‘The term ‘group think’ is an oxymoron.’ –G.E. Nordell


Hugh Hefner already has his final resting place picked out and paid for: a crypt next to Marilyn Monroe’s in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Not that he has plans to use it anytime soon. Hefner, who will turn 85 in April, lives these days what appears to be the life of an invalid, or even of a cosseted mental patient: wearing pajamas all day; rarely venturing out of the house; taking most of his meals in his bedroom — the menu seldom varying, the crackers and potato chips carefully prescreened to remove any broken ones. He is hard of hearing in his right ear and has an arthritic back that causes him to lumber a little when he walks. But he is in otherwise enviable shape for an octogenarian. (…)

A couple of weeks later, Hefner was on the business pages, trying to buy back his own company. (…) Hefner startled even his own board by announcing that he wanted to make Playboy Enterprises, which he took public in 1971, private again. He offered the stockholders $5.50 a share, or more than 30 percent beyond what the stock was trading for. But this was slim consolation to investors who had been unhappily watching Hefner live like a sultan at their expense while the value of their shares declined to single digits from a high of $32.19.

Strictly speaking, Playboy Enterprises, and not Hefner, owns the Playboy Mansion, a 1920s Gothic-style spread southwest of Hollywood. Hefner pays rent and covers non-business-related expenses­. The company pays for the upkeep of the house and grounds, and the salaries of the 80-employee staff, which includes a round-the-clock kitchen crew and a team of 13 who take care of Hef’s personal and business needs. Last year Hefner’s bill was $800,000, while the company kicked in $2.3 million. (…)

A late bloomer sexually, Hefner didn’t masturbate until he was 18, and after years of foreplay, he finally managed to lose his virginity when he was 22. (…)

Mr. Playboy’s heyday was the ’70s, when, as the money poured in, Hefner took to wearing pajamas round the clock, working from his bedroom, where he also slept with pretty much whomever he chose, and jetting around in the Big Bunny, his customized DC-9. The ’80s, though, were his anni horribiles. Overexpanded, the business went sour, Hefner clashed with the Reagan administration and the Moral Majority and in 1985 he suffered a stroke, in part brought on, he insisted, by the unfavorable publicity surrounding the 1980 murder of the Playmate Dorothy Stratten.

Hefner now says that his 1989 marriage to Kimberley Conrad, January Playmate of the Month the year before, was an attempt to seek refuge — a “safe harbor from the waves.” (…) He and Conrad broke up in 1998, though they did not divorce until 12 years later. “During the marriage I was faithful,” he said to me emphatically, “and she was not.” (Hefner, for all his advanced views, clings to the double standard and has never entirely got over his first wife’s admission that while they were engaged she had an affair with a high-school coach.)

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

related { Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health after 100 people reported becoming sick after attending a fundraiser and party there earlier this month. }