Most of us manage to struggle along with one day of Christmas per year. It's a beautiful time and, with any luck, some part of it--maybe even a mechanical Muzak carol piped into an elevator-- takes us briefly back to when ribboned bicycles gleamed beneath tinseled trees and there was nothing to do but throw snowballs and eat wonderful once-a-year food, because school was out for the holidays. These days, though, considering all the commercial foreplay that leads up to it, one sometimes seems like more than enough--particularly since TV Santas now begin hustling their dog food and vaginal sprays and traditional pink aluminum trees shortly after Halloween. Not so in the wonderful world of Disney, where every day is Christmas--or damned well better be. They've set out to prove it once again, by carving from the wilds of central Florida a new, improved 27,000-acre Son of Disneyland; but, as you'll find in A Real Mickey Mouse Operation, by D. Keith Mano (with some help from his friend Research Editor Bernice Zimmerman), the bureaucrats who inherited Fantasyland after Walt died are more familiar with cost accounting than with vision, and DisneyWorld is something less than an El Dorado with rides rising out of the marsh grass. This is Mano's first Playboy article, but he's had a few other things to do: "For the past seven years," he wrote us, "I have managed a cement factory, a family firm on Long Island. I'm presently writing a 900-page novel, my seventh; reviewing for The New York Times and The Washington Post; film critic for Oui; articles for Oui and Sports Illustrated. Lots of softball and poker."
Playboy, December, 1973, Volume 20, Number 12. 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 $15 per year. 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: Robert A. Gutwillig, Marketing Director; Emery Smyth, Marketing Services 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, 747 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10017; Chicago, Sherman Keats, Manager, 919 North Michigan Avenue; Detroit, William F. Moore, Manager, 818 Fisher Building; Los Angeles, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 8721 Beverly Boulevard; San Francisco, Robert E. Stephens, Manager, 417 Montgomery Street; Southeastern Representative, Pirnie & Brown, 3108 Piedmont Road, N. E., Atlanta, Georgia 30305.
Merry Christmas to all--especially George Orwell--from an edict issued in 1970 by the Prague government and recently brought to our attention via a flier from Commentary magazine: "Because Christmas Eve falls on a Thursday, the day has been designated a Saturday for work purposes. Factories will close all day, with stores open a half day only. Friday, December 25, has been designated a Sunday, with both factories and stores open all day. Monday, December 28, will be a Wednesday for work purposes. Wednesday, December 30, will be a business Friday. Saturday, January 2, will be a Sunday, and Sunday, January 3, will be a Monday."
Lately, Chicago evenings seem to be filled with Greek waiters pouring brandy over dishes of Saganaki (fried cheese) and setting them afire to accompanying choruses of Opaa! (Hooray!). Smart Chicago money has known for a long time that most of the best restaurants in town are not the steakhouses crowded with conventioning tool-and-die makers but the ethnic spots, most of them located outside the Loop and the chic Near North, many scattered to the far corners of the city. And no ethnic group has made more of an impression on the eating habits of knowledgeable Chicagoans than the Greeks.
Faithfully adapted by playwright-scenarist Arthur Laurents (author of West Side Story and Gypsy) from his own best-selling novel, The Way We Were is a cinch to score as the biggest, glossiest romantic blockbuster of the waning movie year. Under director Sydney (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?) Pollack, Laurents' comedy-drama also turns out to be smoothly intelligent and irresistible, mined with resonant topical references to showbiz, social commitment, Hollywood black-listing and political morality. There are moments here and there that threaten one's faith in the film's integrity--when a viewer suspects, or begins to suspect, that The Way We Were is precisely the kind of slick, creamy Hollywood movie and guaranteed box-office Eldorado that everyone up on the screen seems mighty quick to deplore. Just go with it, however, and you'll be teased into a state of total surrender by the unexpectedly apt teamwork of Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in the stellar roles--she as a militant New York Jewish girl with a head for political causes, he as a WASPish writer and natural-born Golden Boy whose second novel gets him to Hollywood just in time to face the fear and paranoia of the McCarthy era. Barbra and Bob play a beautifully mismatched couple, loving and losing, marrying and punishing each other from college days (class of '37) straight through to a bitter-sweet parting in the Fifties. Though director Pollack lingers over the period decor and costumes a bit too fondly--as if every hairdo, hit song and padded shoulder were a formal invitation to nostalgia--he is expert at juggling provocative ideas while keeping his two superstars in the best possible light. Red-ford may not be wholly believable as a gifted novelist on the verge of selling out, but he is a real actor despite his collar-ad image and has everything it takes to become one of the screen's certified demigods. As for Streisand, she plunges into her first straight dramatic role with ferocious honesty and typically brash humor, always earning the attention she instinctively commands. Bradford Dillman, Viveca Lindfors, Patrick O'Neal and screen newcomer Lois Chiles are noticeable but noncompetitive in supporting roles. If we must have tear-jerkers bigger than life itself, The Way We Were is probably as good as they get--so eat your heart out. When did you last see a love story in which the honeymoon ended with a passionate political debate?
