Hugh Hefner's teenage sons say Playboy needs new direction

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Look for Playboy magazine to adopt an edgier editorial tone and classier nude pictorials if Hugh Hefner’s teenage sons take the helm of the 55-year-old magazine some day.

A South Korean Playboy model candidate poses in lingerie during the Playboy 2006 Korea Model Contest in Seoul in this February 10, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Marston Hefner, an 18-year-old college student, and his 17-year-old brother Cooper said in an interview published in the magazine’s January issue that change is inevitable at the struggling publication.

“(D)own the road, I’d say it would probably need to take a different direction,” said Marston, noting he would rather strike out on his own first.

“In the 1960s we had amazing civil rights leaders doing interviews or writing stories for the magazine. The fight is still out there. The civil rights movement may not be that big, but we could still do articles on edgy things that people are afraid to talk about and appeal to forward thinkers.”

Cooper Hefner said he “definitely” wants to be involved with the company because he likes business.

“I’d want the girls to be presented more as they were in the pictorials back in the 1950s and 1960s -- kind of artsy, classy. I would like to bring back that retro-class feel,” he said.

Their 82-year-old father oversees every aspect of Playboy magazine as editor in chief, from the lengthy articles to the jokes page, cartoons and the airbrushing of the nude layouts.

But the flagship operation of Playboy Enterprises Inc has fallen on hard times. It loses up to $10 million annually, chief financial officer Linda Havard said at an investor conference earlier this month.

Playboy Enterprises cut 14 percent of its work force in 2008 and plans aggressive cost cuts next year, Havard said.

Marston and Cooper’s half-sister, Christie Hefner, 56, announced this month she would resign as chairman and chief executive of Playboy Enterprises in January after two decades at the helm.

Marston and Cooper were raised by their mother, former Playmate Kimberley Conrad Hefner, in a house next door to the Playboy Mansion after their parents separated. They described their father as a “hands off parent” absorbed by his Playboy duties.

Still, life as the sons of the Playboy founder has its privileges in terms of all the naked women at the mansion. One of the few negatives is the large picture of Marston and Cooper’s naked mother in the mansion’s library.

Cooper said he stopped taking his friends there because it was “like the fat elephant in the room.”

Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by John O’Callaghan