Adress Dear Playboy, Playboy Magazine, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611, Or Fax 312-440-5454
Thank you for the January Playboy Interview with comedian-actor-singer-dancer-magician Steve Martin, one of today's truly creative talents. It seems paradoxical that a man who made himself famous by faking an arrow through his head comes off in the interview as dignified, serious and humble without being pretentious or falsely self-effacing.
There is, of course, a long history of comics' being very serious offstage, with personalities ranging from tortured to just plain jerks. But having already been pompous, self-centered, oversensitive, falsely modest and obnoxious in his comedy routines, Martin has freed himself to be the opposite of all those qualities.
Tom Howard, Phoenix, Arizona
Steve Martin can tap-dance, juggle, recite, act and write a movie concurrently, which puts him head and shoulders above the rest of what passes for talent in Hollywood.
Keep your feet and mind tapping, Steve. What you have and where you are have been well earned.
Dorman Nelson, Granada Hills, California
Nuke the Pentagon
I'd like to see Colonel David Hackworth as our next Secretary of Defense. I've read his book About Face and some of his reports in Newsweek, but his article Nuke the Pentagon (Playboy, January) convinced me that he is the best candidate for Defense Secretary.
William H. K. Chu, Lake Orion, Michigan
I agree wholeheartedly with Colonel David Hackworth. The corrupt Pentagon should be blown away. Or, more practically, we should run those paper renegades out of town into the Virginia hills and renovate the building to house the area's homeless.
During my military career on staff and R&D assignments, the rule of thumb was: If it's practical, don't do it. Regulations, by and large, are written to create jobs and confusion.
As an ex-Army aviator (both fixed and rotary wing), I wouldn't fly that Osprey contraption for a million dollars. In certain flight modes it has a "dead man's curve," and, so far, it has been a $2 billion disaster. The need for the B-1 and B-2 bombers is a joke. Viva Hackworth for having the guts to tell it like it is.
Tony Lenic, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.), Stockbridge, Georgia
As a Playboy subscriber from issue one and a Vietnam vet (1964-1966, 173rd Airborne Brigade), I believe that David Hackworth's Nuke the Pentagon is the most important writing to appear in your magazine since The Playboy Philosophy. In his book About Face, Hack is very critical of my old outfit--and right on target. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Vietnam was the arrogant stupidity of our leadership. A military composed of officers like Hack would have won that war; a government led by men like him would never have entered it.
The time has come to make the changes to ensure that there will be no more senseless sacrifice of American lives in poorly led military adventures.
My brothers on the Wall deserve nothing less.
Larry Heer, Carnelian Bay, California
How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?
Although my wife and I have always encouraged our children (both girls) to view all people as individuals rather than as stereotypes, I have to admit that it has bothered me lately that our oldest (age 15) has seemed inordinately attracted to black rap music and rappers. I've tried to be open-minded about it, but I think my irritation has shone through.
Thanks to Trey Ellis' guest opinion in Playboy in the January Mantrack ("How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?"), I now have a better idea why my daughter is drawn to a kind of musical culture that, so far as her actual experience goes, is totally alien. As Ellis writes, from a black man's perspective, "Finally, and curiously, some of the stereotypes that make us seem the least human--and the most animalistic--also make us seem the most male. We are famous around the world for our physical and sexual potency. Although we hate being America's villains, it's not all bad. In America, villains have always been perversely revered."
The implications of that statement stay with me as I listen to my daughter's stereo blaring Ice Cube. I guess if my wife and I actually hung out with people like Ice Cube, Ice-T and other seemingly dangerous, frozen African-American concoctions, they wouldn't seem so dangerous and thus appealing to girls like my daughter.
Fred Carlisle, Park Ridge, Illinois
Woman on the Verge
Thanks to Pete Hamill for his thorough, thought-provoking exposé of Catharine MacKinnon and her equally wacko friend, Andrea Dworkin (Woman on the Verge of a Legal Breakdown, Playboy, January).
These sick individuals should be put in their place: an insane asylum. As Hamill so eloquently pointed out, we don't need another authoritarian government telling us what we can and cannot do. It frightens me to know that people like MacKinnon and Dworkin exist in modern civilization.