The new band, ten pieces, is called the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, and with a name like that, it's got to be good. And it is. Van Morrison has recently finished a tour with the basic group that can be heard on Hard Nose the Highway (Warner Bros.), a mixed affair but one that has two great moments. One of these is Warm Love, self-explanatory as to content, done by Van in a sort of Fifties country-rock style, with Jackie De Shannon helping out in the backgrounds. He echoes the chorus of this tune in the title number, in which the band comes on very strong--even to a pseudo-Dixieland finale that just fits the country context. Other things on the album don't work so well. A heavy didactic slam called The Great Deception deals with the phonies and the plastic revolutionaries of "love city"; and the rather cute Sesame Street song, Green, pretty much disintegrates under Van's mannered attack. Autumn Song is also cute but works better, as he eases off the rock hollers. On balance, it's a worthwhile album with a great band, but Van ought to avoid straining for the cute, on the one hand, and the big production numbers on the other.
Mike Nichols called the title role in Uncle Vanya, as played in his production by Nicol Williamson, "a self-dramatizing neurotic." This could stand as a description of the essential Williamson character. Whether as Hamlet, as Bill Maitland in John Osborne's Inadmissible Evidence or as the Madman in Gogol's Diary of a Madman, the 37-year-old actor has the extraordinary ability to make desperation tangible and theatrical.
Gore Vidal's new novel, Burr (Random House), explores the "cunning passages" and "contrived corridors" of history with such seeming authenticity and ease of style that purists and patriots are sure to consign the author and his work to the lowest circles of literary hell. Others less pure and patriotic will quaff it like new wine. It's a heady book, enlivened by the crash of falling idols. The time is the 1830s, when young Charles Schuyler, a journalist, sets out to learn the facts and write the story of one of the new nation's most controversial figures while he still lives. For Aaron Burr is, indeed, very much alive, even flourishing, having just married a rich widow whose resources he meant to use to finance another of his visionary schemes: settling German immigrants in the Western territories. Schuyler is granted unprecedented access to Burr's memories and papers (we learn why at the end of the book), and these investigations devolve, naturally, on the famous duel with Hamilton (this part of the novel was published in our October issue), the no-less-famous treason trial and assorted vignettes of the great. Washington, for example, emerges as vain, aristocratic and achingly dull, but a man so absolutely certain of his destiny as the first American that many more talented and idealistic politicians simply vanish in the shade of his self-image. Jefferson is cast in the shape of deceit, using (save the mark!) Executive privilege during the Burr treason trial "to decide, independently of all authority, what papers coming to him as President the public interest permit to be communicated." Historians will have their say, no doubt, but even a mere reader may come to suspect the regularity with which the author stands the hallowed on their heads, for the purpose of giving their clay feet such prominence. The founding fathers may not have been gods, but neither were they clowns. Vidal is doing that most unhistorical thing--assigning narrow motives to historical figures who may have been guided by other and perhaps even larger motives. It's a risk, but a risk that pays off marvelously well in the high-grade ore of a brilliantly imagined work of fiction.
