Four years ago, when most men's magazines were thumping hairy chests and devoting themselves to stories of the I Ate a Man-Eating Tiger Alive and Lived ilk, a new publication appeared on the nation's newsstands. It had Marilyn Monroe on the cover instead of a bull elephant and inside, male readers discovered, Miss Monroe appeared in some-what more detail, as part of a full-color center feature. Also within the first issue of this new magazine were articles on jazz, food and drink, football, contemporary furniture and the alimony game; fiction by authors of note; cartoons by such as Gardner Rea, Al Stine and Vip; a new translation of a classic tale by Giovanni Boccaccio; a page of sophisticated jokes; and a smart smattering of other things calculated to entertain and/or enlighten the young urban man. The suspense must be killing you, so we'll reveal without further ado that the publication just described was the first issue of Playboy.
Ballots in the second annual Playboy Jazz Poll fill our office near to overflowing. In a tabulation of the first returns, Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington are running neck and neck for Leader of the 1958 Playboy Jazz all-stars, with Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie close behind. Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Bobby Hackett, Shorty Rogers, Roy Eldridge and May-nard Ferguson are all early front-runners for the four-man trumpet team; J. J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Bob Brook-meyer, Jack Teagarden, Frank Rosolino, Bill Harris, Turk Murphy and Trummy Young are ditto on trombone.
For the new Broadway season's first musical smash; West Side Story, Arthur Laurents has the courage to retell the Romeo and Juliet legend in terms of tenement love and juvenile gang warfare in a Gotham jungle. Shakespeare's noble Montagues become a brand of homebred, shiv-toting teenagers called the Jets; his Capulets are the Sharks, equally proud and inarticulate intruders from Puerto Rico. The miracle is that Jerome Robbins, doubling as director and choreographer, has transmuted a grim slice of life into a touching, spellbinding minor work of Art. There are no so-called big names in the cast, but Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence, as R. & J. respectively, plus a bunch of wildeyed cohorts, are perfectly cast as the warring street gangs. Aided by Stephen Sondheim's lyrics, Leonard Bernstein has composed a score well suited to the theme. There is sardonic humor in the delinquents' plaintive Gee, Officer Krupke,and superior schmaltz for the star-crossed lovers in Maria and I have a Love. But the best of Bernstein's music is written as an accompaniment to Robbin's brilliant staging of the story in terms of significant movement – whether you call it ballet, straight dancing, or the constant, restless writhings of hair-triggered nerves about to explode into raw and violent action. At the Winter Garden, 1634 Broadway, NYC.
Six characters in search of sobriety are the major dramatis personnae of The Twelfth Step (Scribner's, $4.95), by Thomas Randall, a pseudonymous first novel of close to 600 pages filled with drunkenness, paraldehyde, loneliness, booze, despair, vice, drunkenness, abortion, seduction, drunkenness, love, rage, hate, drunkenness, booze, sickness, depravity, more booze, more drunkenness – and throughout, the heroic and anonymous (natch) work of Alcoholics Anonymous, whose 12 steps to sobriety do rescue most of the book's initially helpless sots. The writing is impassioned, wooden and unbelievable, but despite this fact the net effect on the reader – perhaps because morbid interest can sustain the attention over the duller passages – is one of growing concern and involvement. Because no harrowing detail is spared, and because the author is himself an alcoholic (in AA's book there's no such thing as an ex-alcoholic: if you've got the sickness you can arrest it permanently by never taking a drink, but you can't cure it), a true sense of the horrors and triumphs of fighting dypso-mania emerges from the volume. We have before us a list of 19 previous fictional and biographical excursions into alcoholism. None achieves the unself-pitying, unromanticized, understanding but never self-justifying insight of The Twelfth Step
Chicago's loftiest oasis is The Top of the Rock (corner of Michigan and Randolph). Its name inspired by the Gibraltar emblem of the Prudential Insurance Company whose 41-story building (the Windy City's tallest) it tops, this towering tavern offers little more than comfy, low-slung seats and music by a shrinking violet named Muzak; but ah, that view! At night, Chicago surrounds one like a blanket of black velvet on which are displayed myriad intricate, intertwining necklaces of light. The Rock opens every day (save Sunday) at 11:30 A.M., serves luncheon till 3:00 P.M. and hors d'oeuvres for the bibbers between 5:00 P.M. and 8:00, then closes up tight at midnight. All drinks cost a buck.
