Hugh Hefner: He Taught Men A New Way To Daydream
Hugh Hefner died yesterday at the age of 91, which might be an opportunity to write about either jazz or masturbation and since I know so much more about one than the other, I will write about masturbation…
Hefner was to the 1950s what Jann Wenner was to the 1960s, he took a concept, jerking off to the girl next door, and turned it into a fortune. From boobs to bush, Hefner invented the stroke book, not stag movies, not depictions of intercourse, but a mainstreaming of girl next door sexuality. Despite Playboy Magazine’s brilliance in many other areas, in the early 1970s it was giving the New Yorker a run for its money, it was the essence of a one trick pony. Everything else was just a trick of the light, as was its feminism: free love meant sex without commitment to men while the burdens still remained with the women (aka birth control).
The girls were being exploited but getting well paid for their time, moving into the Playboy Mansion, fucking Hef and his friends, and sometimes moving up a ring to actress-model, and sometimes sideways into extremely well paid escort. The Playboy Mansion was a place where women bartered sex for proximity to power and fame, and drugs, and sometimes bartered sex for money. It was as dreamy a place as Disneyworld, and in many ways a Disneyworld for adult men and Hefner made a mint off it. In the UK, the Playboy clubs (I used to hang out at the one in Manchester), were gambling dens with girls in tight costumes, not a strip joint, not a clip joint, a gentleman’s club greased by money. In the US it was all about the girls. The stench of hypocrisy rankles in the Playboy World back 30 years ago. For teen boys, and older, it was indeed make believe, you can look but you better not touch if you can’t afford it, a pin up world of softcore sexism featuring the girl who is dating the quarterback, you sit next to her in Physics but you ain’t getting physical. And in the 50s and 60s you could just about get off on it.
The first hit to the Playboy empire was “Penthouse” and “Hustler” –stroke books that went pink, and showed everything but penetration, once you’ve seen big breasted women with penises inches from their mouth, it is hard to go back to closed legs and trimmed pubes.
The next, and final, hit was internet porn, which destroyed just about everything in its path like Playboy was Puerto Rico and Google was Maria, it staggered Playboy and if Hefner had survived many more years he may have found Playboy out of business.
Hefner’s legacy for young men is a different way to masturbate, a place where the realness of airbrushed 20 somethings in search of a payday wrote answers on profiles about dream dates with “long walks on the beach” and whose favorite attributes a man must have was always “a sense of humor,” met the hard reality of self-stimulation. Could we sleep with them? Only if we made them laugh, apparently.