Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Viagra Pajama Party

At 83, Hugh Hefner in his Mansion is looking more like the faded silent-movie star of "Sunset Boulevard" than the host of the most swinging venue of the past century.

As a one-time draftee to be his successor as editor of Playboy 40 years ago, I'm bemused to see him, still in his trademark pajamas, popping Viagra and putting on a brave front even as the culture passes him by.

"This is one of the very best times of my life," he tells a New York Times reporter, whose reaction is "You want to believe him, but it is hard to ignore the realities of his business. Playboy Enterprises, hobbled by a shifting media landscape, is in need of heart paddles. On Tuesday, the magazine said it would cut the circulation numbers it guarantees to advertisers to 1.5 million, from 2.6 million. The company has lost money for seven quarters in a row."

In an era when nakedness is all over cable TV, Hef's Playmates and Bunnies are as retro as corsets and girdles, but the man who built an empire on daring to publish Marilyn Monroe's nude pictures in 1953 is in as much denial as the Gloria Swanson character in "Sunset Boulevard," waiting for Mr. DeMille to film the next closeup.

Nonetheless, with "three live-in girlfriends--each young enough to be his great-granddaughter," Hef is ready to go out in style as the crypt he bought next to Marilyn in a Los Angeles cemetery waits for him.

If there is an afterlife, it would be fascinating to overhear their conversations as she has "nothing on but the radio."

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