The Knitted Brow is not a common sight around Playboy. While not insensitive to the world's woes, we usually worry about them after office hours, preferring to spend our work days producing the best kind of entertainment we know how. Once in a while, though, our happy editorial forehead creases over a problem that seems uniquely close to our (and therefore our readers') interests. The sick sex in the "blameless" ladies' magazines was one such brow-corrugator, and it gave birth to the gratifyingly well-received article, The Pious Pornographers. The chromium horrors of the American automobile industry gave rise to the successful Eros and Unreason in Detroit. Now the topic of our concern is the advanced age of the men who run our country. We recruited Ralph Ginzburg (ex-Esquire editor and author of the book An Unhurried View of Erotica) to survey the situation. His article, Cult of the Aged Leader, is the incisive, thought-provoking result. It appears in this issue. It is such a thorough exploration of such a disturbing subject that it forced us, when we first read it, to reverse our usual custom: we worried about the world's woes during office hours, and when the evening sun went down we enjoyed a carefree night on the town in Chicago.
Here's another harvest from the columns of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (as released by the Chicago Sun-Times and McNaught Syndicate). For those of our readers who may be coming in late, be it known that every so often we print verbatim letters to Ann and Abby and their answers, then add, in italics, our male amendments to their feminine flights of fancy.
Gypsy, the musical about a Rose Lee of the same name, is, in case you haven't heard, the best entertainment on Broadway, and much of the reason for this show's excellence is the little lady with the built-in amplifiers, Ethel Merman. As Rose Hovick, mother to Gypsy and sister June Havoc, she's all over the stage doing all sorts of things, though the character is not always sympathetic. She's the scourge of the Orpheum Circuit, a clobberer of stage managers, a klepto who lifts silverware in a restaurant, a penny-pincher who sardines nearly a dozen child vaudevillians into a single hotel room and feeds them chow mein for breakfast -- and, above all, she's the compulsive stage mother who bullies and bustles her two reluctant daughters into the theatrical limelight as an unconscious sop to her own frustrated ego. While she's doing and being all these things, competently and sometimes touchingly, Miss Merman's voice also pins a fine Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim score to the back of the auditorium. Arthur Laurents' snappy book from Miss Lee's memoirs gives choreographer-director Jerome Robbins a passel of plausibly motivated characters. These are silhouetted against a garish backdrop of show business at its corniest and most concupiscent, from the shrill juvenilia of the number Baby June and Her Newsboys to the weary bumps and grinds of the Kansas burlycue where Gypsy first learns there's a future in stripping -- if you have the build, and a gimmick. Some of the gimmicks prevailing at the time are hilariously illustrated by three has-been houris who demonstrate their specialities. One bumps to classical music like a left-over duckling from Swan Lake; another shimmies with strategic flashlight bulbs to illuminate her points; the third tortures a trumpet while she jiggles her assets. Gypsy decides that her gimmick will be to wear gloves and strip like a lady. Sandra Church, who's very good as Gypsy, actually does a strip on stage, but it reaches such new highs in restraint that your blood pressure will reach new lows. Lane Bradbury as sister June, and Jack Klugman as the last man to walk out of Mamma's life, leave little to be desired in their portrayals, but the crescendo of kudos must be reserved for Mamma Merman, obviously in charge from beginning to end. Her denouement is moving theatre: deserted by both her daughters and the last man she loved, she takes over an empty stage to sing Rose's Turn, to explain herself to herself and the world at large in a shattering recapitulation of the play's theme and substance. The world at large should be around to listen for a few seasons to come. At the Broadway Theatre, Broadway at 53rd St., NYC.
That dramaturgical chestnut, the May-December romance, gets another roasting in Paddy Chayefsky's adult, perceptive, but downbeat adaptation of his Broadway hit, Middle of the Night. Frederic March is the upper-middle-aged businessman and widower who falls in love with his young employee, Kim Novak. He's wary of the entanglement and realistic about his arteries, but he can't help feeling he's found a pleasant detour on the lonely road to the grave. Scenes of explosive argument about the insanity of the affair are brought on by his spinster sister (Edith Meiser), his psychology-spouting daughter (Joan Copeland) and Kim's graspy mother (Glenda Farrell). The lovers wade through seas of guilt and doubt, but Chayefsky pulls them through by banging home the thought that one should not knock love: love on any level and at any price is better than no love at all, for without it life has no meaning. The picture has going for it splendid performances by March and most of the other players (especially Albert Dekker as Fred's lech partner and Betty Walker as a wistful widow), uncannily natural dialog, good shots of New York's garment industry, sensitive direction by Delbert Mann (Marty, Bachelor Party) and a fine citified score. On the debit side, Miss Novak is foreseeably inelastic in this vital role and the author strains a little in trying to find valid obstacles to the marriage. As a demonstration of the meshing of artistic talents, though, the picture is a delight.
