The reports of fiction's death have been greatly exaggerated. We offer in evidence: Paul Theroux. His Set of Two: Loser Wins and The Tennis Court--short and subtle vignettes--is part of a collection of Asian stories, The Consul's File, to be published by Houghton Mifflin in August. The book also includes Theroux's previous Playboy appearance The Autumn Dog, winner of our annual fiction award and chosen for inclusion in Prize Stories 1977: The O. Henry Awards. Theroux, author of recent best sellers The Great Railway Bazaar and The Family Arsenal, was introduced to Playboy readers in 1970.
Playboy, March, 1977, Volume 24, Number 3. Published Monthly by Playboy, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: In the United States, its possessions and Canada, $30 for three years, $22 for two years, $12 for one year. Elsewhere $25 per year. Allow 30 days for new subscriptions and renewals. Change of address: Send both old and new addresses to Playboy, P.O. Box 2420, Boulder, Colorado 80302 and allow 30 days for change. Marketing: Nelson Futch, Marketing Manager; Lee Gottlieb, Director of Public Relations; Michael J. Murphy, Circulation Promotion Director. Advertising: Henry W. Marks, Advertising Director; Harold Duchin, National Sales Manager, 747 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10017; Sherman Keats, Associate Advertising Manager, John Thompson, Central Regional Manager, 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611; Atlanta, Richard Christiansen, Manager, 3340 Peachtree Rd., N.E.; Detroit, William F. Moore, Manager, 818 Fisher Bldg.; Los Angeles, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 8721 Beverly Blvd.; San Francisco, Robert E. Stephens, Manager, 417 Montgomery St.
In an article about prostitution arrests, Florida's St, Petersburg Times quoted a police spokesman as saying, "We don't have crackdowns. We just keep the pressure on. It's no fanfare, no crusade. We just keep banging away."
Voted in for his contribution to the science of celestial biology: a University of Illinois professor of English who specializes in the study of angels in the works of poet John Milton. The prof believes that the universe is full of angels who eat, exercise free will and enjoy active sex lives. Angelic sex, according to this scholar, is the union of pure desiring and total interpenetration that is of far greater intensity than anything known to man.
Unlike most movie quizzes, this one, by contributor Rob Nolan, requires no knowledge of trivia whatsoever. You're given the plot of a movie and all you have to do is name that movie. To make it even simpler, all the films included are classics, box-office hits. So you can't miss.
Riding the surge of The Boys Are Back in Town, last summer's single that refused to leave the charts for 17 weeks, Thin Lizzy is getting the old major push from Phonogram to put it right up there with Led Zeppelin, the Stones and the other Big Boys. A second-generation metal band that started out in Ireland, of all places, six years ago, Lizzy's chief claim to a title shot is the voice of bass player Phil Lynott (although if you're a teenaged girl, or of similar persuasion, you'll probably find his flesh fairly appealing as well). Unfortunately, it's pretty much wasted on Johnny the Fox (Phonogram), an album that displays the same malaise that most such bands suffer--mediocre material, which they've written themselves. Nothing wrong with it, understand, and some hot-shot cooking in spots, but nothing particularly memorable. A sizzling guitar without an idea behind it gets old fast; we've all heard too many of them. And Lynott's prolonged metal ballads--in certain respects an electric evolution/mutation of the old Irish form, if only in the sense that they try to tell stories instead of being circular poems, like many pop songs--are probably to be admired for their ambition, but they simply aren't in a league with Stairway to Heaven or Sympathy for the Devil or Pinball Wizard. Go big or go home, as we used to say. Lynott and crew would do better at least occasionally to try doing other people's material their way. In spite of the prevailing rock ethic that you have to write the stuff as well as sing it to be a bona fide musical genius, just plain performing's not a sin, much less a failure. Ask Ella Fitzgerald. Or Sinatra. Or Elvis.
For the most exciting food in Philadelphia these days, it pays to go window shopping. In the town of historic shrines, the restaurant action is behind the plate glass of an ever-growing roster of strictly Seventies storefront restaurants. Most of them started with a little money and a lot of idealism; almost all are staffed by young former amateurs who run them the way you'd host a dinner for close friends.
