In the wake of famed pornographer Hugh Hefner’s death this week, many are paying tribute to the man who made his fortune exploiting women and encouraging promiscuity.
However, while he is well known for the hoards of busty women often being taken advantage of in his “grotto”, his failed marriages, and his line of girlfriends each younger than the next, what many people don’t realize is that on at least two occasions, he published child pornography, right out in the open.
Brooke Shields is well-known for her famous campaign with designer Calvin Klein, which catapulted the name brand of both Shields and Klien when the latter was only 14-years-old. Those photographs already border on child pornography, featuring a scantily dressed Shields posed provocatively.
However, years earlier, Shields was in a much more provocative photoshoot: she posed nude at 11 years old, with the consent of her mother, and was featured in a Playboy publication.
Why no one is in prison for this is entirely unclear, but the photos speak for themselves.
Bonafide child pornography was published in the pages of Sugar and Spice, a Playboy press publication.
At the time, Shields had just made her film debut starring as a child prostitute opposite Susan Sarandon in the film Pretty Baby.
The photographer Gary Gross (appropriate name) paid Shields and her mother $450 for the explicit, pornographic shots, which were later published in Sugar and Spice, which some call the most controversial Playboy spread of all time (ya think?!)
When Shields was 17, she sued Gross and won for the rights to the pictures because they embarrassed her.
According to a study done by Judith A. Reisman, however, child pornography and references to pedophilia were not uncommon in the pages of Playboy and there was a consistent theme over the years of promoting pedophilia.
Shields’ case is well-known because she is, as is the tragic case of French model Eva Ionesco, who was systematically taken advantage of by her photographer mother.
Ionesco’s mother, Irna, not only consented to the nude photographs of her 11-year-old daughter that would be published in Playboy, she took them herself.
Ionesco later sued her mother for the photographs, who said she suffered a ‘stolen childhood’ as a model for her predatory mother.
When you survey Hefner’s life, it’s easy to wonder where the line was between children and women for him. He consistently dated women who were in their twenties, and sometimes even in their late teens, and this was also the typical age group of his Playboy centerfolds.
Obviously, the line between child and woman was blurred in Hefner’s world, and this didn’t seem to bother his subscribers.
But what of the girl’s parents who condoned, encouraged, and participated in this smut?
Pedophilia is nothing new, and every day more and more people push to normalize the sexualization of children. No matter how culture or laws change, however, it will always be wrong. The people who exploit children in this disgusting way will face true justice one day, if they do not repent before it is too late.