Q&A with Hugh Hefner: the patron saint of Viagra is featured in a new Canadian documentary

Q&A with Hugh Hefner: the patron saint of Viagra is featured in a new Canadian documentary

Hugh Hefner and a Playboy Bunny on the red carpet for the premiere of Hugh Hefner: Playboy Activist and Rebel  

Bachelors descended on the Toronto International Film Festival in droves Saturday as Hugh Hefner brought his Playboy party to town. The godfather of the sexual revolution was here for the world premiere of Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, a Canadian documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Brigitte Berman about the notorious party animal’s early activism. “Here’s an opportunity to have this other side of me, a more serious one, explored by someone as talented as Brigitte Berman and having it done by a woman and a Canadian with the support of the Canadian government, it’s all very complementary,” Hef said, citing early civil rights battles for racial and gender equality.

Add this to the already established notoriety (some would say self-propagated mythology) of Hef and his bunnydom: he’s the patron saint of Viagara; he broke the colour line in his Playboy clubs and TV shows during the 1950s and 1960s; he defied Hollywood’s McCarthy blacklists; he fought antiquated sex laws.

It’s a bit jarring to see now, an 82 year-old with nubile girlfriends. It’s like grandpa showing up at Sunday dinner with three strippers on his arm. He apparently wears pajamas round-the-clock.

“He’s very proud of this film,” gushes newly-added girlfriend Crystal Harris, who’s attending TIFF with the equally blonde and bosomy 19 year-old twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon. “I sleep with Hef,” Crystal offers. “And we share a room,” the Shannon twins chime in like their auditioning for a possible reality TV show.

Hef knows filmgoers will be surprised by the Canadian biopic, given people think they already know him. “I said my life is an open book with illustrations. And each page is a Rorschach ink blot,” he explains. “Because of the nature of my success, combined as it is with sexuality and the unorthodox way I lived my life, people look at me and see almost a variation on someone that they themselves invent,” the magazine mogul adds.

So why did it take so long for this portrait of the real and early Hefner to emerge? “Ray Bradbury, who wrote for Playboy, said it best: With Hefner and Playboy, people can’t see the forest for the tease,” Hef said.

For her part, Berman jumped at the chance to capture Hef the humanitarian on film. “While many know [Hefner] only as a hedonistic, sensual playboy, a legendary lover of countless beautiful women—there is a whole other and far more interesting, far sexier side to him as well,” the Toronto-based filmmaker said.  “A Canadian film, about an American icon, premiering at the Toronto film festival…it doesn’t get better than that.”