Over the past couple of years, the articles we've published by John Clellon Holmes have been in the travel-memoir genre. Wherever he's gone--Munich, Florence, Naples, Los Angeles--Holmes has taken in the moods, the ghosts, the stone-and-wood realities of the place and written about it with vivid perception. In this issue, Holmes applies that same perception to a journey that was vastly different; he goes back three years in time to remember the day his close friend Jack Kerouac was buried. We feel especially fortunate to have his account, Gone in October, because he had intended to write nothing public about that gathering in Lowell, Massachusetts. "But I kept reading inaccurate reports of the day, plus other things about Kerouac that talked only about his On the Road image. So I decided it was time to stop watering the myths, to add something of the way he was those last, lonely years in St. Petersburg. And I wanted it to be as faithful to the truth as possible." Now Holmes has once again turned his attention to a "long-overdue novel" and tells us that his plans are "to keep going; to write."
Playboy, February, 1973, Volume 20, Number 2. Published Monthly by Playboy, Playboy building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: In the United States, its possessions and Canada, $24 for three years, $18 for two years, $10 for one year, Elsewhere add $2 per year for foreign postage. Allow 30 days for new subscriptions and renewals. Change of address: send both old and new addresses to Playboy, Playboy building, 919 North Michigan Avenue. Chicago, Illinois 60611, and allow 30 days for change. Marketing: Victor Lownes, Director of Creative Development; Robert A. Gutwillig, Marketing Director; Nelson Futch, Marketing Manager; Michael Rich, Promotion Director; Lee Gottlieb, Director of Public Relations. Advertising: Howard W. Lederer, Advertising Director; Jules Kase, Joseph Guenther, Associate Advertising Managers, 405 Park Ave., New York, N. Y. 10022; Sherman Keats, Chicago Manager, 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611; Detroit, William F. Moore, Manager, 818 Fisher Bldg.; Los Angeles, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 8721 Beverly Blvd.; San Francisco, Robert E. Stephens, Manager, 110 Sutter ST.; Southeastern Representative, Pirnie & Brown, 2108 Piedmont Rd., N. E., Atlanta, Ga. 30305.
The real news from President Nixon's visit to China has lain dormant for one full year. Here follows the text of a memo unearthed by the editors of The Washington Monthly, whom we enthusiastically nominate for a Pulitzer Prize in personal hygiene. The date of the memo is February 8, 1972. It was printed on White House stationery and distributed in China to every American in the advance party that prepared the way for the President's tour.
For 15 years, the most genuinely informal jazz room in New York was the Half Note, located in longshoreman country, near the Hudson River on the Lower West Side. At night, the neighborhood is deserted except for ominous shadows; but inside the Half Note, such regulars as Carmen McRae, the late Jimmy Rushing, and Al Cohn and Zoot Sims would light the nights--for both lay audiences and the many musicians who made the club a meeting place. Now the Half Note has moved to a converted carriage house in midtown (149 West 54th Street, 212-586-5383), across the street from that other vintage jazz spa, Jimmy Ryan's. Still in charge are the Canterino brothers, Mike and Sonny; and, as it was down by the docks, Frank and Jean Canterino still head this jazz-struck clan. The new room, seating 175--including a comfortable bar decorated with blowups of Woody Herman arrangements--is not yet as instantly relaxing as the old Half Note, but it's getting there. The lighting is subdued, the waiters don't press and the musicians are fitting in with swinging ease. Among those who have been warming up the room are Bobby Hackett, Stan Getz, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, Dizzy Gillespie and, of course, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. Since the bandstand is expandable (the sides pull out like leaves in a dining-room table), the Half Note is also the New York base of Woody Herman's band, which will work there five or six weeks a year. Above the club is another floor, which the Canterinos may soon turn into a piano room. Meanwhile, downstairs, the bar opens at four in the afternoon and the music starts at 9:30. The club is open Sundays, with the big bands of Duke Pearson, Clark Terry and Thad Jones / Mel Lewis on tap. There is no minimum, but there is a music cover charge that varies with the price of the headliner but so far has averaged $3 week nights and $5 on weekends. Of the old Half Note, Jimmy Giuffre used to say: "The only way jazz can flourish, can breathe, is to leave it alone, let it happen. And that's what they allow here." At the new Half Note, the Canterinos keep allowing that same mellow ambiance for the musicians and the customers.
