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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Purely Academic: Mizzou Professor Conducts Research at the Playboy Mansion

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge As a prof, Watts already had the pipe and jacket handy - IMAGE VIA
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  • As a prof, Watts already had the pipe and jacket handy
Being a college prof has its perks. There's the satisfaction of stimulating America's brightest young minds, TA's to do all the grading and busy work, and the summers off to visit the Playboy Mansion and hang out with Hugh Hefner. Wait, what?

Yes, University of Missouri professor Steven Watts recently spent a whole lot of time with America's favorite dirty old man in his palatial, Bunny-filled Los Angeles estate.

Watts, however, wasn't there to fulfill a pubescent fantasy or peep next month's centerfold. No, his visit was strictly business.

A history professor, Watts was given unfettered access to Hefner's archives, social circle and mind. He was conducting research for his new book: Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream.

The tome, published last October, documents Hefner's life and times and the impact his magazine had on American culture over the past 50 years.

Our counterparts in Kansas City interviewed Watts and published the conversation today on their news blog. Here's an excerpt:
What were your experiences like at the Playboy Mansion while you were researching the book?

A wide variety of experiences I guess. I spent the vast majority of my time just working on the book pretty hard. Hefner, as you may have picked up from reading the book, has just an enormous archive of material, and it took me a lot of time just kind of wading through all this stuff. It was really a goldmine of archival material. So I spent a lot of time working.

In addition to that, he sort of gave me the chance to observe his life from the inside. So I would go out there three or four times a year for a week or sometimes two. So I was around for a lot of the activity -- the movie nights on the weekends, what he calls Manly Night on Monday, when his old buddies come around, and I sort of got to be a member of that group. I went to a number of the big parties out there, which was quite an experience. ... It's a different world from the Midwest that we live in.
Read the whole thing by clicking here.

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