It's common knowledge, in this post-Nixon era, that Presidents talk dirty--at least as much as other people. So it probably won't surprise you to find out--in Benjamin C. Bradlee's Conversations with Kennedy--that John F. Kennedy knew a cuss word or two. But it won't surprise many of you, either, to find out that the backstage Kennedy had different things on his mind from the backstage Nixon. Bradlee, who is now the executive editor of The Washington Post and used to be Newsweek's D.C. bureau chief, got to know Kennedy quite well between 1959 and 1963. He spent more than a few nonworking hours at the White House--well, supposedly nonworking hours, because Bradlee kept a journal of those visits, with the understanding that he wouldn't make his notes public until at least five years after J.F.K. left office. His memoir--a rare personal look at a historical figure--will be included in a book, Conversations with Kennedy, that W. W. Norton will publish in May.
Playboy, April, 1975, Volume 22, Number 4, 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: Richard S. Rosenzweig, Director of Marketing: Emery Smyth, Marketing Services Director: Nelson Futch, Marketing Manager: Lee Gottlieb, Director of Public Relations. Advertising: Howard W. Lederer, Advertising Director: Herbert D. Maneloveg, Associate 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, 18 Fisher Building; Los Angeles, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 8721 Beverly Boulevard; San Francisco, Robert E. Stephens, Manager, 417 Montgomery Street.
An envelope containing a Boston man's tax return and payment reached its destination without a hitch. He had addressed it to "City Haul." ... More editorializing, from The New York Times: According to a TV listing, the guest on Face the Nation was Donald C. Alexander, "Infernal Revenue Commissioner."
That recent minitrend in pop music--the inclusion of a porn tune here and there, tucked away safely behind the PG stuff on an otherwise innocuous album--may soon be overrun by a whole new genre: porn rock. That is if the record companies don't run and hide when they get a taste of Country Porn, a West Coast quintet that has emerged to stake a claim as the world's first and only, 100-percent X-rated, feelthy rock-'n'-roll band.
<p>Remember Ray Manzarek? He used to be the keyboard man with the Doors, and now he's a big boy making records on his own. This one's called The whole Thing Started with Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control (Mercury). And it's an apt title. Ray seems to have this uncontrollable desire to become Jim Morrison--you know, an erotic Rock Poet with a monotonal voice. He's captured the monotone but is light-years away from the charisma that made Morrison's star rise. It's a tedious chore to listen to Manzarek droning his pitiful lyrics over the California-cheap music. One cut, The Gambler, sounds like Vaughn Monroe singing March of the Elephants. His keyboard work is still at the junior high level--OK for 1967, when bands were like gangs of juvenile delinquents; but solo albums mean grownup time. The only decent solo work on the album is by saxophonist John Klemmer. None but a diehard Doors devotee could stand this stuff--unless maybe for old-times' sake.</p>
Frederick Exley, like most of us these days, is a specialist. He specializes in self-destruction. That doesn't exactly place him in select circles--even though he has the stamina and the will to write about his own torments. There are legions of writers all too willing to share every dreary defeat and humiliation. Confessional literature is a growth industry and there are young writers who think that their success depends more on having a breakdown than in learning the fundamentals of English prose.
Ellen Burstyn's explosive performance in Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More is nearly enough to blow up the theory that contemporary movies offer no strong roles for women. On the other hand, Burstyn puts such a potent charge into every part she gets that even a mediocre one is apt to look reasonably good. Alice is several cuts above mediocre, though the script (by Robert Getchell) has a lot in common with those overripe magazine romances that tired housewives used to lap up between breakfast dishes and the mid-morning soap opera. It tells of a newly widowed young mother, who decides right after her husband's death to revive a girlhood ambition to sing better than Alice Faye. So she sets off by station wagon from New Mexico en route to Monterey, California, with her smartass kid, pausing for odd jobs as cocktail pianist or hash slinger until, of course, she and her son form a touch-and-go relationship with a lonely young rancher (Kris Kristofferson) who makes his own ice cream and likes cornball music. You'll be glad to know that Alice plays a helluva lot better than it summarizes. Director Martin (Mean Streets) Scorsese explores the tacky gin mills, roadside diners and flea-bag motels of the U. S. Southwest with the fresh, appreciative eye of a born New Yorker for whom everything beyond Jersey City is the Land of Oz. Kristofferson's easy down-home charm also adds zest to what might have been a mere tearjerker, and there's equally spirited support from Diane Ladd--in a definitive bit as a foul-mouthed, warmhearted waitress named Flo--and from Alfred Lutter as the impudent, fatherless Tommy, a brat who keeps reminding his harried mom that "Life is short." (To which Alice snaps, "So are you ... what do you want from me, card tricks?") While Alice is no Stella Dallas, women's libbers are apt to deplore her as an old-shoes kind of gal who finally has to admit, "I don't know how to live without a man." That preface to a rather conventional happy ending weighs lightly against the movie's sensitive depiction of women's frustrations, women's friendships and the myriad subtle ways in which a woman alone must struggle to preserve her pride, often at the cost of her independence.