Get set, America, for Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage on TV. When this six-hour series first blazed into being on Swedish television some four years ago, marriage counselors were besieged with new clients, revision of Sweden's divorce laws was hotly debated, sporting events and concerts had to be canceled while virtually the whole country stayed home to watch Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson square off, week by week, in a compelling marital cliff-hanger. In its U.S. theatrical release in 1974, Scenes--cut to half its original length--was approximately half strength, no cue for a national crisis but still dramatically potent. Now an uncut, uncensored and meticulously dubbed English version will be aired by Public Broadcasting outlets beginning Wednesday, March ninth: same day, same time, same stations for five subsequent weekly episodes. For anyone out there who imagines that TV's adult programing is exemplified by Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, here's a rare chance to see the real thing. Ullmann herself will appear as hostess to introduce each program and, for a finish, there'll be weekly excerpts from a filmed interview with Bergman.
Director Peter Bogdanovich sent out his valentines early, neatly wrapped up with love and kisses in Nickelodeon, a fond tribute to the pioneer days of American cinema. The objects of his affection are a raffish bunch led by Burt Reynolds, Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, the perennially underrated Stella Stevens and movie newcomer Jane Hitchcock, who make their way to L.A. via Chicago back in 1913. They do pratfalls, crank out primitive two-reelers, steal scripts from The Saturday Evening Post and generally have a wonderful time, until D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation opens like a bombshell to tell the world that movies are about to grow up and become a serious art form. Well, it was fun while it lasted, and Nickelodeon celebrates filmdom's age of innocence with unflagging verve and a touch of rueful hindsight toward the good old days. As a former critic and cinemaniac who made good behind the camera, Bogdanovich knows movies and has stuffed Nickelodeon with a wealth of anecdote, letting the audience peer over his shoulder, in effect, while he leafs through a yellowed, bulging scrapbook. There among the tintypes and vintage title cards are O'Neal (père) as an ineffectual lawyer who stumbles into a future as a writer-director, Reynolds as a dumb cowboy destined for stardom by default, Tatum as a fresh kid who evolves into a kind of script doctor, the delectable Miss Hitchcock as The Girl whose career is launched when she's accidentally carried aloft by a flyaway hot-air balloon. This is not primarily an actors' picture, which may be why everyone on the job seems to relax and revel in it. Compared with the way things were done by the masters of yesteryear, some of the sight gags miss a beat, while the hot-shot dialog occasionally produces a clinker after building up for a yok. Bogdanovich is so enamored of his subject, however, that his galloping good will rides to the rescue every time and reminds us that he's the guy who made The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon a while before the disappointing Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love. The final five minutes of Nickelodeon alone are solid-gold nostalgia, steeped in the pure magic of movies. Come home, Peter. All is forgiven.
Made in Italy by director Tinto Brass (subsequently hired for the forthcoming Caligula), Madam Kitty opens with an announcement that though the film's central incidents "will seem incredibly bizarre, they are true and based on documented fact." The facts concern a Nazi brothel in wartime Berlin, where every bed was bugged and every whore's heart belonged to Himmler. Sweden's Ingrid Thulin, who starred in some of Ingmar Bergman's landmark movies, broadly plays the title role opposite Helmut Berger, as an SS son of a bitch, and Teresa Ann Savoy, as a girlish patriot who believes, for a while, that she is prostituting herself in a good cause. Kitty is an apocalyptic horror story that makes both The Night Porter and the late Luchino Visconti's The Damned look relatively restrained. Plenty of lurid red light and Felliniesque decadence are lavished upon Brass's nightmarish Berlin. He overdoes just about everything, including his pounded-home theme--that the real prostitution is not pleasure for pay but dirty politics. "I want to clean up my house," shrieks Kitty, a scrupulous brothelkeeper who's outraged to learn that her clients are being turned over to the Gestapo by her harlots. Madam Kitty, though only a strident soft-core shocker, offers hard new evidence of the growing kinship between so-called straight films and pure sexploitation. The results are often provocative. Brass at his brashest puts actors through kinky scenes that might make a porno star wince a bit--a girl making it with a hunchbacked dwarf or a memorable "group testing" sequence in which a line of naked volunteer Fräuleins is introduced to an equal number of naked SS studs for an orgy (with musical accompaniment by a military band and a weirdo piano-playing officer). There's lots more, with a mixed bag of performers such as Bekim Fehmiu, John Ireland and Tina Aumont either stripping along or looking wet-lipped on the side lines. Not recommended for your old Aunt Sophie.
It's Oscar night, 1957. Deborah Kerr announces the winner of the Best Motion Picture Story: Robert Rich, for his work on The Brave One. Applause. Jesse Lasky, Jr., vice-president of the Screen Writers Guild, runs up to receive it for Rich, who, he explains, is at his wife's bedside, awaiting the birth of their first child. Dissolve. The next day, Lasky looks up Robert Rich in the Guild files. No such member, past or present. Then the rumors hit: Robert Rich was actually a pseudonym for black-listed Dalton Trumbo.
