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Arts & Culture

FilmForum: Hugh Hefner’s After Dark

Sunday, March 31, 2019
11:20 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

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While the old joke that some men only read Playboy for the articles is told with sarcasm, the truth is there was more to the late Hugh Hefner’s work than just centerfolds. His full revolutionary impact is revealed in this compelling documentary from Academy Award®-winning director Brigitte Berman. In 1959, Hefner started a television program called Playboy’s Penthouse. Set up to look like an apartment party, the variety show featured a slew of legendary performers. But it was its racial diversity that stood out most. Years before MTV was pressured to play black artists, Hefner gave them representation, regardless of the consequences. Despite it being the time of Jim Crow, everyone was treated as equals on Hefner’s show, much to the chagrin of some Americans. The program was canceled after two seasons, but reemerged later as Playboy After Dark, which continued to push for equality. In addition to performances from artists such as James Brown, Tina Turner, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Buddy Rich, the show featured candid conversations about censorship, racism, and progressive politics. Going beyond the bunnies, HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK: SPEAKING OUT IN AMERICA examines Hefner’s unheralded role as civil rights activist.

Join us to discuss the question: how far can we push boundaries before they push back?

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