Medill News Service
CHICAGO -- Hugh Hefner got his Way on Tuesday.
After emotional testimony from aldermen and others, the City Council Finance
Committee voted to bestow the honorary title "Hugh Hefner Way" to the
intersection of Michigan Avenue and Walton Street.
The location is the site of the original Playboy Club and the Palmolive
Building, where Playboy used to have its offices. Supporters and opponents of
the honor appeared before the committee, chaired by 14th Ward Alderman Edward
Hefner's daughter, Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner, 47, defended her
father, saying: "It's important that you understand the decades-long record
that my father and the magazine have accomplished and stand for in support of
economic justice for women, equality between the sexes and the Equal Rights
She added that both feminist author and activist Betty Friedan and slain civil
rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. published their views in the magazine,
which is popularly known for its photos of naked women.
Chairman Burke sided with Christie Hefner and, after later testimony denouncing
her father, he told her he was sorry she had to hear the attacks.
Alderman Carrie M. Austin, 34th, angrily objected to the proposal.
"It's my opinion as a female (and) as a representative of the City of Chicago
and the 34th Ward, that (Hefner]) should not be honored because he has made his
millions and millions of dollars on the backs of women from exploiting
females," she said.
A witness, University of Chicago law student James Madigan, agreed.
"I just want to expose a bit of truth: Mr. Hefner's success is due to one basic
business service," Madigan said. "He gets women to expose their genitalia for
Madigan brought a copy of Playboy and told the committee that it was the first
time he had ever bought one. He initially said that he would spare the
committee the sight of the magazine's pictures, but then invited committee
members to see them. When committee members urged him to hold up the
centerfold, Madigan did.
Burke called for a vote and quickly pronounced the motion approved.
Hours later, the action moved to the intersection of Michigan and Walton, where
a crowd watched as the sign went up.
Among them was 74-year-old Hugh Hefner himself, who said he was "struck and
saddened" by the negative statements made against him and called on citizens to
"embrace our sexuality." Twin Playboy models Mandy and Sandy Bentley, 21, who
are dating Hefner, arrived with him and said they were proud of his
Alderman Burton F. Natarus, 42nd, a friend and supporter of Hefner, proposed
the honor at a Transportation and Public Way Committee meeting Monday. The
committee voted against the proposal after hearing angry opposition from
aldermen and witnesses, who found it offensive to women.
When Finance Committee members questioned whether the move from Transportation
to Finance was allowed under City Council rules, Burke replied that Finance had
to consider the measure in the absence of any other committee meetings before
Wednesday's full Council meeting.
However, the Council had scheduled a police and fire committee meeting for
11:30 a.m. Tuesday and a license and consumer protection committee meeting for
While the proposal must get the full Council's approval Wednesday to become
official, the city can post honorary signs for six months without Council