The Reloading of Hugh Hefner

A sea of bobbing tits -- mammoth, firm, erect and attached to stunners in lingerie and spiked heels -- fills his party. One shiny pair floats by in white, fluffy pasties with soft pink over the nipples, like frosting begging to be licked. Two of his seven girlfriends all from the same bottle kiss his face as two others giggle and grind before him. The rest preen and pose vying for their place next to the 75-year-old birthday boy and reigning attraction of this star-studded pajama bash at the Playboy Mansion.

While most men his age are busy trying out hearing aids and suffering incontinence, Hugh Hefner is busy, as he likes to say, living "every adolescent boy's dream." The Playboy website boasts that the twice-divorced bachelor and aloof father "has everything any red-blooded male could want." Grinning and grooving before the cameras, he probably gets off more on being seen with his adoring flesh-baring ingénues than he does during any Viagra-fed climax.

But the media eats up the new-millennial Playboy's version of ultimate sexual conquest, referring to Hef as "the envy of every man." Musicians and Hollywood insiders have once again made hip the robed redux and his revamped bachelor pad. Vanity Fair recently ran a two-page photo spread of a laughing Hef and his cloned, toned siliconed babes in play under falling confetti, as if in midst of one big everlasting party.

"They're all the same woman, aren't they?" asked my husband innocently when he glanced at the leggy blond bunnies all in lacey white lingerie. Reportedly Hef's old buddies wonder aloud how he can tell them apart. But having multiple cloned lovers in one bed is the well-crafted fantasy. And the problem.

No, I'm not talking about the objectification of women and its contribution to the plastic surgery, cosmetics and peroxide industries. But the cloning of men's sexual ideal and how that shapes their attitudes, relationships and, even, identity.

When Hef and his platinum, painted entourage go clubbing, young male admirers shout, "Hef, you The Man, you the Mack Daddy." Indeed he also epitomizes manhood in a hip-hop culture that trumpets gold, mansions, limos and compliant bitches. Dr. Dre with Eminem sings, "What's the difference between me and you? How about five bank accounts, three ounces and two vehicles." The ho's will follow.

Another arbiter of manhood, and Hef heir-apparent, is Maxim publisher, Felix Dennis, who has five homes, five Rolls-Royces, and a "Rolodex of mistresses." With "Sex. Sports. Beer. Gadgets. Clothes. Fitness" as its tag, Maxim sells more than Playboy and Penthouse combined. The British lad rag, along with it's bro magazine, Stuff, and others like Arena, supposedly permits guys to be guys, which mostly means dirty jokes and lots of boobs.

Despite its market penetration, Hef protests this new Brit invasion. "Playboy isn't like the downscale, male-bonding, beer-swilling phenomena that is being promoted now by some men's magazines," says the lecherous Peter Pan. "My whole notion was the romantic connection between male and female."

Uh huh. Since romantic connection engages the intellect and soul as well as other erogenous zones, Hef's notion of romance must be as stunted as Playboy's depiction of sex. Although for nearly 50 years he has advocated free speech and sex as a "natural, normal, healthy part of life," his latest Viagra-popping, clone-boning persona certainly rejects natural and healthy. "The single most important thing in every man's life is sex," says Hef. Yeah, but what does sex mean and what does it have to do with Playboy?

Along with America's chastity movement, the past decade has reborn the cliché that all men are dogs sniffing for a warm place to stick their dicks. Evolutionary psychologists and male apologists "scientifically" reduce all men to little more than heat-seeking missiles. Guys can't help it. It's a biological fact; they're hardwired to spread their seed. One how-to book insists that "Man spends his life in one of two basic states: loaded or unloaded." Never trust what a loaded man says (since he will say anything to unload in you), the single male authors warn women looking for love.

Whatever. I've known too many men as individuals to condescend that what all men want is to find a hole to unload their ever-building wad. Sure every red-blooded male loves sex, but sex can be way more exciting when involving more than genitals. Hef may never move beyond adolescent aspirations when it comes to sex, but it would be nice if the media would. I'm not saying that men can be more. I'm saying men aremore.

Despite cultural messages and even cloned fantasies, men are human and want what everyone ultimately wants -- connection, intimacy, empathy. Of course my view is limited because I don't happen to be a guy. But neither are a lot of men I know.

Lara Riscol is writing "Ten Sex Myths That Screw America," a book she began while completing a master's degree in contemporary issues and public policy at the University of Denver. Write to her at sexaware@home.com.

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