Crystal Harris, a 25-year-old Playboy Playmate, has left Hugh Hefner, 85-year-old media mogul, just before their intended nuptials. I doubt many people are very surprised, especially given the massive 60-year age difference. While the loss of any relationship is a tragedy in some regard, what are we to make up the dissolution of this controversial matchup?
Most people, whether they will admit it or not, believe that Crystal Harris was engaged in Hef simply for money and fame. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Enterprises, is a multimillionaire who has been both a heralded pioneer and a reviled smut-peddler. After he passes away his complex legacy with undoubtedly be the topic of much debate, informally and in the halls of power and academia.
Crystal Harris, due to her youth and her beauty, is considered the more easily-deciphered piece of this relationship puzzle: A young woman of average means, she leveraged her attractiveness and feminine wiles to snag the wealth, resources, and (perhaps?) charms of a [much] older man. Such stories undoubtedly occur all over the world every day, but few to such an extreme. Her relationship with Hefner made sense on many levels: Financial, professional, egotistical – she would be known, for life, as a person of fame.
Hugh Hefner would die, likely before Harris turned 35, and she would net his millions and his Playboy empire, turning her into a rich and powerful woman. Barring unforeseen circumstances, she would live the rest of her life, both before and after the eventual death of Hef, in considerable luxury. The sex may be bad, but the perks are pretty good.
I do feel sorry for Hef, in a strange way. Rumors abound about his sex life with young twentysomethings who seek fame and fortune in the glossy pages of his nudie mags…but, in his mid-80s, does he still actually enjoy such sex? Does he enjoy having to, according to rumor, fortify himself with pharmaceuticals before pursuing intimate relations with women who likely find him unattractive…or even repulsive? As an obviously intelligent man, he must realize what the public, and those young women, actually think about him.
He must know that many people would find his rumored sexual escapades to be inappropriate to the point of disgusting. He must know that having sex with women who live at his Playboy Mansion and participate in his reality shows are considered by many to be akin to prostitutes – only in it for the money. He must know that his rumored behavior earns him more of a reputation as a wealthy, perverted letch instead of a suave playboy.
Perhaps he continues his alleged escapades as some misguided attempt at self-promotion and advertisement of the “Playboy lifestyle.” Perhaps he is a victim of his own success – he worries that if he stops forcing himself to force himself on young women he will be betraying his sexual revolution causes and ideals, his public image, and his media empire. He may wish to “normalize” his behavior but is afraid that it might cause his world to crumble. His life was built on sexual excess and, like it or not, he knows nothing but how to continue it.
While Crystal Harris will undoubtedly be able to move on from her breakup with Hef, where does the old man stand? At 85, will he attempt to attract another blonde starlet to his bedside for an engagement ring? When will he realize that enough is enough, put down the Viagra, and realize that Playboy Enterprises will not crumble if he stops pretending he is still a testosterone-laden young man?
Can he realize that? I worry that he is miserable behind the walls of sexual excess he has built around himself. He no longer craves his behavior, or the results of it, but knows nothing else. He keeps it up in spite of being painfully aware of his ever-tainted reputation. While Harris was smart to bolt when she did, I cannot help but feel sorry for the old letch she left at the altar.