I recently completed a speed-reading course. The techniques I learned have been a great help on homework and such, but I'm worried about pleasure reading. If a person speed-reads pornographic novels, will he develop a tendency toward premature ejaculation?--J. P., Chicago, Illinois.
The sex show, that good old-fashioned international erotic entertainment, has always captured sybaritic imaginations. You may tell friends that the one thing you miss about pre-Castro Cuba is the Havana cigar, but we know better: You long for the days of the Havana floorshow. The odd combinations of actors, actresses and animals. Sampson. The Truth About Catherine the Great. John Dillinger Rides Again. Maybe you can convince your friends that your last trip to Denmark or Amsterdam or Paris or Calcutta was purely business, but those receipts from the Pink Pussycat or the Garden of Eden tell another story. One that none of your friends would believe, anyway.
Because of one man's medical misfortune and personal courage, the U.S. Government now will find it more difficult than ever to defend its position that marijuana is a national menace. Robert Randall, a 28-year-old Washington, D.C., teacher, not only is the first glaucoma victim to receive Government-grown pot that he can now legally use at home to postpone blindness but also is the first marijuana defendant to be acquitted of criminal drug charges by arguing the common-law defense of medical necessity.
A brilliant, retentive intellect, an Irish gift of gab and wit, a 24-carat ego, a quick sense of outrage and a habit of telling the truth don't always lead a person to the U.S. Senate. And the fact is, they didn't lead Daniel Patrick Moynihan there, either--at least not directly. The stops that Moynihan made along the way make him a human touchstone of Government service throughout the Sixties and Seventies: Assistant Secretary of Labor under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, an urban-affairs Cabinet member and Ambassador to India under Richard Nixon, Ambassador to the United Nations under Gerald Ford. As widely resented as he is liked, Moynihan is expected to be no less colorful and outspoken in the Senate seat he won in November than as a valued counselor to four Presidents.
Giacomo Casanova is the man of the year, as far as sex in cinema goes. With the possible exception of Howard Hughes, no other figure has so captured the imagination of current film makers. No fewer than two full-length feature films detail the life and times of Europe's most famous cocksman. The first--Fellini's Casanova--was presented in our December issue. The second--Casanova and Company--is presented on these pages. As you can see, it offers a slightly different bent to the story. It seems that Casanova (played by Tony Curtis) escapes from prison, only to find that his most famous talent has--well, er--atrophied from disuse. Fortunately for the ladies of Venice, there comes on the scene a look-alike for Casanova, the pickpocket and petty thief Giacomino, also played by Curtis. (The actor steadfastly refused to allow stunt men to stand in for either role. We can see why.) The two work out a trade--Casanova teaches Giacomino the secrets of the art of lovemaking--including his trademark, the '"kiss on the navel." Giacomino subsequently develops the talent (for one thing, he aims a bit lower) and manages to keep Casanova's reputation alive among the ladies of high Venetian society. The crowning achievement of his career involves subtle negotiations with the calipha of Shiraz (those Arabs drive hard bargains). As a result, Casanova is pardoned for his crimes, passionate and otherwise.
The motel is situated somewhere in the United States. The rooms are identical, with an oversized bed, a television set and a bathroom off to the side. In each room, there is a printed notice establishing the price--$19 for a double, $14 for a single.
Who is Thomas Pynchon...and Why Did He Take Off with My Wife?
Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, JR., is the most famous invisible writer since J. D. Salinger, the most admired since B. Traven, the most difficult since James Joyce. When his first novel. V., was greeted with thundering critical applause in 1963. Time sent a photographer to find him in Mexico City. Pynchon fled to Guanajuato, then an eight-hour bus ride into the mountains, and has eluded all subsequent attempts to get his picture. In 1974. New York magazine scored a mini-coup by publishing a photo taken of him while he was in college.
Food never used to be food for thought. You ate it, you didn't think about it. Now a lot of people would rather think about it than eat it. Until the consumer ladies on the local TV news began telling us that the food processors were putting cancer into the canned sauerkraut, nobody outside the Department of Agriculture had thought about farmers since Jôhn Steinbeck. Now they tell us American food power can cancel out Arab oil power. The tiniest wheat germ is mightier than the littlest atom.
