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 October 7, 2017

 Growing up in Louisa; Hefner

Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

Major headlines have announced the passing of an American icon, the creator and publisher of Playboy Magazine, 91 year-old Hugh Hefner, known to millions as 'Hef'. It was suggested that I add my two cents worth, but my first thought was that I didn’t know the man.

Additionally, he was controversial because a good segment of society didn’t like him. Many felt he promoted a negative image of women, although in his way he glamorized them with professional photography and state-of-the-art graphics. He promoted ‘in your dreams’ thinking that led many people to become dissatisfied with the status quo. He encouraged an idealized lifestyle built around temporary pleasure. He was given personal credit for changing society’s acceptance of free-sex, and the dismissal of moral-living as archaic, totally out of touch. He painted a lifestyle that stirred the urges of the red-blooded American male. He filled the pages of his glossy magazine with pictures of beautiful young women. He created a non-realistic dream of utopia wherein the morals of society were tossed aside to be replaced by parties, booze, and girls. His ‘Playboy Mansion’ was described as a pleasure palace for the rich and famous. He marketed all this and was highly successful, making millions in the process.

One result was that hoards of more normal appearing girls suffered because they didn’t meet the standard of the photo-shopped photos of pretty girls posing while smiling back for adoring men. In many cases, these men, married or not, wanted that lifestyle. They looked to the promise of this better world and consequently dodged their parental and marital responsibilities as they dreamed of bachelor-pads with hot and cold running girls. Famous and infamous celebrities showed up for parties and presumed liaisons within the well-appointed private rooms. Clubs were established in the larger cities, each with a gaggle of pretty costumed ‘bunnies,’ ready to serve the patrons with food, drink, and an every-ready smile. This was the façade that brought in the money and guaranteed this marketer’s fame, fortune and admiration. It was a false doctrine taught by a master of deceit.

My thoughts went back to my high school years when I first heard the term, Playboy. I think I saw my first edition when one of my cousins showed up with one in hand. We knew at once we needed to hide ourselves so parents wouldn’t find out. Because of my tender age, my cousin limited my access to a few short moments as he quickly flipped through the pages. With the first glance I tried to satisfy my curiosity and explore things I had not heretofore seen.

I’m thinking that there may be several gentlemen of my generation who will admit they sneaked peeks of the magazine whenever they could, if someone’s copy was found unguarded. Two newsstands, Ern’s and Hack’s carried those publications. I don’t know if others did, at first. On trips down to Ern’s Newsstand, I tried to see the cover of the latest editions. He was careful to protect the minds of little children, so he didn’t allow direct access to Playboy. Adults would have to ask for a copy, but kids were not allowed to see them. Then again, Ern was blind, so sometimes we could manipulate him in some distraction so we could grab a quick glance at the forbidden pictures of the pretty girls.

In my day, it was uncommon for a kid, and even grownups, to be able to see pictures of naked ladies, whether tastefully done or not. The pictures in Playboy at the time were professionally done, more to tease rather than to ‘show everything.’ As a teen, I know that several of my friends would do their best to see the ‘centerfold.’ That would be an outstanding looking ‘chic’ striking an alluring pose, and smiling back to her admirers. By today’s standards, considering the ready accessibility to real ‘porn’ on the web, these pictures were mild and flattering images. Some would call it ‘soft-porn.’

Once, someone showed me a set of French playing cards, each with a ‘hard-core’ pornographic picture, clearly showing things that Playboy never showed. The occasion of this viewing was short and a one-time event. Perhaps it was out of a fear of getting caught, but I only saw a few cards in that deck, but it was enough to make me want to see more. That was the commonality between the magazine and those playing cards. My eyes were not satisfied. Neither was my mind.

For me, and for others, for sure, the battleground was set. As hormones rushed through my young body an internal fight was ignited. It was as if hordes of demons were fighting with a band of angels that wanted me to have purer thoughts, and to live right. It was as if the enemy of my soul had found a weakness in me and that he fully meant to use that as leverage to drive me in wrong directions.

