Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream

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9780470521670: Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream

The real Hugh Hefner-the extraordinary inside story of an American icon

""Riveting... Watts packs in plenty of gasp-inducing passages.""-Newark Star Ledger

""Like it or not, Hugh Hefner has affected all of us, so I treasured learning about how and why in the sober biography.""-Chicago Sun Times

""This is a fun book. How could it not be? Watts aims to give a full account of the man, his magazine and their place in social history. Playboy is no longer the cultural force it used to be, but it made a stamp on society.""-Associated Press

""In Steven Watts' exhaustive, illuminating biography Mr. Playboy, Hefner's ideal for living -- marked by his allegiances to Tarzan, Freud, Pepsi-Cola and jazz -- proves to be a kind of gloss on the Protestant work ethic.""-Los Angeles TimesGorgeous young women in revealing poses; extravagant mansion parties packed with celebrities; a hot-tub grotto, elegant smoking jackets, and round rotating beds; the hedonistic pursuit of uninhibited sex. Put these images together and a single name springs to mind-Hugh Hefner. From his spectacular launch of Playboy magazine and the dizzying expansion of his leisure empire to his recent television hit The Girls Next Door, the publisher has attracted public attention and controversy for decades. But how did a man who is at once socially astute and morally unconventional, part Bill Gates and part Casanova, also evolve into a figure at the forefront of cultural change?In Mr. Playboy, historian and biographer Steven Watts argues that, in the process of becoming fabulously wealthy and famous, Hefner has profoundly altered American life and values. Granted unprecedented access to the man and his enterprise, Watts traces Hef's life and career from his midwestern, Methodist upbringing and the first publication of Playboy in 1953 through the turbulent sixties, self-indulgent seventies, reactionary eighties, and traditionalist nineties, up to the present. He reveals that Hefner, from the beginning, believed he could overturn social norms and take America with him.This fascinating portrait illustrates four ways in which Hefner and Playboy stood at the center of several cultural upheavals that remade the postwar United States. The publisher played a crucial role in the sexual revolution that upended traditional notions of behavior and expectation regarding sex. He emerged as one of the most influential advocates of a rapidly developing consumer culture, flooding Playboy readers with images of material abundance and a leisurely lifestyle. He proved instrumental-with his influential magazine, syndicated television shows, fashionable nightclubs, swanky resorts, and movie and musical projects-in making popular culture into a dominant force in many people's lives. Ironically, Hefner also became a controversial force in the movement for women's rights. Although advocating women's sexual freedom and their liberation from traditional family constraints, the publisher became a whipping boy for feminists who viewed him as a prophet for a new kind of male domination.Throughout, Watts offers singular insights into the real man behind the flamboyant public persona. He shows Hefner's personal dichotomies-the pleasure seeker and the workaholic, the consort of countless Playmates and the genuine romantic, the family man and the Gatsby-like host of lavish parties at his Chicago and Los Angeles mansions who enjoys well-publicized affairs with numerous Playmates, the fan of life's simple pleasures who hobnobs with the Hollywood elite.Punctuated throughout with descriptions and anecdotes of life at the Playboy Mansions, Mr. Playboy tells the compelling and uniquely American story of how one person with a provocative idea, a finger on the pulse of popular opinion, and a passion for his work altered the course of modern history.

  • Spans from Hefner's childhood to the launch of Playboy magazine and the expansion of t

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Review:

Amazon Exclusive: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Mansion


1. He has been keeping an exhaustive “scrapbook” of his life since adolescence, which now consists of over 1800 volumes and takes up much of the third floor of the Mansion.

2. His favorite weekly event is Monday’s “Manly Night,” a gathering of longstanding male friends for an evening devoted to eating, trading friendly insults and stories, and watching old films.

3. Hefner became obsessed with backgammon in the 1970s, playing in tournaments at the Mansion that attracted world-class players and lasted for hours, sometimes days.

4. He was deeply traumatized during his college days when his fiancé confessed that she was involved in a sexual affair.

5. He nearly choked to death in the late 1970s after ingesting a small sex toy during a raucous lovemaking session with his girlfriend. She dislodged it with the Heimlich maneuver.

6. Hefner was a strong backer of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s, contributing money and booking African American entertainers for his television show and the Playboy Clubs.

7. The Mansion library still prominently displays a large ceramic bust of Barbi Benton, Hefner’s girlfriend from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

8. The Mansion staff is inundated with requests for invitations to Hefner’s big parties. Some are from celebrities who want to bring their friends, and many are from young women who send photos of themselves in skimpy clothing and provocative poses. Nearly all are turned down.

9. Every bathroom at the Mansion is equipped with a bottle of baby oil, bottle of aspirin, and Jergens cherry-almond skin lotion. During big parties, many of them also have bowls filled with condoms.

10. Hefner has all of his meals brought to him in his bedroom suite at the Mansion. Even when the Mansion is filled with dozens of guests enjoying an elegant buffet meal for movie nights on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, he eats in his room before joining the crowd.

From the Inside Flap:

Gorgeous young women in revealing poses; extravagant mansion parties packed with celebrities; a hot-tub grotto, elegant smoking jackets, and round rotating beds; the hedonistic pursuit of uninhibited sex. Put these images together and a single name springs to mind—Hugh Hefner. From his spectacular launch of Playboy magazine and the dizzying expansion of his leisure empire to his recent television hit The Girls Next Door, the publisher has attracted public attention and controversy for decades. But how did a man who is at once socially astute and morally unconventional, part Bill Gates and part Casanova, also evolve into a figure at the forefront of cultural change?

In Mr. Playboy, historian and biographer Steven Watts argues that, in the process of becoming fabulously wealthy and famous, Hefner has profoundly altered American life and values. Granted unprecedented access to the man and his enterprise, Watts traces Hef's life and career from his midwestern, Methodist upbringing and the first publication of Playboy in 1953 through the turbulent sixties, self-indulgent seventies, reactionary eighties, and traditionalist nineties, up to the present. He reveals that Hefner, from the beginning, believed he could overturn social norms and take America with him.

This fascinating portrait illustrates four ways in which Hefner and Playboy stood at the center of several cultural upheavals that remade the postwar United States. The publisher played a crucial role in the sexual revolution that upended traditional notions of behavior and expectation regarding sex. He emerged as one of the most influential advocates of a rapidly developing consumer culture, flooding Playboy readers with images of material abundance and a leisurely lifestyle. He proved instrumental—with his influential magazine, syndicated television shows, fashionable nightclubs, swanky resorts, and movie and musical projects—in making popular culture into a dominant force in many people's lives. Ironically, Hefner also became a controversial force in the movement for women's rights. Although advocating women's sexual freedom and their liberation from traditional family constraints, the publisher became a whipping boy for feminists who viewed him as a prophet for a new kind of male domination.

Throughout, Watts offers singular insights into the real man behind the flamboyant public persona. He shows Hefner's personal dichotomies—the pleasure seeker and the workaholic, the consort of countless Playmates and the genuine romantic, the family man and the Gatsby-like host of lavish parties at his Chicago and Los Angeles mansions who enjoys well-publicized affairs with numerous Playmates, the fan of life's simple pleasures who hobnobs with the Hollywood elite.

Punctuated throughout with descriptions and anecdotes of life at the Playboy Mansions, Mr. Playboy tells the compelling and uniquely American story of how one person with a provocative idea, a finger on the pulse of popular opinion, and a passion for his work altered the course of modern history.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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