Is there anything left to say about Hugh Hefner, the 84-year-old founder of Playboy. Watching the new biopic, "Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel," the answer, surprisingly, is yes. Canadian filmmaker Brigitte Berman reminds us that Hef is not just some old porn peddler wandering around in silk PJs ogling young lovelies. Once upon a time, beginning in the inflexible '50s, he was something of a revolutionary, a pioneering force for the social/sexual freedoms we take for granted. With the film opening today, we called Hef at the Mansion.
Q. The movie is very interesting - and very flattering.
A. (Berman) likes me. Most people who know me do.
Q. In the movie, Susan Brownmiller makes the case against you. Couldn't they find someone more glamorous?
A. You realize the implication of what you're saying, right? You're judging her on her appearance. You'd never say that about a man. (Laughs.) They tried to get Gloria Steinem, but she turned them down. I think Gloria has mixed emotions about me because her fame began with that undercover thing she did in the Playboy Club.
Q. Much is made about your legacy. Why don't you think people know more about your work in the areas of civil rights and First Amendment?
A. Ray Bradbury said it well a long time ago: People don't see the forest for the tease. Dr. Ruth, who's a friend, has said people don't take Hef seriously because of his lifestyle, and I think that's right.
Q. Why did you ever get married?
A. You are a rascal. I was trying to settle down. The good news is I got two wonderful boys out of it. I'm currently in a very good and happy relationship with Crystal Harris and there is conversation about marriage. But I fear it may dampen the romance, and what I'm looking for is romance.
Q. Is there any downside to being Hugh Hefner? I can't think of one.
A. I'm closer to the guy than you and I can't think of one, either.
Q. I feel like the E! show 'The Girls Next Door' caricatures you, diminishing some of the more serious work you've done.
A. The show became a global phenomenon and expanded the brand. But the real answer to your question is, yes, the lifestyle stuff gets in the way of the serious stuff. But it takes a certain amount of pretty ladies to get people under the tent.
Q. What's next?
A. I remain very active. This business keeps me young and alive.
Q. And in jammies.
A. Yes, that's also one of my accomplishments.
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