Cultural Literacy is a phrase that's been making the rounds of our least favorite cocktail parties recently. It was bad enough when hosts used to pull out a game of Trivial Pursuit. Now along comes a professor--E. D. Hirsch, Jr.--who insists that unless you can identify the 4500 academic buzz words, facts and phrases central to Western civilization as we know it, you may as well work the rest of your life in a gas station.
Playboy, (ISSN 0032-1478), December 1987, Volume 34, Number 12. Published Monthly by Playboy, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: $24 for 12 issues, U.S. Canada, $35 for 12 issues. All other foreign $35 U.S. currency only. For new and renewal orders and change of address, send to Playboy subscriptions, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51593-0222. Please allow 6--8 weeks for processing. For change of address, send new and old addresses. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51593-0222, and allow 45 days for change. Circulation: Jack Bernstein, Circulation Promotion Director. Advertising: New York: 747 Third Avenue, New York 10017; Chicago: 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago 60611; West Coast: Perkins, fox & perkins, 3205 Ocean Park Boulevard, Suite 100, Santa Monica, California 90405.
On the honors list of movies that really matter, reserve a top spot for Cry Freedom (Universal), from producer-director Richard Attenborough. Picking the right high-minded subject at the right time may be the secret of Attenborough's success. In another fruitful collaboration with writer John Briley, whose screenplay snagged one of Gandhi's eight Oscars, Sir Richard mounts an epic, enthralling adaptation of two books by Donald Woods about his dangerous friendship with Stephen Biko, a young Bantu leader who died in jail in 1977 after interrogation by South Africa's ruthless security police. Writing about the Biko tragedy made Woods, a white newspaper editor, an officially banned person under constant surveillance. How he smuggled his family of six to safety and managed to flee his native land, disguised as a priest, is the spine of the story. As Woods, Kevin Kline delivers his best screen performance ever, with some ultrasensitive counterpoint by Penelope Wilton as his angry but steadfast wife. Playing Biko, Denzel Washington (of TV's St. Elsewhere) is also superb. The huge sweep of events in incendiary South Africa before and after the Soweto massacre of 1976 gives Cry Freedom emotional validity despite Attenborough's sometimes clunky, too-literal style. It's not a great picture, but it is a great escape drama, with a passionate one-two punch of timeliness--bashing the fascist monster known as apartheid. Rest assured there will be no gala premiere in Pretoria, where Woods and his works remain prohibited. [rating]4 bunnies[/rating]
While Recording his latest LP, "Got Any Gum?" in Memphis, ace guitarist Joe Walsh heard a new guy named Jimmy Davis and liked him so much he stuck around to play on Davis' first LP, "Kick the Wall" (QMI/MCA). We asked Joe what he liked about Jimmy.
Reeling and Rocking: Ozzy Osbourne plays a washed-up rocker making a comeback in Penelope Spheeris'Seeing Stars. ... The Monkees' comedy-adventure movie will be out next year.... Alfre Woodard is said to be interested in playing the blues legend Elizabeth Cotton in a film bio.... Harry Nilsson and Terry Southern have written a screenplay called Obits. ... Madonna is interested in making a movie about World War Two correspondent Marguerite Higgins. ... The Call's Michael Been will play John the Baptist in Martin Scorsese'sThe Passion.
Reading a New Kurt Vonnegut novel is like visiting a relative in another part of the country, a gabby uncle you see only once in a while. On some visits he'll be crustier than on others, or windier or more brilliant; but if you love him, the visit needs no other reason than the sound of his voice and the crackle of his wit. So it doesn't much matter to me that Vonnegut's latest, Bluebeard (Delacorte), is not the satirical tour de force that Galápagos was; he's still my favorite uncle. Bluebeard takes the form of an autobiography by a famous painter, Rabo Karabekian, but it doesn't take it very seriously. Born in 1916 to Armenian-refugee parents, Rabo has a life that is a series of unlikely collisions with various Vonnegut oddballs. He's apprenticed to a sadistic Norman Rockwell type of painter, stumbles into success as one of the first abstract expressionists and achieves notoriety when his paintings self-destruct, having been painted with Sateen Dura-Luxe house paint. Rabo stops painting, marries an heiress and keeps everyone guessing as to what he's got locked up inside the barn that used to be his studio. When the barn door is finally unlocked, its secrets are neither amazing nor entirely believable. The problem is that Vonnegut lacks a gut feeling for painting. But Uncle Kurt is still funny more often than not and full of his usual curmudgeonly charm. Family members will enjoy the reunion.