When we heard that the New York Dolls--hyped as the new pervo band--were having a coming-out concert at Madison Square Garden, it seemed only proper to ask Chris Miller to cover it for us. He's been the National Lampoon's resident dirty young man for the past couple of years, and we knew he could raise a couple of three-dollar bills for the price of a ticket. His report:
Believe it or not, I've fallen in love with the girl next door. We've known each other since childhood. We went to junior high, senior high, and then to a two-year college together. Now I'm transferring to another university and she will be transferring next year. Through all this time, we've been good friends. Suddenly I feel something more for her. I'm pretty sure she feels the same way, but we never get past the faces of friends. We each seem to be waiting for the other to give the sign. We trust each other, we tell each other our problems and we thoroughly enjoy the time spent together. I don't want this to be destroyed by my new attitude. I want to get serious, but I don't want to put my cards on the table before I know I've got the game beat. What do I do?--A. M., Troy, New York.
Sexual Behavior in the 1970s Part III: Sex and Marriage
To most people, sex liberation signifies increased sexual freedom for the unmarried, the unfaithful and the unconventional. But the Playboy survey reveals that in terms of numbers of persons affected, sexual liberation's greatest impact has been upon husbands and wives, many millions of whom have been freed to pursue and obtain sensuous pleasure in marital coitus. Married people today have intercourse more often, take longer to do so, use more variations and get greater satisfaction from it than did the married people surveyed by Dr. Alfred Kinsey from 1938 through 1949. (In these and all comparisons that follow, we use only the white portion of our sample in order to match Kinsey's--which was all-white--as closely as possible.)
No one--not even John Wayne and certainly not Richard Nixon--can lay a better claim to the title of Mr. America than a fast-talking, swoop-nosed comedian who wasn't even born in this country. And yet during the past 20 years, he has unquestionably become a national monument, instantly recognizable and beloved by Americans everywhere and, more significantly, a symbol to the outside world (and to some in this country) of the traditional American spirit--optimistic, energetic, pragmatic and generous to a fault, but also proselytizingly patriotic, tiresomely wisecracking and dangerously simplistic, especially in the sensitive area of politics.
Certainly Dr. Krommbach never expected sex on Christmas Eve, though perhaps the telephone should have forewarned him. It rang constantly, always with some thick tongue at the other end. "Ida, sweetie pie!" On any other day, Dr. Krommbach would have turned on WQXR very loud to drown out rings invariably addressed to someone else.
Fairly early in Nixon's first term, he held a bachelor dinner in the White House for "intellectuals" sympathetic to his reign. (It goes without saying that the gathering was a small one.) One guest at the meal said, later, he had looked forward to hearing from the President himself, from such little-known quantities as Haldeman and Ehrlichman, or from the other guests. But John Mitchell was the man who commandeered the table, steered and owned the conversation, thumped down opinions, course by course, not pausing for a question--and, all the while, Nixon fairly hung on his friend's words, looking proud of his performance. The least interesting man present had succeeded in interesting the one man who counted.
Or many centuries the Roman Catholic Church was opposed to translating the holy Scriptures into the "vulgar tongue." To this day, you can still get rid of a Bible salesman by saying, "But we are Catholics and, of course, don't read the Bible." The Catholic hierarchy included subtle theologians and scholars who Knew very well that such a diverse and difficult collection of ancient writings, taken as the literal Word of God, would be wildly and dangerously interpreted if put into the hands of ignorant and uneducated peasants. Likewise, when a missionary boasted to George Bernard Shaw of the numerous converts he had made, Shaw asked, "Can these people use rifles?" "Oh, indeed, yes," said the missionary."Some of them are very good shots." Whereupon Shaw scolded him for putting us all in peril-in the day when those converts waged holy war against us for not following the Bible in the literal sense they gave to it. For the Bible says, "What a good thing it is when the Lord putteth into the hands of the righteous invincible might." But today, especially in the United States, there is a taboo against admitting that there are enormous numbers of stupid and ignorant people, in the bookish and literate sense of these words. They may be highly intelligent in the arts of farming, manufacture, engineering and finance, and even in physics, chemistry or medicine. But this intelligence does not automatically flow over to the fields of history, archaeology, linguistics, theology, philosophy and mythology--which are what one needs to know in order to make any sense out of such archaic literature as the books of the Bible.
