Hef & the Culture Wars

    There are a million words to be written about the misogyny of Hugh Hefner's mission, many already being jotted down. There's a lot of humor and contempt to be had still for a grown man that liked hanging around in PJs far into adulthood. There's something to be said for his early civil rights support, as testified by Dick Gregory and others. And that lead me to the territory I'd like to address, as it goes to the crux of our recent NFL morass, the need for BLM, last year's election, and a host of other issues.

    Hefner founded the Playboy Club in 1953, not in tinseltown as we recall today but in Chicago, the thriving center of the Midwest.in our still glorious post-war phase. It was a conservative place in a conservative era. It's easy to think of the 50's as some Happy Days thing, Richie Cunningham all fresh and speckled, I like Ike kind of lovely romance with paradise and God-given but deserved success. But most here know that dream of the suburbs and the lucky trip to Vegas was a hyped-up myth, that the house didn't pay out nearly as often as stated, that half the "lucky ones" strolling in and out were shills. And instead of carefully crafted Walt Disney features and Elvis rockumentaries, it was as much about Lenny Bruce and Last Exit to Brooklyn and Naked Lunch and the  National Guard called out to LIttle Rock to enforce integration and McCarthyism and tons of other foul stuff covered with a sanctimonious wholesome totally marketed image in a Golden age of marketing. This was "Family Values", aka "we're Christian and you're not".

    And then there's Holden Caulfield's attempt to reconcile his naïve nice guy outlook with his own sublimated but developing sexuality and coming of age, reflective of the same cultural conflict that split the 50's - nice young man? lecher and scoundrel? or somehow both?

    There were other movements afoot, the flirtation with Buddhism of the Glass family, the new restless nomads and uprooted people as seen in Kerouac, a greater understanding of sexuality as researched by Kinsey, great leaps forward in genetics, a lot of concern about Communism including fear of "the other" at home, and a lot of what would be referred to as "cultural relativism", said bitterly, not embracing those Victorian moral tenets that were still expected to be carried out in its somewhat diluted American version, that Norman Rockwell vision of what we thought we looked like.

    Hefner's club and magazine were a strike into the heart of America's religiosity, its "moral compass", its "way things should be". While it was certainly geared towards males, it was straight to what males shouldn't be doing, what Christ and the Church and any morally sensible person would condemn. Even though the Hays Code held sway to a great extent, this and other affronts were largely a chink in the monolithic morality code left to the 50's - sex as entertainment rather than procreation; nudity beyond the midriff; mention of body parts and bodily functions...

    It was during this time that Lenny Bruce was arrested for saying Eleanor Roosevelt had nice tits. As Lenny changed humor and comedy, Hefner changed attitudes towards publicly acknowledged sex and nudity. While the infantile humor in the magazines was always about the male pleasure and voyeurism, it was inevitable that it would spill over into what women wanted, both in sex and out, which is again an abomination in conservative circles and the traditional values clan..

    In a large way, Hefner pissed off the guys we associate with the uptight J Edgar Hoover, the Billy Graham followers and instead was one with the new Hollywood and Vegas casino types that epitomized so much of 60's glitz and sleaze that was so threatening and horrid to the values set.

    To some extent, this milieu was the origins of the culture wars that have raged ever since, that fueled so much of Goldwater's and Reagan's (hypocritically contrived in actor Ronnie's case), that got solidified in tolerance for rampant sex and blacks and gays and drugs and later segued into non-support for the Vietnam war and long hair and protests and everything else.

    The God-fearing types were not amused, and while the now LA-bound Playboy empire took off, in tune with both "the new hedonism" and people who simply were following the growth and turns in literature & science & psychology/sociology & new religion. One was rooted heavily in the Bible, recasting everything in that light through stretched metaphors and hopeful thinking as needed to match a 6000 year old codex with a rapidly evolving world outside, and the other was on an often excitable and fast-paced journey into the future with no specific limits, where 2001: A Space Odyssey and Electric Koolaid Acid Test and the Woodstock Festival could hold as much religious feeling and relevance as Sodom and The Flood or Pope Pius' canon on birth control or potent cultural/religious mixed strictures against miscegenation.

    Hefner helped set this wheel rolling - the steady trend towards atheism or universalism, the other freedoms and liberal attitudes that follow when a major proscription on enjoying your and other bodies is lifted, including free speech and liberated outlook. It's certainly not the whole story, but if you think of Hefner's urban chic club and persona and ideals of monied sex-and-drug fueled decadence, it's like a flaming affront to the traditional hard-nosed Christian, the rural God-family-country type that can't get hs or her head around the fact that a country ballooned to 320 million will have more than one face, more than one ideal, and certainly will go by more than one book.

