Poet, preacher, political satirist, diplomat and spy; hob-nobber with Catherine of Russia, Frederick the Great, Voltaire, Cagliostro, Madame de Pompadour, Richelieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau; recipient of the Order of the Golden Spur from Pope Benedict XIV; ejected from a seminary while still in his teens; imprisoned for espionage; expelled from both Florence and Madrid; forced to flee from Warsaw; exiled by the Inquisition: in such a crowded life, it would not be strange if little time could be found for affairs of the heart--and yet it is as an accomplished and prolific lover that the world remembers Giovanni Jacopo Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt.
The theatre, though many playwrights and directors fail to realize it, is not a subtle medium, and misguided souls who speak caressingly of subtlety as an element to be desired on the stage have holes in their long-haired heads. The theatre is a medium of flash and sizzle and color; of abrupt contrasts and loud noises; of bigness; most important, of directness. Ergo: with a few notable exceptions (principally from Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams), the best, the most stimulating, the most theatrical theatre in America is musical comedy. We said musical comedy: this excludes the pompous, "sincere" brand of b.s. promulgated by Messrs. Rodgers & Hammerstein and their emulators -- those semi-operatic problem plays filled with facile half- and quarter-truths about the Dignity of Man, the Goodness of Woman, the Greatness of God and the Okayness of Oklahoma. It is unfortunate that a sizable segment of the American audience has been bullied and snob-appealed into considering the likes of Carousel superior to fresh, peppy, honest shows like Guys and Dolls (stage version), Can-Can, Kismet and The Pajama Game -- but as long as High Mindedness and Noble Intentions are more fashionable than Fun, that's the way things are going to be. Meanwhile, theatre-goers unashamed of having a good time can find enough real musicals and even a few of those rare exceptions which are not musicals but which somehow manage to be excellent theatre anyway.
Armed with five standards and three originals, Wilbur de Paris and His "New" New Orleans Jazz (Atlantic 1219) explains some of the cracked plaster and low-down rumblings you're liable to hear most any night inside Jimmy Ryan's, that moss-covered patio in the Bayou country around West 52nd Street. De Paris' jambalaya, compounded of many good things, comes out with a fine, easy swing, and if the musical idioms are somewhat mixed, we're sure he meant it that way. Joe Gumin's All Star Dixieland Band beats its collective brains out on Dixieland Jazzbake (Decca DL 5535), a two-beat kicker that's strictly jump-for-joy. Joe, we understand, hails from the deep south (Palermo, Sicily), and that certainly helps him interpret such fine old battle cries as Carolina in the Morning and Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble.
Architect for the literary housing development known as Gibbsville, Pa. (Appointment in Samarra, A Rage to Live), John O'Hara has added another tri-level mansion at Ten North Frederick (Random House, $3.95). In this one, he pokes around the well-appointed boudoirs of the Chapin clan, three generations' worth, and reports their after sundown gymnastics just about the way Jack Webb might handle it: "She was under the covers and they kissed and embraced. He put his knee between her legs. She made a sound like a moan." O'Hara does, however, manage to deliver the facts, ma'am -- dull as they sometimes are -- about small town gentry and how ridicuously easy it is for a man to be destroyed by an avaricious female or two, in or out of the sack.
Peppery kootch girls and sugary songs seem to be the main condiments used in the latest reheat of Edward Knoblock's old curry dish, Kismet. Nothing much happens, though, in this Baghdad epic until the appearance of Dolores Gray, a monumentally-constructed charmer who manages to sell a song and send the customer away without bothering to count his change. Dolores is certainly no bagh, dad, and her efforts as a bored, adventuresome harem wife step up both the pace and flair of the film. Howard Keel (the West Coast's idea of Alfred Drake) works hard as Hajj the rhyme-seller; Ann Blyth and Vic Damone nuzzle each other naughtily for the scraps of a sub-plot. Imaginatively staged dance sequences are credited to Jack Cole (no relation to Playboy cartoonist) abetted by a swath of semiattired ladies who cavort with pleasant abandon. Color, too, has been brightly handled, and this entire turban-tableau provides a comfortable hot water bottle for cold winter months. Oh yes, the soaring melodies were penned by a tune-smith named Alex Borodin (1834-1887).
Looking like an opium dream out of Baudelaire, the Crystal Palace in St. Louis (3516 Olive) exudes an eerie sort of charm that makes it a snug gathering place for sophisticates, including the Best People and the theatrical crowd. Just drinks here, but strong, as the bartenders (usually anthropologists, novelists or poets on the side) don't believe in doing things by halves. The long narrow room, with rough brick walls painted blue-black, is dimly, discreetly lighted by four mammoth crystal chandeliers. The most magnificent one has 36 arms, 5000 glistening pendants and 500 lights (we counted them), and came from an 1880 Paris salon. Cozy booths in front of the long bar are fashioned from old, elaborately wrought brass elevator doors; the tables are marble-topped antiques with ice-cream parlor chairs. A huge painting of Sarah Bernhardt (blown up from a Sweet Caporal cigarette coupon and painted over) dominates the marble fireplace, where a roaring log fire is flanked by deep-cushioned lounges. Entertainment is on the smart side: currently Will Holt delivers some crystal-pure ballad singing; Paula Drake's comedy is on the subtle side; and Tommy Wolf charges the rococo atmosphere with cool, creative piano. Open till 1:30 A.M.
