Last night, I joined a handful of other writers to visit the infamous Playboy Mansion for a press event for the upcoming movie Parker, starring Jason Statham. While we did see a screening of the movie, we're not allowed to let you know what we thought of it until the movie opens next Friday, January 25th, so this post will concentrate on a separate art event they had there as well as my personal photos from the tour we took of Hugh Hefner's mansion.
Getting a chance to see The Playboy Mansion is something most men can only dream of. And while we didn't get to meet Hef (he wasn't present for the event), getting a tour of the mansion from a Playboy Bunny was good enough. As you cruise up the steep driveway past the gated entryway, you pass a street sign that says "Playmates At Play" and can see the Mansion looming in the distance (almost like Wayne Manor, for you Batman geeks out there). After valet parking in a roundabout driveway near an ornate fountain, I walked into the main hallway of the Mansion itself (complete with a portrait of Hugh Hefner himself, lookin' a bit like Sean Connery, smoking a pipe and overlooking us all from above).
The room was decked out with artwork from a show they were having there called Art of the Heist, which featured work from a bunch of different artists who used the story of Parker to get inspired and create their own unique takes on the subject matter of heists, revenge, action, and redemption. The winner, Jeffrey Farris, was flown out from Austin, Texas, and hung out with us at the event. Here are all of the entries, with Jeff's winning piece (also displayed on a wall on La Brea Avenue here in Hollywood) as the last one in this set of pictures:
Nikki Leigh (Miss May 2012) was the tour guide for my small group, and she walked us out to the pool, showing us the waterfall and the infamous grotto behind it.
Nikki guided us into Hef's aviary, where he keeps birds from all over the world (including toucans and parrots) in a big, Jurassic Park-esque building. Even though you're inside, it feels as if you're walking through a jungle, with red and green lights setting the mood and the animals hanging out in their massive habitats. There were also iguanas, fish, and even a few monkeys there, too, but this giant bird apparently wanders the grounds without having to stay inside like the rest of his friends:
She also showed us the game room, in which Hef collects Playboy-themed pinball machines. It's full of classic old school games, a foosball table, and a pool table, and Nikki told us the girls love going there to hang out and let off some steam. There's a caricature of Hef hanging on the wall that was given to him by Dean Martin back in the day, and also a huge, novelty-sized five dollar bill that was a gift to Hef from Esquire for Playboy's 25th Anniversary. (The story goes that when Hef worked for Esquire, before founding Playboy, he asked for a five dollar raise and they refused. So he left to do his own thing, and they gave him this gift as a nice gesture years later to show there were no hard feelings.)
Special thanks to all of the artists for their work on all of their Parker-inspired art, and a huge thanks to the folks at Film District for the invite to the Mansion and to Nikki for the tour. You can get a higher quality glimpse of all the artwork here, and Parker opens in theaters on January 25th, 2013.