Hugh Hefner, Anti-Segregationist


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

November 9, 1961, Vol. VII, No. 3

From Hugh Hefner

Dear Sir:

John Wilcock’s October 19 column in your paper assails the Playboy organization because the franchised Playboy Club in New Orleans is forced to comply with state laws requiring segregation in “places of entertainment and social contact.”

We feel that it is very unfair that a liberal organization that is forced to comply with a local situation is picked out as a primary target for criticism when so many major national companies, not necessarily private social clubs and not necessarily in Louisiana (nor even in the South, for that matter) voluntarily practice discrimination without it ever occurring to Mr. Wilcock to devote an entire column to embarrassing them.

Mr. Wilcock suggests that we close down the New Orleans club, withdraw the franchise, representing an investment of over a half-million dollars, because we have discovered, after opening the club, that it is legally impossible for us to serve Negro Keyholders there without jeopardizing the club’s license. Martyrdom is something for others to enjoy, it appears, for in the same column Wilcock suggests that he may launch a law suit against us by making a test case of the New Orleans club. He states that he is not certain as to whether or not he will do this as it may “mean a 90-day jail sentence under a local ordinance about disturbing the peace.” Mr. Wilcock thinks nothing of requesting us and our franchise to blow a half-million dollar investment and risk a one-year jail sentence, although he himself is “mulling over” the advisability of risking a 90-day jail sentence.

It is really an ironic thing that we, who have such an excellent track record, should be faced with an attack which might jeopardize all the good work we have done to date and the good work that we most certainly intend to do in the future in the area of solving the problem of segregation.

Let us review Playboy’s attitude and its record. We believe in the acceptance of all persons in all aspects of life on the basis of individual merit and without any regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. Do we mean that we are “tolerant” and that we believe in economic integration but not social integration? No, we mean, we believe in being “color blind” straight down the line! We believe that any form of racial discrimination is illogical and we have no sympathy for those who do (although we respect the rights of others to hold and peacefully advocate any point of view no matter how idiotic and off-base it might seem to us)…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 8, 2009


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