Transcript: Christie Hefner, Chairman & CEO, Playboy Enterprises

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 5, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: And play time, Playboy Enterprises` operating profits rising 46 percent, revenue up 3 percent. Playboy says that it is benefiting from new technologies, including video-on-demand and wireless services. The stock is up just over 3 percent this year.

So, will these new products help Playboy break out?

With us from Chicago is Christie Hefner. Christie is the chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises.

Christie, good to have you back.


CAVUTO: It’s interesting, that juxtaposition, because we were showing Victoria’s Secret. They’re having some trouble. You’re in a sense in the same biz, very different aspects of it. And you’re doing well. What do you think is going on?

HEFNER: Well, I do agree that they are both sexy brands, but I think Playboy has the advantage of its media businesses, as you mentioned, Neil, the tremendous traction we are seeing with wireless, especially internationally, as well as video-on-demand is creating new opportunities for distribution of our content, which is our biggest business.

And then, on the licensed apparel business, which, for Playboy, is already over $1 billion at retail, I think we really benefit from being a global brand. And we are seeing tremendous growth in our business, both in Asia and in Europe.

CAVUTO: Who is using these wireless devices, downloading a lot of your stuff? And tell me they are not driving as they are using it.

HEFNER: No, I don’t think they are driving as they are using it.

It’s an interesting new technology that, frankly, has been more adapted in Asia and Europe than yet in this country. And what you’re seeing are young people in their 20s using mobile devices for the obvious things that we are used to using them for, cell phone and e-mail, but also to exchange images, to play games, to even watch little videos.

CAVUTO: I’m wondering about this business. You know, a lot of people always say, Christie, after they see you on our show or elsewhere, you know, this woman is profiting from sin. And I know you have handled that, using, you know, this is a free-choice world.

But there was a fear, especially with the Republican Congress and clamping down on indecency and, more to the point, trying to shut up people like Howard Stern, that businesses like yours would be in trouble. How have you weathered that?

HEFNER: Well, we have weathered it very well. But I think there’s a reason for that, in that Playboy is truly the Good Housekeeping seal of approval of quality entertainment for grownups.

And I mean by that that we market our products to grownups. So, the Playboy video game that shipped early this year is M-rated. Our Playboy television programming is enjoyed by couples. And it’s an adult pay service. The magazine is age-verified at the newsstand.

And I think what concerns most people, frankly, particularly parents, is what kind of content kids are accessing. And that’s not the world in which we market.

CAVUTO: Do you have kids yourself, Christie?

HEFNER: No, I don’t. I am going to be married 10 years this summer, but we don’t have children.

CAVUTO: OK. But you have nieces, nephews, that sort of thing?

HEFNER: Absolutely. And I have two stepbrothers, of course, because my father remarried and has two young boys.

CAVUTO: That’s right. Do you feel nervous about them looking at the stuff?

HEFNER: Not at Playboy, frankly.

I mean, I think Playboy has for 50 years been a rite of passage for young men. And, frankly, in a world that is so sexualized, both the quality standards of the magazine and the editorial voice, which really is one that is both admiring and respectful of women, is I think probably the best rite of passage you could choose in the pop culture today for young men.

CAVUTO: What about this tone in society? Has it swung back, where people are less judgmental about this sort of thing?

HEFNER: Well, I think a lot of people are concerned about violence, and violence both in the media and then, of course, in the most profound sense, violence on our streets.

In that sense, I think Europe is a little different from America, in that it’s more apt to, you know, censor violent films than films with sexiness.

CAVUTO: That’s true.

HEFNER: And I think that they may be on to something there.


HEFNER: We have always thought of Playboy as sort of the celebration of the opposite of anything that’s hurtful.

CAVUTO: Christie, thank you very much. It’s very good having you.

HEFNER: My pleasure.

CAVUTO: Christie Hefner, the chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises in Chicago.

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