We've introduced a number of our staff members on this page in issues past. This month we'd like you to meet Editor-Publisher Hugh M. Hefner, the man responsible for the pulse, the personality and the very existence of this magazine. The lean, restless young fellow who presides over Playboy is something of a phenomenon in the publishing world. A little more than three years ago, Hefner talked of creating a special kind of magazine -- a handsome monthly package of fiction, humor, articles and pictorial features aimed not at a "general" audience of men, women and children, nor at that segment of the male citizenry primarily interested in the great out-of-doors, but, rather, at the young urban man who appreciates the pleasures of an apartment, the sounds of hi-fi, the taste of a dry Martini. Big talk for a 27-year-old, with less than three years' experience in the magazine business and no capital, but in the fall of 1953, in the midst of a publishing slump, against the advice of almost everyone, Hefner managed to weave a rather thin, short shoestring out of a few borrowed dollars and the first issue of Playboy went to press. It was edited out of Hefner's apartment and it carried no date on its cover or subscription message inside, because no one was sure if or when the second issue would appear.
A somewhat wide-eyed view of brainwashing as practiced by motivation research analysts is presented by Vance Packard in The Hidden Persuaders (McKay, $4), a reading of which may leave you slightly wide-eyed, too. Motivation Research--MR to the ad boys--is the high-sounding name applied to the technique of tramping around in the brains and psyches of all of us to exploit our anxieties and aspirations for the sake of selling goods and ideas. At its most benign, it saddles you (through your unconscious) with brand loyalties among indistinguishable mass-produced products. At its most cynical and corrupt, it molds you into a docile Organization Man, persuades you of the logic of mortgaging your future to buy things you don't need and foists upon you politicians whose integrity may be measured by their willingness to tranquilize your intelligence while they seduce your id. Packard points out, by the way, that there's a degree of feedback in the seduction; that is, the psychologists who are using their depth-probing skills to manipulate us have themselves been seduced into corrupting their science for lucre--and who is to point a finger at them? To ask a professor to stick to his guiltless $5000 a year when he can multiply it by 10 via a short trip to Madison Avenue is like asking him to wear a hair shirt for the good of his soul.
There hasn't been a publication since Pi Sheng invented movable type back in 1041 A.D. that hasn't had its share of howling typographical booboos, and as an occasional offender ourself, our heart bleeds for any colleagues caught with their bloopers down. We must admit, though, that such disasters help brighten the day sometimes. The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel recently made reference to "Rex Harrison, star of Broadway's 'My Fair Lay'." The Everett (Washington) Herald released the intelligence that Errol Flynn is finished with swashbuckling movie roles: "Flynn," said the article, ". . . has announced that he's putting his period tights in mothballs and . . . hanging his raper over the fireplace." A St. Petersburg, Florida, newspaper, crowing about the pulling power of its classified ad section, announced proudly that "Mrs. Ralph R. Jones sold her bed after one insertion." And the Portland (Oregon) Journal has unearthed the mystical key to marital success in the comment of an octogenarian couple. Their piquant formula: "Don't get made at the same time."
Petit Pigalle in St. Louis (4209 Lindell Blvd.) is a basement hutch of the checkered tablecloth, guttering candle school. A good many artists, visiting show folks, musicians and newspaper guys hang out there, and beards are almost as common as ears. There's always an exhibition of paintings hanging on the walls, and the atmosphere is just about as carefree and Left Bankish as you can get. A fiddler wanders around the tables sawing out the romantic, the nostalgic or the gay, and there's always a disarming little floor show featuring a folk singer. If that isn't enough, and you're properly charged with a couple of Marseilles Slings, you can vault up on the bandstand and demonstrate your own particular brand of genius. All this is coupled with American steaks and first-rate French chow moderately priced (par exemple: escargots in garlic butter, $2.85). That Marseilles Sling? Prepare it with two ounces port wine, two ounces cognac, one ounce of Cointreau. Guaranteed to make anyone burst into song.
Stan Kenton's ex-bassman, Curtis Counce, leads his own quintet in one of the most penetratingly masculine West Coast jazz LPs of recent months, The Curtis Counce Group (Contemporary 3526). In place of the usual clutch of overworked studio jazzmen you'll hear trumpeter Jack Sheldon, who for our money can give Chet Baker a run for his; Harold Land, a tenor sax with intestinal fortitude, and a new and energetic pianist, Carl Perkins; all three contribute original tunes. As you might expect of a West Coast jazz group, the members hail from Missouri, Florida, Texas, Indiana and Kansas.
