Culture

Playboy heir brings back mom for photo shoot

When a culture abandons the ethics of the Bible — yes, even those set forth in Leviticus — very weird things start to happen.

You may have heard that Playboy decided to stop displaying naked women in its magazines in 2016. After trying to restrain itself for a whole year, it has capitulated.

The nude ladies are back.

BRINGING SEXY BACK?

It is Hugh Hefner’s son, Cooper, who is responsible for this abrupt change in direction. He left the company in 2015 over creative disputes. Now, he’s back:

At the request of then-newly minted CEO Ben Kohn (who says the brand had “gone too wide and lost part of its aspirational quality” by “covering monster trucks and selling air fresheners”), Cooper returned to Playboy in June 2016 following an 18-month exile precipitated by boardroom battles over the company’s direction. A key factor was a 2015 choice by Kohn’s predecessor, Scott Flanders, to forgo nudity in the flagship magazine’s pages in a bid for more mainstream respectability. “There was a lack of understanding of who we are,” says Cooper.

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Now the polished and self-aware scion, intent on sounding woke and mindful of the brand’s eternal need to provoke (intellectually and sexually), is charting the course for what he hopes will be a more valuable and relevant Playboy. It’s one that doesn’t revolve around his old man (who is ailing and a semi-recluse) or dated totems of lothario living. “Creating something that resonates with my generation and the generation that comes after mine is how I’ll measure my accomplishments,” Cooper says.

Cooper wants to bring back naked women to Playboy. I don’t think anyone is surprised by this development. But that’s not the worst part. It has to do with him growing up in the Playboy mansion:

It’s true: Cooper Hefner, youngest son of Hugh and newly ascended chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, did enjoy a youth that was the stuff of teenage wet dreams. Celebrities and scantily clad bunnies wallpapered his life. He and his schoolmates could order anything they could think of, and the Playboy Mansion kitchen would send it right out. There was a private zoo.

CROSSING A LINE

A young boy grew up around scantily clad women. Who knows how that went. But the worst part is what he had to see hanging on the wall — his mom:

His mom, 1989 Playmate of the Year Kimberley Conrad, hung in the library, depicted nude in a large portrait frame. “Yeah, that was weird,” Cooper explains over lunch at the mansion. “It was like the elephant in the room.”

Young Cooper had to live in this house with a nude picture of his mother on the wall. For a while, at least, until Hugh divorced her to date other women. Cooper was not responsible for this. He was victimized. But now, as an adult, he should know better. The young Hefner, now an adult Hefner, asked his mother to recreate her original magazine cover:

The photo’s long been put away. (Dad, now 91, divorced Conrad and dated a harem of blondes before rediscovering monogamy with current wife Crystal Harris.) But his son, 25, insists “the image being up now wouldn’t bother me,” pointing out that he recently requested Conrad pose again. “On Mother’s Day, I asked her if she would be interested in reshooting her original cover,” says Cooper. “Two weeks later we did it.” (The image was published in June.)

He asked his mother, now 55, to pose in revealing attire for the magazine cover. Maybe the only surprising thing about all of this is that he didn’t also ask her to strip down for a full nude spread.

LEVITICAL WISDOM

In Leviticus we read: “She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness.”

The context of the verse makes it clear that the issue is incest of any form. But the reason a person should not uncover their mother’s nakedness is linked to their father: uncovering your mother’s nakedness is also uncovering your father’s nakedness, and vice versa. Both are forbidden:

‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness. ‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness. (Lev. 18:7-8)

This is alluding to an incident that occurred between Noah and his son following the flood:

Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. (Gen. 9:20-23)

YOUR FATHER’S NAKEDNESS

Ham tried to embarrass his father. Noah had uncovered himself, but in the privacy of his own tent. His tent was still keeping him covered from everybody else. Ham invaded his privacy by violating the tent boundary in an attempt to shame him. His two brothers were much wiser than Ham. They refused to look upon their father’s nakedness. They restored his clothing (covering) and hid his nakedness from themselves. In response to this betrayal, Noah cursed Ham’s son, Canaan (vs. 24-25).

We know what ultimately happened to the Canaanites. Most of them, anyway.

The theology of shame and nakedness goes back to the garden. The two are linked. Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness once they had sinned. They became ashamed, and they tried to hide their shame by stitching together a fig-leaf covering.

This was not sufficient. God saw through this. In a display of grace, God killed animals and made heavy-duty coverings out of their hides for the sinners. Only God’s work could sufficiently cover mankind’s shame from then on.

Cooper Hefner had no choice but to grow up in a house that forced him to look upon his mother’s nakedness. We know from Leviticus that he was actually looking upon his father’s nakedness. It was his father who had shamed himself.

To have your nakedness uncovered is to be shamed. The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame (Prov. 3:35).

Cooper should not re-trace his father’s footsteps. Or even new ones along the same path.

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