Last October, when South Carolina Democratic Congressman John Jenrette appeared in front of TV cameras to lament his conviction in the ABSCAM case, his wife, Rita, stood valiantly at his side. For most of us at the time, she was a peripheral image on our TV screens--blonde, demure, attractive, a young politician's wife about to edge into obscurity with her husband. But a few months later, when Rita's memoir. Diary of a Mad Congresswife, appeared in The Washington Post, that judgment was altered. She had written, candidly, of her marriage, her husband's drinking problem and, most revealingly, about straining to fit into the rigid mold of political society. It was not long before rumors began to circulate that the rebellious Mrs. Jenrette was going to pose for Playboy. Would she? The media speculated. Time magazine claimed she had been asked but "modestly declined." Well, now you know; the rumors were, indeed, true. It all began when our Washington-based Contributing Editor, Peter Ross Range, intrigued by Rita's story, asked her to write a no-holds-barred version for Playboy, a piece that would start where the Post story left off. In real life, of course, stories don't have neat endings. As we went to press, Rita had discovered her husband in yet another compromising situation and the couple had separated. This issue's pictorial was shot by Staff Photographer Pompeo Posar, and the accompanying article. The Liberation of a Congressional Wife, was written by Rita in collaboration with Kathleen Maxa, formerly an award-winning sportswriter for the Washington Star, who has known Rita several years. Associate Photography Editor Jeff Cohen and Senior Art Director Chet Suski brought the project to fruition.
Playboy, (ISSN 0032-1478), April, 1981, Volume 28, Number 4. Published Monthly by Playboy, Playboy Bldg., 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill, 60611. Subscriptions: In the United States and its possessions, $48 for 36 issues, $34 for 24 issues, $18 for 12 issues. Canada, $24 for 12 issues. Elsewhere, $31 for 12 issues. Allow 45 days for new subscriptions and renewals. Change of address: Send both old and new addresses to Playboy, Post Office Box 2420, Boulder, Colorado 80302, and allow 45 days for change. Marketing: Ed Condon, Director / Direct Marketing; Michael J. Murphy, Circulation Promotion Director. Advertising: Henry W. Marks, Advertising Director: Harold Duchin, National Sales Manager; Michael Druckman, New York Sales Manager; Richard Atkins, Fashion Advertising Manager, 747 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10017: Chicago 60611, Russ Weller, Associate Advertising Manager, 919 North Michigan Avenue; Troy, Michigan 48084, Jess Ballew, Manager, 3001 W. Big Beaver Road; Los Angeles 90010, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 4311 Wilshire Boulevard; San Francisco 94104, Tom Jones, Manager, 417 Montgomery Street.
America is bullish on halls of fame. We have more than 500 halls memorializing everything from mush dogs to ministers, while England, for example, has only one and it's for tennis players. According to The Big Book of Halls of Fame in the United States and Canada, the average hall is 12.86 years old, has 57.3 members and if you're not eligible for one of them, you haven't played a sport or held a job; in fact, you've probably never been born.
Reading a novel by George V. Higgins is a lot like listening to late-night talk radio. The characters rattle on for pages, and while the topics don't include UFOs or ESP, just about everything else gets equal time. The Rat on Fire (Knopf) is the latest from the author of The Friends of Eddie Coyle and The Digger's Game. There are three pages of plot (a crew of lowlifes torch an apartment building by dousing rats with gasoline, setting their tails on fire and turning them loose in the basement) and 180 pages of sentimentality, characterization by complaint and general whining. Higgins lets his characters tell the story--and, like an exasperated talk-show jock, he has a hard time keeping them under control.
On Back to the Barrooms (MCA), Merle Haggard sings songs for the new recession. He has returned to the shot-and-a-beer crowd, and why not? The bottle's never let him down before with boozy ditties such as Drink Up and Be Somebody and Swinging Doors. Now, with what may be a classic, I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink, he shows the Moes and Joes and Kennys who've been occupying his musical barstool how to really get hurt in a bar. This is fine Haggard, recorded in Nashville, a departure for the Hag, who usually works back home in Bakersfield, California. It's just the thing to drink to until he brings out another live album.