William Brinkley's novel, Don't Go Near the Water (Playboy After Hours, September 1956), dealt with the idyllic and often funny carryings-on of naval P. R. men on a Pacific isle during the last war. The movie made from it boasts yet an added fillip: a method of sluicing fourletter words in the dialog without actually mouthing them. Each time one of the forbidden expletives is about to be uttered by a certain incorrigible gob, a beep on the sound track is substituted. The audience, of course, supplies the azure word in its own mind and howls. Certainly, the notoriety that will accrue to Water because of this special gimmick will outweigh any other the film might boast, except, perhaps, for some shots of black lace panties fluttering from the masthead of a battle cruiser. Besides these, there are Fred Clark as the skipper, a monument to suburbia; Keenan Wynn as a brash newspaper correspondent who enlivens the proceedings with some acrid caricature; Eva Gabor as a newspaper woman, who, being Eva Gabor, loses her black lace panties; Glenn Ford, who is as arch as all get-out as a salty officer; and Mickey Shaugnessy, the sailor for whom the beep tolls. The show's a lot of (beep) fun.
Of course, there will be all the obvious critics fro0m the obvious critics about Johann Strauss turning over in his grave, but to our ears Jazz in 3/4 time by the Max Roach Quintet (EmArcy 36108) is as thought-provoking and swinging an LP as we've heard in months. Years ago, to ask for a jazz tune in waltz time seemed like asking for a can of plaid paint. But in Lover,I'll Take Romance and Max's own Blue Waltz and Little Folks, the ease with which a waltz can be swung, in ensemble or ad lib solos, is proved beyond a doubt by Max and his uncredited sidemen (for your inside info,they're Sonny Rollins, tenor, Kenny Dor-ham, trumpet, Billy Wallace, piano and George Morrow, bass). We can only find fault with the nailbitingly overlong treatment of Rollins's Valse Hot. In general, this LP is an educational gas, one that should settle (or start) many arguments.
The trim, sound 50-footer Lorelei was holding her own in the churning waters of the Gulf. Rolling from trough to trough, she creaked and groaned and refused to come apart at the seams. Gerald Millinder was watching his wife and the Skipper. They're actually enjoying the storm, he was thinking. He tried not to seem alarmed.
If You Are a junior executive or middle management man being considered for promotion, the pleasant fellow sharing martinis with you – chatting casually about seemingly trivial, unrelated topics, ordering rounds of drinks until you become mellow and expansive and relaxed – may be a hired mind-prober, an Mr man. That innocent-looking form you are asked to fill out and those inkblots you are asked to interpret and any other tests excluding the purely physical to which you are subjected will, in all likelihood, have been drawn up by an Mr man. And it will be an Mr man who will submit a report to your employer that could say something like this: "He has fine qualifications, good college training, excellent appearance, poise and agile mental abilities. Our analysis detected, however, a potential source of real difficulty: his concept of authority. He sees his associates as competitive persons whom he must outwit." And you, sir, are not only unpromoted, you are out. Out looking for a new job – answering more questions and filling out new forms and reacting to different inkblots and drinking martinis with other pleasant strangers who smile and laugh and chew olives while they secretly evaluate your college training, your appearance, your poise, your mental abilities and (here we go again) your concept of authority.
Until recent years, the man-of-the-world paid scant attention to desserts. He was content to round off his meal with a wedge of ripe camembert cheese while his gentle companion munched her meringue glace with marrons. Naturally, there were exceptions now and then when a man might have been temporarily overcome with the aroma of a deep dish apple pie or a warm brandied mince pie. But, as a rule, the male of the species was quite willing to grant that sweets were designed for the sweet.
How to cut a dashing figure? Don the cape, that ageless and venerable outergarment that has long performed yeoman service for the continental man-on-the-move. This jaunty model goes everywhere the gentleman goes – dueling scar and deerstalker cap optional. Designed over 100 years ago for the rangers of the Black Forest, this bold breed of cape has not changed one whit since: it remains elegant, capacious, warm as a glass of mulled wine; lightweight and water-repellent, too, with detachable hood. Woven in Germany of Loden cloth, it's available in either Loden green (shown) or Loden gray, at $75.
One of the marks of true urbanity in a young man who is making his way upward in the world is the ability to pull an apt quotation out of the hat at the appropriate moment. And one of the best ways to cook your goose in cultivated society is to come up with a boo-boo.