It was only a matter of time before the changing attitudes toward sex in the Sixties were translated into new ways of living by individuals determined to liberate their sexual impulses from--as they saw it--the dead hand of the past. Young, and not so young, men and women are penetrating previously forbidden territory. Some are seeking to escape a sense of being aliens in contemporary society. Others, using curiosity as a compass, are testing the limits of their capacities to function in a twilight zone of morality where orgies, incest and sadomasochism are considered as natural as heterosexual intercourse. These taboo breakers represent a tiny fraction of the total population, but they tend to whoop it up--and the attention they've been getting from the reading public out there in normal land suggests that a lot of people are still searching for answers to questions that Dr. Reuben doesn't dream of. Unfortunately, readers are vulnerable to lies and half-truths. When a husband and a wife find their sexual relationship sagging, can anyone blame them for wanting to believe that if only they could permit each other to have intercourse with anyone desirable, even to watch each other swing, they would find their own sex life revitalized? Who can prove otherwise--without first trying? Especially when confronted by hallelujah testimonials such as those in The Sex-Life Letters (Tarcher), edited by Harold and Ruth Greenwald. The letter writers, who may or may not be real people, sing the praises of practices ranging from whippings to urinating on each other. No trick is missed except corpse copulation. Somewhat more responsible is The Civilized Couple's Guide to Extramarital Adventure (Wyden), by Albert Ellis, the supersalesman of sex. Ellis takes a coolly rational approach. Instead of exhorting couples onward, upward and inward, he keeps asking: Why not?--and proceeds to argue all objections, to his own satisfaction, at least, out of existence. Ellis doesn't acknowledge the fact that mere mortals cannot by an act of will transform sexual intercourse into a transaction fundamentally indistinguishable from verbal intercourse, and he tends to illustrate his points with one-dimensional case histories. Still, he does go to the trouble of specifying unhealthy reasons for extramarital affairs; he does make a strong case for the avoidance of lying and for acceptance of a mutual extramarital policy; and he does conclude with a chapter on "How to Be Happily Monogamous in a Nonmonogamous World." Whereas Ellis writes about the subject impersonally, John and Mimi Lobell write as personally as possible. John and Mimi (St. Martin's) is a graphic documenting of sexual activities with assorted companions--the working out of a "free marriage." The two write alternate chapters, giving erotically detailed accounts of incidents that once upon a time were left to Henry Miller. In all of John and Mimi there is no grief, pain nor even unhappiness, except on the most superficial level. The Lobells are not only evangelistic but also exhibitionistic--and so the pleasure they get out of performing sexually in public may have different consequences if attempted by individuals who are more sensitive, reflective, private. Such people will find Combat in the Erogenous Zone (Knopf), by Ingrid Bengis, more perceptive. It is a profoundly subjective recollection of a woman who fights to avoid all generalizing, who insists that she can report only what she herself has experienced and thought--and yet produces more truth about the sexual experience than all the previously mentioned books put together. Bengis moves about freely in the sexual world and she reports back with integrity, chronicling all she has learned of what is required for one human being to respond sexually to another. John and Mimi Lobell would do well to read her; they might be astonished to find that although she is roughly the same age they are, she manages to understand so much more. Still struggling to come to terms with her urge to love/hate men, to love women and not lose her capacity to love men, Bengis offers much that is useful to the men and women of the Seventies who are crossing the sexual frontier into a wilderness that promises a rich harvest--to those who survive. She has learned that even in the wilderness, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; human nature, too, has its laws.
