Comedy and the Constitution: The Legacy of Lenny Bruce, Keynote by Christie Hefner '74


Published by Brandeis University


Description:


Free-speech pioneer. Satirist. Cultural Icon. Comedian Lenny Bruce’s legacy was the focus of a two-day 

conference on Oct 27-28, 2016 at Brandeis University. 


http://www.brandeis.edu/lenny-bruce



Transcript:


Video on screen: President Ronald Liebowitz stands at a podium.


PRESIDENT LIEBOWITZ: Good morning and welcome. Over the next two days, our campus will engage in a scholarly examination of Lenny Bruce, an American icon, groundbreaking comedian, and an ultimate champion of the First 

Amendment. Mr Bruce exerted an impact upon his contemporaries and successors like no one else in his 

field, and his influence on comedy and well beyond comedy continues today. This influence is reflected 

in the variety of panels that will be held over the next two days. How many people could be the central 

subject of discussions of both the utilization of American comedy, and how to talk dirty and influence 

constitutional law. Just a few minutes ago, we cut the ribbon and officially opened the Lenny Bruce 

collection in the Robert D. Farber University archives and special collections department. 

This acquisition, announced in 2014, features ten linear feet of Mr. Bruce's personal papers and 

photographs, along with numerous recordings. These papers and recordings joined good company in Brandeis' archives and special collections, which contain more than 10,000 rare books, 

manuscripts dating back as far as 120 CE, the Joseph Heller collection, including the 

original manuscript of Catch-22, the personal papers of our namesake Louis Brandeis, himself a rigorous 

defender of freedom of speech and much more. It is quite appropriate that Brandeis, with our motto of truth 

even unto its innermost parts, is now home to the personal papers of an individual who deeply believed 

in that same ideal, even to the point of persecution. We are honored to have been chosen as the keepers 

of this historic collection, and we look forward to the scholarly opportunities it will provide 

to researchers for years to come. We would not be hosting this conference without having acquired the 

collection, and that could not have happened without the blessing of Lenny Bruce's daughter, 

Kitty Bruce. Kitty, we are so delighted that you're here and with us today for this occasion, thank you.

 

We are also grateful to the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation, Hugh Hefner himself, and his daughter Brandeis graduate Christy Hefner, who will deliver the symposium's keynote address 

in just a few moments, for the generosity in supporting this conference and enabling us to bring together 

so many outstanding scholars. We also thank Arlan Ettinger of Guernsey's, the Louis D Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice and Jules Bernstein and the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts for their support, enormous thanks to all of you. [applause]


Now, within Brandeis, many 

offices and programs have also had a hand in supporting this event, including the American Studies and 

journalism programs, the department's of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, English, History, and Sociology, and 

the Office of the Provost. Since the acquisition was announced, the University archives and special collections 

department has worked diligently to prepare it for inquiry. Sarah Shoemaker, Associate University Librarian for

Archives and Special Collections, and Stephen Whitfield, the Max Richter Professor of American Civilization, 

have been the driving forces behind making this symposium happen. In a moment, I'm going to turn the symposium 

over to its rightful keeper, Steve Whitfield to formally introduce our keynote speaker, but first I want to 

thank all of you for attending today, whether you have traveled from afar, and already closely familiar with 

Lenny Bruce and his lasting impact, or you've walked up from your residence hall to learn more about a comedic 

legend, I hope you all find the next two days to be thought-provoking, engaging, and enlightening, thank you.

[applause] President Ronald Liebowitz leaves the stand.

 

[STEVE WHITFIELD approaches and stands at the podium] 


Thank you Ron, and I wish to reinforce, to amplify the welcome that President Leibowitz has just 

provided, and to do so in behalf of Sarah Shoemaker, the Associate University Librarian for 

Archives and Special Collections. She and I have indeed been rather actively involved as co-chairs of 

the program committee of this conference, and we do wish to, of course, thank our benefactors, 

to thank our donors, here in part to amplify really, that appreciation and that gratitude for those 

whom Ron is just mentioned. And to note that if anybody has any logistical, technical, other issues, 

Sarah and I who are right here are happy to ideally try to remedy them. I prefer you see Sarah rather 

than me, but whichever you choose to do is fine. Also wish to announce that at the 

Shapiro campus center, there will be available Lenny Bruce's autobiography, which will be available for 

purchase, and I understand, Kitty that you will be happy to inscribe copies of that, as well as 

t-shirts as memorabilia, of course of this conference at the campus center.