Warren H. Radtke, Bensenville, Illinois
Pete Hamill's profile of Catharine MacKinnon provides strong arguments against the New Victorians, who include feminists and the religious right. They espouse legal suppression of all pornography, as defined extensively in a pamphlet written by MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin.
But while Hamill writes that their agenda has several major flaws, from this male's perspective, so do Hamill's arguments when he seems to overlook that women have lacked the power in America to determine their rights and opportunities in social, economic and political spheres. More problems arise when Hamill uses phrases such as "common sense tells us." The term common sense is no solid ground for an argument because all people (especially in America) do not share an understanding of it. Hamill goes further to refer to a universal instinct to dominate, an arguable assumption at best.
Although I agree with many of Hamill's oppositions to First Amendment infringement, I think he should have used fewer assumptions and speculations to support his views.
Gabriel Mendes, Brooklyn, New York
An Echo of Beauty
It's amazing that in the same issue of Playboy (January) you have Pete Hamill's article about Catharine MacKinnon as well as January Playmate Echo Leta Johnson (Shout Echo!), with her relaxed sexuality. I hope that one day beautiful women like Echo will find the voices to tell MacKinnon and Dworkin that they are preposterous.
Rich Weinstein, Altamonte Springs, Florida
Barbi Twins Encore
Your second pictorial of the sensational Barbi twins (Twice More, with Feeling, Playboy, January) is the most sensual and erotic feature I've ever seen in your magazine. In addition to being incredibly beautiful, Shane and Sia possess flawless bodies. It's hard to believe that there are two such identically heavenly creatures on the face of this earth.
Roger A. Wright, Annandale, Virginia
I just finished the January issue and am blown away by the beauty of the Barbi twins. Shane and Sia are gorgeous! Theirs is one of the best pictorials I've seen in a long time.
Dan Ingald, Colorado Springs, Colorado
When Hugh Hefner started Playboy, his idea was to feature women who are wholesome, natural and pretty in the mode of "the girl next door." Well, you've missed that boat badly with the Barbi twins, whose claim to fame is oversized, unattractive breasts. They are nothing like "the girl next door."
Howard Stiles, San Gabriel, California
Baber's Prudes at Sea
Contributing Editor Asa Baber is way off base with his diatribe "Prudes at Sea" (Men, Playboy, January) concerning that off-color remark by Howie Mandel in his concert at the Naval Academy.
In inviting female midshipmen onstage to perform a blow job, Mandel was showing contempt for any good manners midshipmen might have. His remark was in bad taste, vulgar, unforgivable and certainly not funny.
If Baber thinks the remark is funny, he's a throwback to his preschool days.
Kenneth J. Kehoe, Chicago, Illinois
So Asa Baber didn't find anything offensive in Howie Mandel's invitation to the female midshipmen at Annapolis to join him onstage and perform oral sex? What if Mandel had made the same suggestion to the male members of the audience? Would that have qualified as "male humor"?
Thinking like this is what made the good old boys at the Tailhook Association think it was great fun to grab and grope their female counterparts. Yet these same guys recoil in horror at the thought of gays' being allowed in the military, perhaps because some "sex-crazed" homosexuals might think it was OK to grab and grope the men. After all, heterosexuals have already set the precedent.
Fantasizing about blow jobs isn't the issue. The issue is singling out one sex as the butt of offensive humor. Baber's definition of male humor seems to mean it is OK to demean females so the boys can have a laugh. That's not just juvenile, it's sick.
As a former Navy man, I am well aware of the kind of juvenile sexist attitudes prevalent among military men. I am surprised to find them so blatantly displayed in what is supposed to be an urbane men's magazine that professes to hold women in high regard.
Homer T. Meaders, Palo Alto, California
In Bonehead Quotes of the Year (Playboy, January), author Larry Engelmann omits the biggest bonehead remark of all, Bill "Slick Willie" Clinton's "I didn't inhale." Your magazine rips the hell out of conservatives but lets leftist and radical Democrats off scot-free.
Harry Britt, San Francisco, California