Searching the seven hills of San Francisco for culinary adventure, it's easy to miss its most exotic and exciting dining spot. Even with the address (1200 California at Jones, Nob Hill), Alexis' Tangier is not an easy place to find. No neon sign, nor hanging shingle, but a small brass plaque and miniature minaret-shaped awning mark this most intime and exclusive haunt of la haute cuisine. Alexis' is the perfect setting for a romantic evening out on the town. Open the ornate door and enter a Near Eastern panoply of gold, red and black. Ask maître de André for a table in the Casbah, where a slave girl in harem garb serves before-dinner nectars and ambrosial hors d'oeuvres. The creator of this splendor is Alexis Merab, born in Caucasian Georgia, land of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece. There, the romance of great food and wines is a tradition handed from generation to generation, and so it was with Alexis' family, members of the nobility. The menu presents a bouquet of Near Eastern dishes, traditional Georgian specialties and examples of classic French cuisine. Each dish is prepared by chef Vladimir Skvortsoff and saucier Boris Philippoff, both of whom were brought from Paris by Alexis. Choosing from a menu so replete with delectables is delightful. If you have a partiality for lamb, don't hesitate. The house specialty is shish kebab of rack of lamb amirani via the flaming sword. Should you prefer fish, the filets of rex sole Veronique are incomparable. Beef buffs will want to go the French route à la tournedos Rossini or entrecôte Parisienne; or, should the music of the Near East, which wafts from here and there in the dining room, intrigue you, you may want to try filet of beef El Morocco. Poultry fanciers have a wide choice too: côtelette de volaille and canard à l'orange range with chicken à la Kiev, boneless squab Istanbul and chicken Baghdad -- each has its own subtle gourmandistic virtues and caloric vices. The cellar is judged to be one of the finest in the country. As you might expect, though Alexis' is great for a date, it can be somewhat of a wrecker to the exchequer. The average is about $10 per person, including drinks, but it can rise rapidly depending on the number of courses and your taste in wines. The service is impeccable; reservations are a must; closed Sunday and Monday.
Fortunately for jazz fans, several of the bop era's most luminous chieftains are still around, creating as furiously and as tastefully today as they did when Minton's was the place to wail. Among those jazzmen who have continued to progress is trombonist J. J. Johnson, whose latest LP, Blue Trombone (Columbia 1303), is a delight. Of course, Johnson has able support in Max Roach, drums; Paul Chambers, bass; and Tommy Flanagan, piano, but Playboy Jazz Poll winner J. J. is in the spotlight throughout. The program is neatly divided between Johnson originals (Kev; Blue Trombone and 100 Proof) and standards (Hello, Young Lovers; What's New and Gone with the Wind). With Johnson sliding gracefully and the superb rhythm section floating along, there's not a stumble within listening range.
