When Hugh Hefner got jilted days before his June wedding to 25-year-old Crystal Harris, he found himself with a problem to solve.
The extravagant wedding had already been planned in detail and he must have known he’d take a loss on that unless he bought the fashionable new insurance product, wedding cancellation insurance.
But the main problem, the business problem, Crystal had given him was that the July 2011 of Playboy magazine had already rolled off the press. Hef was now looking at a squillion front covers of leggy Crystal sitting next to the legend Intrdoucing Mrs Crystal Hefner.
Now that there wasn’t going to be a Mrs Crystal Hefner, what should he do with the July print run?
Hef hasn’t made millions by missing business opportunities or failing to have good ideas. If he was shocked by the departure of the nearly-was Mrs Hefner, he didn’t let it get in the way of business.
No. Instead he said to himself: Why don’t we just slap stickers on the cover saying Runaway Bride and make a joke of this?
Which shows that while he may not have a wedding to go to this Saturday, or a fiancee young enough to be his granddaughter, he does have a pretty cracking sense of humour.
Internet gossip immediately described the July Playboy issue as a collectors’ item – providing it bears the Runaway Bride sticker.
Which made me think a bit.
There’s a British antiques dealer and TV presenter called Eric Knowles who wrote a book on antiques some time ago and at the end of the book, he suggested possible future collectables. Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume, he said, would be worth buying and hanging onto unopened. It should appreciate in value. He also cited Caithness paperweights and a few other products that collectors looking for good investments might be interested in. Then he went on to a few ephemeral items from popular culture – pre-paid phone cards, Jurassic Park merchandise, Kodak disposable cameras and even crisp and fast-food snack packets (Walkers, Doritos, Quavers.)
Knowles didn’t cite anything smutty or related to today’s kiss-and-tell culture, drug culture, reality TV culture or porn culture.
Yet I have a sinking feeling that that kind of stuff may indeed become collectable. The July issue of Playboy may become sought after in the way that once people tried to buy signed copies of books by great authors. Where once society had beautiful designer dresses worn by princess Diana auctioned off for charity and sold to eager collectors, we’re now probably in for knickers worn by Charlie Sheen’s goddesses. Instead of the disposable Kodak cameras Knowles thought of, we’ll get signed pictures of Schwarzenegger’s mistress, Mildred Patty Baena, dressed in her maid’s outfit, looking stout and coy.
I suppose the rational for collecting the July Playboy will be that Hefner’s story – a tawdry drama featuring a cancelled wedding, a runaway bride, a jilted octogenarian millionaire husband-to-be, a secret young lover and a leggy blonde – is more representative of popular culture today than a pre-paid phone card or a plastic dinosaur with Jurassic Park on the packaging.
Anyway, collectable or not, Hefner saved his July profits even though he lost his June bride. Rumour has it that Crystal ran away from the Playboy Mansion because she’s dating Dr Phil’s young son, Jordan McGraw. How can any of us know whether that’s true or not?! And ditto for the rumour that Crystal is just as attracted by Dr Phil’s millions as by his son. Mrs Crystal McGraw? Yes, it has a certain ring to it…