Yesterday the Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner, passed away at the age of 91. As tributes to the publishing icon rolled in, topics ranged from jokes about it being impossible for him to be in a better place, to earnest recognition of his commitment to civil rights and sexual liberation. But few of the tributes mentioned his not insignificant contribution to dance music.
Hugh Hefner is, perhaps indirectly, responsible for some of the greatest mix albums in recent memory - A Night at the Playboy Mansion (1+2) and Knights of the Playboy Mansion.
Involved in both the compilations, was France's finest, Dimitri from Paris. Going solo in A Night at... and teaming up with fellow lothario, Bob Sinclar, for Knights... Dimitri has had a long and storied relationship with the mansion.
In a tribute post on Facebook yesterday, Dimitri told the story of how the mixes came about and of his time meeting with Hef.
We've copied the story in it's entirety below.
"In March 1998 we had an event with my friends, the Respect Is Burning crew of Parisian promoters, at club Groove Jet in Miami, for the Winter Music Conference.
It turned out the club had a co-branding deal with Playboy magazine, and was worried we would not be happy about it, us the underground French bunch.
On the contrary, we considered the brand to be quite cool ! A lot of French graphic designers were ripping vintage copies of the magazine for record, flyer art, and outside of the nudie element, Playboy had been pushing edgy, ground breaking art, and editorial content, from the 60 throughout the 80s.
They had hired young, clued up reps, and were at the time looking to get a new, younger, readership.
The French Touch was then at its peak, and over a casual conversation, they offered Respect Is Burning and myself, to come throw a party at the Playboy Mansion.
We didn’t know much more that the actual name of the place, but were of course very intrigued and willing to make it happen.
The one condition for us to actually get to do this, was that the reps needed a reason, concept, for the event, so the they could pitch it to Hugh Hefner.
They told us that despite its global reach, Playboy was a family run type of business, and Hef as they lovingly called him, was overseeing every single, no matter how small, decision.
“Do you have a new album coming out soon” they asked ? “that would be a great opportunity to do a launch party at the Mansion”
Neither myself not Respect had a release in the works, but we looked at each other, and replied: “how about we just make a new record, taylor made for you” ?
We asked if they could open us the Playboy archive, so we could dig graphic elements for the artwork, they said yes.
We said that we would probably not have huge amounts of money to give them, our music was not the most popular at that time, they said money would not be an issue.
All they required, was that Hef needed to approve: the concept, the artwork, and - what made me instantly like him - the musical content.
Fast forward a few months, and trips to the New York Playboy Industries archive, the selection, mix and artwork of A Night At The Playboy Mansion is done.
The glory days of the Playboy Mansion parties were in the mid seventies, and I figured the music would be mostly Disco, of the happy and hedonistic kind.
I had asked my friends - typeset makers - House Industries to join in, and they crafted a specific font they named Chalet for the job.
Together with Vincent Bergerat, Respect Is Burning's in-house graphic designer, they created the beautiful artwork, focusing on the 1971 Playboy cover shot, featuring Darine Stern, that has gone iconic from then on.
At that point, everything had to be run through Hugh Hefner for approval.
After a few days of anxious waiting the answer came back:
“Hef likes the whole package, he loves the music too!”
On April 29th 1999, the launch party took place at the infamous Beverly Hills Playboy Mansion, Hugh Hefner’s residence.
We all met Hef, and despite the brash world he created, he was a delightful soft spoken person.
A Night At The Playboy Mansion, went on to sell over 400.000 copies, got golden disc awards, was even bootlegged, and sparked a series of 4 more CDs.
The series definitely helped my name get around the world, as well as a particular sound, deeply rooted in afro-american Disco music.
Thank you Hugh Hefner, that wouldn't have been possible without you!
I have no doubt your legacy will stay strong, may you rest in peace." -
Dimitri from Paris will be headline Groove Odyssey's 8th Birthday, tickets & info here.