I am forever fascinated with the Hefner family and the history of Playboy. Yes, that of course has something to do with the something to do with the lauded centerfold and nude spreads, but it's also the sheer wit and intelligence of the publication and what it stands for. Playboy has managed to mix sexy content with high-minded journalism for nearly six decades, consistently pushing the envelope both politically and socially (and, of course, sexually). After all, Hef has had his hands in civil rights cases just as often as he's published fantastic of photos of nude women. Which is saying something.
And now, his series American Playboy will hit Amazon Prime. It's a docuseries, so it'll be half interviews with Hefner himself and half reimagined drama (featuring actor Matt Whalen as a young Hugh). It's said to feature unseen footage and photos from Hef's record-breaking library of content plus a wealth of new stories we haven't heard yet. According to the press release, it's meant to be a bit of tribute to the legacy of the brand.
“What started in December 1953 with a nude centerfold of Marilyn Monroe, transformed into Hefner's personal vision of what America could be – Playboy became a high-minded, egalitarian magazine, placing Hefner on the frontlines of the country's greatest struggles. Not merely a sexual revolutionary, Hefner fought for free speech, civil rights, nuclear disarmament, women's rights and more. From publishing blacklisted writers to freeing prisoners of repressive sexual legislation, to battling with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI and Jerry Falwell, Hefner used his media empire and public persona to espouse a progressive philosophy far ahead of his time.”
"Our traditional views about sex are not good for people. They're hypocritical," he says in the trailer. Snaps for that, Hef, snaps for that.
American Playboy debuts on Amazon April 7th. I have high hopes, but I will watch and report back regardless.