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Author Watts, Steven, 1952-
Title Mr. Playboy : Hugh Hefner and the American dream / Steven Watts
Pub Info Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2008
Book Cover
LOCATION CALL # STATUS
 General Collection, 2nd floor  PN4874.H454 W38 2008    CHECK SHELF
Subject Hefner, Hugh M. (Hugh Marston), 1926-
Journalists -- United States -- Biography
Descript. ix, 529 p., [24] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm
Bibliog. Includes bibliographical references (p. 455-514) and index
Note Includes 1 folded color plate
Contents Boy next door -- pt. 1. Beginnings. -- A boy at play -- Boot camp, college, and Kinsey -- The tie that binds -- pt. 2. Ascent. -- How to win friends and titillate people -- Hedonism, Inc -- The pursuit of happiness -- An abundant life -- Living the fantasy -- pt. 3. Triumph. -- The philosopher king -- The happiness explosion -- Make love, not war -- What do women want? -- Down the rabbit hole -- Disneyland for adults -- pt. 4. Malaise. -- A hutch divided -- The dark decade -- The party's over -- Strange bedfellows -- pt. 5. Resurgence. -- The bride wore clothes -- All in the family -- Back in the game -- Epilogue: Playboy nation
Summary Gorgeous young women in revealing poses; extravagant mansion parties packed with celebrities; a hot-tub grotto, elegant smoking jackets, and round rotating beds; the hedonistic pursuit of uninhibited sex. Put these images together and a single name springs to mind--Hugh Hefner. From his spectacular launch of Playboy magazine and the dizzying expansion of his leisure empire to his recent television hit The Girls Next Door, the publisher has attracted public attention and controversy for decades. But how did a man who is at once socially astute and morally unconventional, part Bill Gates and part Casanova, also evolve into a figure at the forefront of cultural change? In Mr. Playboy, historian and biographer Steven Watts argues that, in the process of becoming fabulously wealthy and famous, Hefner has profoundly altered American life and values. Granted unprecedented access to the man and his enterprise, Watts traces Hef's life and career from his midwestern, Methodist upbringing and the first publication of Playboy in 1953 through the turbulent sixties, self-indulgent seventies, reactionary eighties, and traditionalist nineties, up to the present. He reveals that Hefner, from the beginning, believed he could overturn social norms and take America with him. This fascinating portrait illustrates four ways in which Hefner and Playboy stood at the center of several cultural upheavals that remade the postwar United States. The publisher played a crucial role in the sexual revolution that upended traditional notions of behavior and expectation regarding sex. He emerged as one of the most influential advocates of a rapidly developing consumer culture, flooding Playboy readers with images of material abundance and a leisurely lifestyle. He proved instrumental--with his influential magazine, syndicated television shows, fashionable nightclubs, swanky resorts, and movie and musical projects--in making popular culture into a dominant force in many people's lives. Ironically, Hefner also became a controversial force in the movement for women's rights. Although advocating women's sexual freedom and their liberation from traditional family constraints, the publisher became a whipping boy for feminists who viewed him as a prophet for a new kind of male domination. Throughout, Watts offers singular insights into the real man behind the flamboyant public persona. He shows Hefner's personal dichotomies--the pleasure seeker and the workaholic, the consort of countless Playmates and the genuine romantic, the family man and the Gatsby-like host of lavish parties at his Chicago and Los Angeles mansions who enjoys well-publicized affairs with numerous Playmates, the fan of life's simple pleasures who hobnobs with the Hollywood elite. Punctuated throughout with descriptions and anecdotes of life at the Playboy Mansions, Mr. Playboy tells the compelling and uniquely American story of how one person with a provocative idea, a finger on the pulse of popular opinion, and a passion for his work altered the course of modern history. Spans from Hefner's childhood to the launch of Playboy magazine and the expansion of the Playboy empire to the present. Puts Hefner's life and work into the cultural context of American life from the mid-twentieth-century onwards. Contains over 50 B/W and color photos, including an actual fold-out centerfold.--From the publisher
ISBN 9780471690597 (cloth)
0471690597 (cloth)
9780470521670 (pbk.)
0470521678 (pbk.)