Hugh Hefner and the Post-WW2 Sexual/Social Revolution within Western European Society

INTERVIEW WITH HUGH HEFNER (Make Love Not War)



INT: You’re a student of psychology, is there a relationship between authoritarian systems.

HUGH: I think that if you, if you are going to, and it’s all very much in Orwell in 1984. you really don’t create an authoritarian society unless you control the personal choices including the sexual choices of the people. So I think that sexual oppression and dictatorship go hand in hand.

INT: To what extent do you think that the cold war lent legitimacy to that kind of moral –

HUGH: I think that the cold war and the fear of nuclear holocaust were used. Some, some of the fears were very understandable, but it was used by some of the darker parts of our own society to support the military and to change this into at during that period a very conservative political climate, so that to some extent I felt during that period that we had become, as a country, a part of what we fought the war to be the enemy ourselves.

INT: How would you describe the Playboy philosophy.

HUGH: Well I think the Playboy philosophy is very, very connected to the American dream, it the political philosophy that I’ve always, that I grew up with and that I espoused in the editorial series, was really personal freedom, political freedom, economic freedom. With the emphasis on the personal. The notion that we indeed did and do own our own minds and bodies, and that anything from church or state that limits that is inappropriate and inconsistent with the … society that America is supposed to be.

INT: Do you think that making that kind of statement put you in any kind of risk, any possibility of retaliation by

HUGH: (Guffaw) I already suspected it, I lived it for sure, of course.

INT: In what way did you live it.

HUGH: Well I think that from the very beginning it wasn’t simply, what made Playboy so popular was not simply the naked ladies, there were naked ladies in other magazines, what made the magazine so popular was, even before I started writing the philosophy, there was a point of view in the magazine, it prior to that you couldn’t run nude pictures without some kind of rational that they were art. I made them into, I put them into a context of a positive or what I perceived as a positive attitude on male female relationships. I suggested that sex was not the enemy, that violence was the enemy, that nice girls like sex. The centerfold itself, the girl next door centerfold, in a very simplistic way was rooted in that philosophy, that that sex is OK, it’s a natural part of life. a very radical idea in America, and I paid dues very early on the post office that had been the arbiter of communication in America since the comstocka in Victorian times, still believe that, despite some court decisions to the contrary, believe that they had a right to define without consideration of the courts, what they, what you could send through the mail, so they didn’t want to give me my sector mail, my sector mailing permit, sectored mailing permit, that all magazines need to survive. We had to go to court to get that. and then they found other ways, I was, I was on the enemies list during the Nixon era because I was supporting and donating funds to more liberal democratic, democrat causes, but the being on the list really began in the very early days in the middle fifties along with a lot a great many other Americans although I didn’t know it at the time, I was being watched by the FBI and they had a record of what I was doing , in 1960 when we opened the first Playboy club, Chicago officials that key clubs that had been operating in Chicago for twenty five years were suddenly illegal. We had to go to court to win that case. In 1963 they decided that a very innocent pictorial on a movie by Jane Mansfield was obscene, we had to fight them in court to win that case. In 19 after the enemies list came out in 1975, 74 they concocted a phony drug case against me because my secretary had been involved with a guy who was a street dealer, and literally fabricated evidence to convict her in the hope that somehow do something with me. And then in the early 1980’s when America and England became more politically conservative, we lost our casino licenses in England and our casino license in Atlantic city. Not on the basis of anything but that was really going on there, but because the climate had changed, and to some extent the fact that the first amendment protects me in America in the magazine. But the very fact that we were able to operate for so many years with liquor licenses and with casino licenses which require the approval of the powers that be is probably in itself quite remarkable. So I fought the good fight, but have always felt that was part of the territory. I didn’t start the magazine as a crusade but there’s always been a little bit of the crusader in me, and you know, you need dragons to slay, without the conflict and the controversy I think that what I managed to do less, and I take a great deal of pride in the accomplishment.

INT: You describe a society which is very conservative, what is your position on race and civil rights.

