I imagine him thinking to himself, Holy shit! What have I done? All of us, his clones. He couldn’t have imagined this scenario in his wildest dream. He seems shy, and you can sense an amazement on his face as he shakes hands with each one of us. The countries are being called out, Philip Mason from Australia, Bebe Martinez from Argentina, Albert Cheng from Hong Kong, Ali Karacan from Turkey, Anteos Chrysostomides from Greece. He wonders out loud: How does she remember all these names, let alone pronounce them? As Elsa (Purcell) – the departmental administrator rattles off names to match the faces. Just like Dr. Malaiperuman, years earlier – the Warden of the Indian Students Hostel in London not only rattles off the names of 120 of us to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, but adds to them, Haresh Shah, London College of Printing. Incredible. The queen too must have wondered – but holds her gentle demeanor.  Feeling, if not like grandpa, but certainly the Godfather of us all. Standing there with us, Hefner looks just like one of us, which he actually is.

He blends in like sugar in coffee. He makes small talk with us, poses for group pix with each one of the fourteen editorial teams – mostly shot by his ever present in-house photographer, but is also graceful and patient enough to linger and allow those of us who wanted to use our own cameras. Wouldn’t you know that up until then my steadfast Canon SureShot would decide to jam the film while forwarding? Seeing me frantically trying to un-jam the forwarding mechanism and the dismay on my face while he is patiently standing there with my whole staff striking the pose – he finally says: ‘The reason we have staff photographers.’ Not allowing me in the least to let my frustration turn into and embarrassment.  True to what he said in his interview done for Playboy’s 20th anniversary issue of January 1974: ‘I still have a certain sense of wonder at all that’s happened. I don’t think that I’ll ever become jaded by the success or the life I’m leading; it’s simply not my nature. As a matter of fact, I feel like a kid in the world’s largest candy store.’

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In addition to the ring binder, I had inherited from my predecessor, two 7” (15.4cm) reel-to-reel Scotch magnetic tapes, and 123 pages of transcript of the sessions that took place on March 1, 1972 in his Chicago Mansion. Mostly its Hefner speaking, explaining in minute details every single page of his magazine. He flips through several issues to demonstrate to the editors designates of the first three Foreign Editions of Playboy soon to be launched in Germany, Italy and France – like an old fashioned father telling the prospective suitors, what it meant to marry his precious daughter and what it would take for them to keep her in the style to which she was accustomed.

Within the first couple of minutes of introduction, and before he launches into stoke-by-stroke run down on what he calls the editorial balance, I sense an emotional note: Now, first of all, I don’t know to what extent you have been through the various things in terms of what makes the book now = what we put into the magazine – I will say that first we put into the magazine and I don’t want to be corny about it, but it is true, is a great deal of love and caring. His voice quivers a bit as he says this, perhaps afraid of what may become of his “baby” in the foreign hands. He emphasizes the fact that almost twenty years later, Playboy remains in editorial hands and is not run by the advertising departments or the bankers. I am sure that while flattered at his labor of love going across the ocean, deep down in his heart, he must feel a certain sadness at letting go of his darling. The way before I even joined Playboy, I was an avid reader as I was of Time, Life and The New Yorker. And everything about editing and publishing captivated and thrilled me. And here I had landed a living guide, that no amount of schooling could teach me.

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