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1966_04_23--096_SP Playboy Western World

Bunnies, and there is the Playboy Theater in Chicago, a film showcase that has the temporary distinction of being the only Hefner enterprise currently making no money. And of course, underlying everything else, there is the magazine, a plump, glossy, monthly mélange of fiction (good and awful), articles, sobersided crusading (THE PLAYBOY PHILOSOPHY), advice to the sexlorn and the would-be sophisticated, and pages and pages of nude or nearly-nude Playmates in glowing lithograph. Playboy's circulation soared past the threemillion mark in 1965, and the curve is still going up (3,770,000 for the March issue). Its sales last year were $28.5 million. All things considered, the HMH Company (Hugh Marston Hefner, president and principal stockholder) is estimated to be worth $70 million, and with its prospects bullish, Hefner had no qualms about signing a 63-year, $2.7-million lease on the new building in which 700 employees will commingle. Curiously enough, Hefner may rarely set foot in the new offices. For the last five years, while his staff operated for the most part out of its crowded downtown quarters on East Ohio Street, Hefner has spent most of his waking and sleeping hours in a four-story, brick-and-stone, turn-of-the-century house on a quiet street in Chicago's wealthy Near North Side. It is known to all Playboy employees as The Mansion, and it is the real heart of the HMH empire. Here is where Hef—as he likes to be called by the staff—performs his daily miracles and dreams the great Playboy dream and imbibes, so it is said, the sweet nectar of his success. Playboy frequently paints the scene in textand picture spreads. Hef in the seigneurial, 60-foot living room with its carved-oak paneling, presiding over a huge party attended by all the show-biz celebrities you can name; Hef inspecting a bumptious lineup of Bunnies who live right here in The Mansion, on the top two floors, paying a nominal rent and providing the right sort of could walk away from the whole thing anytime: ambience for Mr. Playboy himself; Hef demonstrating to a recent Playmate his Electronic- Entertainment Room, which is lined floor to ceiling with professional audio and video equipment, including a TV camera for home use; Hef showing off the downstairs swimming pool, a Polynesian paradise where the friendly Mansion photographer can always catch several deliciously nude Bunnies sliding into the 82-degree water; and Hef working, editing the magazine from a circular, eight-and-ahalf foot, motor-driven, revolving, vibratable bed in his inner sanctum, with a fire going in the fireplace and the house staff of 28 poised to attend to his every need. But is Hef happy? Have all his dreams come true? "I'm tremendously, completely fulfilled," he says. "I wouldn't trade places with any other human being alive now or in any past age." He is seated at the octagonal table in his private conference room in The Mansion—dark walnut paneling, thick green rug, long, low cabinets, corkboard on one wall. It is 5:15 on a Wednesday afternoon, and Hefner has just risen from bed. He wears gray slacks, white shirt open at the neck, a white cardigan, black loafers. He is 40 years old. "Success, I'd say, has to do with how close you come to the ideas you had as a child," he says. "I couldn't have imagined anything closer to what I've got now. Ideally, of course, you'd like to be completely on top of your success, and sometimes you find that it's on top of you a little, but any restrictions of that kind are self-imposed. I could just walk away from the whole thing anytime." The last statement is debatable. Hefner rarely leaves The Mansion these days. Even within The Mansion he is seldom visible, for the HMH Company's nerve center actually comes down to three rooms out of the 48 in The Mansion: the conference room; the white-carpeted bedroom; and the white-carpeted office a few steps down the hall where he writes the interminable PLAYBOY PHILOSOPHY (25 installments to date), sitting behind his L-shaped desk surrounded by a great sea of papers and magazines and books and manila envelopes and schedules and photographs and pamphlets. In addition to writing THE PHILOSOPHY, Hefner supervises every detail of the editing and layout of every issue of Playboy. Each page must be brought to The Mansion for approval. The other editors spend a good deal of their time waiting for The Word from their often inaccessible chief, but this is not because the chief spends his time in the steam room or the swimming pool or consorting with Bunnies. Hefner has 1,o life apart from the business, and no time for live Bunnies. It is true that there used to be a party in The Mansion every Friday, a party that Chicagoans used to think of as a Gatsby-like Bacchanal until they went to one and found that nothing much happened. But even the Friday-night party is a thing of the past. Hefner has lost interest in parties. He works around the clock, sometimes 30 or 40 hours at a stretch, eating when he remembers to, drinking bottle after bottle of soda pop, going to bed only when he is ready to drop from exhaustion, sleeping like a baby for eight or nine hours and then getting up and starting over again. On one recent occasion, for example, having risen and dressed at a little before five in the afternoon, he chatted with an interviewer until nearly 11 o'clock that evening despite several interruptions Three or four times a year there is a party for Bunnies in the 60-foot living room of The Hefner Mansion. The top two floors of the house serve as a hutch for two-dozen live-in Bunnies.


1966_04_23--096_SP Playboy Western World
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