“Life is too short to be living someone else’s dream.” ~ RIP Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner  (April 9, 1926 – September 27, 2017)

In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined a sweeter life. Hugh Hefner

I come not to praise Hefner, but to bury him…

Let’s be honest, Hugh Hefner’s legacy is a very mixed bag.

That’s probably obvious to folks who get their news from more than one source.  Hefner’s passing two days ago has elicited a vast number of obituaries.

Some have looked back on his life as very much a net positive.

From that viewpoint, Hefner’s greatest legacy may be the vast business empire he built.  For one group of folks, that sort of business acumen is a good unto itself.

Hugh will certainly be well remembered by some for the sexual taboos he broke.

In the same vein, others respect the barriers he broke with Playboy.  Some will even say Playboy empowered women all across our country.  I can’t argue with any of that.

Obviously, there’s a dark side as well.  Certainly, it can be argued that Hugh Hefner’s entire business empire was based on the exploitation of women.

I’ve read obituaries blaming Hefner for everything from pornography addiction to promiscuity.

More than a fair number of people have portrayed “Hef” as something far less than a nice man.  Perhaps some of those portraits are the product of jealousy and/or personal recrimination.

Perhaps not…

I won’t take great issue with the majority of the negative portrayals either.  It’s a simple guess, but probably accurate to say it’s all really just a matter of perspective.

And, whether you love or hate Hefner, there’s no denying the ways Playboy helped change the sexual landscape of the United States.

I can see both good and bad in Hugh Hefner.

He may have been a celebrity, but in leaving a complex legacy, in being seen as good by some and awful by others, he ends up being like every other man.

Well, if we hadn’t had the Wright brothers, there would still be airplanes. If there hadn’t been an Edison, there would still be electric lights. And if there hadn’t been a Hefner, we’d still have sex. But maybe we wouldn’t be enjoying it as much. So the world would be a little poorer. Come to think of it, so would some of my relatives. Hugh Hefner

Playboy interview - 1974

A Life in Quotes ~ Hugh Hefner

Being attacked by right-wing Christians did not bother me. Being attacked by liberal feminists did. Hugh Hefner

My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises. Cooper Hefner

Hugh Hefner's son | chief creative officer of Playboy

Much of my life has been like an adolescent dream of an adult life. If you were still a boy, in almost a Peter Pan kind of way, and could have just the perfect life that you wanted to have, that’s the life I invented for myself. Hugh Hefner

LA Times

If you do something wrong, you’ll get an email. There’s a strict code of conduct. There are even rules about Instagram and Twitter. You’ve got to show everything in a good light and if you’re drunk in a picture you’ll be in trouble. Melissa Howe

Inside Playboy Mansion: 'It's like a prison and Hugh Hefner prefers tennis to sex', The Mirror

Although we all did our best to decorate our rooms and make them homey, the mattresses on our beds were ­disgusting — old, worn and stained. The sheets were past their best too. Izabella St. James

Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion

Without the dynamic of the other multiple girlfriends to play off of, Hef’s true colors really came out. He started to get really snappish and verbally abusive with me. I had been able to overlook so many things in the relationship, but when he finally verbalized how he truly was, and I realized he wasn’t that nice of a guy, I really woke up. Holly Madison

Hugh Hefner & Holly Madison

The Playmate of the Year used to get a Porsche.

Now she gets a Mini Cooper that she has to return after a year!

Carla Howe

Inside Playboy Mansion: 'It's like a prison and Hugh Hefner prefers tennis to sex', The Mirror

Every Friday morning we had to go to Hef’s room, wait while he picked up all the dog poo off the carpet — and then ask for our allowance: a thousand dollars counted out in crisp hundred-dollar bills from a safe in one of his bookcases. We all hated this process. Hef would always use the occasion to bring up anything he wasn’t happy about in the relationship. Most of the complaints were about the lack of harmony among the girlfriends — or your lack of sexual participation in the ‘parties’ he held in his bedroom. If we’d been out of town for any reason and missed one of the official ‘going out’ nights [when Hefner liked to parade his girls at nightclubs] he wouldn’t want to give us the allowance. He used it as a weapon. Izabella St. James

Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion

I launched the magazine on $5,000 dollars. My mother loaned me $1,000. The first issue came out at the end of 1953. I knew I needed something original. I had a photographer shoot a 3D feature for the first issue and learned it would cost too much money. When the 3D thing turned out to be too expensive, at that same moment I came across the photos of Marilyn Monroe. People had heard about it but they hadn’t seen it. And that was the first issue. Hugh Hefner

Much of my life has been like an adolescent dream of an adult life. If you were still a boy, in almost a Peter Pan kind of way, and could have just the perfect life that you wanted to have, that’s the life I invented for myself. Hugh Hefner

1992 interview, Los Angeles Times

Today the world lost a legend. #HughHefner started my career. For 22 yrs I got to wish him happy new year at his mansion. I’ll miss him.”

