Gown star gone - Hugh Hefner, man of influence

UNLESS you lived in a society where the monochrome television station began broadcasting at six o’clock and closed at 10.30; where the idea of an active and pleasurable sex life outside of marriage was as remote as grand opera or real coffee, it is hard to imagine how very exotic Hugh Hefner, who died yesterday, aged 91, seemed.

Gown star gone - Hugh Hefner, man of influence

Hefner presented himself as a man committed — and successfully — to satisfying his Herculean sexual appetites. He was also the founder of Playboy.

Dressed semi-permanently in a silk dressing gown and

accompanied by a never-ending stream of spectacularly endowed young women, happy — or paid — to play arm candy to his commercialised Casanova, he advanced a lifestyle far beyond anything promoted by the Christian Brothers.

Hefner’s pornography-lite hardly raises an eyebrow now, but his magazine, founded in 1953, was one of the first mass-circulation steps along the road to the 24/7 internet pornography that seems so destructive and dehumanising today. It may not be immediately apparent, or acceptable to some, but he was one of the great influencers of his time.

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