    So when we think of our political fight with the Jerry Falwells and Newt Gingriches and Paul Ryans, think a bit in terms of what Hugh Hefner created and how that was a prototype for much of what they'd rail against however hypocritically for the next 65 years.

    And for the female side of things, 1 anecdote highlights the inevitably depressing lobsided nature of this struggle. While comedians like Lenny Bruce, with Hefner and others' help, were able to usher in new freedoms in comedy for cursing and coarse & taboo subjects, and writers like Burroughs and Ginsberg used their censorship trials to help push book speech in new directions, and directors like Ross Meyer moved sexploitation subject matter  into the main stream that influences our tastes today, it wasn't until *2014* that Amy Schumer was able to get Comedy Central to allow her to say the word "pussy" in a show. "Dick", no problem. And then 2 years later, Donald Trump comes along and you can say "pussy" anywhere. Life's funny like that, eh? But without Playboy, it's hard to see the Cosmo Girl happening, and the fading of the whole virgin before marriage nonsense, and it played an important role as a forum to discuss important issues, perhaps through its unifying i(f sometimes covert) attraction to men of all political persuasions. 

    And what's also funny is that besides the often excellent writing  and interviews of early Playboy, we're also seeing the dumbing down of our culture as the breadth of knowledge and ability to express oneself takes a hit to 1/5th the eloquence and insight of any self-respecting artist 50-60 years ago. I was comparing George Michael's original Freedom - tastefully done with that era's supermodels, dark, meditative, provocative, moody - with a post-mortem remake that substitutes lots of nervous jiggle for everything that made the original great. Because not only do we have a culture war with the "family values" set, we have a continual culture war with ourselves. It's not about whether people appreciate what happened 60 years ago - it's whether they substitute it with something of equal or more importance. And while the struggle with the old south or the moral majority or other factions may eventually fade, our struggle to healthily and interestingly recreate ourselves, to break unneeded and artificial bounds, will always be with us.

    However mixed Hugh Hefner's views and methods and results were, he did help us take a step towards freedom, self-knowledge, an advance in the culture wars. If you'd asked me 2 days ago who were the top 1000 important people of the last 50 years, I wouldn't have even thought of him, but somehow in retrospect he seems like an important catalyst for change, even if that change seems a bit stymied and awkward and misdirected at this point.

    It's also the flawed matter we have to work with. I was invited to a professional business networking group at a local Playboy Club not long ago, and I futilely tried to express that this would be insulting and uncomfortable to female professionals, and that I couldn't see inviting any female colleagues to such a milieu - to no avail. To paraphrase the great Dorothy Parker, "you can lead a horticulture, but you can't make him think". And these days we seem to have more whores and pimps than culture, but perhaps it's just a lack of appreciation or a passing phase. We've passed through droughts and hidden springs before.


    All true, but I can't help thinking that other people, many other people, moved the sexual revolution forward in a less compromised and demeaning way. I feel like Hef used other people's movement as cover for his upscale pimping, and now his obits give him credit for leading a movement that he drafted off of and made look less credible.

    Hefner was to the Sexual Revolution what the undisciplined rioters who tagged along at the end of some of MLK's marches were to the Civil Rights Movement. He glommed onto someone else's movement, made trouble for it, and then wanted credit for his association with it.

    Hmmm, well, until I hear who those other people were, it's hard to comment, except he was hardly an undisciplined rioter, nor did he seem to be a johnny-come-lately. I think it's easy to criticize him without misrepresenting him, just like other bands were playing rock and blues like the Beatles but they came in like a tsunami. Playboy certain stands out as a rather large iconic influence of the times.

    I think I was careful to say Hefner wasn't the only one influencing this scene and these liberties-cum-changed-values. "Upscale pimping" is one appropriate way of looking at it, but then what is Hooters or Victoria's Secret or Ross Meyer movies or a "beauty" pageant or Las Vegas or football cheerleaders? Did Playboy increase, decrease or leave the same the objectification of women? Did the greater acceptance of nudity make society better, worse or just someplace different? Did it provide any different avenue for women or was it largely a wash or a detriment?

    And my bigger point is simply that this type of influence on redefining culture was a huge factor in the changed values that have created our current red-blue split. Again, he didn't do it all by any means, but he created a pretty known institution that was in the middle of it.