The heroine asks, "What are we doing in this apartment?" To which her paramour replies, "Let's just say we're taking a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut." If that sounds like dialog from the newest hard-core skin flick, guess again. The he and she quoted happen to be Marlon Brando and French movie newcomer Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris, a powerful drama (for a preview, see Playboy's exclusive pictorial in this issue) by Italian writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci, maker of The Conformist. Everything about Last Tango is first-class and as far removed from the nether world of pornography as the art of Francis Bacon, whose portraits obviously inspired the film's sculptured intensity and gave a stylistic key to Bertolucci and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Unless Italian censors take scissors to the celluloid before it's approved for export, the language spoken and the sexual acts portrayed constitute a significant breakthrough in commercial films, particularly those featuring stars of Brando's magnitude. Some admirers of Marlon may be taken aback by his role here, though the part he plays--and plays brilliantly--fits him like nothing he has done before. Brando is deeply convincing as Paul, a middle-aged American in Paris whose tentative existence begins to collapse after his wife's suicide. Still in shock, he walks the streets, sees an apartment for rent and meets a seductive young girl (Maria) while looking the place over. On impulse, he rips off her underclothes and makes love to her, in standing position; and the odd-balling couple soon conclude a strange pact. They will have a completely physical relationship, no names given, no questions asked or answered. Thus, Bertolucci sets out to explore possibilities that have occurred, if only subconsciously, to everyone ever driven to despair by conventional romantic pairing. The final morality of Last Tango is its discovery that for-sex-only proves insufficient both for the man, who reveals his need for love in a hysterical outburst of passion and profanity beside his dead wife's coffin (a scene guaranteed to banish any shadow of doubt about Brando's emotional range), and for the girl, who ultimately opts for comfortable middle-class values. A case might be built against Bertolucci's self-indulgence in making her young fiancé (Jean-Pierre Léaud) an ebullient film maker and so a peg on which to hang irrelevant inside jokes about films and filming. But despite anal intercourse, genital word games and bedtime banter encountered only in the liveliest beds, Bertolucci is never vulgar by any standard that implies low aspirations or a simple desire to shock. At times, in fact, Brando makes love with his clothes on, when common sense would seem to demand that he join Maria tout nu. Last Tango is nonetheless a brave, outrageous, risky and exemplary film that shatters precedent while straining just a bit to achieve tragedy.
Bonnie Raitt has that rare kind of voice that is elegant but still projects soul. Her first album showed promise, period. Her new one, with backing by some excellent Woodstock musicians, shows performance. Michael Cuscuna produced Give It Up (Warner Bros.), and it's to his credit that Bonnie has opened up, singing everything from country-style Dixieland to a poppish ballad (Nothing Seems to Matter). The title-item, a bang-bang, up-tempo country blues with steel guitars, works the Dixieland vein, as does You Got to Know How, whose lyrics reflect the no-bullshit view of sex and love that Bonnie seems to favor. Eric Kaz, John Hall, Marty Grebb and John Payne are among the many talented people who helped out here, but Bonnie put it all together and it's her album.
Pippin is cute--on a grand scale. This new musical keeps nudging itself and the audience in the ribs. Actors step out of character and make comments. If a snatch of dialog is terrible, we're told that it's terrible. One of the show's snappier numbers, No Time at All, sung senior-citizen style by Irene Ryan, is interrupted (and undercut) by the lowering of a mock-up of the sheet music so that the audience can follow the bouncing ball. At $15 top, theatergoers deserve more than a community sing and lyrics with tag lines such as "Doo-dah" and "Yuk-yuk." Supposedly, this is a musical about Pippin, son of Charlemagne; but actually, the plot is a second cousin to Dude, a musical dud that preceded Pippin onto Broadway. This is misunderstood-youth country. In quest of self, Pippin samples war, sex, politics and revolution, finds them all wanting and chooses marriage. Roger O. Hirson's book is ballast, but Stephen Schwartz's music is sprightly. The cast, particularly Ben Vereen as the ever-present interlocutor, is bursting with energy and talent. And Bob Fosse's direction, aided by Tony Walton's scenery, Patricia Zipprodt's costumes and Jules Fisher's lighting, is a paragon of theatrical ingenuity. Fosse's dances (and his dancers) are dazzling. If only there were a show worthy of the resplendent production. At the Imperial, 249 West 45th Street.
While in Germany last summer, I ran across various ads for F. K. K. benches and F. K. K. vacation villages. I didn't know what they were at the time and didn't look them up, but now a friend tells me that F. K. K. refers to beaches where you can go nude. Is he correct? Also, since I intend to return to the Continent this summer, where might I find other nude beaches?-- T. P., Des Moines, Iowa.
Bertrand Russell studied economics briefly but quit because it was too easy. Max Planck, the physicist whose breakthroughs in quantum mechanics were as revolutionary as Einstein's in relativity, dropped economics because it was too hard. They were probably both right. That sort of paradox seems to agree with Milton Friedman--and to surround him. Friedman's own reputation, for example, as the most original economic thinker since John Maynard Keynes, is due in large part to his exhaustive criticism of the theories first set forth by Keynes. There are other contradictions. Even though he had an ambiguous advisory role in the Goldwater campaign and supported Nixon's reelection--despite the fact that Nixon has said he is now a Keynesian in matters of economic policy--Friedman calls himself a liberal. (In his book "Capitalism and Freedom," he argues that "collectivists" have stolen the label.) He takes any number of positions that by themselves would appeal to the left, only to couple them with proposals that seem clearly right wing: He thinks we should close the tax loopholes--and eliminate the graduated income tax; and he is in favor of a negative income tax (in effect, a guaranteed income); but he wants to shut down Social Security.
