Ask any dude in America, eh, the world, whose life they wish they could have, and there's a high probability they'll say Hugh Hefner. Sit them down for this fascinating documentary Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel and they might give it a second thought. Day 7 was spent at the luxurious Billy Wilder Theater watching the debut of this epic look into the life of the world's most famous playboy. An extra treat: Hugh Hefner himself was in the audience and spoke at a post-show Q&A. The gent's 84 years old, but besides some hearing issues, he's sharp as a tack and looks two decades younger. It's amazing what the company of beautiful women and good genes - Hef's mom lived to 101 - can do for a body.
Here's the rub. This documentary, while undoubtedly a love letter, doesn't make you want to be him...at all. It sheds a lot of light on the other side of Hef - the perfectionist publisher who surrounded his playmates with great articles by great writers (Ray Bradbury, Alex Haley) and championed civil rights (Count Basie couldn't get a Southern gig, but found open arms at the Penthouse). It's welcome insight. But still, one senses that the kid side of Hef that admired beautiful women, didn't receive too many hugs at home, and is still chasing romantic love with girls 60 years younger, isn't completely happy. Also, those buxom bunnies, while undeniably gorgeous, keep getting in the way of Hef's valid legacy as a social activist and someone who sincerely values integrity and friendship.
He's accomplished many things, and given his resurgence with stuff like The Girls Next Door, there's not much rest in sight for the not-so-wicked octogenarian. One hopes some day that Hef can take a break from being Hef, and just be an old guy with a woman who loves him and all of the great grandkids around. After some time with him and his movie, I'll think of him mostly as the one person who, when no individual, corporation or movie studio stepped to the plate, realized that millions of people around the world still have dreams tied up in our city, and so, Hef wrote a check to save the Hollywood sign. Undisputably, a class move...
I sure will go see this movie...
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I was a member of the Playboy Clubs since the 1970's up until they closed.
That was some of the best times of my life. Everything at the Clubs was always 1st. Class...
I would love to see the Playboy Clubs reopen again I would renew my Playboy Club Card for sure. I still have my old Playboy Club Card, Card Number ending in # 187
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I was fascinated and had a new found respect for hef when i saw this documentary on E! He is not exactly the sleezeball many women will pin him as. He is an innovator, was pro-women (and not in a "take of your clothes" sense, but the women's liberation movement kind, and a catalyst for change in pop culture. I am a woman and not into polyamory but it was a fascinating watch and not sleezy in any sense.
i'll give him credit for being a great friend to film ...lots o' old movies would have been lost forever without his PLAYBOY bucks helping preserve them for the future...
Agreed, he will likely be remembered for exploiting naked women for profit, but it is too bad that his reputation is so one-sided. He is in many ways the new Citizen Kane, and the movie alludes to love being his rosebud. When you see him up close now, because he's so fragile, it's kind of sad. The wit and smarts are still intact, but he's missing something. Yes, he chose to be the hard-working perfectionist and put out that 'playboy' image to the world, but it doesn't make it any less tragic because it was by his own designs. Be careful what you wish for. Hugh said himself, "the cliches are cliches because they're true." If you don't have something of substance, centerfolds and a nice car might not cut it.
It's difficult to separate the man from the subject matter. He will almost always be polarizing and women will find him at worst a self-serving misogynist and at best an exploitational perv. The pioneer side of him will forever struggle to surface. To be honest, I find him more of an icon for the American dream (a la Arnold Schwarzenegger) than a true social activist, however his likely legacy will be somewhat of a "dirty old man".
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