Future Punk: Since the New Wave in London has now moved on to rock-a-billy, having already devoured reggae and ska, we're certain that the next big thing after that is bound to be punk bluegrass. And now, skinheads and cowboys, let's hear a big hand for the nearly legendary Foggy Mountain Dead Boys!
Reeling and Rocking: Grace Slick's plan to branch out? A movie role. She says she wants to play Darth Vader's wife. So far no word from George Lucas.... Francis Ford Coppola is reportedly negotiating with Joe Papp to make a film of the New York Shakespeare Festival's Pirates of Penzance, starring Linda Ronstadt, who's in the Broadway production.... Blondie finally got the necessary clearances and released the long-overdue video version of its Eat to the Beat album. It took a year to work it all out.... Paul McCartney is working on a feature-length cartoon based on the former popular English comic-strip character Rupert the Bear. McCartney has written the story line and 11 songs. It will be out at the end of the year.
Roman Polanski's Tess (Columbia) is beautiful but not a movie I'd recommend to people who say they slept through Barry Lyndon. Languid, lovely films based on literary classics are the still water of cinema, made in a contemplative mood, and this serene adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles is hardly what audiences have learned to expect from Polanski. There is a touching dedication "to Sharon" (his wife, Sharon Tate, victim of the Manson gang) discreetly added to the opening credits of Tess, and that grace note sets the tone for everything that follows. Of course, there's violence as well as delicacy in Tess--rape and murder and a heroine who comes to a pretty bad end, albeit she's more sinned against than sinning. But Polanski spins out Hardy's tale of a poor country lass and her misadventures in a flow of pastoral images so breath-taking that nearly every frame of the picture looks like museum-quality art. The views of the English countryside (shot mostly in Normandy, as a matter of fact) are a fittingly eye-filling epilog to the career of the late Geoffrey Unsworth, who shares cinematography credit with Ghislain Cloquet.
Mah-jongg will have to wait; this night, about 30 curious Brooklyn women gather in a friend's living room for a ladies' night out. They are promised an evening even more titillating than a trip to the Sheepshead Bay bar that features male strippers. Those with an idea of what the evening holds in store tear into the onion dip like anxious brides. They are preparing for group sex, of a sort, and there is an increasingly illicit air permeating the room.
Idol Gossip: John Ritter is now the rumored choice to take up where Peter Sellers left off as Inspector Clouseau, should the Pink Panther series be continued. ... Diane(Alice)Ladd will play the role of Martha Mitchell in the film biography of ex-Attorney General John Mitchell's late wife. The flick, which begins shooting this summer, will be based on the files of White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who knew Mrs. Mitchell well (she was the recipient of her celebrated late-night phone calls). Ladd, who will executive-produce the project, has apparently been working on it for three years. ... Polly Bergen and Robert Mitchum co-star in The Winds of War, Paramount TV's 16-hour miniseries for ABC. Based on Herman Wouk's best-selling novel, the miniseries is reputedly the largest project ever attempted in the history of television, with a 14-month shooting schedule. ... Brian De Palma, John Travolta and Nancy Allen (Mrs. De Palma) will be reunited onscreen for the first time since Carrie in De Palma's next thriller, Blow Out. ... La Cage aux Folles screenwriter Francis Veber has written a comedy for Paramount called Partners about a straight cop and a gay cop. ... Book Beat: Knopf plans to publish The Hite Report on Male Sexuality in June. ... Tom Wolfe's next will be Underneath the I Beams, Inside the Compound, an essay on architecture.
I'm not really a very big fan of the so-called thrill rides whose main aim seems to me to be to encourage people to throw up, but I'm obviously a member of a very small minority. Higher, faster, more terrifying amusement-park attractions are packin' 'em in all over the United States, and there are huge groups of people who get their kicks from surviving multiple confrontations with these mechanical monsters. As might be expected, sheer drops, 360-degree circles and convolutions that would give cramps to a contortionist are staple elements, with exaggerated claims of height, speed and danger nearly a necessity.