Only yesterday, Singapore was a very old city, not so much in years but in looks and attitude. The immigrants had transplanted their Chinese cities, duplicating Foochow in one district, Swatow in another, and, subdividing further in the manner of ancient towns, had established their enclaves of commerce. To say that there was only one street in Singapore where you could buy a mattress is to give some idea of the rigidity of the pattern. Ship chandlers occupied one street, coffinmakers another, banks another, printeries another. The brothels took up a whole block, mixed higgledy-piggledy with Chinese hotels from Muscat Street to Malacca Street, a self-contained area within borders of bars and noodleshops on one side and laundries and pox doctors on the other. All the excesses of Shanghai were available in the dream district--opium dens here, massage parlors and cockfights there.
A curious demonstration took place one day in August 1969 at an American base camp near Saigon. A skinny, shockheaded North Vietnamese stripped to his undershorts, dropped to the ground and, quick and grace ful as a snake, crawled 25 yards to the camp's outer defensive perimeter. There were two rolls of concertina barbed wire--each about two and a half feet in diameter--laid side by side on the red earth and a third roll on top, forming a rough triangle. They were braced with single-strand barbed wire stretched horizontally and diagonally from steel posts and were laced with dozens of empty ration cans containing loose marbles that rattled an alarm at the slightest pressure.
Through the ages, man has searched not for the Holy Grail but for the one, true aphrodisiac that actually works. How mind-boggling to think that a discreet drop or a tablet or a sly dose of some obscure powdered herb guarantees instant surrender. Artist Doug Taylor, while doing a little purely academic delving into the arcane, discovered that, in days past, aphrodisiac formulas were often outrageously complicated, requiring items that the impassioned pursuer was not going to find in ye olde medicine cabinet. They were a far cry from the more recent Spanish fly, a relatively simple but notoriously potent potion ("Well, no, I never used it myself, but I know someone who knows a guy whose cousin slipped some into this broad's drink and, I mean, what can I tell you ...") guaranteed to produce instant lustful cravings in unsuspecting young things. Taylor was inspired to share some of his tidbits with others who might be interested; he has augmented them with symbolic illustrations that add visual spice to age-old recipes for stirring up passions.
Synopsis: The Digger: Aka Jerry Doherty; he is one of those hard Harps. You want a Zenith stereo or an RCA AccuColor, he can sell it to you very cheap. If it doesn't burn you when you touch it. You want a clean job of breaking and entering, you see the Digger. Right now, every little bit helps, because he is in $18,000 worth of trouble. He went to Las Vegas on one of those package tours the other day, one thing or another happened, and he had to sign some paper before he left.
Ben Burnside, who worked in a mobile-home plant just outside town, and Myrtle Harrison, a waitress at the Golden Doughnut Lounge, were, to their astonishment and delight, the codiscoverers of what the Kwik Klean Karwash was really good for. As it happened, they were in an amorous mood in the first place, and never would have stopped at Kwik Klean on their way to Ben's apartment if he hadn't been a fanatic about the cleanliness of his Pontiac Bonneville. So Myrtle was already over on Ben's side of the front seat when the Pontiac was hooked up by the attendant and started moving through the washing tunnel.
The fire burns, the caldron bubbles and each guest cooks his own dinner, while the host has only to offer encouraging words. That's the firepot, or hot pot, an Oriental fondue in which raw morsels are simmered in a circular saucepan over a chimneyéd charcoal brazier. The party begins with an array of sliced meats, seafood and vegetables at the ready. Everyone is given a small wire basket into which he places his chicken or shrimp or whatever he singles out; he then lowers it into the bubbling broth, waits only a moment, retrieves the cooked morsel and uses chopsticks or fork to swish it into one of several dips. Words are inadequate to describe the startlingly fresh, mellow flavors of firepotted foods such as beef, mushrooms and cucumbers; even a sharp soy-and-scallion dip or a curry dip only seems to add to the exquisite flavors of thinly sliced foods momentarily baptized in hot broth. At some firepot parties, guests are encouraged to mix their own dips from a variety of raw ingredients, but there can be (concluded on page 205)Firepot Party(continued from page 93) a traffic problem with so much crisscrossing and entangling of arms around the table that eating shifts into low gear. A much better plan is to allot a few previously cooked dips in individual portions at each place at the table. Of course, the firepot is much more than just another utensil for cooking food; conversation thrives in the communal atmosphere that's apparent as soon as the broth begins bubbling and continues to the end, when the host adds noodles and a vegetable or two to the firepot and serves it, in true Oriental style, as the finale to the dinner. (A wide, shallow chafing dish or an electric skillet can pinch-hit for the firepot.)