Playboy is published monthly by the HMH Publishing Co., Inc., 11 E. Superior, Chicago 11, Illinois. Postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings and photographs submitted if they are to be returned and no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. Entered as second class matter August 5, 1955, at the post office at Chicago, Illinois, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Printed in U. S. A. Contents copyrighted 1956 by HMH Publishing Co., Inc. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any similarity between the people and places mentioned in the fiction and semi-fiction in this magazine and any real people and places is purely coincidental.
"No," Said Mason Bridges, "I don't play poker." There was something about the manner in which he said it that made his friend Tom Ackley look sharply at him. They had been in college together, had been friends for more than fifteen years, and this was the first time Ackley had ever heard just that note in Bridges' voice. He had never thought of Bridges as fanatically puritanical -- indeed, now that he remembered it, hadn't Bridges been one of the very eagerest of the devotees of chance, in their college days?
Just a year ago, the determined, thirty-eight year old light-heavyweight champion of the world was waging a one-man publicity campaign for the very doubtful privilege of climbing into the ring with the brutally powerful Brockton Blockbuster, Rocky Marciano.
On a windy street corner, a shapely miss held tightly to her hat with both hands while her skirt billowed higher and higher about her legs. In response to the amused glances of two masculine passersby, she explained with refreshing candor: "What you are looking at is twenty-three years old, gentlemen; what I'm hanging on to is brand new."
Once Relegated to such mundane tasks as keeping whiskey rings off the spinet and canape crumbs off the kisser, today's yokked-up cocktail napkins are often the life of the party. Their tremendous popularity began about five years ago, we're told, when a Philadelphia manufacturer got the idea of reproducing the cartoons from R. Taylor's Fractured French as novelty napkins (sample: "Tête-à-tête--a tight brassiere"). Since then, a half dozen manufacturers have sold more than fifteen million assorted sets with such provocative titles as Liberated Latin, Yankee Yiddish, Breezy Billboards, Roger Price's Droodles, Shakespeare Howls (illustrated quotations from William's plays), Grand Uproar (on opera), Bridge-isms (on cards), Perennial Bloomers (on flowers), Barhounds (on drinks and drinkers) and Sexual Misbehavior of the Human Male and Female.
Here to Stay: the reed-slim silhouette for men. Companion to the narrow look: jewelry of smaller shape, with less ornate design, a touch of European mood. Colors, too, have returned to a state of nature: sterling silver, cultured pearls, bronze and leather. As a mark of their special forte, racing fans, automobile bugs, television or radio execs can choose clever novelty links. This season, accessory designers are stressing trim, tailored lines that complement the town suit perfectly.
There was in those days--I hope it is there still--a village called Ufferleigh, lying all among the hills and downs of North Hampshire. In every cottage garden there was a giant apple tree, and when these trees were hung red with fruit, and the newly lifted po tatoes lay gleaming between bean-row and cabbage-patch, a young man walked into the village who had never been there before.
In an age when it's impossible to pick up a magazine or newspaper without being told how to do something, I can't imagine how as practical a subject as this has been missed: some real down-to-earth information for imbibers who are weary and worn with ponying up from four to six bits for a snort of the liquid they love.
Diane M. Webber (Marguerite Empey), Miss February, 1956
Everyone expects the final pose to be a pretty and provocative one, but when the model is as attractive as Marguerite Empey even the preparations are a pleasure to behold. This is Marguerite's second Playmate appearance; the photographer is Russ Meyer, who previously filled these pages with pictures of his wife Eve.
Stan Kenton, leader of one of the most successful jazz bands of our generation, is neither a great musician nor a great composer. But through the force of a personality dynamic enough to have made him successful in almost any field of endeavor, he has formed impressive orchestras that have produced great and important music, has presented a number of remarkably talented jazz musicians to an unusually wide audience, and has led them to new jazz horizons never glimpsed before.
The Current Vogue for vodka, rum, and similar alcoholic upstarts notwithstanding, the fact remains that the staple ingredient for much of the world's grandest guzzling is either (a) gin, or (b) whiskey. Conceding this point (and please do, so we can get on with it), it follows that truly discriminating drinkers should be able to tell at a glance which of the mixtures listed on this page are concocted of juniper juice and which are dependent upon the amber-hued elixir. A score of 8 is mildly intoxicating; 12 proclaims you a limber-elbowed gent; and if you get all 17 right--ah, friend, you're feeling no pain whatsoever.
Some writers spend their time doing biographies of people like George Bernard Shaw, Herbert Hoover and Groucho Marx, but since I'm known as the Boswell of Bosoms and am an ex-farm boy, I've chosen as my subject Miss Jayne Mansfield, a gal who has an east forty, and also a west forty.
My good friend Righelini, the physician, secured pleasant lodgings for me in the house of a widow whose daughter he was treating. Accompanying him there one morning, I saw a girl so beautiful, and so marble-pale, that at first I thought she was a statue.
It is characteristic of big American cities that after the still small Puritan voices inside them have sounded long enough they rise up in righteousness and plump overwhelmingly for reform. When that happens, criminal lawyers become very, very busy.
"Increased leisure is one of the greatest civilizers of man!" roared Benjamin Disraeli, the Earl of Beaconsfield, before a dozing House of Commons. It is reported that 72 members of that august body thereupon loosed an ear-busting cheer, and took off for the comfort of home, hearth, port and parlor wench to down a deeper draught of this Great Civilizer: leisure.
Playboy's Playmate gets a chance to stretch out in the new triple-page, fold-out feature beginning in the next issue . . . March also includes an amusing article by Ray Bradbury, a pictorial bedtime story with Eve Meyer, sophisticated fiction, cartoons, articles, humor, another illustrated ballad and a host of other entertaining features.