Ron Jeremy

My best pick-up line is ‘My name is Hugh Hefner.’

Hugh Hefner

When it first gets started his main girlfriend gives him [oral sex], then she has sex with him. She’s the first to go because that’s the safest for her. No protection and no testing. He doesn’t care.

Jill Ann Spaulding

Jill Ann: Upstairs

At about the minute mark, I pulled away and it was done. It was like a job. Clock in, clock out. It’s not like I enjoyed having sex with him.

Kendra Wilkinson

Sliding Into Home

Hugh Hefner absolutely revolutionized the persona of the American male. In the post-World War II era, men’s magazines were about hunting and fishing or the military, or they were like Esquire, erotic magazines with a kind of European flair.

Hefner reimagined the American male as a connoisseur in the continental manner, a man who enjoyed all the fine pleasures of life, including sex. Hefner brilliantly put sex into a continuum of appreciative response to jazz, to art, to ideas, to fine food. This was something brand new. Enjoying fine cuisine had always been considered unmanly in America. Hefner updated and revitalized the image of the British gentleman, a man of leisure who is deft at conversation — in which American men have never distinguished themselves — and the art of seduction, which was a sport refined by the French.

Hefner’s new vision of American masculinity was part of his desperate revision of his own Puritan heritage. On his father’s side, he descended directly from William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower and was governor of Plymouth Colony, the major settlement of New England Puritans.

But Hefner’s worldview was already dated by the explosion of the psychedelic 1960s. The anything-goes, free-love atmosphere — illustrated by all that hedonistic rolling around in the mud at Woodstock in 1969 — made the suave Hefner style seem old-fashioned and buttoned up. Nevertheless, I have always taken the position that the men’s magazines — from the glossiest and most sophisticated to the rawest and raunchiest — represent the brute reality of sexuality. Pornography is not a distortion. It is not a sexist twisting of the facts of life but a kind of peephole into the roiling, primitive animal energies that are at the heart of sexual attraction and desire.

Camille Paglia

You believe what you wanna believe – RIP Tom Petty

Tom Petty ~ October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017

An open letter to the dearly departed…

Dear Tom Petty,

Without ever knowing it, you’ve been a part of my life, and have enriched it with your music.

You’ve been with me since I was in High School. Your Damn the Torpedos album was a major influence, not just on myself, but on my entire class. It was an excellent academic school, but it was also a bit like the “Land of Misfit Toys”.

We were a bunch of misfit geeks, to be quite honest. Being told we didn’t have to be refugees – it was priceless!

When I look at my personal playlist, I not only see you, but I also see your influences.  Knowing how much you appreciated and even emulated the Byrds, I researched that band and became a fan too.  In fact, just this weekend I was playing the Byrds for a friend, telling them how I heard the roots of your music in so many of their songs.

Then, on Monday morning, I heard so much bad news.  First I heard of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Then I heard about you.

Dude, I’m going to miss you.  I couldn’t even listen to your music last night.  I wanted to play your catalog of songs, but the pain was just too close.  I couldn’t do it…

Here’s to you, Tom Petty!

Farewell…

You and I will meet again, When we’re least expecting it, One day in some far off place, I will recognize your face. I won’t say goodbye my friend, for you and I will meet again.

Tom Petty

You like me, and I like it all…

David Bowie

You’ve got your mother in a whirl
She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hair’s alright
Hey babe, let’s go out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine
You love bands when they’re playing hard
You want more and you want it fast
They put you down, they say I’m wrong
You tacky thing, you put them on
Rebel Rebel, you’ve torn your dress
Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess
Rebel Rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so!