    This is a very good thoughtful and well-written essay. I am not in total agreement that you describe an accurate picture of him as a culture warrior, but your essay has helped me refine my thoughts on this. 

    Immediately I felt your emphasis on him upending the whole "family values" thing wasn't quite right. I see it this way: it was the later coarseness of Guccione's Hustler that angered the family values crowd because it directly attacked their values. Hefner tried to avoid this by promoting an upper class playboy lifestyle and clean nice nudes, not dirty exciting ones.

    I thought: what you and others might be forgetting what the original Playboy brand was set to do. That's easy to do because it has become so ingrained in our minds as representing the mainstreaming of nudie cuties. But the original brand was: to allow all men to fantasize about being wealthy cosmopolitan playboys. Now was this anathema to 1950's American "family values"? Not really. Just like women had the choice of becoming a housewife mom or an old maid career woman (usually a schoolmarm, but you could be a doctor too if you really tried hard) or nun, it was a choice for boys-to-men of the day to be an upstanding family man or you could if you tried really hard, be an international playboy bachelor who had a sports car, an intellectual life and lots of babes instead of having to do the rat race thing to support the kids and the white picket fence and the barbecues in the suburbs.

    Playboy allowed for this fantasy. What it did to the men of that time is reflected well in the plots and characters of Mad Men.What made me think of this is one of my favorite novels from the period, Evan S. Connell's Mrs. Bridge of 1959, and then of course other similar works like Updike's Rabbit series, Cheever and Mailer, etc. Where the post-war ideal of a new nuclear suburban family is already breaking down, not lasting for more than a decade. And where the private country clubs that signified class were stifling straitjackets.

    Playboy said to men: you don't have to chose between being that boring man in a grey flannel suit, white picket fence thing or being a working class sleazy demimonde (Last Exit to Brooklyn or film noir sleazeball cops and robbers to have a fun life. You can still be CLASSY as a PLAYBOY.

    The magazines and the clubs made what used to be considered sleazy pinup trash into something CLASSY. It was about class, making sex and what used to be considered pornography "classy." Husbands with their wives could temporarily partake of the playboy lifestyle without breaking up the whole white picket fence thing, get dressed up for a night on the town with the bunnies waiting on them, as long as the wife was cosmopolitan intellectual, Dorothy Parker ish (or Jane Bowles, to name another character of the type we have discussed).

    Playboy was not intended to break down the whole structure. Their scrupulously followed rules of what was permissible to show in centerfolds and what was not.

    Hustler unashamedly showed it like lustful sex was considered then: sleazy, intended to break down family values, bursting the Playboy bubble intended to make it all classy.

    It is about class.To the majority, it was okay if it was "classy".  I think again of Mrs. Bridge. She and her country club friends were wont to label the sleazy world, the place were things like pornography and crime and extramartial sex took place as "Tobacco Road", from Erskine Caldwell's 1932 novel about sharecroppers. Hefner was trying to make sex part of the high class cosmopolitan world, enable more than "white trash" to partake.  Hence, market the intellectual fun life of a "playboy". Nothing threatening about it to the status quo, just adding fun to the mix.

    He gets too much credit for culture wars, I think. He tried hard not to offend the status quo culture.The "swinging sixties" would have occurred without him. The love-ins would have happened without him. It was because all the kids were going to college now and learning about how many Europeans had long lived (not to mention denizens of "the Village".) Didn't want the white picket fence, didn't need the rat race. The kids, and their meddling with race issues and war issues and women's issues, from reading all that crazy stuff at college, were the ones who really caused the sexual revolution. Hefner tried to co-opt them, but I don't fall for it that he was the cause. He started out trying to sell being a playboy as one lifestyle choice, a high class one, that was not a revolutionary thing. He was still buying into the system.

    I think you misunderstand me a bit. Yes, youre right that the playboy was the image and goal; the bunny just one of the trappings. I remember my parents in this once every 2 weeks night out at the lounge (not playboy, but essentially this moment of freedom in an otherwise plodding suburban life). The culture wars was not a Hefner creation - it was the post-war split of urban-and-suburbanization of the rural culture, the less religious career man - Lost Weekend and all that - vs the southern crackers and midwest small town folk and the others who were God-fearing Nixon voters hippie haters etc.