Pinups, contrary to popular belief, have been hanging around since long before the first staple was removed from the navel of a Playmate of the Month. They came into their own during World War Two, when glossy photos of Betty Grable and Veronica Lake, of recent and revered memory, adorned foot-lockers and Flying Fortresses. But the golden age of cheesecake was the Thirties, when the pinup girl was still, for the most part, a figment of artists' imaginations. In magazine foldouts (notably Esquire's), on calendars, on the covers of such racy periodicals as Spicy Stories and College Humor, the classic pinup was created by George Petty (whose "long-stemmed American beauties" frequently caressed a white telephone), Earl Moran, Fritz Willis, Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas. Vargas' monthly contribution to our own pages keeps the tradition alive, but Playboy's preference has always been--to paraphrase the old song--less for paper dollies than for real live girls. Acting on the theory that even such fantasies can become reality, Associate Art Director Kerig Pope and Staff Photographer Bill Arsenault swore that they, and their models, could bring those painted pinups of yesteryear alluringly to life in a gallery of photographs. We didn't believe them. We were--quite obviously--wrong.
Some 400 years ago, the English poet Thomas Tusser advised his contemporaries: "At Christmas play and make good cheer/For Christmas comes but once a year." Obviously, there were no flies on old Thomas T., and his advice still makes a lot of sense. The whole world seems to turn on at yuletide. Joy, if not supreme, is certainly rampant. There are frolics and flings, revels and bust-outs wherever you go--and the land is awash in plum puddings, fruitcakes, well-browned birds and wassails. Which is fine. After all, Christmas is a college drawn from 4000 years of pagan and Christian celebrations of the winter solstice. But this season, instead of hosting one more Tom and Jerry bash, try adding an innovative fillip to your year-end wingding. A dazzling pyrotechnic display of flaming drinks will cast new light on holiday hostmanship--and brighten the longest nights of the year.
The Mood of the Nation in the first years of the Thirties was desperate. A fourth of the potential labor force, nearly 13,000,000 people, were looking for jobs by 1932, and that army of the unemployed was being swelled every day as businesses large and small gave up and closed their doors. Bread lines and soup kitchens were becoming fixtures in every American city. Hoovervilles, warrens of cardboard shanties, were springing up along river beds and railroad tracks and in vacant lots to shelter the homeless. A Bonus Army of thousands of jobless and hopeless World War One veterans descended on Washington to seek the aid of the Federal Government, only to be met and routed by the bayonets, truncheons and tear gas of Regular Army troops commanded by General Douglas MacArthur. Banks were collapsing at an ever-increasing rate and carrying with them the hopes and the savings of millions. There was no money, not in the private purses of ordinary Americans nor in the state or Federal treasuries, and the sources of revenue were fast disappearing. The melancholy anthem of the age was sung all over the country: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
It's the smile that gets to you first--a 1000-candle-power flash that starts in the clear hazel eyes, spreads over the ingénue's face and, finally, illuminating a wide circle, encompasses everyone around her. She's a fascinating enigma, this three-time Playboy cover girl and subject of a March 1970 pictorial. She's been variously labeled Barbi Doll, child princess, Rebecca of Sunny-brook Farm, a miniskirted Dorothy presiding over a Southern California version of Oz, a tomboy, an incurable romantic, a windup Shirley Temple, a teenage cheerleader, the girl on Hugh Hefner's arm. And, on the surface, there's some truth in all of that. But Barbi Benton is also intelligent (a straight-A student in high school who, before she dropped out of college in favor of show business, was doing quite respectably as a premed zoology major at UCLA), competitive (one of the country's better women backgammon players), a self-supporting career woman (with film, television and night-club credits), someone whose untiring curiosity leads her to sign up for--and master--courses in everything from modern dance to glass cutting. She's guileless, candid, refreshingly innocent--but the possessor of an impish sense of humor, alternatively turned inward, as if she stands aside and sees the wryness of a particular situation in which she finds herself, or outward, when with a giggle she punctures some bit of pomposity. Barbi Benton has a whole repertoire of laughs. "If anybody else laughed that much, you'd get nervous," Tom Burke wrote of her in the September issue of Cosmopolitan. "With Barbi, you look forward to it." It's true. There's the carefree laugh, her head thrown back; the intimate, "just-between-us-friends" laugh; the quiet laugh, almost a "Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm"; and the wicked laugh, deep down in the throat. The overall impact of Barbi Benton is, well, something else.