David Bowie

Rebel Rebel

An Ignoble End

not how most wish to be remembered

Masturbating man, Pompeii, 79 CE

This is the story of a man from Pompeii who came to a most ignoble end with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

We don’t really know anything about the man.  We’ll never know his hopes and dreams, not his profession nor his personal interests.

The only thing we know about him is his position when he died, the day a wall of volcanic ash devastated everything he knew.  To be honest, it’s not exactly a position in which most of us would wish to be buried.

This is my rifle, this is my gun; this is for fighting this is for fun.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman

Full Metal Jacket

At least he went out with his gun in his hand . . .

Rest in peace Pompeii masturbating man.

I’m sure at the moment you came to your somewhat sordid end, you weren’t thinking you’d be famous 2000 years later.  But here you are.

But now one image of a man preserved at Pompeii has gone viral over the weekend for a slightly lower-brow reason. People have been speculating that he was preserved in one final act of self-love, because, well, it really does look like that might be the case.

IFL Science

R.I.P. Chuck Renslow

acclaimed Leatherman, founder of IML, passes away at age 87

August 26, 1929 - June 29, 2017

A true pioneer in the Leather community, Chuck Renslow, photographer, publisher, gay entrepreneur, founder Second City Motorcycle Club, inductee into Chicago’s Lesbian and Gay Hall of Fame, founder of IML, co-founder of the Leather Archives and Museum, passed away earlier today.

I don’t honestly feel qualified to write a proper short biography for Mr. Renslow.  His life was so very full of groundbreaking activities and achievements, it’s hard to know where to begin.  I’m simply not qualified here to speak with any sort of authority.  With that in mind, I’ll include a pair of short bios to try and sum up a life that

With that in mind, I’ll include a pair of quick bios to try and sum up a courageous man’s life.  A life and legacy that truly stretch the boundaries of my imagination for what a Leatherman might accomplish.

Renslow’s first short biography includes:

He was the founder in 1950 and photographer of Kris Studios, one of the earliest and most durable of the physique houses. He published Triumph, Mars and Rawhide Male magazines. He was also a noted photographer of the Ballet. His dance photography is now in the Newberry Library dance collection as the “Chuck Renslow Dance Photographs”. He opened the first leather bar, the Gold Coast, in Chicago, in 1958. He was a founder of Second City Motorcycle Club, the first club not on the West coast, in 1965. He was the founder of many bars and clubs since the 1960s. Among his many clubs were Chicago Eagle, Bistro Too, Stages (now Metro) and the bathhouse, MansCountry, which has survived for more than 40 years.

 

He was among the earliest members, often among the founders, of many gay liberation organizations and movements. He was the publisher of GayLife Newspaper (having purchased it from Grant Ford.) He has sat on the Board of fourteen different LBGT organizations. He was the founder of Prairie State Democratic Club in 1980. He was the lover of Dom “Etienne” Orejudos for more than 40 years and, by encouraging him and publishing his work, he is partially responsible for the art of Etienne.

 

Chuck Renslow was inducted into the City of Chicago’s Lesbian and Gay Hall of Fame in 1991 and has received just about every honor and awards the gay and leather communities can give him, including the Leather Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011. He was on the Board of Directors of the NGLTF twice, first from 1978 to 1985 and later from 2005 to 2007. He has served as a U.S. Representative to I.L.G.A. International Lesbian and Gay Association. He is the founder, in 1979, of International Mr. Leather, which grew out of his Mr. Gold Coast contest and the experience he had managing A.A.U. physique competitions. When Dom “Etienne”died,Chuck combined his Hugh collection of Etienne’s art with his own personal archives from his business and his life. These were the foundation of the Leather Archives & Museum. which Chuck co-created with Tony DeBlase in 1991. Chuck is the president of the Leather Archives and Museum and has been since it’s conception.

I know of no higher tribute than to simply write: The leather community, as it is today, simply would not exist without Chuck Renslow.  Chuck the driving force behind a number of seminal institutions for leather, he’s also the reason we have a history.

Not only was Chuck the driving force behind a number of seminal institutions for leather, he’s also almost literally the reason we have a history.  It’s incomprehensible that the Leather Archives and Museum would exist had Chuck Renslow not graced the community with his presence.  Lacking that institution, much of our history would have disappeared, or be in real danger of disappearing.