    Playboy was a prominent symbol of one aspect of thus - so was Breakfast at Tiffany's, Las Vegas, etc. Oddly we thought hippie culture and Vegas culture were at odds, but they were more into the now and the breaking of old ties than this left-behind crowd who got left with the bitterness. Big city life passed them by. Nudity and sex are just one aspect, but a prominent symbol of decadence and fall from grace for Jerry Falwell and Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson. Unwanted children and abortion are the natural result of this heretical abomination, this shunning God's lessons. Black poverty is self-defining - God's judgment as well. People wonder how the military fits, but in the Old Testament God's always backing some huge army or other, or giving the puny guy the power to slay his foe. Just another sign of being blessed.

    So while I think our values differ greatly from what Hefner was selling, I think curiously we were on the same side in this rift, since it's been pointed out more than once or twicw that our side's a mosaic while theirs is largely monlithic and monotonic.

    We are definitely on the same wavelength. Thanks for elaborating; this is precisely why I enjoy interacting with you on the culture issues so much, that we are on the same wavelength and don't have to bother with the starting points, but can challenge each other on the finer points.

    Great essay and response, PP & AA. I also don't think you're very far apart. Cultural revolutions generally include mainstream and fringe currents, and I imagine that both are necessary to create change.

    And to Cleveland's point, agents of change are not necessarily admirable even if the change itself is beneficial (or perhaps a mixed blessing).

    Adam Gopnik** @ The New Yorker: Hugh Hefner, Playboy and the American Male....he took the heterosexual male gaze and commodified it...

    **wikipedia: Gopnik studied art history and with his friend Kirk Varnedoe curated the 1990 High/Low show at New York's Museum of Modern Art. He later wrote an article for Search Magazine on the connection between religion and art and the compatibility of Christianity and Darwinism. He states in the article that the arts of human history are products of religious thought and that human conduct is not guaranteed by religion or secularism.[3]      Artappraiser's translation: he comes out of the 1980's heyday of postmodern revisionist art history which famously included emphasis on feminism and "the male gaze".

    There's an article open under my many tabs that ptresentsv Darwin as "Survival of the Prettiest". A must read.

    Survival o' Prettiest - Darwin's most despised theory. Paglia I think might approve.

    I only read Playboy for the pictures!

    (One hundred thousand readers) ha

    Actually, I used to read the editorial section all the time as a teen following my use of tissue?

    Racism is wrong.

    Jim Crowe must die forever.

    Poor folks are not always responsible for their poverty.

    Rich folks have the ability to pay responsible taxes.

    Homosexuals are not anathema to our society.

    Free speech is a right given directly from our Constitution.

    There should be a separation of church and state.

    Most of our Founding Fathers were Deists and not Fundamentalists.




    I've always thought Playboy was a fetish magazine for men whose kink is women with huge breasts. I think you'd have to call it a fetish when one considers the breast size of the Playmates was abnormally large when compared with normal breast size for women. The standard was so atypical that many of the Playmates had to resort to implants to reach it.

    Perhaps PP is right. By mainstreaming the fetish for abnormally large breasts other fetishes, like bondage, spanking or golden showers might become more acceptable.

    Well, some folks

    Love pork chops

    And some folks

    Love ham hocks

    And some folks

    Love vegetable soup!

    A quote from a song by Playboy cartoonist Shel Silverstein.

    Hefner, evidently, loved big ones.  Are you suggesting that the enormous breast implant industry developed and expanded as a result of his predilections?  If so, then Hef's influence was even larger than I thought, and more enduring.

    I don't think Hef was pushing his predilection on uninterested men. Attraction to abnormally large breasts isn't rare. The Freudians will tell you it's all about lack of breast feeding /shrug who knows? I hadn't really thought about it but it's likely the popularity of Playboy influenced the expanding breast implant industry.

    I'd be careful about trivializing prostitution and mangling several situations, even though I don't care if you call Hef a pimp of sorts.

    First, the prostitutes I'm worried about are desperate, often beaten and drugged out, sometimes immigrants brought in with their documents then taken, etc. 

    If a woman who's not under duress wants to sell her body, that to me is her business, whether she particularly enjoys the sex and the environment or not.

    2) Work is often a transactional affair, including bodies working in sweatshops and coal mines under horrific unhealthy conditions. Taxi and truck drivers pump speed to keep going, as do nurses, while football players end up walking medicine chests and lobotomies. Even in the entertainment fields we end up with the Judy Garland was notoriously pumped full of drugs to keep filming and Marilyn Monroe ended up a mess, Amy Winehouse taking her failed rehab to hitdom and the grave. Where the Mansion turned this into a drugged out orgy of hooked and largely nowhere-to-go people, I don't want to make excuses, but many chose to be there, chose the work and the "family", accepted the sexist tawdriness of it all. I hate Vegas, but many people love it - I won't deny them, aside from supporting or demanding certain basic ethics and laws.

