by Shelton Bumgarner
While he wasn’t perfect, Hugh Hefner was a personal hero of mine and influenced me in ways large and small. My personal politics are pretty much the editorial page of Playboy in about 1976. Anyway, with his death, Playboy is at a crossroads. I have a little time on my hands and so I’m going idly muse on my personal vision for the great publication that he founded. I have written about most, if not all, of this before but I feel like talking about it again now that Hefner is dead.
If I had any control over Playboy, I would try to bring back its coolness factor from the ’50 and ’60s. I would bring back the old Playboy TV show, maybe in partnership with YouTube or NetFlix and restore the brand to its glory days. I think there is a huge market for that old school cool and if they did a regular show that featured cool people talking about cool stuff and great bands, then people would respond.
Additionally, I would re-imagine the Playboy ideal. As it stands, for decades, the Playboy man has supposed to covet the attention of the “girl next door” who was hot and surprisingly easy given her ostensible persona. I would do something cool like obsess over Ilana Glazer and make her the “mascot” of the publication. She’s not your traditional beauty, but she’s very sex-positive and she would fit perfectly with the modern concept of the type of woman the Playboy man is supposed to lust after.
All of this would be in the context of trying to turn Playboy.com into the second coming of Gawker.com. If Playboy wants to be relevant again, it needs to flip the script, shake things up a little bit — or maybe a lot — and get people talking about it again. And the best way to do that would be to hire a lot of former Gawker writers and get them to rile up the elites with thought provoking commentary. That’s the thing about Playboy right now — it just doesn’t really generate all that much buzz like it used to. It’s a “legacy brand” as they say, and as such it’s more something a middle-aged man like me likes as opposed to the 20 somethings whose attention advertisers long for.
I would also suggest that — in conjunction with Ilana Glazer — the publication go into video in a big way by maybe having Glazer be a roving reporter for them in little shorts. She’s probably really busy right now and it might cost a bit more than expected to get her to do it, but the cost would be worth it. She would bring instant buzz and street cred back to Playboy in a big way. I know I talk a lot about Glazer sometimes, but she’s a personal favorite and I enjoy thinking up new and different ways to exploit her great personality.
Anyway, thanks for the memories, Hef.