I tip my hat (leather) to you, Mr. Renslow, in your memory.  You touched this world in ways few men can claim, you have my sincere admiration.  If there is such a thing as heaven, I’m sure there will be a new leather bar there tomorrow!

The following is from the Amazon.com description of the book Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow by Tracy Baim, Owen Keehnen:

Living as an openly gay man in 1950s Chicago was no easy task. For Chuck Renslow, that was only his first of many bold moves. Just out of high school he began what was to become a six-decade empire, starting more than two dozen businesses in Chicago, as well as a few in other cities. He has owned bars, discos, photo studios, health clubs, bathhouses, gay magazines and newspapers, hotels, restaurants, and bookstores. Throughout it all he dealt with Mafia and police payoffs, anti-gay political policies, harassment from censors, and even controversy within the gay community.

In the mid-1950s, after having a portrait and then cheesecake studio, Renslow began experimenting with beefcake photography and began Kris Studio. With his longtime lover, the artist Dom Orejudos aka Etienne and Stephen, at his side, Renslow created Kris Studio a leader in male physique photography, resulting in such magazines as Triumph, Mars and The Rawhide Male, producing thousands of erotic images as well as several films.

In 1959 Renslow took over the Gold Coast Show Lounge and transformed it into one of the most lowdown libidinous gay leather bars in the world. With Etienne’s murals adorning the walls, a leather/Western/uniform dress code for patrons, and a dark Pit that featured all sorts of goings-on, the Gold Coast set the standard for raunchy kink and gay sexual liberation. It was the birthplace of motorcycle clubs and sex groups, but above all a place for people to meet, connect, and explore themselves and their sexuality.

The Gold Coast was also the birthplace of the first leather contest, which in the span of a few short years evolved beyond the bar’s capacity and became International Mr. Leather in 1979. More than three decades later, it continues to be one of the world’s most popular gay events.

Renslow was also one of the pioneers in taking a bathhouse beyond merely the borders of a mere sex club. Man’s Country became something truly unforgettable in the 1970s – a sex-and-entertainment complex with a variety of rooms, shops, and a Music Hall that attracted top names touring in the “K-Y circuit,” from Sally Rand to Wayland Flowers to Rusty Warren and Charles Pierce.

Renslow was a dynamic force in Chicago politics under mayors starting with Richard J. Daley, and he ran as a delegate for Sen. Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential run. He danced with another man at a 1977 inaugural ball for Jimmy Carter. Renslow helped protest against unfair policies, fought censorship and entrapment, and battled Anita Bryant. He even served as a field contact for the pioneering work at the Kinsey Institute, as well as performing sexual acts for Kinsey researchers. He knew entertainment celebrities from Marlene Dietrich to Rudolf Nureyev, from Divine to Grace Jones, and from Sylvester to Quentin Crisp. In their heyday Chuck Renslow’s annual White Parties were celebrations beyond compare.

When Chicago’s gay community faced the loss of its newspaper, Renslow bailed out and ran GayLife. He gave the community a voice at the critical time when AIDS was first diagnosed.

He also co-founded the Leather Archives & Museum (with Tony DeBlase). Through it all Renslow has also been Daddy of the Family, a unique created group of lovers, tricks, and friends who were bound by sex and oftentimes love and by a goal of providing comfort and support to one another.

In Memoriam Edition – Annotated References

Chicago Gay History – Chuck Renslow biography

Wikipedia – Chuck Renslow entry

chuckrenslow.com – personal site

Pioneering Chicago Gay Activist and Leather Community Leader Chuck Renslow Passes Away At 87 – Back2Stonewall.com obituary by Will Kohler

Death by Whipped Cream

tragically ironic end for fitness blogger

In a tragic accident on June 18, 2017, an exploding whipped cream dispenser struck a popular fitness and travel blogger, Rebecca Burger, in the chest.  The resulting injuries caused her untimely (and sadly ironic) demise.

Let me begin by offering my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of Ms. Burger.  To have such a vibrant and vital individual taken from you in the prime of her life must seem to be an unexplainable and unbearable loss.  It’s my hope for you, that the knowledge of a multitude of others around the world grieving with you provides some small comfort.

The news of Rebecca’s fatal incident has sent ripples through the internet.  After an announcement by Burger’s family on social media, the story was then reported on the French language site Le Figaro.  News of the tragic accident was then picked up by the BBC, followed by a host of others, now including yours truly.