Jack is dead in St. Pete. I was reading about him in an old journal when Shirley called out from downstairs, having heard it on the radio. There were the bad moments waiting for a repeat of the newscast; there were the waves of awareness coming up and receding.... I have always addressed my sentences to him, to his canny eye, and it will be different to write from now on.... Allen G. called. By happenstance, he will be in New Haven tomorrow, and we will go down. "He didn't live much beyond Neal," Allen said as a matter of interest. "Only a year and a half." I spoke to Gregory & Peter too--they were all at the Cherry Valley farm.... We wired Memère & Stella--useless words. Portents of his death somewhere, sometime, have plagued me for eight--ten years--as recently as last Thursday I thought of him dying in St. Louis or Chicago on some Kerouac-crazy trip.... I haven't dared think of his mind in its last hours. What can one say? He's gone. It's over for him.
Can you sing? Can you dance? Can you hot-cha-cha?" asks the Hollywood producer in a vintage comedy routine. We can't vouch for the hot-cha-cha, but when it comes to song and dance, February Playmate Cyndi Wood certainly has her act together. It's not surprising; her mother was an actress, her father a recording-company executive and, as a Hollywood native to boot, Cyndi naturally gravitated to the entertainment world. "My parents' friends were actors, producers and directors; my friends were their sons and daughters. And for as long as I can remember, my life was nothing but lessons." Cyndi admits that there were times she felt pressured. "Whenever there was a school play, I'd try out for it. Whenever the chorus auditioned, I was there. Between those activities and my dance and music instruction, I had little time to think about what I wanted to do." But she's far from bitter about the experience. "I've always liked being in the spotlight," says Cyndi. "When my parents stopped prodding me, I picked up where they left off," She got her first break as a professional--while still attending high school in Los Angeles--when she was asked to sing backup for a local rock group at a recording session. For three years thereafter, she sang what she calls "a lot of doo-wah stuff" for other local artists. That led to the formation of Collage, a studio group that recorded for Mercury Records. "With Collage," Cyndi recalls, "I was given the opportunity to sing lead. But except for a couple of weeks when we played the Dunes in Las Vegas, we performed only for the microphones. After two years of that, I knew I wanted something else." For a while, our Playmate tried her hand at fashion designing ("just for myself"), song-writing and even sound engineering ("I do some great mixing and can work off any 16-track"). But, in time, Cyndi decided those pursuits were only hobbies and resolved that the best way to further her musical ambitions would be to continue her education. In 1969, she enrolled as a music major at Los Angeles City College, transferred to Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys and began augmenting her composition courses with dramatic studies. Says Cyndi, "It seems to be a pattern with me that when I finally get committed to something, another interest comes along and I'm torn between the two. In high school, I was hung up between medicine and music. When I finally abandoned the thought of becoming a doctor, I discovered I liked acting better than music." Soon Cyndi found her theater-arts courses taking up more time than her music classes. "I couldn't find a direction," she says, "so I concluded that rather than spend years with a lot of required subjects for a diploma, I'd simply learn about what I wanted to learn about." By late 1971, she had dropped out of college, though she continued to do occasional recording dates. Along the way, she was even offered a film contract; but she turned it down. "I didn't feel confident about acting, because I hadn't enough experience." Just when her life seemed to be "settling into a state of terminal disorder," Cyndi thought of modeling. "It seemed the perfect answer. I thought I'd just have to see an agent and all kinds of offers would come my way." It didn't work out that simply. "Most agents are a waste of time," she says. "It's only common sense that you're always going to work harder for yourself than an agent will." So, after initial setbacks, she sought--and won--her own modeling assignments for TV commercials, fashion shows and industrial conventions as a free-lancer. "I love being in front of people," Cyndi says. "I suppose it appeals to the actress in me. In fact, much of my work in commercials or trade shows calls for acting. Sometimes I even get a chance to sing and dance, too, and that's great." Obviously, Cyndi believes such assignments provide her with wonderful opportunities to polish her performing talents. And with a recording contract as a possibility and a film script already in the offing, Cyndi may have all the more reason to sing her favorite song, It's Gonna Be All Right.
