Monday 19 March 2018

Amanda Brunker: Hugh Hefner has gone to the ultimate pool party in the sky...but this man is not to be celebrated

Amanda Brunker
Amanda Brunker
Amanda Brunker
Hugh Hefner at his nightclub in Chicago in 1961. Picture: AP
Rosanna Davison on the cover of Playboy
Rosanna Davison with Hugh Hefner
Amanda Brunker at the IFTA Awards 2015

Amanda Brunker

Hugh Hefner dead at 91, gone to the ultimate pool party in the sky.

Some people question if he really could be going to a better place. After all, the Playboy Mansion was his heaven on Earth.

With the announcement of his passing, an endless list of celebrities and fans have spoken of their sadness. Former Playmates Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Jenny McCarthy – and not forgetting Katie Price – all posted RIP messages on social media.

Rosanna Davison posted a photo of herself and him, complete with red smoking jacket, with the caption “Goodbye to the legendary Hugh Hefner. Rest in Peace x”. Hefner launched and relaunched the careers of many starlets and helped countless men get laid by bunnies at his garden parties.

Rosanna Davison with Hugh Hefner
Rosanna Davison with Hugh Hefner

While it’s a long way from Castleknock, Colin Farrell even made it to the infamous grotto of lust twice in the early 2000s, and described his visits as “a rite of passage” for a young Hollywood star.

While I’m sure Hef was a great supporter of the civil rights movement, as the Rev Jesse Jackson has tweeted, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he was one of the greatest manipulators of vulnerable women.

His son, Conor, has described him as a “media and cultural pioneer”, as have others. But really, he was a sex-mad entrepreneur who morphed into a dirty old man. He didn’t create the sexual revolution, but he certainly did profit from it.

Not to dance on his grave (which will reportedly be beside that of his first cover star, Marilyn Monroe), but a man who lured teenagers to his bedroom with alcohol and drugs and the promise of riches is not to be celebrated.

Hef liked them young. The younger the better. So why are so many people ignoring the obvious and lauding him as a great friend and a sound bloke? While I’m a big fan of having a good time and think porn has a place in society, I’ve always had major issues with how he marketed his Playboy brand.

Why nobody called him mad for putting his bunny logo on everything from kids’ T-shirts to jewellery infuriates me. Hefner made his brand mainstream and we let him get away with it. Playboy should never have been anything more than a top-shelf mag.

"Playboy" magazine founder Hugh Hefner poses with his six girlfriends (L-R) Sheila Levell, Izabella St. James, Zoe Gregory, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Cristal Camden on the red carpet after seeing the international gala premiere of Cirque du Soleil's new show "Zumanity" at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in this September 20, 2003 file photo. REUTERS/Ethan Miller/Files

While I never had any problem with the magazine – sure, it was what it was – it should never have been something little girls knew about.

Of course, it was his allegiance to big name celebrities that sealed his success. His friendships with men such as Bill Cosby should at least call his character into question, but it won’t to the masses. Who could ever forget Pamela Anderson turning up at his 82nd birthday party almost a decade ago in nothing more than heels to deliver his cake and sing happy birthday to him?

Clearly devastated, she posted an emotional video of herself crying on Instagram along with the words: “Outside of my family you were the most important person in my life. You gave me my life.” While the Hoff would probably argue that he gave Anderson fame and fortune through Baywatch, it was Hef who gave Pammie her first splash in his magazine.

Bizarrely, I almost had my own shot at bunny fame many moons ago when Playboy decided to do an Irish edition. I was scouted while covering the Playboy auditions for the Sunday World back in 2000. Doing that Oirish thing of fibbing, I told them I was carrying too much weight to do the shoot.

Amanda Brunker
Amanda Brunker

They said they’d give me a month to lose it and get back to me. Needless to say, I forgot all about it until I received a call four weeks later asking me if I was Playboy-ready. Thankfully, I mustered up the courage to say no outright that time.

While I might be a bit of an exhibitionist, baring my bits for £500 – that was the less-than-impressive fee they offered – was not something I was prepared to do. Even if they had added an extra couple of zeroes on the end, I wouldn’t have taken the offer.


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