The death of Hugh Hefner is the death of eroticism. His iconic Playboy, that hit the news stands in 1953, completely glorified sexuality. We tend to look at things from the prism of false morality and the Grundyism of our age can never accept the in-your-face nudity. He ridiculed our collective and indoctrinated ethical values and elevated a female figure in its full naked splendour. Detractors may say that he objectified women and relegated them to commodities.
It's an outright mistaken perception. Hefner showed that a woman could be an object of lust and wonder simultaneously. A woman's body is nature's most beautiful creation. Hefner eulogised that creation and tried that we all should also admire this magnificent creation sans the encumbrances of clothes and impediments of faux societal ethos.
The difference between raw sexuality and creative eroticism is often a bit nebulous. Hefner made no attempt to deify a woman's body because a naked woman needs appreciation of men as well as women, not their deification. His playmates, right from Marilyn Monroe to Erica Simpson, demanded the same spontaneously forcecful admiration from predominantly male gaze.
When Sherlyn Chopra of India shed her clothes for Playboy's centrespread a couple of years ago, she admitted that she felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and acceptance from the readers, nay viewers.
Hefner was not a manipulator or an exploiter of women. He was their catalyst to catapult to stardom. Many Playboy playmates went on to become famous models. In other words, he provided a launching pad to them. To judge a feminine figure, one doesn't just need a pair of eyes, but also an inner sense of aesthetic evaluation. He assessed a woman with that innate aestheticism and that's the reason, even bawdier magazines like Penthouseand Hustler couldn't present their women with such naked aplomb.
This was his greatest legacy and the best quality that Hefner had. His own undiminished sexuality and indefatigable virility lent a dash of sexual adventurism to the magazine which's still read and viewed by innumerable connoisseurs.
Mind you, his magazine was not all about female sexuality. There're other features as well which are far removed from sex and so-called 'vulgarity.'
Who can forget Playboy's famous and most perspicuous interviews which enthralled cerebral readers over the years? In December 1966, Playboy'syearly issue carried American non-white novelist James Baldwin's long and perceptive interview which's considered to be one of the finest creative interviews of all time.
There were also famous Playboy jokes, which're racy, raunchy and readable every time they appeared in its jokes section.
Alas, the Indians could never find this magazines in this country but people like yours truly still managed to get smuggled copies of it.
We, the lovers of feminine beauty, will always remember the man with respect and doff our hats to his gumption for being an unabashed admirer of explosive female form.
Au revoir, Hugh Hefner. We'll sorely miss you.