Two street workers happened to be standing in front of a brothel when a man in clerical garb stopped, glanced around and slipped into the doorway. "Did ya see that, Mike?" said one of the workmen disapprovingly. "That was a Protestant minister!" A short time later, another clergyman arrived, hesitated momentarily and then angled into the same entrance.
The Temperature in the room has passed 195 degrees. The rim of the sawed-off wine bottle is hot enough to hurt the lips. Surprisingly, the beer inside it is still cool, but the heat in the room is now solid and important. Respectful attention must be paid to it. We sit there in our skins, paying attention. We have begun to glisten and turn pink: two or three men in our late 30s or early 40s, tennis players, handball bulldogs and three-mile joggers, by the look of us; a boy of about 14; and a couple of chunky college girls. Nobody is wearing anything, except for one of the girls, who has a towel turbaned around her hair. She is the blonder of the two and has turned pinker. Sing ho for chunky college girls. Our mood is light and uncluttered, as far as I can tell. Each of us has wandered separately to the sauna, whose door lists no rules and no hours, poked his head in and thought, well, sure. The trace of sexuality in our happenstance is pleasant, partly because it is so faint as to be weightless. The white-pine chunks burning in the iron wood stove rule the room. I lie back on the hot cedar. The heat enters my shoulders and thighs and reads the day's history.
Ben Carter's business day begins with ritual. He is the editor of the Forest City, Iowa, Summit, a profitable small-town newspaper with a clean, shadowless layout (it was one of the first weeklies in the state to be printed offset). Every morning, after opening the Summit's offices on Clark Street, Ben heads two blocks north to Gannon's Restaurant, where he joins other merchants for a half hour of coffee at nine o'clock. Walking briskly up Clark, the outline of his heavy body a series of soft parentheses, Ben waves to familiar cars and faces. He has observed this casual morning ceremony for many years, sitting with Forest City's retailers whose shops face Clark Street, blending coffee and conversation. The time passes so pleasantly that a half hour would fail to hold the mixture in but for a second group that imposes its territorial rights to Gannon's tables at 9:30.
Nearly all of us have a fantasy world, a sort of middle kingdom of experience that lurks somewhere between our real waking-working hours and the surreal moments of our nighttime dreams. It's a place each of us goes, alone usually, sometimes to escape, sometimes to play out relationships that are beyond or behind us in real life, sometimes to practice roles for which we're ambitious, sometimes to entertain ourselves past boredom, and sometimes even to frighten ourselves.
Someone once said that the worst thing in the world is not getting your heart's desire, and the next worst thing is getting it. One almost universal heart's desire is escape to paradise. People dream of moving to the French Riviera or fleeing to a Greek island, or of whiling their life away on a palmy island in the Pacific. I've had the occasion to do all three. It is dangerous to satisfy your heart's desire that way. It may destroy you.
You can forget the old admonition about not mixing your shirt and tie patterns. Unexpected combinations are where it's at today--and you're the judge as to whether or not they work. For example, at left is a patchwork shirt of Indian madras, by Byron Britton for Aetna, $24, worn with a madrasbow tie, by Bill Blass for Seidler Feuerman, $8.50. Greater contrast is showcased in the illustration at right: a polyester-cotton shirt, by Enro, $12, combined with a polka-dot tie, by Bert Pulitzer, $8.50. Solids on solids, geometries on geometries. It's the season of the peacock (except that all peacocks look alike). At left is a solid-colored polyester-cotton shirt with white long-pointed collar, by Eagle, $13.50, punctuated with a plaid silk bow tie, by Liberty of London for Berkley, $6.50. At right: a pair of complementary plaids. The polyester-cotton piqué shirt with barrel cuffs, by Hathaway, $16, has an over-plaid reverse-dot pattern on a white ground; cotton patchwork-pattern tie is by Resilio, $5.50.