I found myself in an unusual situation a few weeks ago. A female friend from high school paid a visit to my college. Before the night was over, she tried to initiate a sexual encounter. Since I am deeply involved in another relationship, I was not too interested. However, since I didn't know how to refuse, I said what the hell and tried to go through with it. The evening was a disaster. How does a guy say no without hurting a woman's feelings?--R. X., Dallas, Texas.
A sex-survey pollster telephoned one of the volunteer couples. "I'm afraid there's a discrepancy in the data supplied by you and your husband," he explained when the wife answered. "Under Frequency of Intercourse, he listed 'Twice weekly,' while you put down 'A number of times nightly during most of the week.' "
John "Bonzo" Bonham was part of a well-equipped army that scaled the face of rock 'n' roll until, for a few years, there was nothing left but rock--power rock, heavy metal, 'Lude and lascivious rock. For 12 years, Bonham's drumming for Led Zeppelin managed to avoid setting the critics on fire. They called him heavy-handed, leaden. That did not deter the listeners who supported Bonzo from the beginning. Led Zep's founder, guitarist Jimmy Page, described encountering Bonham for the first time: "I couldn't believe how he was living his music. When he gets into a trip, the audience goes with him." He was inventive and unpredictable, raw and basic. It was as though he recognized no rules, no conventions. Sometimes he'd drum with his hands, which prompted one manufacturer to claim that its drums were as tough as Bonham. Perhaps the same insistent push to the limit that characterized his work crushed him in his private life. Last September 25, as American fans lined up to buy tickets to Led Zeppelin's first American tour since 1977, Bonzo, exhausted from touring and drink, died in his sleep, yet another casualty of the rock-'n'-roll life. Since then, the tour has been canceled and the band has called it quits, a rather heartfelt testimonial to Bonham's talent. We'll miss the incredible timekeeper who could solo for 30 minutes and leave his audience screaming for more. He spawned hundreds of imitators, but no one in the world plays drums the way he did.
Did you know that some of our most outstanding cowboys came from New Jersey? this fact leads us to ask, "Just What Is a Cowboy?" and, like "Is the Universe Finite?" ... or "Is Annie a Virgin?" our question may have to go unanswered. But we are going to try to deal with it, here in Pasadena, Texas; at Gilley's, the biggest cowboy honky-tonk in the world.
While the predominant fashion color story this season centers on neutrals and pastels, there is a growing use of hotly colored accessories for a touch of wit or a sparkling uplift. It can be as simple as a bright-red band on a summer straw hat, as cheeky as the flash of yellow suspenders or as bold as a boldly striped knit shirt. Traditionally, the necktie has been the most common means of high-energy accenting, but the wherewithal to do it has expanded to virtually every other area of accessorizing, perhaps most surprisingly, even to shoes. Call it the Van Johnson (whose trademark was red socks) approach to fashion. Not that the soft-color looks are necessarily boring or monotonous. When they are put together with care and unpredictability, they can have as much drama as high colors. But fashion, these days, is more about variable approaches than any singular style. Hence, bright accessories can hit the spot, when it suits your mood. A word of warning: The use of too many bright colors in a single outfit, aside from turning you into a jelly-bean bag, smacks of too much fashion aggressiveness. Best to use no more than two brights in any one outfit. Perhaps the ultimate bright bit will be the return of a flower on the lapel.
Many shutterbugs are their own worst enemies. With places to go and subjects to photograph, nothing seems to work out quite right. At least that's the way it was until some genius invented the auto-focusing camera. All six of these trim little wonders set their own shutter speed and aperture opening, and indicate through their viewfinders when available light is too low. And, except for the Polaroid, all feature full 35mm format, a built-in auto-flash unit, a fixed 38mm lens and post-shot distance readings that confirm correct focusing. All you do is release the shutter. What a snap!