The Tents of Wickedness (Little, Brown, $3.75) is the fourth novel by Peter De Vries, who claims to be a "serious novelist writing comic novels." Perhaps it is this lofty image of himself that is responsible for the fact that his novels grow progressively unfunnier. Tents is populated by characters out of his second novel, Comfort Me with Apples (Playboy After Hours, July 1956) but the humor has become hydroponic, its wan roots not in the rich loam of human experience but in the chemical tank of in-group literariness and private winks. There's small need to go into the story, for all De Vries stories are pretty much the same: intricate sex structures in which the protagonist, though he may get as far as actually climbing into bed with a lass, never makes out, or if he does, discovers in the final chapter that the illegitimate child he thought was his, isn't. What is Mr. De Vries, in spite of himself, trying to tell us? By conveniently making his hero a frustrated literary man, De Vries is able to pepper the book with parodies of prose-writers Faulkner, Proust, Marquand, Dreiser, Thurber, et al., and since apparently he also wants to dispose of several verse parodies from his trunk, he invents another character who writes "derivative" poems. The whole effect, a couple of too-brief funny scenes notwithstanding, is of a pastiche Scotch-taped together for the amusement of Mr. De Vries' cronies. The familiar De Vries puns are still display d, some twice ("Legal Tender Is The Night" appears on pages 135 and 253). If Mr. De Vries were not umbilically tied to The New Yorker, that magazine might conceivably comb Tents for a series of excerpts publishable under some such title as Infatuation With Sound Of Own Cash Register Department, for we have "metallic women with eyes like nickels" (p. 5), "women with eyes like coins in whose metallic laughter ..." (p. 103), "Pity was the underside of the coin of contempt" (p. 108), "... That flabby impressionability thanks to which a man standing barefoot on a coin can tell whether it is heads or tails" (p. 117), "Even her feet were changed. She wore no shoes as yet, but there was something about them that it took me a second to place. She had been walking through money, that was it, lots of money ..." (p. 118), " 'So having failed in one life he migrates to its opposite; but it's not its opposite really, since it's simply the other side of the same coin' " (p. 145), " 'I'm going to hand you a coin with your eyes closed. I want you to hold it in your fist and tell me what it is' " (p. 240). Dear Mr. De Vries: we are cruel only to be kind. As the only comic novelist in the country worth a damn, why don't you straighten up?
The Automobile Connoisseur has long dreamed of the happy results that must attend the mating of the best in American and Continental models. The typical European sports car has a lovely Italianate body, sleek, low, chrome-free, running a small, fussy, fast-turning and hard-to-service engine. The typical American high-performance car has a big, immensely powerful, slow-turning engine (that can be fixed in any crossroads garage) driving a grotesquely oversize, barge-like, chrome-curlicued body. Why not take the European body and stick the American engine into it?
"I'll sing thee songs of Araby," said Silverstein as he departed for that locality, "and tales of fair Kashmir." Or, anyway, he said something to that effect. On foot and on camel, he roamed North Africa, visiting Tangier, Cairo, Rabat and Casablanca, where he swears he saw individuals remarkably like Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Ingrid Bergman and other old Warner Brothers types lurking behind the mosques and minarets. "But they may have been mirages," he adds; "that desert sun ..." Even though he was not invited to come to the casbah, Shel was enthralled by the land of the Arabs. "And I was pleased to learn that the barbaric practice of buying and selling beautiful young women has been abolished," he scowled.
Yellow hair caught up in a neat little bun that just sets there and rides along. Big blue eyes that look up at you and make you think of the baby pictures on the calendar down at Sam Taylor's general store. Pert little tilted-up nose like on the doll Jesse Carrol won at the carnival last May. And a mouth like one of the rosebuds growing on the south side of the Bar T bunkhouse. That about takes care of Bernadine north of the neckline. Below that is 23 years of construction that makes most other women look something like my paint horse, Arnold. Course, this don't run around loose but is usually wearing little calico dresses with little white aprons. The lower part of Bernadine is legs which look grand in those new kind of bullfighter pants. The first time old Dan Connors saw her in shorts he went blind for two days. Adding it all up, Sam Taylor ran a Brigitte Bardot picture in the theatre he sets up once a week in the store and the only people who paid their way in was women.
After the casual cord suits and leisurely sport duds that dominate the summer wardrobe, there is a certain satisfaction felt by the urban man in crawling into town clothes again. Used to be that colors for town stuck pretty close to dark grays and blues, which are still OK, to be sure, but this year brown very definitely steps into the forefront of town fashion news.
It was a gas on the beach: no brawls, no squalls, nary a problem, a cool pad, seagulls, fishing, the mild California weather, a full icebox, hi-fi, seals being washed up on the shore to die gracefully, a rest from the bottle to keep dem ole debbils away, a book or two, regular trips to Madam Jesus' drop on 14th Street, a silent phone, and enough moola in the bank from that salvage job in the Gulf to hold out for a year or more. A real gas: on good days you could sprawl on the warm sand like a crucified ox and almost believe in immortality.
The fondest dream of suave Manhattanites is to be an active part of the city's excitement and sophistication, and yet to know a measure of isolation from its frantic tempo and its noises. The penthouse apartment is a physical expression of this dream, and Clayre Peters, who inhabits one such romantic dwelling, claims that realizing this urban ambition in no way diminishes its power to please. A devotee of finer living in all its aspects, Clayre declares that her pad at the pinnacle gives her a wondrous appreciation of the city that no other form of familiarity could inspire. We can readily understand the aid Clayre claims this perpetual panorama gives her in her hobby, writing poetry. But, with our Miss August in attendance, whether in a penthouse or in a subterranean basement, we find it difficult to believe that the vista outside could hold half the charm of the intimate, inimitable view indoors.