I'm here also what to offer special thanks to Steve grief, [EDIT check last name] who was sitting over 

here, who is the other, in a sense, instigator and driving force of this conference. Steve wrote a enormously 

rich, enormously informative biography and sort of career study of Lenny Bruce, done in 2005 at the 

University of Paris, and as a result of his research, in that respect, he got to meet and got to know 

Lenny Bruce's daughter, and it was really Steve who suggested to Kitty that Brandeis University would 

be the ideal site for the papers of her father. So this would not really happen at all, none of us 

would be here without Steve's initiative and instigation and I want to thank you, really for that.

[applause]

 

You'll be hearing from Steve later this morning, of course, as well as this afternoon, when 

he will be in conversation with Kitty Bruce. I was not privy to that conversation in which 

Steve suggested that Brandeis was the ideal site for that, but I'd like to imagine what the argument 

that Steve offered might have been. We start with the most obvious, which is that we are named for Louis 

Brandeis, the same initials as Lenny Bruce, [laughter] that's the least significant feature, but 

we're an unusual, somewhat unusual University, of course, because we're not named for a benefactor, we're 

not named for a donor, however grateful we are for our benefactors and our donors. We're named for a Supreme Court justice, who himself was one of on the half-dozen, or a short list of those who articulated, 

really, the case for maximizing freedom of expression, one of the Supreme Court justice's most important for, 

in a sense, grasping and foremost fully appreciating, the significance of the First Amendment 

itself, and particularly in his concurring opinion in Whitney versus California, Justice Brandeis 

basically made about a strong a case as anybody has ever made, for the connection between 

the sense of autonomy, the sense of dignity, the sense of self-respect that has to be connected with 

the impulse to express oneself, and how that need for self-expression is also deeply connected 

to any sort of imaginable dynamic and flourishing democracy. 


So that is a tradition that we at the 

University are very proud of, and of course I don't need to tell anybody in this audience the 

connection to Lenny Bruce himself, and that Lenny Bruce was himself a figure who in some ways even went 

beyond the the boundaries of nightclub comedy and performance, in pursuit of maximal self-expression. 

One of his own favorite expressions was the Yiddish term, ams (truth), a variation of the the 

Hebrew emeth (truth), which is in the official Brandeis seal. So there's that connection in a 

sense as well, and just as Lenny Bruce himself, near the end of his life, seemed to even burst the 

boundaries of comedy, and to say very famously quote I'm not a comedian, I'm Lenny Bruce end 

of quote, was a way of, indeed, pushing that effort at truthfulness. So that these are at least some of the 

arguments that Steve might have presented to Kitty as to why there's a special significance why the 

archives are available here, and that brings me to the pleasure of introducing our keynote speaker,

because there are also those particular sorts really of connections as well.


Christie Hefner graduated from Brandeis as Ron has mentioned, as you know from also from the program, 

graduated Phi Beta Kappa in English and American literature, as the department was known at the time, and has 

since then been an extraordinarily loyal, extraordinarily dedicated alumna and supporter of the University and 

we are deeply appreciative, Christy, of the allegiance really that you've shown to the University 

in the succeeding decades. There's an historical reason as well, and that is that in the mid-1950s 

to the late 1950s, Playboy was crucial, in a sense, jump-starting the careers of three major comedians, 

Mort Sahl, Dick Gregory, and of course Lenny Bruce. And in that sense Playboy played an extraordinary 

role in the transformation of American comedy, away from simply, and I'm not disparaging it, away from 

simply gags the rata tatat, effort at jokes, toward a sort of personal effort at pursuing ams, of 

pursuing truth, and in that sense, there's an historic role here that Christie Hefner and her family 

have really played, in that particular change toward something that would indeed alter the direction, 

really, of American comedy, and pursue it in the directions that would allow the understanding, really, of 

perhaps uncomfortable truths whether they be racial, whether they be sexual, whether they be 

political. And finally the argument for Christie Hefner as our commencement as our keynote speaker, is 

also the sense that her own career, both in philanthropy and in her own politics, has also represented 

a rather gallant dedication to both the promotion of and the protection of the First Amendment. So 

it is with great pleasure, and is a great honor for me to invite Christie Hefner to be our keynote 

speaker. [applause]


[CHRISTIE HEFNER approaches and stands at the podium]: 


