Monday, December 27, 2010

Will Hef make it to the altar?

I’m not about to mercilessly mock Hugh Hefner for getting engaged yet again, even though a part of me isn’t sure this stunt is something real.

For one thing, the founder of Playboy magazine and all its business offshoots is of an age where I seriously have to wonder if he’ll make it long enough to have a wedding. Unless the engagement that was announced on Christmas Day (via Twitter, by Hefner himself) is going to result in a quickie wedding.

NEW YEAR’S EVE in LasVegas? Hefner could be wed by an Elvis lookalike, with a Wayne Newton impersonator standing in as the “best man.”

If you think that image is a bit cheesy, I’d say it is totally in character with the event itself.

For what we have here is an 84-year-old man deciding that his current female partner in life ought to become his legal wife.

People all over the Internet have been making snide comments about the age difference (such as how he’s old enough to be her great-grandfather, or one person who wrote on their own Twitter account “Does Hugh Hefner realize that his fiancé was younger when ‘Schindler’s List’ came out than he was when Schindler’s actual list came out?”

PERSONALLY, I SAY that if Hefner can actually attract women that much younger than himself and they both want to go along with this, then why not? It’s their life.

If it turns out that Hefner’s bride-to-be (who would be his third wife, intermixed with many thousands of girlfriends, mistresses and one-night-stands throughout the decades) winds up somehow taking the company for some sort of serious financial settlement in the future, then that is Playboy Enterprises’ dumb luck.

Hugh Hefner's latest "fiance" wasn't even alive when the ultimate underage girlfriend ruled the Playboy roost.

For all we know, we could someday see a court battle right here in Chicago to try to undo such an act (Hefner daughter Christie, along with husband – and former state legislator William Marovitz – both are Chicago residents). Such a trial could very well get screwier than the legal hijinks we saw last summer in U.S. District Court when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was on trial.

The reason I’m finding this “story” so laughable is that a part of me really feels like it’s somehow a fix. A stunt, meant to draw attention to Hefner or Playboy, the company.

THE IDEA THAT Hefner feels the need to have a legal wife at this stage in his life feels almost like the time that then-Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman let it be known he would be involved in a wedding. Sure enough, at the appointed time and place, he showed up wearing a wedding gown. It was all a stunt to promote his attempt at autobiography.

Then again, Rodman was once married to the actress Carmen Electra. So I guess anything is possible.

One part of this saga amuses me – the age of the bride. Just about any account of Hefner’s life will recall his relationship back in the 1970s with aspiring actress/singer/model Barbi Benton, whom he supposedly started dating when he was in his early 40s and she was 18.

She supposedly told Hefner she had never dated anyone in her life older than 24, to which Hefner is famously said to have replied, “Neither have I.”

IT SEEMS THAT some things don’t change. For the “bride-to-be” is, depending on which source one wants to check, either 23 or 24. Perhaps Hefner is maturing in his old age? Just a few years ago, any woman trying to gain the magazine publisher’s attention would likely have been about 19.

If Hefner really wanted to scandalize us, he’d get himself engaged to an 18-year-old. Then, we’d find out in the days after the wedding that she had lied about her age and was perhaps only 17.

Just picture the image of the police being called out to the Playboy Mansion. Underage girls! Hef taken away for possible prosecution! Let’s not forget that Cook County officials once tried to prosecute Hefner and Playboy when one of its girls turned out to have fudged her age upward a few months to appear to be 18. It could be a case of, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

So what should we truly think about the fact that Chicago native (who hasn’t actually lived among us since before the Days of Disco) feels the need to take on another wife – one who happens to be six decades younger than himself? I haven’t named her in this commentary, mainly because I can’t tell any of the Hefner women of recent decades apart – they all fit that generic bleached blonde look. The only one that had any real personality of her own was the one who later married a football player now with the Indianapolis Colts.

IT STRIKES ME as being more trivia that got attention beyond its significance because it became known on a slow (the Christmas holiday weekend) news day. I’m sure there are people who give it extra credence because it was initially learned about through Tweeter – although I consider that to be a source of trivial blather (Did we really need to know that the Sunday night movie shown at the Playboy Mansion is “The Fighter”)?

If anything, what shocks me the most about this whole thing is that it makes me realize how long the whole Hefner persona has been with us. After all, the original ultimate underage Hef girlfriend was Benton herself, who next month will turn 61.

Now, the two would be the perfect pair age-wise. The only scandal would be that Hef was messing with a married woman. Then again, that would fit the Playboy image of old just as well.


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