Sark Is The Only feudal state to survive in Europe. It is a fief; as such, it was given to a feudal lord by Queen Elizabeth I in 1565, and it passed from hand to hand for almost 400 years until, nowadays, it occupies those of Mrs. Sibyl Hathaway, a very proper, elderly, sensible British lady who lives in a venerable manor house there, and who chooses to be known as the Dame of Sark. Mrs. Hathaway, the Dame, is not only lord and mistress of Sark and its 500 or so inhabitants but also, in the words of Queen Elizabeth, owns "all of its rights, members, liberties and appurtenances, and all and singular castles, fortresses, houses, buildings, structures ruined with their fragments, lands, meadows, pastures, commons, wastes, woods, waters, watercourses, ponds, fees, rents, reversions, services, advowsons, presentations, rights of patronage, of rectories, vicarages, chapels or churches, and also all manner of tithes, oblations, fruits, obventions, mines, quarries, ports, shores, rocks, wrecks of the sea, shipwrecks, farms, feefarms, knights' fees, wards, marriages, escheats, reliefs, heriots, goods and chattels waived, goods and chattels of felons, fugitives or pirates, or felones-de-se, outlaws, of persons put in exigent, and the forfeited or confiscated goods of persons condemned or convicted any other way whatsoever; also all forfeitures, pawnages, free warrens, courts leet, views of frank pledge, assize and assay of bread, wine and beer; all fairs, markets, customs, rights of tolls, jurisdictions, liberties, immunities, exemptions, franchises, privileges, commodities, profits, emoluments, and all the Queen's heredits whatsoever with every of their appurts, situate within the seas or seacoast contiguous or appertaining to the Island, or within its shores, limits or precincts, and whatsoever were held, known, or accepted as members or parts of the Island of Sark."
I was on the boat with Bonaparte; we were going to Egypt, he and I, he a general and I a noncommissioned officer. We disembarked together, and he held out his hand to help me. Then we took Alexandria and pushed on towards Cairo across the desert.
Lithe as a cat, a satiny, black, unblinking cat, and restless as a cat, too, is lovely Linda Vargas. She stalks Chicago's foggy lake-front streets, wanders alone through the labyrinthine corridors of the Art Institute, sits by herself sometimes in a club, listening to the muted wail of a trumpet as it weaves through her consciousness like a caress.
The long-shanked, ash-blonde Hollywood starlet was grappling with the producer in his Laurel Canyon home for a full half-hour. Finally, with a supreme effort, she picked herself up off the couch, straightened her stockings, brushed the hair off her forehead, looked him straight in the eye and said, "Flirt."
A Seldom-Smiling, slow-talking fellow in his early thirties is the fountainhead whence gushes some of America's freshest and most frantic humor. His name is Harvey Kurtzman and he has been described by Roger Price thus: "He is five feet six inches tall and has a physique that is just barely noticeable and a long expression. In fact, Harvey looks like a beagle who is too polite to mention that someone is standing on his tail. This beagleishness has certain compensations – he is never ordered off the grass in Central Park and pretty girls stop on the street to scratch him behind the ears." He was the creator, editor, and chief writer of the satirical magazines Mad and Trump, and is now the creator, editor, and chief writer of the satirical magazine Humbug. He is the star of the first magnitude around which revolve the teeming. (continued on page 70) Kurtzman (continued from page 51) planets Will Elder, Jack Davis, Wallace Wood, Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth, cartoonists and/or writers all.
For many months before "The Mike Wallace Interview" appeared on network TV, Wallace conducted his show for a strictly New York audience. It became, in that period, the most popular program in the city, with a reputation for rough – timing its interviewees that has been softened somewhat since going national. (On one of those early shows, Mary Margaret McBride, when pressed on why she has never married, confessed: "I have never found the right man, but I contemplated having a baby with an Italian I was in love with.") During that period, Playboy publisher Hugh M.Hefner appeared on the program. Before the interview, Mike remarked, "You have a good magazine, but I'm not going to say so on the air," and then explained that the previous guest had not been very "controversial," so he intended asking unusually pointed questions. Afterwards, in his syndicated TV column, John Crosby objected to what seemed to be unfair prejudice on Wallace's part and Wallace said it was one of the few times when his research had been inadequate, "forcing him to hammer away at a few points in hand which sounded unfair." Nevertheless, Wallace's "pointed" questions gave Hefner an opportunity to explain a good deal about Playboy and we thought readers might be interested in this edited version of the interview on the magazine's Fourth Anniversary.
It may be difficult to believe, but the girl pictured so personally on these pages is extremely shy. So shy, in fact, that she has been spectacularly unsuccessful at making a career for herself in the wilds of Hollywood.
"You––" said the innkeeper and then stopped. He had been about to say: "You have had a rough time of it." The newcomer had the air of a man who has been badly beaten. His cheeks were mottled so that they might have been bruised. Under each eye hung a black pouch, and his lips were swollen. Furthermore, the man had a wild, hunted look and his tired eyelids, struggling against the heavy hand of sleep, blinked rapidly as he glanced from side to side.
Anyone for camel racing, a Babylonian bazaar and beauty queen clad in naught but harem scanties? If so, point your Corvette in the direction of California's Coachella Valley during its mid-February National Date Festival. The dates involved are mostly the oblong Phoenix dactyliferavariety that grow on palms, but you'll also find long-stemmed, cunningly-curved types strolling about in happy profusion. And Palm Springs, with its attendant fun, is only 25 miles away.