Thank you Steve very much, actually I wasn't quite old enough to have had a seminal impact 

in the late fifties, and in the sort of wonderful way that synchronicity happens, I actually had nothing 

to do with the gift that my father made, I was not involved in those conversations, and in 

some regards that makes it more sweet, because instead of feeling that I needed to be an actor to 

facilitate it, it happened because all of the parties sought, as Steve so eloquently put it, as 

something that was meant to be, with many points of intersection and many connections. Steve, in terms 

of points of connection, was telling me last night that this is the last semester that he's 

going to be teaching at Brandeis, and he started teaching when I was a student, so I think that's a 

very nice arc, and I want to thank you for all that you have done, because your fingerprints are all 

over this and it would not have been possible without you. [applause] And I also want to thank Kitty, who I've 

known over the years, and who makes it a particular pleasure to be able to be a part of this, to share 

this together. We share the experience of having iconic fathers, but beyond that, we're going to 

talk over the next two days about the legacy of Lenny Bruce. Kitty is the legacy of Lenny Bruce, and it 

was Kitty's vision, and passion, and fierce protectiveness, that preserved all those papers and all those 

extraordinary recordings, and then had the generosity of spirit to make it available, not just 

to her family, but to all of us and we owe her a deep deep debt.[applause] I lastly want to thank Youtube, with 

whom we've partnered, which is going to allow many more people than those in this room to listen in on 

the next two days, and to participate, and even as you heard today in meeting Steve from Paris, 

Lenny himself, his life, his work, his struggles, and the issues raised by all of those, are contemporary 

and global and the more we can amplify the audience engaged in that conversation, the better. 


So these days, we talk a lot about being in an age of disruption, Airbnb and hotels, Netflix and 

Blockbuster, Uber and taxis, Amazon and retailers, and it's true that much of what consumers and 

businesses knew even 15 years ago, has dramatically changed. But while the technologies and 

globalization have accelerated change in our times, we actually think about the fact that being 

disruptive and provocative is not unique to our times and was very much a defining element of 

the late 50s and the early 60s. It's been said the times they were a-changing, and 

perhaps what's most striking about those times, when we compare them to today, is that the changes 

were less about business models, and actually more about ideas and values, about conformity and 

hypocrisy, and the challengers were less often entrepreneurs and more often activists and artists. It's 

easy to lose sight of what America look like in post-world War two era, the man in the 

the gray flannel suit, the happy housewife, the traditional family that was started 

in the early 20s, the Eisenhower years, an age of conformity. But underneath that placid 

surface, a lot of pent up demand for change was roiling. The Feminine Mystique, the Civil Rights 

movement, The Beat Generation, a growing questioning of government, a questioning of traditional 

attitudes about sex and reproduction. Through the impact of the GI Bill, by 1960 the United States 

became the first society to have more college students than farmers. The country was 

poised for a generational prison break, and these non-traditional ideas were being expressed in all 

media, in art, in poetry, in music and film, in books and magazines. There was a space opening up 

in the culture, more oxygen in the air. It was a distinct moment for the transgressive, the avant-garde 

versus the old guard. Born Leonard Alfred Schneider in 1925, Lenny Bruce died 50 years ago, at 

the age of 40, but in his short life he became a superstar, and in the years since then his fame and 

influence have only grown. Comedy Central ranked him the third greatest comedian of all time, 

following Richard Pryor and George Carlin, two clear successors to Lenny's groundbreaking work. As 

Steve alluded to previous generations of comedians, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, had a style 

of telling rapid-fire jokes, a brief setup followed by a punch line, and Lenny's style couldn't have 

been more different. He wrote his own material, rooted in personal experiences, targeting 

the hypocrisy of contemporary society. Along with the others of his time like Mort Sahl and 

Dick Gregory and Elaine May and Mike Nichols, he was more a comic thinker than a comedian, and as Steve 

mentioned, all of those people had some connection to Playboy, featured in the magazine, or performing 

in the Playboy Clubs, or on Playboy Penthouse, the syndicated television show my father hosted. A show 

as an aside that got no carriage in the South, because its format was to feature black performers in 

front of an integrated audience on the set. There were many points of intersection between Lenny and 

my father, which really led up to the logic of the Hugh M. Hefner foundation, making the grant 

that facilitated this acquisition. Playboy was launched in December of 1953, and my father envisioned 

it as a guidebook for the urban male, that would combine lifestyle information with entertainment and 

thoughtful and provocative great writing both fiction and nonfiction. It was underpinned, though 

by a philosophy, a philosophy that centered around the critical importance of personal freedom and 

individual rights, and as a result of that Hef and the magazine were especially interested 

in the other rebels of that time. They published, for example, Jack Kerouac and Fahrenheit 451, they 

assigned Alex Haley to conduct the very first Playboy interview which was with Miles Davis, who 

spent a good deal more time talking about race than music, they broke with the Norman Rockwell 

tradition of straightforward illustration, to feature the work of great artists like Roger 

