Hugh Hefner, the king of Playboy, has died at his home in Los Angeles at age 91. He started Playboy magazine in 1953, which grew to a circulation of 1 million within five years.
- At the height of his Playboy empire, Hefner was worth about $200 million
- He claims to have slept with over a thousand women, many of them pictured in his magazine
- His obsession with bunnies was rooted in a design on his childhood blanket
- His burial plot is beside Marilyn Monroe’s, in Los Angeles Cemetery
“Well, if we hadn’t had the Wright brothers, there would still be airplanes. If there hadn’t been an Edison, there would still be electric lights. And if there hadn’t been a Hefner, we’d still have sex. But maybe we wouldn’t be enjoying it as much. So the world would be a little poorer. Come to think of it, so would some of my relatives.”
Questions of legacy always pop up when someone famous passes away. What did they stand for? What ideals did they embody? How did they impact society?
Many laud Hefner for bolstering free speech and spurring on the sexual revolution (reflected in part by this CTV poll.) But others, including some former Playboy bunnies, say that many of the women working for Hefner tended to be poorly educated, overworked and underpaid.
Holly Madison, Hefner’s old girlfriend, described the Playboy Mansion as a place where he “would encourage competition – and body image issues – between his multiple live-in girlfriends.”
Though Hefner believed that pornography made sex better, research is proving otherwise.
There’s something about sexually explicit material that leaves people endlessly unsatisfied and craving for more, creating demand for more extreme content. Internet pornography, which naturally followed Hefner’s magazine era, has become so violent and addictive that it’s causing widespread public health problems, not to mention relational and intimacy issues.
Maybe that’s what it all comes down to – love and intimacy. Hugh Hefner claims he was a product of his environment, and that his religious parents said never “showed love in a physical or emotional way.” This is tragic. Ironically, porn by its very nature is void of intimacy, the very thing Hefner longed for growing up.
Hefner’s death reminds us that real love and intimacy are worth fighting for. Sexual pleasure is momentary, but real love offers steadfast companionship that surpasses fantasy.