Long After the wildest closing night ever to wind up the New York Film Festival, Manhattan movie buffs were still openmouthed over Last Tango in Paris, and not just because of Marlon Brando's nude romp with a pouty Gallic pigeon named Maria Schneider, cast as the girl he meets, makes and remakes on very brief acquaintance in an empty apartment to let. Italian writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci, hailed for The Conformist, arranged an early U.S. premiere of his controversial new work partly to forestall censorship at home in Italy, where the film's graphic language and rampant sensuality might well meet resistance. Granting his first interview on the subject to Playboy Contributing Editor Bruce Williamson, Bertolucci said, "I will not cut a single line or scene, and intend to preserve my work in its original form at any cost. The movie is an accelerated course in Wilhelm Reich. To make moral judgments is not interesting." New York's response to the virtually nonstop erotic orgy between a man and a woman who leave few four-letter words unspoken or what they stand for untried astonished Bertolucci as much as the film itself amazed his opening-night audience. Some Lincoln Center board members and their fuming wives reportedly stalked out. One major critic avowed that he hardly knew what to think. Others declared Last Tango "an outrage" or "overpowering ... not for the squeamish," or found its sexual decadence akin to The Story of O. Supermales and homosexuals were thought to like it least, though presumably for different reasons, while columnist Earl Wilson seemed to echo the consensus, fliply pegging it "the most erotic movie ever made." Added Bertolucci, wryly: "The film is simply a reflection of my own life ... exploring the complexity of love between people." Why the tango? Bertolucci smiled, frowned. "There's a phrase somewhere by Jorge Luis Borges; he calls the tango a way of walking through life. Of course, it's an ironic symbol ... for coupling. But both characters are aspects of myself. Maria is a little bourgeois, my adolescent self. Marlon represents the adult part of me, which I enjoy less. Somewhat didactic, he teaches Maria that the conventions are useless, we have to get rid of them. The girl needs a father, the man's life has been destroyed, but there is no guilt or innocence in any relationship--you need two to tango. And why do people complain if Marlon says a word like pig-fucker? The man speaks this way, as many men do. Brando taught me the bad words, in English, and we improvised. There is nothing new in the language--except that audiences are not used to hearing it from the screen." Bertolucci obviously has broken the sound barrier.
Already a show-business veteran at 20, Parisienne Maria Schneider is finally getting a chance to play with the big kids. Her first major film role, in Tango, is most assuredly not going to be her last. Mlle. Schneider is the daughter of a celebrated French stage-and-screen actor, Daniel Gelin; to avoid trading on his reputation, she chose to use her Romanian mother's maiden name. Born in Paris, Maria left school at 15 to make her stage debut--without benefit of formal training--as a dancer in the 1968 French comedy Superposition. Next she appeared in Madly, a 1970 screen comedy with Alain Delon. Other small movie parts followed--in The Old Maid and Roger Vadim's Helle. As you may have surmised by now, Tango is an ultra-erotic film--and much of its eroticism emanates from Mlle. Schneider. She's already filmed Dear Parents, with Florinda Bolkan, and her future plans include Michelangelo Antonioni's Technically Sweet. You can relax now, Maria; you've made it on your own.
The Presidential campaign having spanned much of 1972, music people, too, were into politics. The fusion of music and message began well before the primaries, when, last January, Carol Feraci stunned the President at a White House performance by the Ray Conniff Singers. Speaking directly to him from the chorus, she said: "Mr. President, stop bombing human beings, animals and vegetation. You go to church on Sunday and pray to Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ were in this room tonight, you would not dare to drop another bomb. Bless the Berrigans and Daniel Ellsberg."
This year, instead of selecting three artists for our Jazz & Pop Hall of Fame, readers were asked to choose one only--and only the top vote getter would be enshrined. It was inevitable, perhaps, that Eric Clapton would get the mandate. In 1970, our readers picked Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Paul McCartney; they were followed in 1971 by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Elvis Presley; and last year by Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison and George Harrison. A sign of the musical times: All of the above ten are pop stars--and five of them (six if you count McCartney) play the guitar.