This Could Be the Night is as ribald a reel of celluloid as has emerged from Hollywood in several decades. In it, Jean Simmons portrays a prim Smith graduate who bolsters her salary from teaching school by taking on an after-hours secretarial job in a night spot. The den's owners are played by Paul Douglas (it's he who hires Jean) and Anthony Franciosa, whose share in the venture includes maintaining an upstairs pad frequented by a long skein of curvy females. Franciosa doesn't dig the new amanuensis at all; in fact he thinks her claims to chastity are a lot of hokum. Douglas staunchly supports the lass, however, even risking a wager on her virginity. From which point even the dullest clod can envisage the opportunities for peppy, farcical, situation comedy. It's all here, abetted by Julie Wilson as the club thrush, a bouncy bundle named Neile Adams as the stripper, and Joan Blondell as her mama. Night takes a while to get going at its front end and rather sputters out at its conclusion, but between them it's good, frothy fun.
Tennessee Williams is still doing the Handsome Stranger bit, much in the mode lampooned later on in this issue: the hero of his latest, Orpheus Descending (at the Martin Beck, 302 W. 45th), is a wistful vagabond who wanders into an unnamed southern town with a headful of dreams and a guitar that has been autographed along the way by Bessie Smith, King Oliver and a dozen other Olympians of jazz. Like the hero of Picnic and two or three other plays, this particular Handsome Stranger (played by Cliff Robertson) is a breath of clean air to the women of a community long since gone stale. There is a pale girl of good family who has become a tramp on a perpetual jukebox binge (Lois Smith); an aging housewife who finds her escape in self-induced visions (Joanne Roos); and -- of course -- there is an earthy, frustrated Italian woman, right out of The Rose Tattoo (Maureen Stapleton) who runs a dry goods store while her sickly husband is taking a long time to die in an upstairs bedroom.
Telephones and telephone bells have always made me uneasy. Years ago, when they were mostly wall fixtures, I disliked them, but nowadays, when they are planted in every nook and corner, they are a downright intrusion. We have a saying in France that a coalman is master in his own house; with the telephone that is no longer true, and I suspect that even the Englishman is no longer king in his own castle.
Customarily, entertainment is thought to be something pleasurable, relaxing, sociable. People seek it -- especially in times of sturm und drang like our own -- for surcease from turmoil, for delight and amusement. When, therefore, a form of "entertainment" bursts on the world to the accompaniment of shrieks, groans, tears, moans, riot, mayhem and vandalism, the least curious citizen may pause to wonder just what the hell it's all about. We refer, of course, to rock 'n' roll which, during the past couple of years, has acquired a far-thundering, frantic reputation, along with a legion of dauntless devotees stretching from Bangkok to Bushyhead, Oklahoma, and back again. It has also picked up an equal number of furrow-browed, finger-wagging critics who howl in dismay at the very mention of it in polite company. It has taken the cosmos of Tin Pan Alley by absolute storm. During recent weeks, as many as six to eight of the top dozen tunes on every poll in the land were tidbits that had been popularized, and in most cases, composed, by rock 'n' roll artists: Presley's Too Much and All Shook Up; Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill and Blue Monday; Ivory Joe Hunter's Since I Met You, Baby, among others.
In last January's Playmate Review, we asked readers to choose their favorite beauty of the year just past. The torrent of letters and telegrams that poured in left no doubt about who copped the title of most popular Playmate of 1956: Lisa Winters, hands down.
In these parlous days of juvenile delinquency, taxation, motor ping, piston ring slap, receding hairline, the high cost (in time, money and energy) of serial or simultaneous seductions and other assorted despairs and doldrums, the average bachelor must either contemplate marriage (with whatever grace he can muster for the occasion), or find some additional outlet for the head of steam built up by encountering frustration on every hand. Release may, of course, be found in hitting people, or in hitting the bottle. There is, however, another and sadly undervalued means for discharging pent-up emotion, one which is benign, gentle, enjoyable, and of undoubted (if peripheral) social value. It is the gentle art of contour contact, a neglected ornament to the interplay of the sexes, and a relaxing amusement which not only spreads good will but is also hygienic and economical. However, like all pleasurable activities, it demands of its participants a decent grasp of its techniques. Some notes on these may be in order for the serious student who would perfect himself in the discipline.
To be a successful breakfast chef, you need three starting ingredients. First of all, you need a lazy Sunday or other holiday. It's never been possible for a man with a briefcase in one hand and a timetable in the other to do justice to grilled buttered salt mackerel or glossy soft scrambled eggs.
