Address Dear Playboy, Building 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60611
Your October cover, featuring the eminently kissable face of October Playmate Brandi Brandt, is delicious, particularly after the "sophisticated" but somewhat chilly August and September covers featuring Paulina Porizkova and Maryam d'Abo, respectively. A girl who looks like she wants to kiss is always a good subject for a Playboy cover, and I speak as a 20-year subscriber who's seen about 250 of them.
Nat Stein, New York, New York
In his Playboy Interview (October), Major General Richard Secord takes a number of shots at me concerning references to him in my book Manhunt about the activities, capture and conviction of the rogue CIA agent Edwin P. Wilson.
General Secord says that I had him by a pool at Wilson's Virginia estate, though, according to Secord, there was no pool. He reports a conversation with me in which he pointed this out and quotes me as telling him, "Oh, that was just cosmetic."
I want to apprise Playboy and, I trust, its readers that the conversation Secord conjured up never occurred. The reason is that I have never spoken with him in my life. Despite my best efforts, he refused to give me an interview.
(By the way, the pool at Wilson's not only was quite large and heated but boasted a waterfall.)
Secord laughs off his alleged connection with a freight-forwarding firm called EATSCO. He says that it is always "the recipient country's responsibility [in this case, Egypt's] to provide transportation" for military aid. But that's what made the incident so special. In this instance, the Pentagon had an absolute say in what company got the contract, since the U.S. Government had forked over in advance the cost of shipping arms to Egypt, upwards of $70,000,000.
Secord also says that my description of his retirement from active duty after the EATSCO affair was completely "inaccurate." But when this got to be a hot topic in public, Frank Carlucci, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, was quoted in an interview in The New York Times confirming my account.
Secord accuses me of using the Iran/ Contra scandal as an opportunity to "market" Manhunt. The book, however, was published in April 1986 and was on the best-seller list of The New York Times months before any outsiders, including me, had ever heard of the Iran/Contra business.
Finally, Secord says that I "twisted around" his appearance at one of Wilson's trials and that he was actually testifying as a Government witness. The court transcript clearly shows, however, that he was summoned 'to the stand by the defense.
Possibly General Secord's most pressing need is for a good ophthalmologist, in more ways than one.
Peter Maas, New York, New York
As a Vietnam veteran and Army reservist, I can appreciate General Secord's many patriotic actions; but his comments concerning the freight-forwarding industry disturb me and warrant comment.
I am in the freight-forwarding business and have been for many years. In order to be an ocean-freight forwarder in the United States, a firm must be licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission. This organization, as well as the U.S. Customs Service, Department of Commerce and other branches of our Government, monitors the activities of firms such as my own to help ensure compliance with Federal laws governing the import or export of goods to and from our country. Commissions paid by steamship lines are published and are subject to audit by the FMC. Goods of high-tech capabilities or potential use in weapons systems require export licenses prior to shipment overseas, and these laws are obeyed every day by many honest exporters, freight forwarders and commercial carriers (both air and ocean).
As in any profession, there are people who can and will use their influence and/or personal contacts to make a profit in a dubious manner. The general may or may not have been involved with Edwin P. Wilson in his dealings with Libya, and his reported profits of $8,000,000 on the sale of arms to Iran may or may not have been illegal. However, he should be reminded of the old saying "Tell me who you associate with and I will tell you what you are."
(By the way, our company is not another Air America; we just happen to like the name Pentagon.)
R. Michael Miller, Vice-President, and General Manager, Pentagon Freight Services, Inc., Houston, Texas
I know some readers will write to say that your pictorial on Donna Mills (Oh, Donna!, Playboy, October) isn't revealing enough, but as a longtime Donna Mills fan, I was delighted and relieved to see that she didn't reveal everything. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I prefer that some things be left to the imagination when I'm looking at a woman whose personality makes my blood hot. Donna showed just enough to drive me to distraction.
