LeRoy Neiman, Hugh Hefner, and the Struggle Against Perversion


This man says you’re not gay.

LeRoy Neiman has died. I was not going to say anything about this until I came across this article in the Los Angeles Times by Christopher Knight. It reveals the secret behind the peculiar appeal of Neiman’s paintings:

    Usually mischaracterized as simply a sports artist, he was actually much more than that. Neiman was the painter of the “Playboy Philosophy.”

    To be more specific, he was the artist for Playboy readers afraid that liking art was gay.

There you have it. Some men need to look at Neiman’s paintings to reassure themselves that they’re not sexually attracted to other men. Ah, but there’s more to it than that. It seems that Neiman’s paintings were actually part of a campaign to keep America butch. The article explains:

    Hefner targeted the magazine [Playboy] at young urban men. Its philosophy centered on a suave but stereotypic view of red-blooded male heterosexuality. The sexual revolution it championed was framed as an antidote to perversion.

    “If we desire a healthy, heterosexual society,” Hefner said in defense of Playboy, “we must begin stressing heterosexual sex; otherwise, our society will remain sick and perverted.”

These are high-minded sentiments. And all these years you thought Hugh Hefner was just a bullshit artist who’s too lazy to change out of his pajamas. It turns out that Hef (those in his inner circle call him “Ner”) has been waging a lonely struggle to protect you and me from “perversion”. Now, don’t you just feel small and ungrateful? Don’t you?

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