Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Hef the feminist

September 13, 2009

hef(writing and reporting by Cameron French)

Hugh Hefner — media mogul, millionaire lades man, porn baron, feminist icon.  …

Umm, feminist icon?

That last description doesn’t exactly jump to mind when discussing the founder of Playboy magazine and its numerous adult-oriented offshoots in publishing and on television. Yet, a new documentary screening here at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist & Rebel” shines a different light on Hef’s past — his work in the feminist and civil rights movements — and considers the notion that his Playboy empire has been a vehicle for female empowerment.

It might be easy to snicker at that premise, but the crowd at the film’s premiere gave Hef, who arrived with three blondes whose combined age doesn’t match his own, two standing ovations after the screening.

In fact, the only booing or catcalls came when one audience member asked Hef a particularly badly-worded question, wondering who would carry on Hefner’s work now that he is in the “very final chapter” of his life.

Hef, who at 83 years-old is looking his age but appears as sharpwitted as ever, snapped back: “My mother lived to 101.” 

His answer drew another round of applause from the crowd which, perhaps surprisingly, appeared largely middle-aged and about half female.

What is an interesting question, however, is exactly what Hefner’s legacy will be: 1) Porn king or 2) feminist and free speech icon? Or, maybe both. Want to weigh-in? Give us a comment below.


you are Joking, the man who promotes Harems is a complete control freak when it comes to females. From his own mouth,”I can sleep around but she must be loyal, loyal to what, certainly not a man who promotes female rights.

Posted by Sharon | Report as abusive

I just saw a film at the festival, and wish I had seen Hefner’s. How very noble of Hefner to have answered such a question! Sounds as if there are a lot of jealous and resentful people out there. I am happy for Hefner’s success. People all need to find their own happiness and focus more on it these days. Life is too short to be so grumpy !!!

Posted by Tania | Report as abusive

I think if you can’t see all the work that Hef has done to improve the life of not only the women at his side but, women at large then your blind! For those nay sayers have you read anything he has written, have you looked at a magazine, have you done any of your own research? A man like Hef whose IQ was well in the 150′s at the age of nine and whose heart was shatterd by the infadelity of his first wife will of course view sex differently than most. The women that choose to stand by him knew that before going into the relationship. He is by far the hottest man I’ve ever seen in Hollywood and I would give anything for a night to learn more. Be open minded…that’s what he’s all about, from the looks of works!


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