Some brave souls call Hugh Hefner a feminist hero, and by God, they are 100% correct — in Bizarro world. On Bizarro, (the only planet on which one could reasonably make such a claim), Hugh built an empire based on his legendary respect for women. Won’t you join me over here for jazz and a cocktail? Let’s have a toast and remember how it all went down:
Bizarro Hugh was tired of the uptight fifties. “What about sex?” he cried. “What about fun?” He wanted to create a magazine that celebrated the pleasures of life, and he knew a nude picture of Marilyn Monroe would make his mag an overnight success. One problem: Marilyn really didn’t want him to do it! So he called her on the phone and said “Marilyn, honey, you’re so beautiful, this is really a tribute to you.” She said, “Thanks Hugh, but I only took those pictures because I was desperate. I’m humiliated; this could destroy my career.” Hugh sighed thoughtfully into his scotch. “Shit, Marilyn. That’s the last thing I want. It drives me nuts people don’t take you seriously. Where the hell did people get the idea that Dumb is a sexy look on a female, anyway? You’re not a bunny rabbit, for Chrissake. Tell you what — Fuck the picture, just give me an exclusive interview on your experience.”
Well, the article was a knockout. Bathed in the warmth of Hugh’s sincere concern for her well-being, Marilyn revealed the full depth of the misery caused by her constant objectification. Hugh had to admit he hadn’t really considered how shitty is it to be treated like a piece of meat, even if the meat was Grade A. The interview blew his mind, and the American public’s. Marilyn started to attract deeper, more interesting roles, and her career took an amazing turn. Upon winning an Oscar for playing a housewife-turned-supreme court justice, Marilyn bellowed, “My life is so amazing today that I would never consider ending it. But the day I DO die, I’d love to be buried next to my hero, Hugh Hefner. Got that, guys? Who sees me naked and where I’m buried is my call!”
At the Oscar party, Marilyn wore her traditional tuxedo, and posed in a famous picture with Hugh in his classic bunny suit. Ever since their first conversation, Hugh had taken to wearing a silk bunny outfit, including four inch heels and fluffy little bunny ears. It was his way of reminding America how nuts it is to treat people like exciting adorable animals to pet and fuck but not regard as fully human. What a hoot, that Hugh!
Meanwhile, the man was doing more than hobnobbing at Hollywood soirees. After the wild success of Playtime!’s debut issue, Hugh got busy creating the most liberating magazine since Ms. — but this one was way more fun! There were lots of naked pictures of both men and women (and everything in between). The only rule was — they had to look like real people. No fake boobs, no fake blondes — this was a no holds barred world in which EVERYONE could enjoy sex: chubby women with cellulite and crow’s feet. Super skinny women with inverted nipples. Women age 18 to 98! As a true libertine, Hef would have died sooner than say that a woman somehow loses her sex appeal after the age of 30. “What should popular culture do with them?” he was known to have said — “Pretend they literally disappear just when they’re getting interesting? Make their bodies and experiences totally invisible and disgusting? No thank you!” In fact, Hugh was infamous for being surrounded by women of advanced years — “The older, the better!” he’d snarl at naysayers, his arms around two spirited, silver-haired GILFS. “These seventy-years olds have some wild tricks up their sleeves!”
Naturally, the mag was also famous for showing more female pubic hair than the American public knew what to do with. Some people smirkingly referred to Playtime! As Pub-Time. And Hugh became famous for his article “Why stretchmarks are sexy: because the fullness of women’s life experience is really enticing, you guys!” Women actively sought out physical imperfections in order to be more like the gals in the magazine- not because they were beautiful, but because they seemed happy, confident, and free.
Now, not all the Playtime! photos were nudes. As Hugh was fond of saying, the sexiest thing about women were their “big bouncy brains.” So while the magazine was dedicated to pleasure, it wasn’t all sexual. Hugh was most interested in hearing how smarty-pants ladies defined fun. Like, his best friend Gloria Steinem loved to travel, so he dedicated a whole issue to the hedonistic pleasures of globe- trotting. Susan Brownmiller loved brewing beer! Alice Walker did hot yoga! Soon, Hugh’s mansion was famous for its bevvies of female geniuses sipping champagne and giggling- like Hilary Rodham, Angela Davis, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (to name just a few). It was cool for less famous guests to see those ladies relaxing and having fun. People started to loosen the association between powerful women and threatening women. Female intellect looked a lot less scary and way more fun!
Sometimes people had sex in the mansion, because when women are truly respected and seen, who knows what can happen?! And since a lot of the men dressed like bunnies to emulate Hef, the whole gender-binary thing got a hell of a lot more fluid.
Someone brought Quaaludes to the mansion once, calling them “thigh openers.” Hef’s iconic response? “Instead of drugging a woman to interest her in sex, how about learning to actually respond to her needs?” He flushed the pills down the toilet and asked RBG to give the fellow a three-hour lecture on extended foreplay, multiple orgasms, and the importance of not treating women like expendable props in a degrading male-centered fantasy (a weird, rare, attitude that existed only on the fringes). When she wasn’t studying for the bar, Ruth silk-screened Hugh a T-shirt that said “Women are complicated….” while the back screamed “and I love it!!!” Hugh wore it with pride on the daily.
There was only one other time Quaaludes came into the mansion and that was when Bill Cosby came over with an aspiring actress half his age. Hugh rolled his eyes. Chasing young women was so passé, (thanks to the Hugh Doctrine) and he was disturbed by the fistful of pills Bill carried. “I don’t know what you’re up to, buddy,” he said, “but it ain’t happening on these grounds.” Since literally no one ever had ever NOT enabled Bill Cosby, it caused a period of deep reflection in the comic legend. He realized he was a completely insane predatory sociopath and voluntarily institutionalized himself. The next day, Hugh was on television, talking about it.
“There are some guys who think that wearing a robe and saying you favor abortion is enough to earn the title every man wants: FEMINIST. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You have to take a stand against rape, against harassment. A Playtime! boy doesn’t obliterate consent or render it meaningless by pretending women exist in a constant, nonsensical state of readiness — no, a Playtime! boy treats women like actual human beings with minds, hearts, and bodies, that all work together. Let’s end rape, you guys!”
Since everyone worshiped the Hef, incidents of sexual abuse plummeted. Civil rights went into overtime too- not just because Hugh showed black women as beautiful (humans of all races and creeds were in the mag from day one), but because the unjust plight of women of color was sacred to him. “I love women,” he said with tears in his eyes. “Like, I REALLY love them. Not just as extensions of my ego.” A young real estate mogul heard his words, looked into his own twisted soul, and killed himself.
In short, Bizarro Hef and Play Time! Magazine changed the world. The man was a true instrument of sexual liberation and feminism. May he rest peacefully beside Marilyn, who died smiling in her sleep at 92, clutching a well-worn copy of Hugh’s famous book: Intersectional feminism is hot.
Have fun back on planet Earth, and thanks for joining me in toasting Bizarro Hugh — a far finer Hugh than the real one ever was.