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CONNECT THE WORLD

Interview with Hugh Hefner

Aired March 18, 2010 - 17:49:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One rarely sees Hugh Hefner without his bevy of beautiful women. Known to many as simply Hef, the business magnate founded "Playboy" magazine more than 50 years ago, at a time when blatant female sexuality was almost unheard of.

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HUGH HEFNER, FOUNDER, PLAYBOY ENTERPRISES: Nice girls like sex, too. Sex is a natural part of the human condition. And that, in the 1950s, was -- was a very revolutionary idea, particularly for women.

ANDERSON: The women chosen to be in magazine centerfolds quickly became celebrities. And Hefner's notorious Playboy mansion, the scene of raucous Hollywood parties, adding glamour to what, until then, had been regarded as a somewhat grubby business.

Today, the Playboy brand enjoys worldwide prominence and has expanded to include clothing lines, electronics and reality TV show. And at 83 years old, Hefner is ever still the world's playboy.

Seen by many as the luckiest man in the world, Hugh Hefner is your Connector of the Day.

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ANDERSON: From his legacy to love lost and loneliest, you sent in a whole host of questions and comments for Hugh Hefner. He answered them a little earlier on from the Playboy mansion, of course, in Los Angeles.

I began by asking him how much he's earned -- I didn't ask him that. I asked him how much he's learned about us girls, the opposite sex, over the years.

This is what he said.

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HEFNER: Well, not as much as I -- I might hope, but I think life would be a very sad place without them. I am essentially a romantic, so I think my life revolves and always has revolved around women.

ANDERSON: Keira from New York has written in, Mr. Hefner. She says this: "What is it that makes a woman beautiful in your eyes?"

HEFNER: You know, well, part of it is appearance and -- and a lot of it has to do with personality and character.

ANDERSON: And has the definition of beauty changed over the years, do you think?

HEFNER: No, I don't think so. No, I think that I find myself, quite frankly -- I'll be -- I'll be celebrating my 84th birthday in April. I find, quite frankly, that I am still struck by and respond to the same kind of beauty and the same kind of imagery that I did early on. And I -- and I think that -- that is typical. I think that's true for most people, though they may not realize it.

ANDERSON: I think I misheard what you said.

You said you'll be celibate on your next birthday, is that right?

HEFNER: I will definitely not be celibate. No. I will be celebrating.

ANDERSON: Good.

HEFNER: No. I -- I am in a very good relationship -- a very good relationship with a young lady named Crystal Harris.

ANDERSON: Good.

HEFNER: She's a keeper.

ANDERSON: You have always loved women.

Does that mean that you would consider yourself a feminist?

HEFNER: I consider myself a humanist and I certainly -- most of my values are essentially the same as -- as the feminists are. And "Playboy," although it's not usually recognized, "Playboy" plays a -- played, historically, a major part in changing a lot of oppressive sex laws related to women.

I think the whole controversy related to women as sex objects strikes me as being very, very strange, because, obviously, women are sex objects. That -- they are a good deal more than that. But if women weren't sex objects, there would not be a second generation. It is what makes the world go around, the attraction between the two sexes.

ANDERSON: One of our viewers, Mr. Hefner, Max, asks: "What is your biggest regret?"

HEFNER: I have relatively few regrets. I recognize, quite frankly, that by any objective standard, I'm one of the luckiest guys on the planet. I'm a guy who dreamed impossible dreams; created a magazine, in 1953, out of absolutely nothing; borrowed $600 and -- and in an investment -- from friends -- that -- and associates -- that amounted to about $8,000 and from that, I created the Playboy empire.

And it changed the world and changed my life in a very, very positive way. My dreams have come true beyond anything I could have possibly ever imagined.

ANDERSON: Hugo asks a very funny question. He says: "Who would you rather invite to the Playboy mansion, the pope or Ahmadinejad?"

HEFNER: I wouldn't say that either one of them are very high on my list. I don't think we have much in common.

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ANDERSON: Good answer. Very good answer. We'll leave it at that.

HEFNER: I'd rather invite President Obama.

ANDERSON: Yan (ph) Van den Broek asks: "What would be your advice to Tiger Woods?" He says: "At this point, I think he needs some advice."

HEFNER: Well, I don't think, quite frankly, that any advice from me is going to do him a whole lot of good and it comes a little late. When I learned of the scandal, my first initial response, which was misunderstood in some quarters, was that I was not surprised. And that was mistaken to mean that I approved. I was married for eight years and was faithful to that marriage throughout the entire eight years.

I think if you make a commitment, you keep the commitment.

Having said that, the fact that he was a celebrity and he was -- he was traveling the world and away from his home a great deal and was a good looking guy, the fact that women would be throwing themselves at him and the fact that he responded to that is not a big surprise.

ANDERSON: And with that, I'm going to wish you a very happy birthday and just ask you, who is invited to the party, Mr. Hefner?

HEFNER: My birthday will be broken into two parts. On Friday, my actual birthday, April 9th, I will be gathering here at the mansion with some close friends, celebrating with my girlfriend and close friends. We will be watching my favorite film, "Casa Blanca." We do that every year on the weekend of my birthday. And we actually dress in the style of -- of the movie, from the 1940s.

And then we'll be going into the dining room, which will be converted into the Cafe American, and having champagne and caviar by candlelight.

The following night, it will be taking the girlfriends to Las Vegas and celebrating in a larger venue at The Palms Hotel.

ANDERSON: And the last question comes for a number of our viewers.

On that birthday, we do wish you the best.

Have you got any idea how many women it is at this point over all of those years?

HEFNER: I stopped counting a long time ago. But I quite -- I feel, quite frankly, that what matters in the relationships is -- is not numbers. I've never thought in terms of quantity, but more in terms of quality. And -- and I've had a grand, adventurous life. But at the heart of it all, I think being in love is really makes the world go around.

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ANDERSON: You know who he is. It's Hef.

Tomorrow's Connector is a left-leaning filmmaker who's passionate about politics from the sublime to the ridiculous, I guess. Michael Moore's movies have criticized gun ownership in the U.S. and the Iraq War, President George W. Bush and U.S. health care, the issue brought into Washington this week. He calls the current health care reform bill "a joke."

Want to know how Michael Moore would do things differently?

Start sending in your questions. Let us know where you're writing from, CNN.com/connect. You know where to go.

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