To beat the spate of all-American teams, I picked mine before the season began, strictly on the basis of names. I don't care whether or not these guys played a down of football. Their names alone make them standouts. I might add that their plaques, rings, wrist watches, sweaters and blankets are in the mail, unless my butler has fouled up again.
Not that this is really what the column is about, but 14 years ago, when I was a slip of a girl living in England, I fell (thud) in love and had my heart broken for the first time. Oh, it was awful; I was so seriously besotted, sure that my feelings were returned, and then it turned out that he was one of those guys who make girls fall for them just to see if they can do it. It was my first exposure to this virulent species of tick, and I've never totally recovered. In fact, we keep in touch, John and I. Saw each other recently.
Nan lives in San Diego. I've never met her, but I've talked with her by phone and I've seen pictures of her dancing. She's a professional ballerina, slim and blonde and long-legged and flexible. Edible is a word that comes to mind.
My girlfriend and I have started sharing fantasies. Some of them are pretty normal; some are pretty weird. Do you have any information on typical fantasies? How can we tell what's normal and what's not?--K. L., Miami Beach, Florida.
Twenty-five years ago this month, the first installment of "The Playboy Philosophy" appeared in the pages of Playboy. Over the next few years, in 25 installments, Hugh M. Hefner tried to define the principles and perspectives of the magazine to readers and critics alike. What the founding fathers in Philadelphia did for democracy, Hefner in Chicago did for the sexual revolution.
If Gore Vidal, author of the recent best seller "Empire," is correct, and "history is the final fiction," then it is in entertaining if mischievous hands. For nearly 40 years, America's wittiest and most prolific gadfly has been providing a kind of brash counter history of the republic through his novels, essays, lectures, political campaigns and television appearances. A man of letters as well as popular culture, Vidal is astonishingly productive, with an outpouring of carefully researched and well-read novels whose subjects range from the fall of the Roman Empire to the wobbly rise of the American one.
Brigitte Nielsen is one very busy woman. She's an actress, of course, the star of such films as Beverly Hills Cop II, Red Sonja, Rocky IV and Cobra. Then there's her career as recording star; she recently cut her first pop-rock album, Every Body Tells a Story, which includes two songs she co-wrote and has already been released in Europe. Naturally, she plans a series of music videos to help push the album. And then there's TV--Italian TV, at least, where she's just finishing a 14-week stint co-hosting Festivale, a popular weekly variety show on which she sings, chats with celebrities and screens her videos. "It's wonderful publicity," she says. But most of all, Brigitte is busy being half of one of Hollywood's steamiest divorces.
A year or two ago, we sent out what amounted to a chain letter asking modern men for advice about modern life. We hoped that by doing so, we could raise a sort of extended barroom conversation, nationwide, and get the best take on life from the three or four modern guys sitting next to the pretzels there under the TV in bars across the country. We could ask, for example, "Hey, what do you think of rats?" and somebody would probably tell us a little more than we really needed to know about rats. And mice. And how to take a gentlemanly piss. And how to win a woman. How to survive losing one.
The saw ripped through wood, ripped through flesh and bone along the middle of the wooden box and the middle of the woman. Blood gushed from the track the saw made, following the sharp teeth. The saw itself was bloody when at last he withdrew it from box and woman. He looked up at the wall clock--5:05 P.M. He nodded in grim satisfaction.
<p>For India Allen, life has offered up very few surprises--which, when you think about it, is one of the logical benefits of having a psychic for a mother. "My mom is a really good psychic," India says. "She has always told me, 'Your picture is going to be seen everywhere.' In high school, I really didn't believe her, because I was real tall and real thin." But Mom, a full-blooded Algonquin Indian who has looked into the future for various celebrities and has attempted to help police solve crimes, was more specific--she even "saw" her daughter's pictures on these pages and urged her to try out as a Playmate as soon as India turned 18. "I didn't have much self-confidence then," admits India, who's now 22. "My mom thought I had a pretty body, but I was chicken." But four years of modeling all over the United States and Europe "has really toughened me up," she says. "It's amazing that being rejected can give you so much confidence, but I've really got all the confidence in the world now."</p>
When I drink, everybody drinks!" a man shouted to the assembled bar patrons. A loud general cheer went up. After downing his whiskey, he hopped onto a barstool and shouted, "When I take another drink, everybody takes another drink." The announcement produced another cheer and another round of drinks.
