Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hugh M. Hefner: 1926-2017


“What sort of man reads Playboy?”

Barnabas read it to catch up on two centuries of culture -- not to mention the revival of the Edwardian suit. Quentin and Burke embodied it. Roger read it for the articles. No, really. David treasured it because there was no girl next door. Julia, because she was not about to be told she shouldn’t. And Stokes? He was waiting for Hef to catch up.

Hugh M. Hefner, founder and publisher of Playboy Magazine, died at 91 yesterday. His Dark Shadows connections are largely through one of the show’s female leads, Kathryn Leigh Scott, who worked as a “Bunny” waitress at the New York Playboy Club, the white hot epitome of 1960’s swank, even after the show went on the air. The Bunnies were both symbolic of a new kind of self-possessed fun that was everyone’s birthright as well as witnesses to a strange and marvelous cultural upheaval. Ms. Scott covers this in her book, A BUNNY’S TALE, one of her main projects of the 1990’s, where she became a noted Playboy historian.

As I jokingly hinted above, I think there’s another, subtler connection. If not connection, then sympathetic resonance. One of Playboy’s greatest triumphs was establishing the cultural legitimacy of a new model for manhood… and by implication, a congruent model for women as well. No longer were marriage, religion, crew cuts, kids, and Budweiser the cost of admission into adult culture. Playboy celebrated the possibilities of a fulfilling adult life where different choices were possible and justifiable. Choosing to be childfree. Embracing music, food, and literature from other eras and unfairly segregated segments of society. Enjoying fashion, art, technology, books, plays, and perspectives on life that were shocking to many, but which we take for granted, now.

Essentially, Playboy helped to invent the metrosexual. The intense, brainy, gentlemanly, passionate, erotic vampire, Barnabas Collins, is a fellow traveler from that new school of manhood. We think of Barnabas as a man from the past, but he’s just as much a man of the future. Balancing refinement and passion, at his best, Barnabas Collins is coincidentally an ideal embodiment of the Playboy. The intense appeal of Barnabas in the 1960’s demonstrates that his time had come. Considering that he’d been waiting since 1796, it was long overdue.

I will always remember Hugh Hefner's remarkable kindness and generosity when I was writing The Bunny Years about the...
Posted by Kathryn L Scott on Thursday, September 28, 2017

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