Itching, neuralgia, bursitis, tennis elbow and, for a first-act curtain--hemorrhoids! Here come psoriasis, gonorrhea and blindness. This is a comedy? A plague on your house, Neil Simon (he owns the theater in which his God's Favorite is tenanted). Simon's latest is a modern version of Job, shifting that Biblical fall guy into a suburban New York mansion and making him an ostentatiously rich manufacturer of cardboard boxes and the patriarch of a spoiled, dreary family. Joe Benjamin (played by Vincent Gardenia, intensely communicating his terrible plight and itch) is God's favorite. God's messenger is a flying, leaping butterfly of a delivery boy (messages, no packages) from Queens--with Charles Nelson Reilly milking all his ridiculous lines for laughs. Who can blame him? The plot is as old as the Testament and some of the jokes seem to go back that far, too. Of course, any Simon comedy has its quota of laughs (for example, the notion of the Devil's looking like Robert Redford), and if one checks one's brains in the cloakroom, this may seem like a risible soufflé. But given an ounce of thought, it all begins to fall as flat as a crepe. You can take Job straight, seriously or black-comically, but this anything-for-a-laugh attitude, with predictable punch lines and running gags that run out of steam at the starting gate, is no way to write your annual hit comedy. Call this one a Simon misstep--a forced side show of Job jibes. At the Eugene O'Neill, 230 West 49th Street.
I am a single young man. Recently, bachelors have been getting a lot of bad press. Apparently, we are a menace to society. We commit 90 percent of all major, violent crimes, we are 22 times more likely to be committed to asylums than married men, we earn about half of what family breadwinners do and we have double the mortality rate of husbands. And, according to George Gilder's Naked Nomads, we have more than a fair share of "mild neurosis, depression, addiction, venereal disease, chronic disability, psychiatric treatment, loneliness, insomnia, poverty, discrimination, unemployment and nightmares." With publicity like that, it may be hard to find anyone who will go out with me. I assume you're in the same boat. What do you say about the bad image?--W. B., Ithaca, New York.
He's not your stereotypical movie star, this unprepossessing, almost runty fellow with the mournful hound-dog eyes and the oversized nose. Producer Joseph Levine, on first encounter with him, mistook the man who was to become the star of one of his most popular films, "The Graduate," for a window washer--and, with the impish streak that's been his hallmark since his childhood as the classroom show-off, Dustin Hoffman took out his handkerchief and started to clean the window.
Benjamin Bradlee is executive editor of The Washington Post and was a political reporter and Washington bureau chief for Newsweek during the early Sixties. It was as a personal friend first, and later as a journalist, that Bradlee came to know John F. Kennedy between 1959 and 1963. Bradlee and his wife, Tony, spent many evenings at the White House, socializing and swapping gossip with the Kennedys. Eventually, Bradlee began to make notes of his talks with the President; but it was understood that he would not make them public until at least five years after Kennedy had left the White House. The following excerpts from the conversations are therefore glimpses not of a President in his official role but, in Bradlee's words, "of a President off duty, a President trying to relax, a President hungry for personal contact otherwise denied him by the burdens and isolation of his lonely office."
"Hey, man," said Sam Bowers to the tough thing with long black lashes and a navel she didn't bother to manage, who stood singeing a fern frond with her cigarette, "don't you realize plants have feelings?" She raised her eyes.
"Don't the Arabs Understand I Wanna Make Them Rich?"
I wish I had met Rolf, the German, before he left Beirut for Paraguay on his cut-rate stolen airline ticket. If I had, perhaps I would have learned more about his mission to South America and the extraordinary business arrangement that he was widely reported to have made with the president of Paraguay. If the stories I heard were true (and nobody in Beirut financial circles seemed to doubt them), Rolf's arrangement would result in his dividing with the (continued on page 94)"Don't the Arabs Understand"(continued from page 87) president the profits from everything that Paraguay imports and exports. The proceeds from this venture would be deposited in a Zurich bank, and Rolf's personal security (meaning his insurance against unexpected death) would be guaranteed by a double-signature procedure for withdrawals.
