Fan Fare

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Hef the feminist


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.