‘Secrets of Playboy’ Reveals Hugh Hefner’s Cruelty in Shocking Detail

In the seventh episode of Secrets of Playboy, a new documentary series about the founder of PlayboyHugh Hefner, Miki Garcia, a former playmate and former head of promotions for the brand, recalls an unidentified woman who thought she would “bridge the gap [dentro de Playboy] in the modeling industry.

“He turned cocaine addictGarcia says. She “she was so thin that she looked like she could die at any moment. Her teeth were gray. She needed help. And she didn’t want to be written off.” Between sobs he continues: “I wanted to save her. It was worth saving.”

But Garcia remembers being told, “You shouldn’t go give him food. You’re not going to pay her rent. She got into that mess and Hefner doesn’t want anyone to deal with it.” Her voice becomes high-pitched as she adds indignantly, “Can you imagine that? After all the money she made off that girl? She didn’t even want to feed him. Shame on that son of a bitch.”

When asked what he did, Garcia tells an interviewer: “I did [darle de comer]. I did it anyway. Garcia recounts that he eventually “begged” the woman to leave her house, which she did, and that Garcia “almost got fired several times for doing what she wanted.” [ella] made”.

This is far from the most outrageous accusation against Hefner in all 10 episodes. from Secrets of Playboy. It’s not even the most shocking, or the most sordid. But he is revealing of the culture that we are told he created as the magazine’s founder: a culture, according to several participants, marked by the rampant drug usethe sexual assault and control. I’ve seen the Serie in its entirety (currently airing weekly on A&E). Garcia’s testimony is the one I keep coming back to. There is something so casual about the cruelty he describes. The culture Hefner created, we are told, is one that turned common decency into an act of resistance and kindness into a moral failure that could cost you your job.

Secrets of Playboy can be hard to see. the accusations they accumulate, from accounts of rape and sexual assault to claims of bestiality. The Playboy Mansion, it is alleged, was a surveillance site, with “cameras everywhere.” Hefner once referred to Qaaludes (a sedative) as “thigh openers,” says her former “main girlfriend,” Holly Madison. Hefner allegedly has a “mountain of revenge porn” that has left her afraid to leave the mansion forever.

Playboy, we are reminded, came into conflict with second-wave feminists who opposed what they saw as the magazine’s objectification of women. Personally, I don’t think porn or sex work is inherently exploitative. I agree with the Human Rights Campaign that “criminalizing adult, voluntary and consensual sex, including the commercial exchange of sexual services, is incompatible with the human right to personal autonomy and privacy”. And I agree that criminalization does little to really help sex workers, but rather exposes them to “abuse and exploitation by law enforcement.”

There has to be a way to criticize Hefner and the culture we’re told he created without blaming porn or sex work-adjacent occupations. porn was not the problem. Erotica wasn’t the problem. The idea of ​​sexual liberation was not the problem. The way Hefner chose to do those things was the problem.

I have to imagine that it was possible to publish a magazine without living with the models in it. I have to imagine that it would have been possible for Hefner to continue her activities in Playboy without surrounding himself with a cohort of “girlfriends”. The fact that he chose to do those things when he shouldn’t have it was a huge red flag that we collectively ignored because Hefner told us it was cool.

It’s not just the models. Some participants who had jobs in Playboy They say that they were seduced by the idea of ​​working for the company, of having the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. In the 1960s and 1970s, this perspective must have had quite a powerful influence. But that ambition, we are told, was used against the people who worked there. “The ‘Playboy’ fantasy that [Hefner] created did not allow women’s consent,” Garcia says in a sound bite so concise and revealing that it made it into the documentary’s opening credits.

Playboy it found its greatest momentum in the early 1970s, a time of rampant and institutionalized misogyny. The circulation of the magazine peaked in 1971, when its base rate (the circulation that a publication guarantees advertisers) reached seven million. The best selling number it came out in November 1972, when it sold 7.16 million copies. Both milestones occurred before the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that guaranteed the right to abortion in USA It happened after women were technically allowed to have their own bank accounts, but before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 made this right a reality by making it illegal for financial institutions to discriminate on the basis of gender (before that, the banks still could, and did, refuse to issue credit cards to women).

Hefner died in 2017. Some of the accusations against him surfaced while he was still alive, but no real reckoning was ever reached. Now, it is important to acknowledge his personal responsibility. But he is an example of a bigger problem. He evolved a system that enabled it over and over again: by creating a layer of protection around himself, by making women feel like they wouldn’t be believed if they came forward against him, and by allowing him to turn fantasies into life’s nightmares. real.

Throughout the series, there is a sense of “of course”. Of course, a man who builds an infrastructure that allows him to live surrounded by young, often vulnerable women whose ambitions he has the power to fulfill (or not) would produce dire results. How could we not see it? How could we have been so willingly blind for so long?

Perhaps because it is a story we would like to believe. Perhaps because it is not entirely unreasonable to want to live in a world where men can surround themselves with women without seeking to exploit them. But this is not the world we live in, as he relentlessly reminds us Secrets of PlayboyOne testimony after another.

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‘Secrets of Playboy’ Reveals Hugh Hefner’s Cruelty in Shocking Detail