Gary Holmes, Boston, Massachusetts
Homophobia Vs. Heterophobia
Hooray for Asa Baber's Men column "Hitler's Dream" (Playboy, October). I'm a gay man who subscribes to Playboy because I enjoy the magazine. I regret that more gay men won't be reading that column, because Baber makes some great points. There is a huge gap in communication between gay men and straight men, and the majority of the blame lies with straight men; but gay men could do an awful lot that they're not doing because of their own heterophobia. Heterophobia is just as harmful as homophobia. I have too many gay friends who are at a loss in a straight crowd. Maybe they're intimidated, but I think that's a cop-out. Have you ever tried to talk football in a gay bar? It's not a happy experience. You just get blown off (no pun intended) by guys who think this is just your way of appearing macho and heterosexual. And God forbid I should have a copy of Playboy lying on my coffee table when I have gay friends over. They think I'm just not facing reality.
Straight men and gay men aren't really all that different (much to the dismay of both). We all have egos, hang-ups and fears. Thanks, Asa, for giving us food for thought.
(Name withheld by request) Wichita, Kansas
As a constituent of Congressman Barney Frank's, I take issue with Asa Baber's Men column in the October Playboy.
In an essay that purports to encourage a dialog between gay and straight males and condemns gay-bashing, Baber engages in a bit of gay-baiting himself.
I suspect that sour grapes over having his interview request rejected induced Baber to attack Congressman Frank and to conclude that Frank's refusal to speak with Playboy (which Baber equated with a refusal to open a dialog between gays and straights) could contribute to the return of fascist leadership (in response to the issue of AIDS).
It is my belief that Congressman Frank's personal activities are his own business. His refusal to be interviewed by Playboy doesn't mean that he's against open discussion between gay and straight males.
Straight people have no idea how hard or how isolated life is for gays in or out of the closet. Frank showed great courage in his announcement of something that really is none of our business, and that, by itself, is a step toward progress in gay-straight relations.
John Rosenfeld, Newton, Massachusetts
Alzheimer's IS NO JOKE
I'm writing in regard to your Party Joke on Alzheimer's disease in the October issue. My husband and I found no humor in this joke and felt that it was in very poor taste.
My husband's father has this disease, and it has taken a toll on his entire family, especially his mother. Each day, we watch his father die slowly. I hope neither you nor anyone you care for ever suffers from Alzheimer's.
Mrs. Gerald T. Lane, King, North Carolina
We regret that some of our readers found the Party Joke offensive. Sometimes, in attempting to make light of deeply troubling situations, we inadvertently offend those who have a personal stake. Nothing, naturally, could be further from our intention.
Men on Women
Cynthia Heimel's Women column "Courtship" (Playboy, October) points up the reason men are reluctant to bare their souls to their romantic partners. Men realize that what they say will quickly be shared with a half dozen other women. When women learn to be more discreet, then they can reasonably expect men to be more open and honest with them.
Paul Thiel, Crescent Springs, Kentucky
Cynthia Heimel's Women column in the September Playboy, titled "Men Who Love Too Little," is by far the best of her many good essays and raises some painful and honest questions.
Are men victims of our own supposed stoicism? Do we stay in destructive or castrating relationships because we don't realize or won't admit the amount of damage being done to us?
My only objection is to Heimel's title. I suspect that if the essay had been about women who have given up on romance, it would have borne a title such as "Women Who Have Been Hurt Too Much." Being wounded to the point of not finding the whole enterprise worth the trouble is, in fact, what we're talking about.
Scott Baltic, Chicago, Illinois
Our December issue pictures an extraordinary watch, the Pasha de Cartier, and lists the price as $2400. Would that it were so. Add a zero, guys. We're awfully sorry.
A Note to our Subscribers
Many of you wrote or called to complain that you received your November issue late. The volume of material involved in Jessica Hahn's story forced us to take extra time in the editing and research process. As a result, we were late delivering copy to our presses and to the bindery. We prize our subscribers and regret the delayed delivery of your copies. Please accept our apologies. —The Editors