I frequently ask this question: Who had the most fun in the twentieth century? The answer I've maintained for some time is: Mick Jagger. (Keith would be second, but I disqualify him because I don't think he remembers much.) Hugh Hefner would be the next in line. What a career. What a legacy. Some people might maintain that his legacy is vacuous and that his career is insipid. I disagree, and immediately sense either jealousy or ignorance. Hefner has done wonderful things for women (as well as us men, obviously), women's rights, and countless other charities and causes, First Amedment and beyond. His decades of frolicking with babes only a fraction of his age is a well-deserved reward for his numerous efforts on various fronts, and thereby advancing the notions of freedom and enlightenment. Hefner is straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, a bold visionary who believes life is to be lived for ample doses of work and pleasure, and whose self-indulgence has as a byproduct vast benefit for his fellow man. (True, I do think his epic life-story would have a fabulous ending if he now married a woman close to his age, and made a proclamation of some sort advancing romantic ideals, to work in conjunction with his previous accomplishments relating to sexual idealism.)
I mention the man who is the publisher of this book because I thought of him and his decades of accomplishment as I flipped through each and every page of this vast tome. Imagine, the first picture is of no one other than Marilyn Monroe! But my personal favorite was about a year later: Bettie Page! I was also struck by the photo of Dorothy Stratten. There are lots of stories here, lots of history. Indeed, most of the shots are very appealing, and actually much sexier than I had remembered. (True, the recent shots of girls who have shaved themselves are, in my opinion, grotesque.) Although my favorites are somewhere between 1965 and 1978, each decade has its appeal. These pictures really jump out at you, the printing quality is first-rate, and the vast volume of beautiful female imagery is probably unmatched by any other book anywhere. It took me almost two hours to flip through these pages.
The briefcase: I was curious if it was real "leather." No, it is not. Is it kind of cheesey? Yes, very. The dilemma posed by the briefcase is that you have to find a place to stash the darned thing. You can't really place it on a bookshelf. Really, I wish they had built a slip-case for the book instead of this vinyl, goofy briefcase. However, the briefcase is kind of useful because the book is so heavy that it otherwise would be cumbersome to move about. But the thin vinyl reminds me of an old cassette tape case, and I suspect that before long the vinyl will crack or get holes punctured in it. The book itself, however, in contrast, is very solid with a nice cloth binding. I do wish it had a nice ribbon book mark, because there was one babe in particular in 1978 who really deserved a rigorous marking! (I guess I'll just have to flip through this thing again soon and re-locate her.)
All told, this book is perhaps the best single summary of an incredible publishing legacy. Thank you, Mr. Hefner, for all you've done to enrich our lives the last sixty years. While many of us primarily read Playboy during our "fraternity years," the lessons taught in this magazine about living the good life, and being a gentleman, have endured long after that.