Cepheus? Perseus? Orion? For centuries, mankind has been toadying up to the ancient Greeks by plugging in those half-baked fairy tales to make them fit the patterns of the night sky. To which we say, Bulfinch! Let's face it; today the Avon Lady is more meaningful as a heavenly image than some winged virgin in a long nightie--or anything else those loony Ionians claimed to see after a long day of sipping juniper juice under the hot Aegean sun. We therefore offer a relevant realignment of those stellar configurations. Incidentally, navigational aids remain unchanged: When you are lost at night and wish to find "true north," you merely measure the distance between the Little Blender and the Riding Mower, divide by two, take its square root--and then pray like hell that the search party is on its way.
The old man--but when does old age begin?--the old man turned over in bed and, putting out his hand to rest on the crest of his wife's beautiful white rising hip and comforting bottom, hit the wall with his knuckles and woke up. More than once during the two years since she had died he had done this and knew that if old age vanished in the morning, it came on at night, filling the bedroom with people until, switching on the light, he saw it staring at him; then it stalked off and left him looking at the face of the clock. Three more hours before breakfast; the hunger of loss yawned under his ribs. Trying to make out the figures on the clock, he dropped off to sleep again and was walking up Regent Street seeing, on the other side of it, a very high-bred white dog, long in the legs and distinguished in its step, hurrying up to Oxford Circus, pausing at each street corner in doubt, looking up at each person as he passed and whimpering politely to him, "Me? Me? Me?" and going on when he did not answer. A valuable dog like that, lost! Someone will pick it up, lead it off, sell it to the hospital and doctors will cut it up! The old man woke up with (continued on page 282)The Spree(continued from page 161) a shout to stop the crime and then he saw daylight in the room and heard bare feet running past his room and the shouts of his three grandchildren and his daughter-in-law calling "Ssh! Don't wake Grandpa."
It's no secret that California harbors a wide spectrum of realities--and no two could be more different than those of Long Beach, the Los Angeles suburb where Christine Maddox now lives, and of Tracy, a little town about 20 minutes' drive from Stockton where she was born 23 years ago. According to Christine it has "a high school, one theater and one bowling alley." It also has a number of factories. Her father works in one of them; he's a watchman for a paper company. Christine herself worked for a while in a factory, checking paint jobs on adding machines and TV sets; she also did some knob attaching and hot stamping ("putting little silver things on top of little plastic things"). It wasn't exactly her life's calling. So, in spite of the fact that she loves Northern California ("You're so close to the lakes and mountains, not to mention the snow in winter"), she made her way south to Los Angeles. She considers the city overpopulated, and it was a little "spooky" at first: "Back home, everybody knew everybody else. But here, I'd smile at people and they wouldn't smile back. Eventually, I got used to it." Christine may have been aided in making that adjustment by the fact that she comes from a large family. It didn't hurt, either, that modeling jobs--for furniture-store ads and things like that--began to materialize without much delay. She's also had a number of offers to act; but so far she's turned them all down because she feels acting would be "too time-consuming." Christine still sees her relatives fairly often--her brother lives in nearby Hawthorne--but home is now her Long Beach apartment, and when she's not posing for photographers, she busies herself in classic California style--swimming and water-skiing, riding a motorcycle or cruising around in the '64 Dodge that she keeps threatening to fix up. Last year, she widened her horizons with a nine-day junket to Hong Kong, and she was thoroughly entranced by the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells of the Orient. Christine also makes frequent excursions to Disneyland, where her visits haven't been without incident: "Once Porky Pig was picking out girls to dance with during a show, and when he picked me, I was so embarrassed I started running through the crowd--with the Big Bad Woif chasing me. Next time I'll know what they're up to in advance and I'll sneak away before they notice me." Which indicates that Miss December is still a modest, small-town girl at heart. We wouldn't have it any other way.