"I was a rather unexpected choice for the job," he says. One might wonder why he took it. When Dr. Quentin Young was appointed director of the division of medicine at Chicago's venerable Cook County Hospital last July, he inherited near chaos. There were a lot of reasons: politics (before formation of a nonpartisan governing commission in 1970, the hospital had up to 5000 patronage workers, each answering to his ward heeler, not to his hospital supervisor); run-down facilities; internal battles over the relative value of teaching and research. Charges were followed by countercharges and mass resignations--in the midst of which hospital commission director Dr. James Haughton astounded observers by naming one of the staff's most articulate rebels, Young, as head of medicine. Long a critic of the establishment, Young was a founder (and is current national chairman) of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, whose activities have ranged from bandaging the heads of antiwar and civil rights demonstrators to trying, unsuccessfully, to deliver medical supplies to Hanoi. Was this the man to bring orderly progress to Cook County Hospital? Half a year later, Young, 49, says: "It's going better than I had any reason to hope. Gradually we're attracting more doctors, and some of the dissidents, trusting me, have stayed on." Young believes physicians are basically altruistic. "Knocking doctors as greedy is a cheap shot. But the American profit-making approach to health care makes bad guys out of good guys." He is kindling recruits' enthusiasm with his vision of County--and prospective satellite clinics--as "the place where a new system will emerge. People now relate to a hospital as besiegers do to a fortress. Patients aren't passive anymore; they're knowledgeable--and demanding." If change doesn't come, he warns, we face "the collapse of medical care into the gap between what could be done but isn't and what the public expects but doesn't get."
The Bill Withers Method for making it doesn't exactly conform to showbiz legend. It was while he was working for Lockheed Aircraft in California--after a lifetime's worth of odd jobs and nine years in the Navy--that the Slab Fork, West Virginia, native checked out some singers at local clubs, decided that their jobs looked better than his, and that he could do it as well as they. So he began writing tunes, saved his bread, rented a studio and hired musicians to cut some demos (after reading the backs of albums to find out who could best play his stuff). Then, for two years--during which he installed toilets on Boeing 747s and trained like an athlete for his performing career--he cast about for the right listener. That turned out to be organist/entrepreneur Booker T. Jones; once he got Withers out on Sussex Records, things began to move. Ain't No Sunshine, Lean on Me and Use Me have all gone straight up the singles charts, and the LPs--Just As I Am and Still Bill--haven't been lagging. The Withers sound is melodic and simple, with an occasional Gospel touch, and the messages are stories and perceptions out of everyday life. It's a personal style that touches one's emotions in a restrained way. In concert, the straightforward singer raps candidly with his audiences, which is unremarkable unless you know how long he's been saving his conversation. Withers, now 33, lived by himself, on a subsistence level, with precious little socializing or communicating with others--partly due to a lifelong stuttering problem that he overcame while in the Navy, with the help of a speech-therapy course--until his music brought him out of that strait-jacketed existence; now he can talk to anyone he wants to, and the girls dig him (though he wishes they'd discovered him when he was 19). What with his recordings, live performances and television shots--in one week, we caught him on at least four shows--he's communicating with a hell of a lot of people.
"All your knowledge and skill can be wiped out by one roll of the dice." Prince Alexis Obolensky, president of the newly formed Backgammon Association of America, is sitting in his new Manhattan apartment discussing the fascinating unpredictability of backgammon. In a low, rolling voice that has collected bits of accents from all over the world, he explains, "Each player has 15 pieces, which he moves around a board, according to a dice roll. The first player to get his pieces completely around and off the board wins. That, of course, is stating it very simply. There's limitless strategy involved, plus the element of gambling--but I don't think that's as big an attraction as it has been. At first, the game was a diversion for kings and emperors. In most parts of the world, the masses haven't known about it." This wasn't true, however, in the Middle East, where Russian-born Obolensky learned the game. "My father was prominent in the czarist government and when the Revolution came, we fled to Turkey. Everyone plays backgammon there." Obolensky came to America in the Thirties and built a highly successful realestate operation in Florida; at the same time, he became the unofficial head of backgammon in this country. Recently, with an assist from backgammon enthusiast Hugh Hefner, the Backgammon Association of America was established. The first American championships were held in November and the world tournament was played in Las Vegas last month. Clearly, the popularity of the game is spreading far beyond international society. "I saw two guys playing in a gas station the other day," says Obolensky, "with a board from J. C. Penney's. The salesman at Penney's told me they'd sold 40,000 backgammon boards in 1972. It used to be that if anyone even knew what a board looked like, he thought of it only as the other side of a checkerboard." Now, to Obolensky's delight, more and more people are playing on his side.
Joe Frazier, World heavyweight champ, discusses violence in and out of the ring, his hopes for a showbiz career and his unflattering opinions of Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali in a candid Playboy Interview