I have nothing but respect for porn.
Ha! Well, I have no problem with things sexual. I have no problem with images of people making love.
So if we're talking about erotica, what do you feel about the state of erotica?
Well, apparently there's a lot of it on the internet but almost none in movies. We live in a very strange time related to sexuality and images of sexuality. There's more controversy related to nude images in magazines today than there was in the '50s and '60s.
Back in the '60s, would you have predicted that?
No. the backlash came in the 1980s and part of it was political . . . but beyond that, part of the feminist movement got an anti-sexual imagery problem and that difficulty is still there.
Do you feel that sexuality in Playboy changed over those decades?
I think the evolution has been relatively slight. The magazine was more explicit in the '70s because the '70s were more explicit. We reflect the tastes of the times.
How would you prefer to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as somebody who played some part in the positive changing of the social/sexual values of my time, and I think I'm pretty secure in that. I helped ignite the fire that became the sexual revolution.
One thing in the documentary that struck me was something Dr. Ruth Westheimer had to say . . .
She's a good friend.
She says she wants to be able to discuss your work with her colleagues, and they just think of you as a guy in pajamas, and that the image you've made for yourself obscured your work and your intelligence.
I think there is a certain accuracy to it, but — she suggested it was caused by all the ladies I was dating. Ray Bradbury said of the magazine, that a lot of people don't see the forest for the tease. And it's true that the erotic content, the centerfolds, obscure the good writing. It gets the attention. But the notion that dating a lot of girls obscured taking me seriously — the truth of the matter is, throughout the 1990s, I was married and faithful to that marriage, a marriage that lasted eight years. Those prejudices related to me were the same then as they were later on when I was dating different girls
I think it's not the girlfriends so much as it is the bathrobes and the pajamas.
It is the centerfolds.
I think she was talking about your presence as an icon.
What I'm saying is, for a decade I was off the scene and not partying with a lot of different girls, and prejudices were worse then than they are today. I think the problem is theirs, not mine. Quite frankly, they have this hang-up, the notion that sexuality or images of sex are somehow anti-woman.
So you're saying you should be able to be an intellectual, with seven girlfriends, in a pair of silk pajamas, and that should be okay?