Donyale Luna started acting in her native Detroit, where a New York photographer spotted her leaving a TV rehearsal; in 1964, she walked into the offices of Harper's Bazaar--she now claims that she was only 15 at the time--and wound up on the January 1965 cover, thus becoming the first black girl to make it big as a fashion model. Then things tightened up--"For reasons of racial prejudice and the economics of the fashion business," says Richard Avedon--who shot her for one issue of Vogue, soon after that ground-breaking cover--"I was never permitted to photograph her for publication again"--and she ran away to Europe. Life there was beatific: "I could have fresh food, I wouldn't have to be bothered with political situations when I woke up in the morning--I could live and be treated as I felt, without having to worry about the police coming along. I like class, I like taste, I like style and, most of all, I love respect--and there's very little respect in America." But now Donyale has come back to America. "There's a great division coming about on this planet," she says. "There are going to be a lot of people who will die because they just don't know how to live. They don't know what life's about, they don't know how to give, how to love--nor do they want to. And those who are beautiful enough--I don't mean physically but something beyond that--they will have the chance to learn how to fly, to be beautiful, to rise above the level of the normal human--to be superior being first and eventually gods and goddesses. They are very few, because 99 percent don't want to listen; they are too busy. Then again, there are the children-- maybe some of them will be the chosen ones. The others, they will die, through all ways, but they are already dying. I've come back not to help but to show America a different kind of beauty." This is, then, your own vision of what is to come? "No, it is the truth." When did you first become aware of the great division? "When I was three years old. I had many visions.... I had great teachers...their names I cannot mention, but they are all from the East--Tibet, China, India." Do you continue to have visions? "Yes, I do, but they're a bit personal." One more question: Is there hope for America? "Oh, sure--America is the youngest country on this planet." It seems very old. "Yes--that's because it's been going backward. People are getting into their own little groups--and no one is communicating." We're listening to you, Donyale.
A couple of years ago, I was hired to write a tennis teaching film. The star of the film--the teacher--was to be Richard "Pancho" Gonzales. I was picked as the writer because I was the only writer the producers knew who was also a good tennis player. They knew I was a good tennis player because I knew how to keep score. Also, I had once told one of the producers that one way to tell a non-tennis player is if he says volley when he means rally. (A volley is a ball hit before it bounces; a rally is simply keeping the ball in play. Most people call a rally a volley.) After that, they kept meeting writers who would say, "Yeah, I go out sometimes and volley with the guy next door." So the producers knew that they weren't good tennis players. I got the job.
Unlike most movie sex queens of the past, Valerie Perrine has received more critical acclaim for her acting than for her anatomy. As Montana Wildhack, Billy Pilgrim's bare-chested celestial companion in Slaughterhouse-Five, Perrine got critical raves, even though her performance was more visual than verbal. As Jeff Bridges' sexy drag-strip groupie in The Last American Hero, she was again singled out for her acting. And for her latest role as Lenny Bruce's ex-stripper wife, Honey Harlow, in Lenny, she won a New York Film Critics Award. Still, the media have thrust upon her the title of sex symbol. And yet, Valerie, who never took an acting lesson, finds it hard to believe her rapid ascent. "Look at me," she says in disbelief. "Do I look like a sex symbol?" Next question.
Bockman seated himself in the dentist chair, leaned back and closed his eyes. He heard the sound of small metal instruments being sorted and, at a moment he felt was appropriate, he opened his mouth. A small circular mirror was inserted. It clicked twice against his teeth and then he felt a metal pick probing (continued on page 146)Bockman(continued from page 103) a filling. "You probably think I'm a dentist," a voice said.
"It's a Naive Little California Brandy without Breeding, but I Think You'll be Amused by Its Presump
Brandy, The Drink of Heroes, as Samuel Johnson once called it, has finally come of age in America. Consumption has more than doubled in the past decade and, here's the kicker, eight out of every ten bottles sold are produced not in France but in our own back yard, sunny California. How come? Well, probably the strongest influence has been a change in the nature of the product itself.