Robert Crane cornered the less-than-bashful "Family Ties" star Justine Bateman at her home in the Hollywood Hills. He reports, "Justine wore a black miniskirt and a black tank top. The outfit brought tears to my eyes. She confessed that she would eventually like to be a magazine editor, though she doesn't actually know what an editor does. She would love to observe. I was able to cajole Playboy 's Articles Editor, John Rezek, into showing Justine the ropes--what he does and how he does it. The logistics are being worked out."
Put Yourself in Dennis Quaid's shoes. It's the summer of 1984. You're suffering from a string of stinging failures: Your marriage to actress P. J. Soles has ended in divorce court. She was the jewel of your life, and now you're arguing over who will get the dogs. Urban Cowboy was written for you. You read with Debra Winger. Everything was all set. Then director Jim Bridges had to tell you that John Travolta wanted the role, which meant $33,000,000 in advance film rentals, which meant you were out on the street. You got away from it all by taking a trip to New Delhi, only to be awakened on a sultry Eastern night by a frantic call from your agent in L.A "Come back here now!" he said. "They want you for An Officer and a Gentleman! It's in the bag!" You flew halfway around the world; but by the time you were touching down at L.A.X., Richard Gere's pen was touching down on the contract Your only great news in those years--getting your dream role of Gordo Cooper in The Right Stuff--was dimmed when the movie fizzled at the box office. All your hopes were riding on the part of the rock-'n'-roll astronaut, the youngest of the bunch, the best damn pilot in the goddamn world.
Right off, let me say I've got nothing against the dead. There are a few I really like. In fact, some of my best friends are dead. But that doesn't mean I want to hang out with them on weekends and kick around old times.
So many settle for the modern convention: a sofa backed up to the longest wall, a rug squared off against the sofa, an armchair on lone guard duty and, overhead, one of those snap-in lighting tracks that a friend promised were easy to install. Swell. The apartment is done. There's just one glitch. No one wants to live there. It's a thorny problem, all right: only one room, with microkitchenette and sleeping alcove (maybe not even that), into which you must fit all the needs of a man living alone--your entire life, loves, possessions, enthusiasm and comfort. Not easy. And--we won't kid you--it's a situation that calls for compromises.
If my memory is correct, no episodes or characters were deleted when the first typed manuscript of Catch-22 was reduced in the editing from about 800 pages to 600. My memory is not correct. Shortly after the novel was published in late 1961, a friend who had read the original deplored the omission of a series of letters from Nately to his father. Subsequently, those eight or ten pages were published in Playboy under the title Love, Dad (December 1969).
For a while, it seemed as if the Sex Stars of 1987 would turn out to be a rambunctious bunch of overnight sensations who might never be heard from again. Fortunately, a few experienced veterans came off the side lines to make the year a memorable mix of high-jinks rather (text continued on page 168)Sex Stars(continued from page 149) than an endless display of clumsy amateur enthusiasm.
The Most optimistic scientists agree that massive overcrowding is just getting started (wait until we all try to pack ourselves aboard the spaceship!), and it's just begun to dawn on us that many living creatures we enjoy or need are space-wasting and could easily be replaced with computerized, mechanical substitutes.
From the heady world of Super Tennis to Top Gun--like fighter-pilot tension, video-game cartridges are enjoying a revival that brings them out of the arcade and into the home via two exciting entertainment systems. Sega and Nintendo are truly the comeback kids of this comeback, supplying the tools of the technology--a programmable robot, light-phaser video guns, brilliant color graphics and arcade-quality joy sticks--that add simulation thrills to fantasy fun in an industry that has bounced back more often than little Mario in Donkey Kong. With Rocky, World Grand Prix and Slalom waiting to be played, forget your quarters, turn on the TV and load the cartridge. Pac-Man, we hardly knew ye.
The Munchkin Model R-3980, Sharp's new .3-cubic-foot microwave oven, is designed primarily for the single urbanite who often eats frozen dinners, leftovers or minimeals and has a modicum of kitchen-counter cooking space to work with. It features automatic defrost, one-minute key, two power settings and day/date digital display.. The R-3980 is available in red, yellow or white, $169.