beyond the imaginings of any man. But you did okay, too. We're gonna miss you.