You have built an empire by marketing a liberal view of sexuality. Is there anything in your life that you are conservative about? Beth Nolcox, NEW YORK CITY
Well, yes. I was raised in a very traditional home, and I'm still a very traditional fellow. My problem is the labels of conservative and liberal don't usually work very well for me. I'm not a guy, for example, who believes in political correctness. I think people ought to be people and shouldn't be so concerned with the fact that their neighbors are different than they are.
How much have views of sex changed since you started Playboy? Jeff Wolman SILVER SPRING, MD.
I think sex in America has changed dramatically, and young people don't have any real notion as to how much. When I first published Playboy, nice young people did not live together before they got married. Having a baby out of wedlock was a scandal that drove some people to suicide. Oral sex was illegal. Playboy played a major part in changing all that.
How do you feel about Proposition 8? Do you feel it is fair to treat gay people as second-class citizens? Richard Meyer, SAN FRANCISCO
I believe gays should have the same rights as everybody else, and they should have the right to marry. We have a Constitution to protect us against mob rule. If we simply went by what is popular, black men probably wouldn't have equal rights.
You seem to have good relationships with all your past girlfriends. How do you do that? Nancy Lee, BOSTON
I think that is because the relationships have been good ones and because I care about people. I think there is something very, very sad if you are married to someone or have a relationship with somebody and then wind up enemies or hating one another. What you're doing is really cutting away a part of your own past.
What is the No. 1 quality you think makes a woman a sex symbol? Erika Mendoza SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
Well, the No. 1 thing is looks. But then you have to get into something that's much more unique, and that's personality. The universal sex symbol of the 20th century was Marilyn Monroe because she was both sexual and vulnerable. That combination had tremendous appeal.
Where do you get your pajamas? Jessica Montgomery DULUTH, MINN.
All of my pajamas are silk and are custom-made. I'd be happy to disclose if I knew by whom.
Your industry is often accused of being damaging to women, yet you assert that you are an active feminist. Could you clarify this position? Thayne Stoddard NEW HAVEN, CONN.
My industry is magazine publishing. Pornography? That isn't my industry. If you call sexual images pornography, then they are negative. If you call those same images erotic, they are positive. I'm not an active feminist. I'm an active humanist. I separated ways from feminism when it became antisexual. I believe embracing sexuality is part of what it means to be free.
Is sex as good at the age of 82 as it was at 33? Andrew Webster, SYDNEY
I wish I remembered more clearly what sex was like when I was 33. I would say it is better now. But, of course, I know a few more tricks now than I did back then.
Do you ever grow tired of the playboy lifestyle and regret not settling down? Ceara Jolliff, COLLINSVILLE, ILL.
I've tried it both ways. I've been married twice, and the only time I wasn't having a lot of sex was when I was married. I look back over the years--the happiest times for me were the times in the early stages of romantic love, when the passion is strongest and when you truly care about somebody and someone really cares about you. Young love, new love, keeps you young.
Do you ever feel like a dirty old man? Lisa Pearl, TORONTO
Not for a moment. I'm on the side of the angels and always have been.