Friday, September 29, 2017

The Death of Hef

It is probably a bridge too far to make the leap from Ahab’s harpoon to Hugh Hefner phallus but that’s the sort of elongated stretch one does as a lapsed poet. They say he died of natural causes and that only extends the metaphor. At age 91 one might say he achieved longevity in every sense.

The Jungians would describe him as a Puer Aeternus (eternal child), enjoying his years in the pleasure dome of an adolescent fantasy on a rotating circular bed with a mirrored ceiling in a forty-eight room mansion.  He later moved from Chicago to a six acre compound with a staff of seventy near Beverly Hills.

He seemed to live the life promised to suicide bombers upon their combustion, though I understand those seventy-two virgins were a mistranslation of seventy-two raisins. In any case Hefner is to be buried next to Marilyn Monroe which he declared was an offer, too sweet to pass up. In his mind a sort of Playboy immortality.

One wonders whether he was prodigiously and indefatigably endowed. Is it true that large penises are like large banks…….too big to fail? 

The images I have of enhancement or augmentation make me wince. I suppose that means both length and breadth. God help those with shortness of breadth. I would hope those penile doctors are heavily insured with no more than a one inch deductible. Try getting your H.M.O. to cover this.

Whether woman were subjects or objects is no longer a matter for debate. He pedaled forbidden fruit with a preference for melons, particularly unblemished and air-brushed. An unrepentant Libertine he was both exploiter and emancipator. Gloria Steinem called him pathetic. Yet if the alternative is the sort of repression Mike Pence lives with I’ll go with Hef.

Yet to give him his due it needs to be said Hugh Hefner was a counter-culture voice arising out of the Eisenhower fifties when conformity was a given and gender politics as yet unarticulated. America then and now are two different paradigms unrecognizable to each other. His personal revolution against the strictures of sexual hypocrisy and Puritanical values became aligned with the Zeitgeist which he rode into the new social order of the sixties and seventies.

He made his point yet at the same time his life-style seems somehow an American phenomena already distant, ready for the archival room of a history museum.

It's safe to say nobody enjoyed his prolonged parental rebellion as much as Hefner. He turned porn and hedonism into a pseudo-feminist-sophisticated fine art and gave it a socio-political agenda….and all the time still in his pajamas. Ahab’s harpoon would have wilted.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting Norm. I listened to the Terry Gross interview with him and it was engrossing ...