Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
I liked Hubert Woroniecki’s documentary on Elite Modeling kingpin John Casablancas, particularly the subject’s reflections on life, beauty, sex, and leisure. It’s based on voice recordings Casablancas made prior to his death, so it’s a bit like a visual memoir. Casablancas is a public figure of a type that seems to have all but vanished from the culture — the genial European (or quasi-European) roué who loves women, prides himself on knowing and pleasing them, and isn’t ashamed to be frank about it. (He reminds me of filmmaker Roger Vadim.) It’s a measure of either Casablancas’ charm or his good-naturedness that he never comes across as boasting, crude, or insincere; when he talks of having his heart broken by the 15-year-old Stephanie Seymour, you don’t just believe him, you feel bad for him. Of course, it ends with a Strokes song: “Is This It?” It’s called “Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women.”
I thought of the movie, and of Casablancas, upon reading Camille Paglia’s shrewd thoughts on Hugh Hefner, published by the Hollywood Reporter soon after Hef’s passing. Says Paglia:
Hefner reimagined the American male as a connoisseur in the continental manner, a man who enjoyed all the fine pleasures of life, including sex. Hefner brilliantly put sex into a continuum of appreciative response to jazz, to art, to ideas, to fine food. This was something brand new. Enjoying fine cuisine had always been considered unmanly in America. Hefner updated and revitalized the image of the British gentleman, a man of leisure who is deft at conversation — in which American men have never distinguished themselves — and the art of seduction, which was a sport refined by the French.
I think her comments are spot on. Hefner, like Casablancas, was a man who cultivated a capacity for appreciating the good life. He encouraged others to do likewise. Few callings are more noble.