A popular fitness and travel figure who was widely recognized in her home country of France, Rebecca had more than 154,000 followers on Instagram.  Another 55,000 fans had “liked” her Facebook page by the time of her death.

In all honesty, the passing of a fitness and travel celebrity is not the kind of news I expected to be blogging about here at Michael’s Way.  It’s not even the kind of news that normally makes it to my personal radar screen. But, lines are very blurred today.

What’s news and what isn’t? Who’s a star and who isn’t? Where are today’s “sex symbols”?

Once upon a time, there weren’t much more than three paths to becoming the kind of star I’m talking about. Being a professional model, professional athlete, a stage or movie star, those were the only real paths to becoming a recognised sex symbol.

Rebecca’s death was made ironic by her status as a fitness blogger, and the fact that we don’t normally associate whipped cream and extreme fitness together.  No doubt it was difficult for some to imagine the fitness guru they admired “cheating” by making something sumptuous that included a good measure of whipping cream.

This is where the lines get blurred again.  Isn’t whipped cream something we could easily associate with a luxury travel and food blogger?

Certainly thouogh, whipped cream is something we can easily associate with a sex symbol. After all, a bottle of whipped cream is one of the most common ways a couple ventures beyond plain vanilla sex for the first time . . .

No one expects a whipped cream dispenser to explode, let alone for that sort of accident to cause life-threatening injuries. But rest assured, while rare, exploding cans of whipped cream do happen. In fact, a recall had long ago been issued for the particular brand of whipped cream dispenser that Rebecca Burger used that pivotal day earlier this month.

I suppose it’s the same thing with becoming a sex symbol, I can’t imagine celebrity is something a person could expect. It takes on it’s own momentum. Popularity of that kind can’t be planned for, nor can it be controlled.

In that particular way, becoming a sex symbol is not unlike a fateful explosion. 

I’m sure there are a great number of factors that have caused Rebecca Burger’s story (and demise) to resonate so deeply with news organizations. Certainly, in life, she was a picture of health and fitness. Her beauty was both natural and stunning. Rebecca’s carefully sculpted body, a picture of both strength and femininity.

The lifestyle displayed on her Facebook page, Instagram account, and personal blog, was an enticing blend of romance, elegance, and the exotic. The photography is sumptuous. The meals she pictured looked delicious. The settings were usually quite luxurious. It’s all a very alluring mix, as her fans had already discovered.

Sex appeal sells.  As does romance, allure, fitness, and luxury. I’m guessing a lot of women who were fans imagined/wished they could live like Rebecca.  Most male fans probably wished/imagined they could live with her.


At the same time, Rebecca’s demise was sudden, unexpected, and tragic. No one expects a 33-year-old fitness guru in the prime of her life, a picture of health and vitality, to just die. Not. Ever.

The accident happened in a way that bordered on disbelief. When I told one friend about Ms. Burger’s demise, her immediate reaction was to doubt the story. There’s a lot of fake new out there. Who dies from a whipped cream explosion anyway? How could such a thing even happen? I went so far as to consult Snopes to verify the story.  It’s true.


Like I said at the beginning of this post, my heart goes out to Rebecca’s friends and loved ones.  I wish to offer them my heartfelt and sincere condolences.

For this special in memoriam posting, I’ve created a gallery of images.  All were original photos from Rebecca’s site or Instragram feed. I altered them all, giving them one artistic treatment (or another), as my way of celebrating Rebecca’s life, her celebrity, and her beauty.

Michael’s In Memoriam Edition – Annotated References

Rebecca Burger – Rebecca’s Facebook page (61,896 people following.)

rebeccablikes – Rebecca’s Instagram (207,000 people following.)

Rebecca B. – Rebecca’s personal web page.

Une blogueuse décède après l’explosion d’un siphon de crème chantilly – French language article, the first media outlet to report Rebecca Burger’s passing.

Exploding cream dispenser kills French fitness blogger – BBC News article reporting Rebecca’s fatal accident.

An exploding whipped cream dispenser killed a French fitness star — here’s how it could have happened – Business Insider article detailing the science behind how an exploding whipped cream canister can cause such an accident.

French Fitness Blogger Killed After Whipped Cream Canister Explosion – Snopes article detailing facts behind Rebecca’s death.

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