    3) Even marriages are frequently transactional, whether we call it "love" or not - someone who's good enough looking, can pay the mortgage and take me to dinners and the occasional vacation, makes me laugh sometimes, doesn't bore me too much or cheat (too much?), doesn't ignore the kids too much. And occasional excitement in bed. Many marriages end up in spousal abuse and irresponsible bankruptcy, some have sex as the only reason while probably more end up as loveless routines. YMMV, in all human interactions. We can separate flings and normal sex and childhood infatuations and long-term dating now from marriage, no longer with virginity tests - an improvement from the 50's.

    4) Fetishes - well, that's a loaded word like "cult". Perhaps big breasts is a fetish, or just a preference. Penthouse was described as size B girls who tried harder, or maybe were just airbrushed less. But if people like golden showers or facials or spankings or whatever, great for them as long as they work out the consenting part. That perhaps to me is the most significant contribution Hef's enterprise made was supporting the idea that adults could do what they want in private at least and it was none of our business if not abusive. The wild times of hippies in the 60's and swingers/disco partiers in the 70's and hookup culture ever after likely cemented that much more than the aging irrelevance of Playboy over time. Sex is normal, doesn't need to be private, nudity is normal and doesn't need to be continually sexualized, vaginas and penises - even erect - don't have to be stygmatized or overly glorified - including interracial and homosexual, and where health and psychological well-being and normal maintenance require, need to be taken care of and discussed openly.

    5) yes, Hef was a sleazeball, and I know someone who emulates him as best he can and I still feel the same ick personally. But while many of Douthat's complaints are accurate, the fact remained that Hefner built this more on the willing rather than the coerced or abused, good ol'American commerce, and for those problems we need to build a more attractive enlightened model, not just begrudge that humans are slimier than hoped.

    A very good essay.

    I, of course, read Playboy for the tits, like everybody else, but it introduced me to a whole range of writers and thinkers that I might not otherwise have read.  It also had a left-leaning slant (of which I was unaware, as a teenager) which was much rarer back then than today's media standard.  Hefner took stands, and Hefner took risks.

    One of his standard contributors was cartoonist Shel Silverstein.  I was astonished to find that he became a folkie songwriter ("Hey Nellie Nellie", "A Boy Named Sue"', most of the Dr Hook songs), and a children's book writer, since I had associated him with teenage visions of sleaze.

    I have no patience with whites who complain about art being insulting to blacks, or men who complain about pictures being insulting to women.  I suspect the Playboy Bunnies, on the whole, enjoyed what they did, same as beauty pageant contestants.  If they didn't, they can speak for themselves.

    You mentioned the 1000 most influential people of the past 50 years.  I think Hef is a definite.  Even of the past century.


    "they can speak for themselves" - ah, but will anybody listen? It's not til a white man comments that it matters, sadly. Look at Puerto Rico - if only they were white like Texas...

    Texas dicks over Houston - too black, too Dem. This is war, folks. People are dying.

    They can speak for themselves? OMG how is it possible you can comment and not know they have spoken for themselves over and over again. The pay was low. The costume with it's high heels and corset were painful. The groping by drunk patrons was just a normal part of the job. As the "bunnies" rose in the ranks and got close to Hef the job paid much more but prostitution was required. Like all prostitutes when they talk about their "johns" the prostitutes that were part of Hef's coterie all claim sex with Hef was disgusting. That's what the bunnies said when they could speak for themselves.

    I find the whole thing amusing. The man we're admiring for fighting sexual oppression who created the illusion of a playboy was mostly paying for it to his coterie of prostitutes. I guess before you can get to the free love part you have to pay for it.

    Ross Douhat in his column @ NYTimes.com does a major takedown of the sleazy side of Hugh Hefner that grew as he aged. It's quite over the top but I think done very very well,, no doubt because he's so passionate about the topic And in it he's quite intellectually honest about it as far as both conservative and liberal complacency and enabling and denial as regards it.

