SECRETS OF PLAYBOY PRODUC T I ON .
SEX SYMBOL The Playboy Bunny has become an iconic symbol, mass-reproduced the world over
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Fans of the series will be pleased to know that talks of a Season 2 are underway – but this of course means more stories must be uncovered
I n 1952, a man quit his job as copywriter for US men’s magazine Esquire . He was fed up, following the denial of a $5 pay rise. Taking matters into his own hands and raising over $8000 – including from both his brother and mother – he went ahead and launched the inaugural issue of Playboy magazine. The man in question is, of course, Hugh Hefner. Spearheading a sexual and cultural revolution, at the peak of its global success, Playboy sold over seven million copies monthly. Hefner’s endeavours undoubtedly initiated a standardised model of explicit content as we see it today; and he is seen as the pioneer for a movement that contributed to the liberation of women’s sexuality. But it’s always been a very contentious argument, with many over the years left wondering if the lines between freeing women and objectifying them were blurred by the Playboy brand – and Hefner’s notorious lifestyle. CULT-LIKE REGIME The Playboy Mansion could more appropriately be dubbed a metropolis than a home; a whopping 70-room, brick- and-limestone ‘Gothic-Tudor’ residence. Immortalised as some heavenly temple, it was where Hefner lived with his harem of women for over 40 years.
“I was lead cinematographer, as well as co-director, so prior to going out and filming, I was able to do a great deal of research and be part of story meetings”
Famed for his lavish parties – with celebrity guest lists and socialites – the mansion was also known for the Playboy Bunnies (women dressed in revealing outfits, with ears and tails), who waited on the partygoers. What truly took place within the confines of the mansion had largely been a mystery; Hefner and his associates keeping a strict hush-hush on events that unfolded. Since Hefner’s death in 2017, a growing chorus of women have shared their truths about what took place there. A new docuseries, Secrets of Playboy , seeks to provide those voices with a platform. It sees former Playboy models and Hefner’s ex-girlfriends speak of the bizarre regime within the luxurious house. Describing it as not dissimilar to a cult-like mentality, there is an emphasis on Hefner employing what are know today as ‘love bombing’ tactics, to maintain a structure of power and censorship. Speaking to co-director and DOP of the new series, Arlene Nelson ASC,
it was quickly evident that presenting information of this calibre to the world was no simple feat. “I was lead cinematographer, as well as co-director, so prior to going out and filming, I was able to do a great deal of research and be part of the story meetings,” she explains. “We all had assignments of what we had to dig deep into. This led to me discovering one subject that the production had been unable to find – Hefner’s personal valet.” AN INSIGHTFUL SOURCE A key source of information, the valet provided a rare and insightful perspective. He explains how he brought the Playboy founder a sex schedule to the bedroom every day, with details of which women he would be having sex with and what outfits they should be wearing. He additionally claims that Hefner didn’t just participate in all of the sexual activities, but also directed them.
51. APRIL 2022
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