Once upon a time, there was a magazine called Perfect 10. The claim was that it offered high-quality nude photography of women who hadn’t been under the knife. The second part of that claim was mostly true.
I knew a number of Playboy models who’d been asked to appear in the magazine when it was getting started, and without exception they were creeped out by the founder and his auditions. Basically, he wanted a private show before he’d consider paying them to appear in his magazine, despite the fact that they were all experienced professional nude models with ample portfolios.
The one that sticks out in my memory was a Playmate from 1989 who was well-known for her lush natural figure, and was extremely popular in Playboy’s videos and special editions. He invited her in and asked her to show off the goods, then rejected her for “just not being pretty”.
Gosh, I wonder how he treated women who weren’t already successful models! (actually, I don’t, because I heard rumors about that, too…)
The consensus was that in his mind he was the next Hef, but in reality he was sleazier than Guccione.
My opinion of Hef is colored by my Playmate acquaintances as well, in a mostly positive way. Even decades after posing for the magazine, a lot of them retained affection for the man, often in a “god bless him” kind of way. There was a lot of bitterness about the company’s actions over the years, and there were plenty of less-affectionate stories, but for the most part, they still liked Hef.
Now, this was a self-selected subset of Playmates still willing to associate themselves with their centerfold and show up at autograph shows, but at the time that amounted to more than 1/3 of the women who’d ever had a staple through their navels, so if even half of them still liked him, he was no Harvey. A lot of former Bunnies had good things to say about him, too, and their experience working in the clubs.
The other comments that stick out in my memory were the ones that I started to hear after Hef moved his wife and kids into the mansion next door and restarted the partying. All his old pals from the glory days showed up and expected everything to be the same, and the result was that the younger Playmates stopped showing up unless they were still under contract, because being hit on by old men creeped them out.
One fresh young model who’d been getting popular in the newsstand specials found herself banned from the parties (and further work with the company) when she failed to return the affection of one of Hef’s Old Pals. And he made it clear to her that this would happen if she didn’t put out, because he knew people.
Not that it was all one-way. When Leonardo DiCaprio first showed up at a mansion party, he was so smothered in eager models that he could barely breathe through their titties. And this was no more surprising than the other stories…
Side note: the single most common story I’ve heard about mansion parties was not about anyone’s behavior, but about the fact that there was only one set of bathrooms available to the guests. Ask a Playmate about the mansion, and the first thing you’ll hear about is the long line to pee.
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