Brown and Andy Warhol. They launched an annual jazz poll, and organized a Playboy 

jazz festival in Chicago in 1959 to benefit the Urban League. Hef first met Lenny in 1958, when he 

went to San Francisco to hear him perform. This was shortly after Lenny was really breaking 

through with new material and a new style of delivery, that was allowing him to play in night clubs 

that were not also strip clubs. Hef was so impressed that he contacted friends who owned the 

Gate of Horn club in Chicago, and arranged for Lenny to play there. The Illinois obscenity statute 

had recently been amended to reflect the 1957 Supreme Court Roth decision, so many people were 

feeling that clubs, night clubs were really free speech zones. Lenny went on to play Mr. Kelly's in 

Chicago, and that led to his being interviewed by Studs Terkel. The next year, the magazine 

profiled him in an article entitled rebel with a caustic cause. In the early 60s, he appeared on 

Playboy Penthouse, and then the magazine first excerpted it, and then the company published his 

autobiography "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People". Many times, he stayed at the Chicago 

Playboy Mansion when he was in town. I would say, like contemporary art and contemporary jazz, 

Hef dug Lenny. Lenny was more than a gifted disruptive artist experimenting with extremes like 

a Jackson Pollock or a Miles Davis, Lenny became a martyr. Hef also knew what it was like to be 

persecuted, the magazine was denied its second class postal permit and had to go to court to win it. 

That 1959 Jazz Festival I told you about was supposed to be at Soldier Field, but the Catholic Church 

pressured the first mayor Daley to pull the permit. In later years, Hef would be on Nixon's enemies 

list, a source of great pride, and the company would go to court to challenge Reagan's Meese Commission, 

which was pressuring retailers not to sell the magazine, Congress for defunding the 

Braille, yes the Braille edition of Playboy, and a bill that was attempting 

to limit all of cable to the broadcast network standards which resulted in a supreme court victory 

codifying that cable standards would be the same as print and online. In another small world 

connection, that case was argued by Bob Corn Revere. Bob would go on to successfully petition the state 

of New York for Lenny's pardon in 2003, and that inspired Ron Collins's book, "The Trials 

of Lenny Bruce". That book would win a M. Hefner First Amendment award. But in Playboy's 

battles, Hef not only had great lawyers, including some like Harry Calvin,

who also represented Lenny on a pro bono basis, in Hef's battles, he had a large company behind him, and a powerful 

platform in the magazine. Lenny had none of that, just friends, and Hef was one of those friends. A friend who 

believed in Lenny, and who stood with him in the good times, the bad times, the unpopular times, and all times. 


Because alone among the many rebellious artists, talented men and women who were his contemporaries, 

Lenny Bruce was persecuted and prosecuted for his words and his ideas. Because he confronted the 

hypocrisy of institutions and of society, because he was willing to criticize and challenge stereotypes, 

he became a target. Fundamentally, he was busted over and over and over again for blasphemy. But 

because blasphemy is not against the law, he was prosecuted for obscenity. Lenny Bruce was very much 

an artist of his times, Time magazine called him the Elvis of comedy. It was often noted that his 

monologues were delivered in the rhythms of a jazz musician, most famously perhaps his, "to is a 

preposition cum is a verb". But at the same time, I believe that his relevance and resonance today 

couldn't be greater. While it is a tragedy for Lenny and his family that he died so 

young, in some ways his best years came after his death. Because he has left us with a critically 

important legacy, that will begin to be explored over the next two days, by two dozen distinguished 

scholars and thinkers. For my part, I would observe the following, we live in a time when Lenny's 

comic bloodlines have flourished like never before. Much of the comedy we hear today was pioneered by 

Lenny, comedy that similarly challenges and channels the contemporary zeitgeist. That includes not 

only great male comics like Lewis Black, who we'll hear tonight, but incredible female 

comics like Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer. Today comedians, as a matter of course, employ their personal 

lives and voices to comment on society, its mores, its values. When we listen to Steven Colbert, or John 

Oliver, or Jon Stewart, we're going to them not just for comedy, but for critical perspective. Just 

like listening to Lenny made us both laugh and think and sometimes it also made us squirm.