A man grew desperate at being dragged along by his wife on Saturday clothes-buying expeditions to carry the packages and watch her purse. During one such excursion, she elbowed her way into the crowd at a lingerie-sale counter, held up a pair of flimsy panties and asked her husband quite audibly if he liked them. "I certainly do, darling," he said brightly, "but I don't think your husband would approve of them at all!"
The True and Believable Story of the Invention of Women
Once upon a time, in the days before history was discovered, there were only a few, a very few people in the world, perhaps 50 altogether. And they were all men. As they were all men, they did not, for reasons that will be apparent to the more worldly of you, increase in number but lived an idyllic masculine existence.
There was a time when no self-respecting magician would dare go on stage in anything less than white tie and tails. How else would he be able to tap his top hat with his ivory-tipped cane and produce a rabbit or two or three? The famed Houdini, for example, wouldn't have been caught dead without his soup-and-fish, even when locked in a trunk under 20 feet of water. But magicians and times have changed. The trend among illusionists--and among those who move in the social world that calls for "formal-wear"--is away from white-tie/black-tie strait-jacketing. Magicians come on far more casually these days, as do today's night people, who manage to conjure up a look of elegance while avoiding the slightest resemblance to a flock of penguins. And so it is with Bill Bixby, one of Hollywood's better-dressed leading men, a master of legerdemain in his own right, and star of NBC's new series The Magician. In the accompanying photographs, Bill demonstrates dramatically that for-malwear can be fun, while he runs through some of the more mind-boggling feats he will perform on television (without, regrettably, the lovely assistants he has here). It is, of course, against the magician's code of honor to reveal the secrets of his profession, and we wouldn't think of pressuring Mr. Bixby into loosening the string on his bag of tricks, despite our frustrations. So we can only assume that levitation is an act that takes great concentration to perform: One slip of the mind--and the subject will surely fall. Though it appears slightly less dangerous, the Strap Exchange obviously requires perfect coordination. Before the curtain is closed, the girl is strapped and locked in. When the curtain is opened seconds later, she is free and Mr. Bixby has somehow become the prisoner. Amazing! And how does one shine a light through a human body or change an attractive lady into a tiger right before our eyes? And the rather bizarre feat at right in which a perfectly formed lady goes all to pieces? It's all beyond us. For that matter, we don't pretend to comprehend the neat trick that goes into putting together sensational formalwear. But we do know that when it's done right, it always works.
Miss Coynte of Greene was the unhappily dutiful care taker of a bedridden grandmother. This old lady, the grandmother whom Miss Coynte addressed as Mére and sometimes to herself as merde, had outlived all relatives except Miss Coynte, who was a single lady approaching 30.
A big duck is watching me. The megalocephalic bird's head nods, nods; a rictus of Great Fun stuck across its beak. I'm on probation at Walt Disney World. A dreadful feeling, un-American: like getting drummed out of the cub scouts for self-abuse. Wherever I go they supervise me. Charlie Ridgway, the Disney public-relations man, measures his stride to mine. He comes on real cordial, a wrecked Bert Parks, but his smiles are an afterthought of policy. When we interview a Disney employee, Ridgway is there, covering the hard questions. And the employee's lips move, interrupted, relieved. Ventriloquized. Florida sun glints down, bland and cheerful as a publicity release. I see Cinderella's Castle. Its dozen stiff, circumcised towers look afflicted with a chronic priapism. I can't help it. Bawdry teases my mind. Overholy, pompous places have that (continued on page 322)mickey mouse(continued from page 199) effect. The thyroid duck shakes its head.
It was a strange year, notable for a dearth of sex stars that would have been inconceivable in the heyday of the big studios, with their well-oiled apparatus for manufacturing--and maintaining--idols. For a time in 1973, it looked as if the accolade for sexiest male star of the year would have to be awarded to the feline protagonist of Frasier, the Sensuous Lion (the horny old beast from California's Lion Country Safari who had once performed for a Wall Street Journal reporter five times in 40 minutes). Frasier died, however, and so--at the box office--did the film. And as the year progressed, it became increasingly clear that the crown of sexiest female star would have to be placed on the curly head of Linda Lovelace, who went down in history (and on several male partners) as the heroine of America's hottest porno hit, Deep Throat.
