No more Playboys at the Mansion?

HefgirlsSo, Hugh Hefner’s settling down? He’s downsizing from three bimbos playmates to just one? Hef, baby, say it ain’t so! If the most objectionably hedonistic man on the planet (with the possible exception of Kim Jong Il) is settling down with just a single pneumatic blonde who’s far too young for him, what is there for the rest of us men to aspire to? What man wants to turn 80 and have to downsize the number of partners we’re incapable of satisfying with our shrivelled bodies? Sure, he still gets around in that ridiculous silk robe, but I’m beginning to suspect that the much-vaunted swingin’ Hef lifestyle is – gasp – a lie.

If even Hugh Hefner can’t get old truly disgracefully, aided and abetted by the world’s premiere lifestyle drug, Viagra, then I am starting to worry. I’m only a week into my thirties, as it happens, and already I’m beginning to suspect that my chances of serious Mansion-style debauchery are slipping away from me. Unless I somehow manage to become a late Roman emperor over the next decade or so, I’m going to have to concede that my most pathetic male fantasies are just that – fantasies. That no-one actually lives like Hugh Hefner pretended to. And that, terrifyingly enough, I may as well give into what the Hefster seems to have belatedly realised – that a stable, monogamous relationship might actually be the best way to live.

I mean, I’m lounging around silk pajamas even as we speak*, and not only is no-one filming a reality show set in my home, there aren’t even any surgically enhanced blondes dressed in demeaning fetish gear around. Is Hef, who defined so much of what it meant to be a man in the 1960s (and refused to ever move beyond that), now redefining what it is to be a male in 2007?

Sure, the person he’s thinking about settling down with is a 27-year-old bikini model and former Hooters Girl called Holly Madison. An option not open to most eightysomethings. But it’s the principle of the thing. I’m even more shocked by the idea that Hef might choose to be with one girl than I am at the news that Warney might.

In many respects, the primary beneficiaries of the sexual revolution have been women, of course. But Hugh Hefner did his bit to make sure that men got some upside as well. As it became okay for women to have sex outside marriage, Hef tried to up the ante by making it okay for men to have sex with multiple partners outside marriage. (Not women, of course. Men have ensured that’s still perceived as slutty.) Yes, he was an innovator.

But today’s news drives the final nail, to use a metaphor worthy of the magazine itself, into the Playboy coffin. Hefner’s great success was not that he was promiscuous – powerful men have always been that. It’s that he successfully managed to portray some fairly unsophisticated male fantasies as somehow classy or desirable.

When Hugh Hefner recedes further into history, society is smart enough not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. He was a genuine warrior for sexual liberation, even if he turned the women he was liberating into sex objects. But the idea that behaving like him is somehow cool or desirable has long since receded, with his lifestyle now the grist for the humiliating mill of reality TV.

So it’s time to finally bang shut the doors on the Playboy mansion, and leave Hugh and his measly one woman in peace. Let’s face it, the whole Playboy thing was always embarrassing. Most men grow out of it at around 16. But still, 64 years too late is still better than never. So welcome to adulthood, Hugh Hefner.

Dominic Knight

* OK, I’m not. I don’t even own them. But Hef’s life clearly doesn’t live up to the hype, so why should mine?

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