By all accounts, 1976 was the year of the body. Working out became as popular as making out. Across the country, citizens of both sexes embarked on the quest to get in shape or, if they were there already, to keep in shape. Pumping Iron, a book about weight lifters, became a best seller. The movie Stay Hungry made Arnold Schwarzenegger's name a household word (well, almost). Our gatefold girl for March wonders why it took so long. Nicki Thomas has been taking care of her body for years. (You can see that for yourself.) Three days a week, and sometimes on weekends, too, you'll find her working out at a Chicago-area health club. On her free days, she trucks on down to the local Y to work out on the gymnastics equipment--rings, uneven bars, etc. The exercises keep her in shape for the gymnastics and the gymnastics keep her in shape for the exercises. Or something like that. How did Nicki get interested in exercise? She was never a 90-pound weakling. "I just have this thing about fat people. Your body is a gift and it's criminal to let it go to waste, to treat it with indifference. Every pound of extra weight is a buffer between you and the world. It cuts down your feeling and makes you harder to find. Like driving a car that's out of tune, living in a body that's out of shape wastes energy." The only break in Nicki's training schedule came last summer, during the Montreal Olympics. Like everyone else, she was in front of her television set, absorbing every second of the gymnastics events. "Nadia was perfect. Precision is breath-taking, no matter what the sport. Anything that is done well becomes erotic and very sexy. But it's for her own benefit. Nadia could do her routine in a room all by herself and God would give her a ten." Nicki keeps busy: She plays guitar and violin with the same enthusiasm with which she pursues more physical activities. "I like to get lost in playing. The rhythm is almost hypnotic. You become what you're doing. I try to do things that teach me about myself. I like to make progress. People should have at least one thing in life that lets them measure their progress." Nicki is willing to undertake anything on the spur of the moment: She recently began to draw--out of curiosity to see if she knew enough about a friend to get a portrait right.
A woman didn't want to embarrass her husband by discussing his impotence, so she went secretly to their old family doctor, who gave her a prescription for drops to be slipped into her husband's bedtime glass of milk. The pharmacist who filled the prescription goofed, however, and listed the dosage on the label as 30 drops instead of the correct three. The woman was waiting for the doctor when he arrived at his office the following day. "Well, Mrs. Brown," he said, "what brings you here again so soon? Didn't the drops work?"
The insects warbled at the windows, and on the wall a pale gecko chattered and flicked its tail. It was one of those intimate late-night pauses--we had been drinking alone for two hours and had passed the point of drunken chitchat. Then I said to Strang, to break the silence, "I've lost my spare pair of glasses."
Everyone hated shimura; but no one really knew him: Shimura was Japanese. He was not a member of the club. About every two weeks, he would stop one night in Ayer Hitam on his way to Singapore. He spent the day in Singapore and stopped again on the way back. Using us--which was how Evans put it--he was avoiding two nights at an expensive hotel. I say he wasn't in our club, yet he had full use of the facilities, because he was a member of the Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur and we had reciprocal privileges. Seeing his blue Toyota appear in the driveway, Evans always said, "Here comes the freeloader."
It was December 1974 and the British film business was in dire straits. Bob Gill, one of the top graphic artists, and I were contemplating the prospects of 1975 with horror when he popped the porn question: "Do you know anybody who could write a dirty movie?"
Ever since a sated English monarch laid his blade on a tender side of beef and dubbed it Sir Loin, steak has been the trencherman's cut. Beefsteak clubs flourished in 18th Century London--the most famous being the Sublime Society of Steaks, founded in 1735 by eminent theatrical personality John Rich. Hogarth, Garrick and other luminaries of the arts, politics and business studded its roster, attracted, perhaps, by the club's stirring maxim, "Beef and liberty."
My desire is to set forth my thoughts, reflections, ruminations and recriminations in disjointed fashion. I don't want to set the world on fire, as a popular ditty once ran. I don't believe there is any one man or any one group of men who can set things straight. From a very high point of view, nothing needs to be set straight. The tantric man can say, as did Céline, "I piss on it all from a considerable height." The saddik and the guru remain undisturbed. The ecstatic ones (the Hasidim) will continue to sing and dance even while the world sinks into nothingness. The holy ones will still enjoy a good fuck, a holy fuck, because they are immune, incorruptible and beyond melancholy and despair. (Why did the Church make melancholia a grave sin? Along with acedia [spiritual sloth]? Think on it!)
The court of the ancient kingdom of Bhanaras was graced with 15,000 concubines. But none of these was as beautiful as the young queen, Khaki, whose scent was so fine that any man who lay with her carried it with him for seven days.