I've just put Maria on the express train for Bremerhaven. I don't dare linger on the station platform to watch her departure. Neither Maria nor I likes to leave the other behind this way--it is almost like making a sacrifice to some minor god of punctual railway timetables. We embraced quietly and parted company, as if only until tomorrow.
How it happens that I am lying naked on a carpet in a warehouse in Las Vegas along with 25 other similarly naked people, 15 of whom are terrific-looking showgirls, is this: We are all posing for the illustration to an article I have been tricked into writing for Playboy, titled My First Orgy.
I met Maisy Morgan in the pursuit of her profession as a practicing graphologist. Maisy Morgan. Real name Maureen Moran. Thirty-one years old. Former showgirl in the line at the Tropicana. That was the season her name occasionally appeared in Forrest Duke's column as being seen in the big room at the Riviera with someone in from New Orleans on a junket. Maisy Morgan did not much like people from New Orleans. They drank too much and when they were drunk they would sometimes ask her to beat them off under the tablecloth in the big room while the show was going on. Maisy Morgan thought this was Town So Tough(continued) disrespectful to her and also to the act onstage. She liked to say that she stood in awe of talent. Not that she had been struck dumb by any of the talent she had met in her season in the line at the Tropicana. There had been a comic in the lounge who had promised to marry her and after she had driven to Nogales and had the abortion, she discovered that the comic already had wives in both Pittsburgh and St. Louis. The trip to Nogales had cost her the job in the line at the Tropicana, because she had started to hemorrhage and had to stay in bed for a couple of weeks and when she got back to Vegas, the job was gone. In the past, she had occasionally spent weekends with people in on a junket when she needed money, so she free-lanced along the Strip for a while until the new Lido de Paris revue started holding auditions. The creator of the revue had once told her that she had the best nipples on the Strip, perky even when she was not getting laid, whereas most of the girls in the line had to rub ice cubes on their nipples to get them up before a show. Maisy Morgan was sure her nipples would get her a job in the Lido de Paris revue, but then one morning she noticed a lump on her left breast and two weeks later, she had a mastectomy.
We congratulate the ant for his industry, toughness and organization; we also fear him, since he seems ready to take over the world whenever we decide to abdicate. A band of cultural guerrillas who call themselves the Ant Farm--they include philosophers, inventors and film makers--resemble their namesake in those attributes. This retreat of reinforced cement, on a private lake in Texas, is the creation of Ant Farmers Richard Jost, Chip Lord and Doug Michels--architects all. "The House of the Century 1972--2072" is its title, and it has a quality all its own, thanks to the unpredictably curvilinear design (which recalls the fantastic churches, parks and houses built by the Spanish surrealist Antoni Gaudí). The furniture is formed by the convolutions of the inner shell, which is molded of Plexiglas and laminated wood, handcrafted, brilliantly colored and arranged around a central staircase. The functions of the house are concentrated in the tower; the work and play areas, in the two bulbous wings, sport a futuristic array of gadgets (a TV, for instance, is set right into the kitchen sink). A small moat, with algae and some baby crocodiles, encircles the interior. Entrance to The House of the Century is through a tube of steel and no-glare Plexiglas, illuminated from below. If that all sounds like it was conceived while somebody was on a trip--well, that's how the dropout architects say they got their inspiration. But these guys know what they're doing; Jost, Lord and Michels not only designed the place, they did most of the labor themselves. As one guest observed, "It just goes to show what architects can do when they have no hang-ups about form." Or anything else.
At fair time, Guillaume the money-changer went to Provins and bought 80 pounds of fine provisions on behalf of several neighbors. But, after he had left Amiens on his way back, he passed through a forest, where robbers were lying in wait. When they saw Guillaume, they rode at him from all directions, knocked him from his horse and stole his money belt. Then the thieves turned their attention to killing his servant and Guillaume was able to escape on foot.
The swaggering gangland fops of the Roaring Twenties lost much of their glamor after the crash of 1929; a man standing in a bread line found it easier to identify with a righteous Robin Hood or a vengeful Jesse James. Suddenly, the country was applauding the downfall of the Al Capones but finding certain redeeming qualities in John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde and other rugged individualists who "only stole from the bankers what the bankers stole from the people."