Because a part of Lenny's genius was how he related to an audience, how he created for them, and with them, the 

experience of being overcome with laughter, over that which was both hilarious and 

transgressive. In a time of the Charlie Hebdo murders, we would do well to be thoughtful about the 

role of humor in human affairs, and to think about what are perhaps unacknowledged, the off 

limits of today. As Marty Garbus has said, and we are very fortunate to be hearing from him later 

today, quote the history of the law of free expression is one of vindication, in cases involving speech 

that many citizens find shabby, offensive, or even ugly end quote. After all, we don't need a First 

Amendment to protect popular speech. The First Amendment is unique to America, and in theory widely 

admired, but so much of our discourse about freedom of speech is abstract, starting with the fact that 

it's important to understand that free speech and the First Amendment are not the same 

thing. The First Amendment is necessary but not sufficient. Almost everyone attempting to limit free 

expression starts by saying I'm not for censorship, but as Hugo Black noted, we must not be 

afraid to be free. We should be asking ourselves what is transgressive at this moment, and how do 

we not just protect, but nurture it. We come together on the campus of a great university founded in 

the name of a brilliant jurist, who established the standard for the only kind of speech that I 

believe should be banned, that which is intended and likely to cause immediate violence. Let's be 

careful that our more developed sensitivities around inclusion and diversity don't turn into ways to 

protect people and especially students from challenging ideas. As Robert Zimmer, president of the 

University of Chicago has said, quote universities cannot be viewed as a sanctuary for comfort but 

rather as a crucible for confronting ideas and thereby learning to make informed judgments in complex 

environments.


In the 60s, students were demanding the right to free speech, now at least some students 

demand the right to be free from speech that they find to be offensive, upsetting, or emotionally 

disturbing, and while private universities like private companies such as Facebook and Twitter 

are not bound by the First Amendment, I share the belief of Jeffrey Rosen, legal scholar and head of 

the National Constitution Center, that they would do well to resist pressure to moderate speech or 

content in the name of promoting civility. as Salmon Rushdie, someone who certainly knows firsthand 

what it means to offend has said, quote what is freedom of expression without the freedom to offend 

it ceases to exist. This conference is extremely timely, as during this election season much has 

been noted about the need for greater civility, in our politics, and in the media. I concur. I too worry 

that whereas a different race or religion used to be the greatest concern of parents regarding who 

their child would marry, now it's political affiliation, and whereas back in the 60s everybody watched 

the same TV shows and read the same magazines, now it's so easy to be balkanized and choose to only 

be exposed to those ideas and points of view that we agree with, and that agree with us. Yet 

even as we work towards a more civil union, let's be sure that we remain equally committed to that 

transgressive idea and ideal, that underpinned Lenny's work, that nothing is sacrosanct, 

everything is open to being questioned and challenged and even mocked. Because that is also what 

underpins our Democracy. When Lenny was pardoned back in 2003, it was said in fact, that pardon 

was for the rest of us. Let's be sure we earned it, thank you. 


[INAUDIBLE SPEAKING]


MODERATOR: Great, sorry, could you just use the mic. 


CHRISTIE HEFNER: If you wait, 'cause then that'll get recorded.

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER [stands with the microphone] 


The Library of Congress keeps Playboy magazine in the 

rare book room which, is a very strange place if you've ever done any research there. It got very 

thick carpets, and very polished tables and all. Some years ago when I was doing some research on 

stand-up comedy, I had opportunity to go down there and look it, because playboy published an interview 

with Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Jules Feiffer and I forget who, oh Jonathan Winters, and I wanted to 

use that material. So I went up to the Library Congress rare book room and the librarian very 

aggressively said what do you want that for and I said I don't have to tell you that I said I'm 

a professor at the University of Maryland and even if I weren't, as a US citizen, I have access to 

this. So she brings the volume and then she does a lot of dusting to kind of 

watch what i was doing, and so I waited till she got within eyeshot, and I turned around to the centerfold 

I started taking notes. She's probably still reeling from that.


[laughter]


CHRISTIE HEFNER: Thank you.