Beaumont, Texas, isn't exactly a small town, and she isn't knocking it. But there simply was nothing happening, and it was just about as square as it could be. So, right after she got her diploma from Forest Park High, Victoria Cunningham set out for Dallas. She didn't stay there long--you see, she wanted to see the world and enjoy the finer things in life (who doesn't?), and a job as an airline stewardess seemed to offer both; so, after several interviews, she found herself in flight to Los Angeles, where she began training. A scant two weeks later, it happened. Victoria was hesitant to tell us about it; she didn't want us to write anything bad about her. We figured that whatever it was, it couldn't have been that terrible. Well ... training regulations were pretty strict. No drinking, no staying out past a certain hour. Which, as you can imagine, weren't the easiest rules in the world to follow. And it was a bottle of champagne one evening that did the trick: "My friend got hold of it, and I kept telling her to lose it somehow--but we all wound up drinking the stuff, and a bunch of girls got thrown out, including yours truly." Looking back now, our heroine doesn't regret that turn of events: "I was the youngest trainee they had, so they'd have probably sent me back where I came from, anyway, to Dallas or some other second-string base." Victoria did go back to Texas--but it was just to pick up some belongings. Then she and a pair of girlfriends drove back to L.A., where she had decided to stick it out. And that was a lucky decision--because, about that time, a new Playboy Club was opening in Los Angeles; Victoria turned up in the dragnet we put out for Bunnies, and she's been a favorite at the Club ever since. She's also got her wings, at last--as a Jet Bunny on Hugh M. Hefner's opulently fitted DC-9, the Big Bunny. She's made only one flight so far--to Detroit, for the opening of a new Club there--but in the past year she's done some traveling, after all: to Europe, Tahiti and Maui. Her companion on these trips was her boyfriend Noel, with whom Victoria lives in Beverly Hills, just off one of the town's boutique-studded main streets. When Victoria isn't working, and when Noel isn't taking care of his own business--he produces TV and radio commercials--they have a lot of things to do together. Such as: playing tennis ("I wish I could say I was good at it. I have been taking lessons, though. But with one thing and another, I haven't been taking many lessons lately."). Or riding their bikes through Beverly Hills. Or shooting pistols. Did we say shooting pistols? "I couldn't understand it at first, "says Victoria. "When Noel's friends would go out to the range to shoot, I would just make fun of it. But now I can handle a .45 or a .357 magnum. We don't hunt or kill anything; we don't even keep score, really. It's just fun to hit the target." And do you hit it pretty often? "Oh, yes--that's something I'm very good at." No kidding? Well, Victoria, we sure hope you like our write-up.
We came out of Johnson City, Tennessee, three of us in the cab of a pickup truck with an enormously fat mountain girl who worked in a Frosty-Freeze ice-cream parlor. She had on her Frosty-Freeze uniform and a vague but insistent odor of sour milk floated out of the deep creases of her body. She lived in Erwin, Tennessee, which practically straddles the Appalachian Trail, and drove the pickup into Johnson City five times a week to the Frosty-Freeze, a distance of some 14 miles.
After the old man died, the three sons of Fyodor Fyodorovitch divided his possessions unequally, so that the eldest got the land and the cattle, the second got a little casket of gold pieces and the youngest, Filip, got the old man's clothes. They were sizes too large for Filip. He tried on his father's best blouse; it was so long it was almost a joke.
Somewhere in Bankrupt Old Italy, there is a tiny, wedge-shaped car whining down a sunny stretch of autostrada at 185 mph. While you and I are lumping along in our sensible semicrashproof sedans, eyes scanning the speedometer, lest we exceed 55 mph, and the gas gauge, fearful that our hungry engine will consume its last drop of fuel before the Arabs shut off the spigot, we can comfort (or torment, depending on our frame of mind) ourselves with the thought that a few places still exist on this earth where automobiles are viewed as uncompromising, balls-to-the-wall-oh-my-God mechanisms of pure hedonism. Those places are for the most part in Europe, where a small band of men persists in the belief that some automobiles--some automobiles, not all automobiles--ought to be built for sheer fun without concern for practicality, social responsibility or deference to the rising tides of egalitarianism. These men once included among their number immortals such as Bugatti, Duesenberg, Bentley, Benz, Stutz, etc., who considered the car not so much a transportation module but as the pre-eminent 20th Century kinetic art form. They are gone now, and time has conspired to leave only Enzo Ferrari and a few others to carry the fire. Despite their technical perfection and courageous designs, the great cars these men created have passed out of the automotive mainstream to be replaced by ordinary shoe-box sedans that have been housebroken and mongrelized by the flinty search for profits and the meddling of zealous bureaucracies.
All of this happened years ago, when I was a young man and when there was still a little innocence left in the world. True innocence--and the proof of that was a young Mexican by the name of José. I won't give his whole name because it is still the same today and you've undoubtedly seen it on the the atrical pages of the paper. And, undoubtedly, in the course of time and fame he has become just as wicked as you and I.
