LOS ANGELES -- At 57, Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner still wears silk pajamas, surrounds himself with gorgeous young women, and freely admits his sexual appetites remain as voracious as those of a man half his age.
But in the first of a three-part series published in today's Los Angeles Times, Hefner also said he is tired of being portrayed as an eccentric, sex-obsessed hedonist.
Hefner said he wants greater credit and respect for his social contributions, which range from huge donations to liberal political causes, such as equal rights, legalized abortion and gun control, to freeing society from 'its guilt over sex and images of the human body.
'I have been given recognition, but not in the positive way,' Hefner said. 'What I'm all about has always been much more interesting to me, more complex, than what they (media) write about.'
Hefner said he felt particularly abused by the press coverage of two recent events.
Playboy received almost no credit for refusing to print sexually explicit photos of former Miss America Vanessa Williams, he said, but by contrast the media played up a 'largely undocumented' personal attack on Hefner in a book by director Peter Bogdanovich, who claimed sexual harassment by Hefner led to the slaying of 1980 centerfold Dorothy Stratten.
Despite a yearning to win public sympathy and long-due respect, however, Hefner's talk of sex, his sensuous image and legendary parties accounted for a hefty chunck of the interview.
He said he has slept with countless Playboy centerfolds and seldom has sex with anyone over 24, though he recalled having intercourse with famous stripper Candy Barr, who was 43.
'It was a sort of Sex King and Queen kind of thing,' Hefner said. 'She was wonderful.'
He also talked freely of the TV cameras he installed years ago at the end of his bed and said that, as far as he is concerned, there is no such thing as unacceptable sex unless it is 'hurtful' to someone.
'If it feels good do it. That is what's wrong with society today - still too many rigid, irrational taboos,' he said.
'What I'm saying is, what difference does (sex with animals) make if it turns somebody on? Isn't that a positive thing? The only thing I see in bestiality that is hurtful to people is the fact that people used to go to prison for it ... I thing that's a very sick attitude on sex,' he said, adding, 'I personally have never been involved in any act of bestiality ... God, I can just see the headlines now.'