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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Faces of the week
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are HUGH HEFNER (main picture), with RAY NAGIN, DEE CAFFARI, CATE BLANCHETT and MR LORDI.

Hugh Hefner

With Playboy magazine's founder Hugh Hefner in Britain recently to celebrate his 80th birthday, the oldest swinger in town shows no sign of letting up on his legendary hedonistic lifestyle.

As countless comedians would put it, "You're only as old as the woman you feel." In that case, Hugh Hefner is 79. Not much of a story there, then.

Well, not until you realise that the old roué has not one, but three, live-in girlfriends currently ensconced in his legendary Playboy Mansion, the vast Gothic-Tudor pile which overlooks Los Angeles.

Holly Madison (26 years old), Bridget Marquardt (33) and Kendra Wilkinson (20), share the affections, and life, of the man many credit with spearheading the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Hugh Hefner and his three girlfriends
Birthday boy: Hef and girlfriends: Kendra, Bridget and Holly
Others see Hef - as he is universally known - as a filth pedlar and the instigator of universal moral breakdown.

The man himself is sanguine about his reputation. "I know I'm living out a lot of other guys' fantasies," he once confided. "But what you need to understand is that I'm living out my own as well. That's what it's really all about."

Hefner's rise personifies The American Dream, his greatest invention being, well, Hugh Hefner.

Born in Chicago on 9 April 1926, his upbringing could not have been more removed from the idyll of the hipster swinger it was to become.

Marilyn scoop

He reflected in 2000: "I was raised in a typical Midwestern Methodist home with a lot of Puritan repression.

"The dreams of my childhood came directly from the movies; they had more to do with romantic adventure and passion than living happily ever after."

After serving in the US Army during the final days of World War II, he read psychology and married at 23.

Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner: 80 years young
Drawn to journalism through a passion for drawing cartoons, Hefner worked as a copywriter at Esquire magazine before resigning after famously being denied a $5 pay rise. In 1953, with $10,000 raised from 45 investors, he launched Playboy.

The magazine's first issue, published in December of that year, provided one of the scoops of the century: a nude Marilyn Monroe. It sold 53,000 copies.

Centrefolds followed in 1955, then came the Playboy clubs, a syndicated US television show called Playboy's Penthouse, the Big Bunny jet airliner, casinos, hotels and resorts.

The 1970s saw Playboy hit the heights. Monthly sales of up to seven million copies made it a major player in the publishing industry.

But Playboy has always been about much more than bums 'n' boobs - although female nudes have remained at its heart.

Awaiting Beatty

It was, arguably after Esquire, the world's first men's lifestyle magazine, replete with heavyweight articles by writers like Norman Mailer, Arthur Koestler and Hunter S Thompson.

And then there were the interviews. Starting in 1962 with Miles Davis talking to a struggling journalist called Alex Haley - later to pen Roots - the magazine has also featured luminaries including Jean-Paul Sartre, Malcolm X, Vladimir Nabokov and Fidel Castro.

One of John Lennon's final interviews famously graced Playboy in January 1981, the month after his death. More recently, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Johnny Depp have all undergone the rigorous grilling for which the magazine is justly famous.

Katarina Witt on the cover of Playboy in December 1998
Skater Katarina Witt bared all in 1998
JFK and his brother Bobby both declined Playboy's offer. And Warren Beatty, perhaps the world's best-known playboy, remains the most famous living refusenik.

But, by the 90s, the Playboy empire had begun to shrink. The clubs and casinos closed, lads' mags brought new competition, as did the internet.

The refocusing of Playboy has its critics, who say that more flesh mean less literature and that Hefner's unashamedly libertarian pronouncements - on abortion, contraception and divorce - have become muted.


But, in a sign that there's still life in the Bunny, the Playboy Club - and the bunny Girls - are set to return later this year, with the opening of a new venue in Las Vegas. And Playboy.com, Hefner's presence on the internet, is a market leader.

But not everyone has been won over to his ethos. The magazine recently suspended its Indonesian edition following violent protests by a number of Muslim groups.

Muslim anti-Playboy protesters in Indonesia
Muslim protesters succeeded in closing Playboy's Indonesian edition
Hef's private life has been complex. After his first marriage ended in 1959, he devoted himself to a swinging lifestyle which included regular orgies and a period in which he experimented in bisexuality.

But, in July 1989, he tied the knot again, with Kimberly Conrad, that year's Playmate of the Year. This marriage failed in 1999, though the couple have not divorced.

Since then Hefner has enjoyed the polygamous lifestyle which endures today.

And, when the time comes to go to the Great Bunny Club in the Sky, Hefner plans to do it in style, spending eternity in the vault next to Marilyn Monroe at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in LA.

Today, asked to sum up his love-life, Hugh Hefner gives a disarmingly direct answer:

"He makes love to his girlfriends, plural. And he thanks God for Viagra."

Re-elected: Ray Nagin
Ray Nagin

New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, pulled off a surprise victory in the mayoral elections this week. After being heavily criticised in the wake of last year's Hurricane Katrina, Nagin defeated Mitch Landrieu, the white Lieutenant-Governor of Louisiana, and son of a local political dynasty. Most blacks, who make up two thirds of New Orleans' population, voted for Mr Nagin. Nevertheless, he only scraped in with a 52 - 48% majority.

Dee Caffari: On terra firma
Dee Caffari

A dream came true for 33-year-old English gym instructor Dee Caffari when she became the first woman to sail non-stop and solo around the world against the prevailing winds and currents. Hundreds of supporters including the Princess Royal gave her a heroine's welcome when she arrived in Southampton. Fighting back the tears, she fell into the arms of her mother. Later she said "I don't think I've ever been happier."

Dylan date: Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett is to play none other than Bob Dylan in a forthcoming movie. The Australian actress will be one of six actors to portray the musical bard in what the makers say will not be a biopic but an "evocation of Dylan's various persona, his public image and what he expresses in his songs". Blanchett will portray him as an androgynous star, before his 1966 motorcycle accident. Richard Gere and Heath Ledger will also star.

Mr Lordi: Beastly breakthrough
Mr Lordi

Dressed like a cross between a Viking warrior and an orc from Lord of the Rings, lead singer Mr Lordi led his band Lordi to spectacular success in this year's Eurovision Song Contest. The heavy metal band from Finland sang Hard Rock Hallelujah to Euro victory dressed in latex monster masks and with sparks flying from their guitars. Mr Lordi declared afterwards: "This is a victory for rock music and also a victory for open-mindedness."

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Andrew Walker


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