It's as if she'd been especially designed for the stage: Up close, Kiki Dee seems too tall in her enormous platform shoes. Her motions seem to take too much effort and she worries about her weight. But when she steps into an arena in front of 20,000 people (as she did night after night on the 1974 Elton John tour) and stretches like a cat in her vapor-thin gown, she looks so delicate you'd swear the spotlights were shining right through her. Kiki Dee started out at 16, leaving her home in Yorkshire, England, and singing on the cabaret circuit. "I never wanted to be a big star," she says of those days, "but it was what I was always being pushed into." Just two years later, she was pushed into Motown Records, the first white girl that the label had signed (which might give you an idea of what her voice sounds like). During her four years there, she became good friends with recording executive John Reid, who left Motown to manage Elton John. By 1973, when Elton was starting Rocket Records, Kiki was disenchanted with her career at Motown and Reid learned that Elton had been an admirer of her work for some time. He brought the two together and before too long, Rocket had its first British hit, with Kiki singing Veronique Sanson and Gary Osbourne's Amoureuse. She then accompanied Elton on his European tour as the opening act and went on to work with Guess Who, The Beach Boys, Steely Dan and others before Bias Boshell's I've Got the Music in Me became her biggest hit yet. Now, many think that Kiki, at 24, is about to become the next young queen of rock 'n' roll. On the 40-city United States tour she played with Elton, audiences that were usually anxious to get on with the "main event" found themselves giving her standing ovations. Her album I've Got the Music in Me nearly busted the charts and her new album Step by Step is following close behind. "I'm ready for whatever happens," she says. "Now I'm relaxed and feel that I've a lot to give." And we'll be right here to receive.
It's true that he's been a journalist and broadcaster ever since--in fact, before--he dropped out of Marquette University, in his native Milwaukee, 18 years ago. But don't tell Tom Snyder, now 38, that his career has moved in a straight line. "Let's see, I've worked in Wisconsin, Georgia, then gone out to Los Angeles--then to Philadelphia, back to Los Angeles, and now New York. I've zigzagged all over the country and covered a lot of miles." It was during his second L.A. tour, as anchor man of KNBC's top-rated evening news, that Snyder picked up the job that's made him a national figure--hosting Tomorrow, a talk show that comes on at one A.M., E.S.T. And whose brain child was it? "Well, now that it's a success, it depends on which NBC executive you ask," says Snyder. "But the idea was kicked around for about five years while people debated whether there was or wasn't a viable audience at that hour." Two and a half million insomniacs have since proved that there is--at least for the probing (but respectful), often funny interviews that Snyder conducts with a variety of prestigious and improbable guests. And NBC has brought the lanky Snyder--either six-four or six-five, depending on the press release ("What's an inch, anyway?" he asks)--to New York, where, in addition to hosting Tomorrow, he's anchoring the national newscasts on Sundays and co-anchoring the nightly news on WNBC. That makes three jobs, by any count, and if Snyder gets a little tired near the end of his work week, it's understandable. He likes New York and hopes that he's made his last move for a while: It's hard to keep dragging yourself, your wife and daughter and your collection of antique model trains on cross-country trips. But Snyder--who is also a high-energy conversationalist when he's offcamera--can't seem to help it. He's filmed segments of Tomorrow from a New York skyscraper top, a Tennessee prison and a Hong Kong street. So odds are that lie will just continue to roll up those miles.
"I've got a head full of nostalgia and senility," quips Larry Gelbart, coproducer and creative genius behind the television series M*A*S*H. With those two components, plus more than 30 years of comedy writing for such notables as Bob Hope and Sid Caesar. Gelbart, aided by coproducer Gene Reynolds, has managed to put together one of the most highly rated television series in history. "I learned how to laugh from my father," he recalls, "and how to get a laugh from my mother." Starting out doing afternoon stand-up routines in his father's Chicago barbershop ("I was a sort of five-year-old Lenny Bruce. The jokes didn't have to be funny as long as they had a dirty word in them."), young Gelbart dreamed of becoming a famous clarinetist. After the family moved to California, Gelbart discovered girls and gave up the clarinet. His first big break came when Danny Thomas, a regular patron of t he elder Gelbart's barbershop. offered to look at a sketch young Larry had written for a high school play. As a result, he was hired as a comedy writer for the Fanny Brice radio show at the age of 16. then wrote for Duffy's Tavern, Hope and jack Paar. With the advent of television, Gelbart became a TV gag writer and wrote for Hope's first special in 1950 and later for Caesar's Hour, where he shared the stable with Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and other top comedy writers. "I hated the term gag writer then," he says, "hut that's what I was, like it or not." After coscripting with Burt Shrevelove the successful play A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Gelbart moved to England, where he worked on several movie scripts until, in 1971, Reynolds asked him to write the pilot for a TV version of the movie M*A*S*H. The rest is history. As coproducer, script supervisor and occasional director of the series, Gelbart attributes the show's popularity to its honesty. "I asked my 11-year-old why it's so popular with kids," he says. "She said it's because of the insults. So who knows?"