Hefner, the Playboy of the Western World, was a visionary publisher, an empire-builder, an avatar of pleasure, and a pajama-clad pipe-smoker with a pre-coital grin. In 1953, he published his first edition of Playboy, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover and her nude calendar inside. He obtained the rights for $500 with money borrowed from his puritanical Nebraska-born mother.
In addition to his role as a 'tasteful pornographer,' Hef became a cultural warrior, fighting government censorship all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Post Office refused to deliver his magazine to its subscribers. As the years and his notoriety progressed, he became an advocate of abortion, LGBT equality, and the legalization of pot. Eventually, he engaged in 'pubic wars' with Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse, which cut into Hef's sales.
During his heyday, some of the biggest male stars in Hollywood, including Warren Beatty, Sammy Davis, Jr., Mick Jagger, and Jack Nicholson, came to frolic behind Hef's guarded walls, stripping nude in the hot tube grotto before sampling the rotating beds upstairs. This ground-breaking biography, the latest in Blood Moon's string of outrageously unvarnished myth-busters, is the first published since Hefner's death at the age of 91 in 2017. It is a provocative saga, rich in tantalizing, often shocking detail - definitely not for the sanctimonious or the faint of heart.
Playboy's Hugh Hefner: Empire of Skin offers an approach to understanding Playboy icon Hefner that goes beyond the empire he built to consider his lasting impact on sexuality in America, delving into his approaches to entertainment and male privilege (among many other considerations of his life and influence). Readers must throw out any preconceived notions about what a Hefner biography would look like in order to consider the multifaceted approach of Playboy's Hugh Hefner: Empire of Skin because it toes the line between a gossip piece and a broader inspection of Hefner's authority. It should also be mentioned that this is no light piece. Over five hundred pages of facts about Hefner are culled from some 50 years of research from a former bureau chief and entertainment reporter at the Miami Herald. Playboy's Hugh Hefner contains a satisfying blend of factual reporting and discussions of affairs, Playboy politics, and Hefner's psyche, motivations, influences, and ambitions. Readers who want to learn more about either Hefner or the Playboy empire's evolution, and who like their facts couched in a gossipy tone of drama to create compelling insights and reading, will relish Playboy's Hugh Hefner, and won't consider its length to be daunting. Black and white photos of people, places, and memorabilia abound, complimenting and breaking up text and providing a fine visual embellishment to interviews and Hefner's own perceptions of himself ("Whether it was true or not, Hugh Hefner liked to fancy himself "The Father of the Sexual Revolution" that swept across America in the 1960s, particularly in the latter years of that tumultuous decade."). The result is spicy, revealing, fact-based, and compelling: the kind of reveal read that appears weighty and daunting, but proves to be accessible, involving, and hard to put down. Playboy's Hugh Hefner is highly recommended reading for anyone who would learn more about Hefner, his world, and his times.--Diane Donovan, Editor, California Bookwatch & The Midwest Book Review "California Bookwatch & The Midwest Book Review, December, 2018 editions "