Being the world’s most famous playboy doesn’t mean Hugh Hefner is immune from the chore of getting older. Whether it’s losing close friends or just daily aches and pains, Hefner is often reminded that he’s not getting any younger. This, however, may be where comparisons to other octogenarians end. While most humans who turn 84 are quite content to celebrate birthdays with family and cake, Hef’s party on April 10 will be a booze-and-bunny-filled extravaganza in the Playboy Club at the Palms. But not everybody has lived the life of Hugh Hefner. The Playboy mogul launched his groundbreaking magazine in 1953 and it has become the best-selling men’s magazine in the world, serving 18 million readers in 27 countries. Along the way, Hefner has survived censorship attempts, two divorces and even a stroke. Yet, on the eve of his 84th birthday, he couldn’t be happier.
Are you looking forward to celebrating your birthday?
My actual birthday is on April 9, which is a Friday, and a gathering of family and friends will be here for what we do every year—a screening of Casablanca, my favorite film. We will be dressed in the style of the film, from the early 1940s. I’ll be wearing a white tuxedo jacket. After the movie we’ll be going into the dining room of the mansion, which is converted into Rick’s Café Americain and have champagne and caviar by candlelight. Then, on Saturday in the early afternoon, I’m going to a memorial for Robert Culp, a dear friend who has just passed away, and then we’ll be going directly from that to the airport and flying out there for the festivities at the Palms.
What is one good thing about getting older?
In my case it’s looking back on a life well-lived. It’s a tremendous satisfaction in feeling that, in most cases, I managed to do it right and I had a great deal of pleasure in the process. It’s the ability to enjoy the moment but also the pleasure of looking back.
If you could give your 21-year-old self advice, what would it be?
Well, I think I would blow his mind by telling him what lay ahead. I was a kid who dreamed impossible dreams, but I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams what lay ahead for me.
How many times have you been in love?
I’ve been in love more than a few times. I’m not happy if I’m not in love.
Do you have a favorite era for Playboy?
In terms of Playboy, you would have to say that the ’60s and ’70s were the most dramatic time for Playboy because it was a time in which we changed the world. At one point, in the early 1970s, Playboy was selling more than 7 million copies a month. Very clearly in hindsight, it was the most influential magazine in the 20th century. From that I take a great deal of satisfaction and pride.
What is the one barrier that Playboy broke that you’re most proud of?
I think the things I am proud of are changing the social and sexual values of my time by suggesting that sex is OK.
What is the No. 1 piece of advice you give your sons?
Hold on to your dreams and pursue them with enthusiasm.