It was Several days after Bob Scheer and I had interviewed Jimmy Carter during the final session on July 21, 1976, at his home in Plains. Scheer, who had spent three months following Carter around, questioning him in half-hour bursts that would eventually total about five hours of taped conversations, had gone back to Berkeley to write the article that would accompany the November Playboy Interview. I was sitting with Playboy Editorial Director Arthur Kretchmer in our Chicago offices, listening to the tape of that final session. We had listened to an hour of serious questions--and candid answers--on such topics as abortion, health care, tax reform, Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, the Mayaguez incident, amnesty, morality in foreign policy and President Ford's intelligence. I commented aloud to Kretchmer on how quiet it had become in Carter's living room when I had asked him how he dealt with the possibility of assassination. We heard the voice of press aide Rex Granum, who had sat in on the session, telling us that time was up.
Most old railroad cars never die, they just rust away in some forgotten corner of a switchyard. Fortunately, the man who eventually became the owner of New York Central Observation Car Number 66 knew a good thing when he saw it come up for sale a few years ago. He purchased the car, housed it on a Los Angeles siding and turned the job of refurbishing its interior over to designers Gary Bond and Barbara Lockhart, with the word that they had an unlimited budget to turn old Number 66 into a masculine show place on wheels that would be fit for entertaining business associates and their friends in a Grand Central style that even the late Lucius Beebe would have envied. About a year later, Lockhart and Bond's gilt-edged project was complete.
Portrait of Dick Clark as an Eternally Young Deejay
"This is amazing." Dick Clark shakes his head ruefully with boyish rueful head-shake charm. "Isn't that Gregg Allman over there? Isn't it? He's lost his"--Dick Clark strokes the area just under his lower lip with his thumb and forefinger--"his, you know, but I think that's him." Gregg Allman, seated with four other people, none of them Cher, has his back to us.
Since the entire system of nationally advertised and distributed processed foods depends on chemical additives, the trick is to convince the public these substances are safe. The easiest way to do that is to get the Government to certify them, which is why the industry needs the Food and Drug Administration. Eat your cancer flakes, Johnnie, the Government says they're OK.
It's Easy to write snide about Aspen, and tempting. It's a strange little town, so full of pretty people doing pretty things that you can't help but feel a hopeless outsider when you arrive. About two weeks after I got there, I wrote in my notebook: "Aspen is crawling with tough guys and a lot of them are women. They carry wooden matches and light them with their fingernails, they have frown lines they didn't get skiing, they're meaty, they spit, they have big dogs and they beat them often. Tough women, just like tough men, are a pain in the ass."
When it comes to interior decor, the word for the wise in the Seventies is versatility. Sure, you can stick to tried-and-true furnishings that have a specific, well-defined purpose. Or you can expand your horizon by exploring the showrooms and stores of manufacturers who specialize in industrial products--steel worktables, for example, or heavy-duty wire racks or stop-thief convex mirrors that can dramatically capture an entire studio apartment within their 36-inch diameter.
According to a recent survey by the Administrative Management Society, 14 percent of all office employees left their jobs last year. The turnover rate was highest (18 percent) for hourly employees and only slightly lower (nine percent) for management-level employees. The Great American Game of Musical Jobs has slowed down in the past few years (down from 21 percent in 1973 to 14 percent in 1976), but the chances are still about one out of ten that you will leave your place of employment this year. Or next.
Here's a musical Catch-22: Friction on a record surface builds up a static charge that attracts specks of garbage from the air. You create friction, of course, every time you slide a record in and out of its liner or jacket, and the very tracking of the record groove by the stylus creates another source of friction.
Anyone who flies a lot knows the arguments for paring down to what you can take into the cabin. You eliminate the psychological certainty that someday a baggage handler is going to look at the tag on one of your suitcases and read Yoro, Honduras (ORO), for Chicago's O'Hare (ORD) or Cajamarca, Peru (CJA), for Rome's Ciampino (CIA). You don't have to wrestle with the bags in all those interstices between the claim area and the hotel room where there's no one around willing to handle them for the dollar a bag porters and bellboys now seem to expect. Most of all, there's the freedom to walk out of the plane, through the airport and into a cab without the last ministration of the essence of airline travel: waiting around for something to happen.
Blame it on the weather. Just when you think you have it knocked, after you've sweated, strained and stuffed your body into the shaped silhouette so much the rage these past few seasons, European designers have done an about-face.