Ever on the alert for the good and the new -- and ever on guard to distinguish fad from fashion -- we predict a trend on which we unequivocally put our stamp of approval. This summer, say we, white trousers will be sported by those who know. Slacks or shorts, white's going to be the bottom for some of the best-looking outfits you'll see.
Wide-eyed hopefuls from the hinterland incessantly batter the bastions of Broadway, determined, if need be, to follow to the letter Walter Huston's advice: "If you don't get anywhere by pounding your fists on the doors of producers' offices -- use your head." One such pretty pounder is flame-topped Carrie Radison of Philadelphia who, although she tells us she won't be 19 until November, has had her eye on that dressing-room star for some time. She made her dramatic debut at the age of 10 in summer stock in Minnesota and sang choral parts with the New York City Center Opera Company at 13. Behind her now is some TV work, as well as bit parts in films (Rock, Rock, Rock and Last Night in New York), but her real love is that odd room with the missing wall which is called The Stage. She shook a lithe leg in the chorus line of Wish You Were Here and recently played the feminine lead in an off-Broadway production of a Renaissance farce. It's a long, tough climb to the top, but there are plenty of good times along the way--exciting things to do ... places to see ... people to meet. And what could be more exciting for an earnest aspirant like Carrie than bowing in as our boudoir Playmate for June?
The curvy little coed in the tight-fitting cashmere sweater wiggled up to the professor after class and murmured in a honeyed voice, "I'm afraid I didn't do very well on that quiz today, Professor. But I'll do anything to pass this course. Just anything."
The informal fellow in the red sweater and the absent necktie was introduced by the m.c. as "... America's only working philosopher." He stepped upon the supper-club stage clutching a rolled-up newspaper, shyly requested a little more light, and then plunged into an extended dissertation on foreign policy, the Senate, segregation, religion, the American Medical Association, the Army and the President of the United States. Strange stuff for a club comic to concern himself with, but Mort Sahl is a strange sort of comic. His speech is salted with socio-psychological phrases like father figure, value judgment and group hostility. The uninitiated in the audience may not only miss the point of much of his humor, they may have difficulty even following what he is saying, as when Sahl discusses the social significance of a movie poster:
A white and radiant offering, Gilberte, with her head thrown back, her eyes half closed, her lips apart, sunk in dreamy languor, was breathing slowly and placidly, when suddenly she started up with a cry of terror.
A new device has been invented by American playwrights and about time, too. The rest of you have probably discovered it already and perhaps a few sociological tracts have been written about it, but I'm a little slow in latching on to these things, so you'll have to be patient with me.
A Callipygian Pigeon on the West Coast has made us look with new admiration upon Playboy-cartoonist Jack Cole. Her name is Vikki Dougan, and she is the living realization of a style trend Jack prophesied in our January 1956 issue. Foretold Cole: "Having milked the utmost from décolletage, fashion will take an experimental plunge into 'derrierage.' " Style-setting Vikki, otherwise known as The Back (a transparent synecdoche for The Backside), has taken that plunge.
Even the most dedicated urbanite owes it to himself to shake the dust of the city from his feet now and then, and what better time than summer to do it? And what better way to do it than really to get far, far from the maddening crowd? These are rhetorical questions; our recipe for the happiest affirmative answers follows.
The Month of June brings with it delights galore, and among these is the dubious delight dubbed Father's Day. On June 16th, papas from coast to coast are showered with mustache cups, hand-painted neckties, mink-lined tobacco pouches, complete recordings of Parsifal and other of life's bare necessities. Fellows: why not keep your paters young at heart with the perfect gift this year--a three year subscription to Playboy! Girls: frighten your boyfriends with Father's Day subscriptions, too. They'll love you the more, once their hearts have returned from their throats.
Come aboard for Playboy's pictorial yachting party! We anchor in a secret cove ... sip iced drinks while we watch the girls dive overside in their next-to-nothings . . . anoint them with fragrant oil when they sun-bathe beside us . . . loll in the cockpit while darkness comes over the water . . . enjoy dancing and drinking and other delights on deck and below. You're as good as there with this eight-page, full-color picture story. There's other fine fare in the June cargo, too: a gaily cynical story for sophisticates by Harvey Swados . . . a masterpiece of the Gothic macabre by Gerald Kersh . . . satire by William Iversen . . . and a cartoon report from Sweden by Shel Silverstein. So man the halyards, trim the sheets and sail into a yare summer issue.