Why does the United States, a country that traditionally prizes youth, idealizes it, insists on it in top jobs, now find itself with superannuated leadership in the most critical area of national life? The facts are these: the ages of men running the government are at an all-time high. Dwight Eisenhower, 68, will shortly become one of the oldest Presidents in American history. The over-all average of the Cabinet he brought with him was 14 years over the pre-1900 average.
You can have a little more fun in Chicago than in most any other city in the country, if you go about it right. It's not as big as New York nor as sophisticated as San Francisco, but it has a free-wheeling, fun-loving personality all its own that guarantees a good time to everyone. For the impromptu male visitor, it offers sights and entertainment in all sizes and shapes, including close to 249,000 unattached females betwixt the ages of 18 and 29 (and 18, let it be known, is the age of consent in Illinois).
Scanlon woke up thinking about his mirror. He kicked the coffee-stained blanket off the cot and stood up, wobbling on his thin legs. He staggered, sleep-drugged, toward the cloudy cracked glass that hung crookedly over the rust-spotted sink. It was dark, so he pulled the beaded chain that dangled from the bare light bulb, and squinted at his reflection.
Ho! 'Tis The Time of Salads!" wrote Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy. He was writing, of course, of summertime, when the hot sun makes appetites ready for cool, crisp refreshment. There's nothing more pleasing to the warm-weather eye and palate than tossed meals dressed for dinner, so take a tip and enhance both your reputation as a chef and your buffet table with maindish salads of flesh and fish.
A little less than a year ago, in our September '58 issue, we introduced American males to June Wilkinson, a kitten from Britain who, when she passed through Customs, had little to declare save a quiet manner, a demure English accent, and the thoroughly upsetting mathematics of 43-22-36. One of her first important stops was Chicago, where she dropped in upon Playboy to chat with the chaps and to pose for the memorable emulsions which led us to dub her The Bosom and which were to bring her to the attention of Anglophiles all over, not excluding Hollywood. Since that time, June, newly blondified, has graced that city, braving the rigors of sun, smog, stucco and casting directors, and generally having herself a ball. She's made a movie for Paramount, Thunder in the Sun, with Susan Hayward and Jeff Chandler, and has been on location in Brazil, filming something called Macumba Love. She's also worked nightclubs with Spike Jones and appeared at Hollywood's scantily-clad Ballyhoo Ball. Between and often during these activities, she's been obliging the avid lenses of photographers, becoming, for a couple of excellent reasons, the most photographed young lady in the U.S. We thought nobody would mind if we got back into the act to report on June's adventures in Hollywood.
Collegiate attire, local fads notwithstanding, is still traditional Ivy. The news is found in a continuing evolution and refinement of tailoring details, fabrics and colors. We show some of the freshest here, and can predict genuine durability for them all. Variety and individuality are attained through the wide range of buttons, yoking, closures, collar treatments and cut of pockets on jackets and slacks -- those special touches that help enhance the reputation of the best-dressed men on campus.
If you've a mind to visit the Mediterranean come the fall, why not take a look at Israel? A room at a luxury resort hotel runs under 10 bucks a day, and there's recently been a 20-percent increase in the exchange rate for dollars. Best part of all is that Israel is still virtually undiscovered as a vacation mecca, and you're treated like a most honored visitor almost everywhere. Glim the spot where David bopped Goliath, or the site of the wedding at Cana -- but this is a fun country, too. From fine modern hotels like the King David or the President (which has a good pool), the Dan on the shore at Tel Aviv and the Accadia at Herzliya, you can go skindiving and deep-sea fishing, or watch a rendering of Macbeth by the famous Habimah players, and follow that up with a snort at a sidewalk café overlooking the Mediterranean. You'll want to stroll through the huge outdoor Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, and stop for a while at the Cafe Cassit, favorite meeting place for writers and showfolks. A startling sight in the middle of Jerusalem, and one of its most beautiful buildings, is, of all things, a YMCA. The spiced and exotic foods of the East are available in Israel, and of course you'll want to try the kosher cuisine, which is not unlike that of central Europe. It's a cultured, cosmopolitan and truly different land.