HUGH: My views on tolerance and race from my parents. my mother in particular, but both my parents were very idealistic people. As a matter of fact I accepted their values on every area except sex, they were raised in a very oppressive typically puritan farm families in Nebraska. So that was really the only area that I really had problems with my family. I think that the sexual revolution grew to some degree out of you know the civil rights movement and I was actively involved in it from the late fifties on, when we held our first jazz festival in Chicago in 1959. We donated the funds from that to the urban league, and when I formed the Playboy foundation in 1950 in 1965 it became the activist arm of the Playboy philosophy. I started doing the philosophy in 1963, the end of 1962 actually and then formed the foundation. The foundation became as the magazine and the company prospered, a way of putting our money where our mouth was, and by the early nineteen seventies we had donated several million dollars to a variety of controversial causes. Many of them related to sex laws, sex research with Mathers and Johnson and the McKensey Institute and the civil rights movement. In the process also we helped to fight the series of cases that lead eventually to Rowe versus Wade and legalized abortion. I met Martin Luther King for the first time, in fact the only time, a short time before his death, and he was in Chicago to try to meet with Mayor Daley and to segregation was still, then and now a part of the Chicago scene, in the schools.

INT: To what do you ascribe racism in America.

HUGH: The phenomena there is something in us that on the one hand bonds us with like people but somehow makes us suspicious of other people. and it is one of the sad things of humankind and unfortunately nationalism and organized religion feed it. It turns into a kind of them and us phenomena and it is particularly pathetic and sad when it comes to religion because most organized religion, most of the fundamental premises of religion are very similar, they tend towards a single god in some form and that religion can then turn in to the source of animosity and hatred and bigotry, is one of the great ironies I think.

INT: You were in Chicago in August 1968 because obviously you lived there at the time of the democratic convention, what are your memories of that particular time.

HUGH: Well the … mansion was a very popular hangout for the celebrities and the political people and the media, it was the so it was kind of the center, or one of the centers of things during all of that and, and at the very beginning of the convention, I think it was actually on the Sunday of that week we saw on television that there was going to be a gathering at Lincoln Park, on the other side of Chicago and that’s just a couple of blocks from the Mansion, and so Max Learner a very good friend of mine and Jules Pipper the satirist and a couple of friends and I went on out to see what was going on and went on down to Lincoln Park and ran into the beginnings of what turned out to be a police riot, the police had taken off their badges, their badge numbers and they were involved in crowd dispersal and they whacked a lot of heads, and of course later on about two or three days later it moved downtown into grand park and ….

INT: What’s it like to be caught up in a police riot.

HUGH: A little scary. We were in our own neighborhood, as I say about a block or two from the mansion, but once we saw what was happening we, we headed home and they caught us when we were about a block from the mansion, they didn’t really know who we were, a squad car bristling with cops with guns drawn cut us off and jumped out and I got whacked across the backside, didn’t, didn’t move me into a more conservative position, it helped to further radicalize me._

Las entrevistas de Playboy: el otro legado de Hugh Hefner | Culto – A principios de los años 60, el magnate quiso sumar al impacto de sus conejitas el recurso periodístico de las entrevistas. A la liberación sexual que lideró su revista Playboy, sumó las plumas de gente como Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Gabriel García Márquez y Cameron Crowe. Fue allí en donde John Lennon relató con minucioso cariño su último encuentro con Paul McCartney, donde Martin Luther King publicó su último artículo antes de ser asesinado o donde el presidente Jimmy Carter admitió que “miraba a muchas mujeres con lujuria”. Lo siguiente es una selección de algunas ideas que aparecieron por primera vez en las páginas de Playboy.

Brennan Williams // Jennifer Jackson, First Black Playmate, On Life After Baring It All & ‘The Playboy Club’ (EXCLUSIVE) | HuffPost – Not every former employee of the landmark club has the same sentiments as Miller. For pioneering pinup Jennifer Jackson, who became the first black playmate in March 1965, the show brought back a few memories.

In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post, the former NYU student and ex-model offered unique insights into what it was like inside the original Playboy Club, life as the magazine’s first African-American playmate, and her subsequent work to establish laws to protect children — and she talked about NBC’s new series, too.

What was your initial reaction to the announcement of NBC’s “The Playboy Club”?
After “Mad Men” became so popular and then I heard that they were doing a show about Pan Am, I thought to myself that people got the crazies for the ’60s. I also had some family and friends call me and say, “Hey Jennifer, they’re going to have a show about the Playboy Club. Did anybody call you?” I said, “No!?” Then they said, “You should help write the script for a show and tell them your views on how it was.”

So to this day, none of the show’s producers have reached out to you?
No. But then I said, “I wonder if they’re going to have any black bunnies on the show.” There are not a lot of original bunnies who are around from the ’60s; we’re all up there in age. And then I said, “Well, it looks like they should’ve called me.”

One comment

  1. But he was a libertine not really a liberal, his game was objectification.

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