AUDIENCE MEMBER [stands with the microphone] 


This isn't really a question but I just want to say that this is really 

a good thing this is happening, you know I was thinking the other day at the end of his life, I mean the day he 

died the Bank of America foreclosed on his house. He hadn't worked in a long time in his, you know he

could get an occasional concert, and that was it. You know I'm told, I've read that he was afraid at the end 

that no one would remember, and I think it's wonderful that fifty years after his death at a Northeastern Ivy 

League school, which is about as far from Lenny Bruce's Hollywood as it's possible to get in the 

continental United States, we are gathering to discuss his, I mean, a scholarly discussion on his 

life, on his career and a celebration of his life. I tend not to refer to Lenny Bruce as a 

comedian, I call him a humorist because in my opinion he's right up there with 

Mark Twain, Robert Benchley, Will Rogers, the best of 'em, you know and I think he's the most 

important humorist of the 20th century and thank you again, my name is Tom Deacon nice to meet you, thank you. [applause]


CHRISTIE HEFNER: Thank you.


AUDIENCE MEMBER [stands with the microphone]


Can you please elaborate a little bit on what you see the dangers to in free speech on the 

campuses, whether its limits of too much political correctness and things like that so just want you to 

elaborate on that a little bit please. 


CHRISTIE HEFNER: 


Sure, I quoted president Zimmer I live in Chicago, and I think all 

universities are grappling with this and where's Greg, so stand up Greg. So Greg is the founder and 

head of an organization called FIRE and we've worked together through the foundation and around 

First Amendment and you should make a point of finding Greg after this session when we're on 

coffee break, because we used to support and still do the student press Law Center which is a 

really wonderful organization that has worked on behalf of the rights of students in, whether they're 

working on their school newspaper, or they are organizing on campus, because many of us feel that 

there's a double harm when you censor, you know, student speech or student journalists, the first is 

the censorship itself, but the second is the message that you're sending to people who are in 

a learning environment, which is so contrary to the message you want to send them. FIRE now, is 

aggressively also working in that space, and Greg can tell you a lot about individual cases.

But, I mentioned President Zimmer because a friend of mine, Jeff Stone, who's a distinguished constitutional 

lawyer, and actually wrote a book called free speech in perilous times that won a Hugh M.

Hefner award a few years ago, was tasked by the University to write a kind of a mission statement that would 

express the university's view that it would not and could not and should not trade off its 

commitment to freedom of expression for comfort, for students, while at the same time being respectful 

of different voices, and that kind of mission statement, if you will, or code is being 

adopted by a number of other schools, and I think they're striking the right balance. But I think that we 

have all seen examples in the press of the hecklers veto, of dis invitations to controversial speakers, 

and as I tried to reference in my own remarks, you know, I am, like everybody else gratified by the 

continuing advancement in our society of respect for diversity, and inclusion, and tolerance that wasn't 

always there, so holding on to those values is important. But where they actually run up against 

the right of free expression is, I think, the moment where we have to say the best antidote to speech 

that we not only don't agree with but we find distasteful or even hateful is more speech.

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER [stands with the microphone] 


I want to raise the Jewish Question. Lenny Bruce allowed me and many of my contemporaries in 

1950s and 60s to re-identify with the Jewish experience, and my first article ever published was Lenny Bruce a 

Jewish humorist in Babylon. Right now, I'm working on a film inspired by your father, it's called 

taking sides, it's a film about Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, and Dick Gregory. I'm wondering why the foundation hasn't 

considered a similar kind of film, because our young people today, given the polluted political 

atmosphere that has come into the discourse, I think we need to reawaken consciousness of Lenny Bruce, 

Mort Sahl, and Dick Gregory.


CHRISTIE HEFNER: Yeah, well the foundation isn't a filmmaker, but there they have given grants 

to films, wonderful films from the celluloid closet, which sort of traced the history of representation 

of homosexuality and film to, gosh, the atomic cafe, so all I would say in answer to the direct 

question, is if you are working on a film you should make an application for support from the foundation, 

and you're quite right that all three of those people had a very deep connection to Playboy, and in fact 

Dick Gregory, who's kind of a casual friend, is unbelievably generous and outspoken about how he 

would not have had a career but for Playboy. Because for a black comic to be able to play in front of an 

integrated audience, either in a club or on television, was really unheard of in the time that he was 

coming of age, and he would say that Playboy gave him the chance. So those issues of race, and personal 

freedom, and free expression, were also I think integrally related. Well, I'm going to turn the podium back 

over to Steve. I'm going to be here all day and all evening and it'd be my pleasure to visit with any 

and all of you during that time so thank you again. 


[Christy leaves the podium - applause]