The year 2022 has produced several successful documentaries. The series "Secrets of Playboy - Im Ban von Hugh Hefner" wrote particularly big international headlines about the dark side of the "Playboy" founder. From November 29, the highly acclaimed documentary will premiere on the on-demand channel Crime Investigation Play, available on Amazon, Apple and ScreenHits TV. In it, the glorified myth is deconstructed in great detail, which has spun around Hefner, lavish parties in his Playboy mansion and "bunnies" happily jumping around.
An eternal rogue in a bathrobe and with a pipe in his mouth, surrounded by scantily clad women. An elderly playboy who knew how to enjoy life to the fullest and died on September 27, 2017 at the age of 91. This is how many people, some gentlemen enviously, must have perceived Hugh Hefner (1926-2017). That is not surprising. Since founding the men's magazine at the age of 27, Hefner has cultivated a reputation as the said playboy who "sold women a seductive package of sexual freedom," as one of them puts it in the documentary.
However, there was sometimes a huge gap between external representation and reality, in which the documentation now ruthlessly applies the surgical retractor. Was Hefner really the sexual liberator he made himself out to be - or was it an exploiter? Women understander or sexist? Certainly none of Hefner's former companions, who have their say in the documentary, do so for "15 minutes of fame", asserts ex-girlfriend Sondra Theodore (65) right at the beginning of the series. "Who would willingly throw themselves under the bus for that? I just want women and young girls to think twice about what they're doing." Because out there there is always the next Hefner - the next "devil" - who has it in for her.
What the former playmates and employees of Hefner reveal in the ten times 45 minutes of the documentary, sometimes in tears, has it all. Sexual assaults, manipulative abuse of power and, last but not least, drug use were the order of the day within Hefner's empire. What was not capitalized there? The full consent of the women with whose bodies "Playboy" became a worldwide success.
At the same time, the documentary shows how Hefner earned his reputation as a progressively thinking man. In the days of "racial segregation" in America, his playboy clubs were open to everyone. "He created an atmosphere in which black people were allowed to mingle - who did that besides Hugh Hefner?" asks an African-American friend of the "Playboy" founder. The decades-long allegations by feminists that women of all skin colors are simply being demoted to objects by the magazine, Hefner always skilfully smiled away. Did his "bunnies" really enjoy the promised freedom? Or was this just so vehemently fooled into playing that the Playmates believed it themselves without a doubt?
It speaks for Hugh Hefner's incredible power structure that those affected only dared to go public after his death. His influential contacts throughout his life were too far-reaching. The fear of having to pay dearly for this breach of loyalty as a sworn member of the "Playboy" family is too great. Anyone who enjoyed the goodwill of "Imperator" Hefner spent most of his life in his orbit. But in the end he saw everyone as his "servants" who had to play by his rules. There are sentences in "Secrets of Playboy" regarding Hefner's manipulation mechanisms that could also come from a series of disclosures about cults.
The success of "Secrets of Playboy" was such that two special editions followed the ten episodes of the documentary. The former "Playboy" cover girl Lisa Guerrero (58) moderates the two specials that work up the media quake that caused the documentary. This recap will also be available on-demand on Crime Investigation Play starting January 24th.