I have read of many who are addicted to porn. Some are highly respected citizens, even preachers, but they commonly seek to hide their habit. They cannot help but to seek more and more, but they are never satisfied. We read every day of men and women (yes women) who suffer with the private shame of porn addiction, but are found out. Marriages fail, suicides occur, or with some, a time in jail destroys the remnants of marital respect. School teachers, politicians, businessmen, all grapple with this very common malady. None of this speaks of the ‘models,’ often young girls pulled into the trade. Many regret this method of making a quick dollar, when they are seen by the whole world. There are dark stories galore that we would not want our daughters to even suspect. The subject is taboo.

The thing that troubles me most is to see the proliferation within the industry and the ease in which beautiful young models pose without shame. They take pleasure in knowing others are seeing, watching, and desiring their bodies, but then some do it for money. Others are slaves, caught on the streets as ‘runaways,’ or tricked into false promises of fame by those who will market their goods and lock up the girls. I have seen some of these sites and have been amazed that such nice looking young people are willing to pose. I have also felt the haunting that follows.   

Mr. Hefner wasn’t the first to use cameras and money to seduce people into this lifestyle. He was good at what he did, so many bought into his total doctrine he claimed was ‘freedom.’ He pretended to walk a line of respectability while still promoting this ideal. His dogma wasn’t new. We know from history of many civilizations that died out after morals were removed. Many historical cities, including Athens, Rome, and others died when integrity was lost.

Do we give Hugh Hefner the credit or the blame? I have no idea if he was fooled by the model he sold. The silly thing is, put us all naked in a room and we’ll find that we are all pretty much the same. The excitement is more about doing what we know is wrong. Frankly, there’s nothing ‘new and improved’ out there. There’s only male and female. What’s worthwhile in the end, is the wife of our youth. It’s the memories, the companionship, and the basis of that ‘first love,’ that matters. No one can, or has a right to claim that which is someone else’s. If you are dissatisfied, there is a good chance the problem is you.

Yes, there are plenty of pretty girls about, and handsome men aplenty. True love isn’t about sex, or beauty, but is about a relationship. Men, the girls all have the same equipment and can only do whatever they can do. What is truly most important is above the neck. Personality, intelligence, and reflected love is what matters. The stuff below the neck is common to the species. I believe that sex is a gift by our creator. Like any gift, it can be misused and abused, or it can be a blessing.

So, a man died. Such happens to us all. Mr. Hefner’s legacy is played up by the press and movie stars. The rich, and the famous gather to see and be seen, but I suspect people were still, just people. There had to be fights, grumbling and competition. Some sought help for a damaged ego, or needed affirmation and escape from depression. I imagine it was a grand marketing ploy with little truth. It’s possible even Mr. Hefner was isolated and did not live up to the image portrayed. I have no reason to know, but maybe it was all a big money-making scam.

Regardless, the deaths that really matter to us are about friends, relatives, and others who showed integrity and who walked the walk. Men and women who stand up for the truth they believe in their hearts. All the mansions and all the pretty people are of little real value once you tip over and depart life. Glitz is just that and nothing more.

When I was a teen he got my attention, but we need to grow up. There will be those who won’t, but the wise will see through the smoke, lights, and the glamor. When I die there’s no reason the press should take notice, but my family will. They will remember the good times and the silly things we’ve shared. Hugh’s death is sad because I think he likely died knowing in his heart that he was wrong. I suspect that while he accomplished his life’s goals, he was maybe a lonely man entrapped in a crowd of bored people looking for things of little lasting value. While he lived at the center of a hedonistic lifestyle with a crowd of hungry people who wanted what they could get, I believe it was all a lie. Real value isn’t found in those kinds of environments. Maybe, for a while many folks did believe, but now their guide to utopia is gone. As for me, I believe that contentment can be found for the disenchanted, the bereaved and the misled, but I’d suggest looking to the family instead of temporary playgrounds. Recess is over. 

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Comments  

0 #2 Bernard 2017-10-12 18:47
Good article Mike, Yep we've come a long way since our early years when we had to hide the Playboy Mag. from our parents. I went to a Playboy Club in Chicago once when I was traveling for the P.O. & had about 6 hours to kill before my flight to Huntington. I remember everything was 5 dollars. a coke, cup of coffee, a beer or a shot of Jack Daniels, 5 bucks. I was also surprised when my wife took me to "Hooters" for lunch one time when we were in Texas. Of course I didn't pay any attention to the ladies, ha. ha. Keep them coming & as always "Thanks for the Memories".
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-1 #1 Diane 2017-10-09 10:48
Good article! Good advice!
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