Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Engagement of Hef and Crystal

On Christmas Eve Hugh "Hef" Hefner, the octogenarian mogul of the Playboy Empire, announced his engagement to the latest in a series of young, blonde girlfriends, 24-year-old Crystal Harris. This is the happy couple:

Now, there's a part of me that's shouting "Go, Hef - You carry high the banner of older men's dreams!" And there's another part of me that's saying, "Ugh."

Have we not had enough of May-December golddigging? Remember the miserable saga of Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall? That didn't end very well, and there was a 62-year difference in their ages. The age difference between Hef and Crystal is a mere 60 years. Do you suppose this match will turn out better?

Why do older men seek out younger women, and younger women gravitate to older men? There's an interesting article by University of Washington sociologist and advice author Pepper Schwartz on CNN that looks at the question: Hef and Crystal: Why Not? She writes,

He has money, fame, a lifetime of good stories and useful networks. She gives him the prestige that a glamorous woman bestows upon her beau, a few virility points (if we believe that's part of the bargain) and the daily flattery of having a beautiful, and we hope nice, woman fussing over him, holding his hand and making sure he gets his vitamins. Not a bad deal for either of them actually.

True enough. Age doesn't necessarily have much to do with love and the chemistry between two people, and each partner looks at a prospective May-December match from his or her own set of priorities. The advantages to Hef are obvious, and Ms Schwartz described them well in the passage I quoted above. But what does the younger woman get out of the deal? She gets an established, relatively stable man able to provide for her, one who is probably not all that sexually demanding (the influence of Viagra notwithstanding) and who will likely not be around very long before shuffling off his mortal coil and leaving all or a significant portion of his wealth to her while she's still young enough to enjoy it.

Why don't we see the opposite very often - an elderly woman wedding a much younger man? It happens, of course, but far less frequently than the reverse. I suspect there are two main reasons: an older woman is less likely to be independently wealthy (and thus provide long-term security to a younger partner), and she's probably less likely to be sexually desirable to a young man. These are not universal truths, of course, but they seem to be accurate.

So, what do we say about Hef and Crystal? I say, give them the benefit of the doubt. Crystal has no doubt made her own tradeoff analysis and decided that the long-term social and economic benefits of marrying Hef outweigh the burden of the inevitable late-night TV jokes and snide comments about gold-diggers. For his part, Hef gets a stunning young lady to help ease him through his declining years. He's probably depressed that Agnes wasn't available, but he's done well enough with what was left over on the marriage market.

Good luck, you two. You'll need it.

Too bad there's not a Viagra equivalent for Crystal.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



KKTSews said...

You've got to be kidding when you suggest she's made a logical choice that will end/result in her being taken care of for the foreseeable future! With his track record, chances are not good that the marriage will outlive him.

So, sure, she might get a good boost to her career because of this; at least some notariety, which is probably the best she can hope for. She'll get some nice clothes and some jewelery. But no doubt there's a pre-nup that prevents her from taking home his fortune. Hef's too smart for that (and I say that with little respect for him; it's just reality because he's clearly a good businessman).

There may be benefits to both sides, but as is so often the case, I think the male is getting the better end of the deal while the young female has to be happy with the best deal she can get. It sells her short, but she likely won't see or admit that, figuring she's put one over on old Hef and is "in control". Hah! As if.

Why doesn't this happen the other way very often? Other than Cher, I can't think of an example of 40 year or more age difference and perhaps it's because some of these classy older women no longer define themselves by the arm candy they host...and want to shine on their own?

KKTSews said...

Uh...that would be "jewelry". Too early to think AND spell.

Raquel's World said...

I think their relationship is cute. But he never married Holly and that's where I think he should have taken the risk. Crystal seems nice but I think Holly genuinely cared for him. I wonder how much of this proposal has to do with the fact that his life clocking is ticking.

Bandit said...

Hef has a daughter who runs the empire and she has to be much older than this gal.

Hi Mommy!?

KathyA said...

I think he is one of the most repulsive men I've ever read about. He nauseates me. Besides that I have no opinion. :)

John A Hill said...

KKT, when you say, "I think the male is getting the better 'end' of the deal..." What exactly are you talking about?

Mike said...

When she gets to be an old hag of 26 he'll dunp her for a newer model.

Mike said...


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Now I wonder what he sees in Crystal?