    As much as I tried earlier in this thread to stay objective about the cultural history, I gotta be honest and say it: he always came across to me as sleazeball. And Ross gets this quite well, down to the ickly smelly shag carpeting. (If you've ever been to like, Graceland, you get this part.) I just don't feel he did the playboy role very well, there was something very sleazy about him, and the whole mansion thing and even the short lived TV show, like just plain: YUCK. Not at all a real playboy, more like a real phony. And creepy! No Rubirosa, Aly Kahn, Valentino nor Ian Fleming, to be sure, not even close to a Warren Beatty.  I didn't get why celebs, artists and intellectuals, and liberals as well, that I admired would hang with him, it couldn't possibly be charm, he didn't have any, I couldn't see any, and I felt like they were selling themselves out.

    I want to be clear that I didn't feel this way about his products. I never felt the magazine nor the clubs nor even the bunnies to be sleazy in that same way. (Yes, I get all the other issues, objectifying women and their body parts, etc., that's different, something else, other issues.) Just the Hef persona, always struck me as sleazy and creepy from the first time I set eyes on same as a teen. A phony loser trying to pretend slick playboy, that is how he always struck me. And Douhat really pegs it all, taking it much further to encompass the whole Playboy empire than I do, of course. As well as decrying the effect on the culture, which I don't agree with as much. But some of his descriptions are just spot on for me.

    With 2/3 of white men voting Trump this last election, I'm not sure creating the "Modern Man" is the achievement 50's Hefner would have applauded. Somehow we didn't advance as far as hoped, and don't seem to be so open and free. Or as Lennon once said, "still fucking peasants as far as I can see...."

    Also an interesting take; thanks. I've got to give that some post-war men might have felt that way, that it was their liberation movement.

    thank you for sharing that, I am always interested in what she has to say about pop culture issues, especially ones from her youth which she has thought about (and babbled steam of consciousness about, hah!)  the longest (she's about a decade earlier than me,  so she supplies a view of things for me which I only experienced as a kid, and therefore may have warped.) The part on Trump being influenced by Hefner world view was very intriguing, I think she is supplying some nuance there that a lot of us have been missing.

    Wow, simply wow. A lot to digest, thanks Lurker.

    I tried to convey some of this, the Midwest aesthetic, etc. I do think she airbrushes quite a bit. She talks about the horrors of the breakdown over the intern thing, but ignores that the whole bunny thing *is* that intern, that secretary, that girl given up to a man's definition of their standing. Hef never went to work, but all those mothers and daughters did, both stay-at-home cook and clean, and the next-generation of the non-manored and the employed. That's why Hef's world faded so quick, as did the post-war comfort zone.

    One thing hit me that I've always noticed coming from Europe, that many girls make themselves too unattractive and too uninteresting to breed. I mean going out in crappy stained bland white t-shirts or awful uncombed hair or otherwise simply not playing the game and showing no basic self-respect. Not Saturday morning, though even there there's a limit, but even Saturday night  - it just simply doesn't happen in Europe like this - women will always take that moment at least.

    Someone said something over here one day, "that's the first time some girl mentioned her boyfriend and it wasn't a come-on". Kind of the direct antithesis to "no means no". In another world, "no" was always a challenge, understood by both sides to some degree, not a final word, though there are definitely rules to what's acceptable or not in pursuing that challenge. That tango is expressed beautifully in Once Upon A Time in America, where DeNiro's character can never rise to the needed seduction, to the male role in his life-long love, always makes his selfish mistakes, and then substitutes a pathetic obscene desperate violation for what should have been an erotic culmination.

    That's probably the Trump part as well  - he wants to be Hef, but you don't imagine Hef abusing his toys, ruining the setup, just as you don't imagine Trump understanding or enjoying the jazz or the stereo and car or the intellectual discussion - his money took him from cover to foldout, workers bringing in gold crap everyewhere with no finesse. He'll always be the grasping boor from Queens, and it shows, so it's painful to see this boorishness succeed. Not in Chicago, not in LA, not really even New York, but in the hinterlands the unsophisticates took his seelf-evident carny seriously.

    Steinem was fighting against Larry Flynt's version of violent rape and murder porn, not just Hef's fuzzy bunnies, and Paglia skips over the abhorrent sexism of the traditional Italian world - similar to Hef's comforting mama mansion and girl next door and never growing up. It's funny that I never got the Peter Pan naīvete of Holden Caulfield until I helped my kid read Catcher, nor grasped how it applies to the not-properly sexed, either the eunuched or the undeveloped puerile, insufficiently erotic. Parties of frat boys indeed - how the world is stymied.

    Her take on objectification and art is illuminating and the gay example illustrative. I think it's ironic that we're having a much easier time codifying gay rights than women's or racial minorities. Is it our latent love of Greek classicism?

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