Hugh Hefner may not be America’s Swingingest Bachelor anymore, but that doesn’t mean the party’s over. Hef and his pals still cavort in reruns of his 1968-70 syndicated talk show, Playboy After Dark, now airing on cable’s Playboy channel. ”The show was taped in a Chicago studio that was designed to look like a party at my apartment,” recalls the legendary Playboy founder, now 66. ”And we treated the camera as if it were a guest. It made the show seem more intimate, as if it were being taped at one of my real bashes.”
Among the revelers: The Grateful Dead, Bill Cosby, Mort Sahl, Joan Baez, Gore Vidal, and director Roman Polanski and his wife, Sharon Tate, who, chillingly, chatted with the host about movie violence just a year before she was murdered by Charles Manson and his followers in 1969. Familiar faces also pop up in the background: Then-unknowns Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman) and Sherry Lansing (now CEO of Paramount’s motion-picture group) occasionally filled in as extras. (Hefner calls them ”spearholders.”)
”Watching the show today is definitely a memory-lane kind of thing,” he says. ”It really brings you back. There’s an awkward reality to it that captures the time frame.” Not that Hefner, who married Playmate Kimberley Conrad (now 30) in 1989, is even the teeniest bit tempted to party on anew. ”No way,” he insists. ”This is the most romantic time of my life.” Some guys have all the luck.