Age IS just a number. Like all numbers, you can add it, subtract it, multiply it, and even divide it…as in divide it by the age of the women who share your bed.
As a feminist and humorist, as well as a lover of all things culturally kitschy, I recently discovered the E network’s ‘The Girls Next Door’ about the three women whom Hugh Hefner claims are his girlfriends. Like so many reality shows of this sort, the framework involves some activity in which the women are put in revealing clothing and/or are nude (the naughty parts are pixated for the family hour). They are then interviewed about the activity, such as judging women eager to be Bunnies at the new Playboy Club opening in Vegas. It is a given that they say over the top positive things about Playboy and their favorite AARP member, Hefner.
I do not have a problem with women who take off their clothes for whatever reason. If they are getting paid for it, then jolly good for them. Take advantage of it while people are still willing to pay you to do it. I don't even have that much of a problem with Playboy despite of its perceived exploitation of young women - I doubt many were coerced to display themselves. Even if I did have a problem, it is not like the Playboy organization is going to go anywhere. It is an American institution that will survive long after its founder pops his last Viagra.
My issue is that I’m supposed to believe Hugh is ‘servicing’ three girlfriends at the age of 80 plus. Sure he is. Even with a double dose of Vitamin V I find that a rather large pill to swallow. A man at his height of physical fitness, might find it difficult to satisfy three comely lasses, but at 80? Pleeeze.
We all know Hefner as an icon, the ultimate Playboy dressed in a silk robe and slippers, smoking a pipe, and living in a mansion full of the full breasted, but the Hef of the 70’s is a far cry from the Crypt Keeper Hef of today. He resembles a dear little man whose relationship with the ‘Girls’ would almost be endearing in a grandfather/great grandfather sort of way if they didn’t give him pecks of appreciation on the mouth. As a viewer, my ovaries tend to shrivel up when watching these scenes. I can’t help but wonder what goes through the girls' minds as they give ‘Puffin’ (as the primary girlfriend calls him) some love. Do they think Puffin smells too strongly of Ben Gay and a soiled depend? Yes, it is a given that some women marry for money and I know that one particular profession is known as the world’s oldest, yet I can’t for the life of me think that there is enough gold in Fort Knox worth snuggling up to Hugh Hefner. Of course, the premise is that this trio of blonds are not the sort of women who normally live next door to you in the cul de sac.
After the fear of AIDS struck this country, Hefner famously married one of his Playmates of the Year and that union resulted in the production of two sons. Then Viagra hit the market and Hef put wifey and the chitlans in the house next door and resumed his reign as the modern day Caligula. At one point he had seven so-called girlfriends hopping around tending to his needs. With advancing-advancing age, Hefner narrowed his payroll to three, which in this era of multi-media resulted in a production deal with the E network.
Holly Madison (kind of like Dolly Madison, but without the concept of Republican motherhood to keep her brain active – Republican motherhood as defined by our foremothers, not Republican motherhood as defined by upscale mothers who drive SUVs) has been with Hefner the longest and is also the most deluded of the three. She believes that someday she and her Puffin are going to waddle off in the sunset (she in high-heeled go-go boots and he in a walker). In the season that just aired she celebrates a five year anniversary party with her beloved. Also invited to the party are a bevy of young beauties who have taken a night off from sliding down the stripping pole to come over to the mansion. The festivities include transforming the dining room into ‘The Melting Pot.’ Apparently Puffin can still eat (gum) fondue.
For reasons that have never been clear, Holly talks about her responsibilities in the mansion. Besides actually sharing a room with Puffin, (ewwww, at least the other two have their own rooms) I don’t understand what her work load is except to act as if she is ‘first wife’ in this obvious stab at polygamy minus the religious glue that tends to hold these unions together. Suffice to say, Holly is dumber than a brick. The only interesting thing about her is that she has come to think of one of the monkeys (Hef keeps a small zoo in his backyard) as a surrogate child.
The second in line for Hefner’s pleasuring is Bridgett Marquardt who is going to graduate school for a communications degree (I believe she has reported). Of the three, she seems the most real, the person who you would welcome as a neighbor. I base this on primarily by the way she supports friends and wraps gifts (using creative techniques that are worthy of Martha Stewart – I kid not). I saw her on some paranormal celebrity show and she came off as being fairly sane. Ergo, she is the brains of the operation and I can’t help but ponder her reasons for being with Hef. I’m afraid she might be selling herself short as a future trophy wife, but then again, some trophy wives are collector’s items.
Kendra Wilkinson is the youngest of the three and has the most personality, although she makes Holly look like a brain surgeon in comparison. She just turned 21 this past season, which means for you mathmagicians, her age could be divided four times into Hef's. Holy Great-grandfather parading around in the night looking for a pudding cup! Like Bridgett, Kendra has some career goals outside of forever sleeping with Hef. She is an odd mix of sports fan/rap ho and often walks around marveling at the creativity of the other sister/girlfriend/wives commenting on how Holly’s purchase of fish as an anniversary gift to Hef was inspired, “Who would have thought about fish?” she shrills. Yes, who indeed.
I tend to hope that Kendra does head off into doing something in the physical fitness world (she claims an interest in doing workout DVDs) versus becoming the next Vivid Video star. I like her well enough that I want to see her doing something better with her life than maturing into an over the hill former Playmate.
What I find extremely perplexing, to the point of actually writing a short story based on my consternation, is how both Bridgett and Kendra have their mothers, grandmothers, and step-fathers come to the mansion as if it is okay with their parents that they are becoming celebrities based on the fact that they know what Hefner looks like naked. It reminds me of how Pricilla moved into Graceland with Elvis while she was still a high school student. Between the laughter and double entendres at some point during these visits do their mothers double dose on their Zoloft prescriptions?
What really makes this show work are the glimpses behind the scene at Playboy Inc.. Regardless of my feelings toward Hefner as a potential f*^k buddy, I think he has been loyal to the women who have worked for him since the early days of Playboy back in Chicago. His secretary has seen girls come and girls go and she continues to work for Hefner probably for a hefty paycheck. She suffers the ‘reality’ cameras but you can just see it in her eyes that she considers euthanizing Holly might be the humane thing to do. Once Holly said she had a secret that she didn’t want Puffin to hear and the secretary replied with the authority of a woman who knows a man too well, “You don’t have to whisper, he can’t hear anymore.” Holly continued to whisper, it might have been about the fish, but the secretary just smiled knowing that Holly’s fate is probably not that of the next Mrs. Hefner...especially considering that her Puffin is still married. As I watched this weathered face of a wise crone studying the fairy tale believing peroxide dunce in front of her, I could not help but think how Hugh Hefner is beyond lucky to have the continued allegiance of such a woman. I guess some men are lucky that way.