The Glimpse of a nicely stuffed stocking, adorning a chimney or a lady, ignites the holiday fires in any man. In a similar way, we promise that this holiday issue of Playboy, gracefully filled with literary lights and fabulous femmes and hung by the newsstand with care, will put you in a highly celebratory mood.
Playboy, (ISSN 0032-1478), December 1988, Volume 35, Number 12. Published Monthly by Playboy, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: $26 for 12 issues, U.S. Canada, $39 for 12 issues. All other foreign, $39 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. 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.
Tom Waits has been selling records and selling out concert halls for a dozen or so years, but most recently, he has begun earning raves for his acting roles in movies such as Down by Law and Ironweed, in which he held his own with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. Now, in Big Time, Waits combines music, film, mime, vaudeville, dreams and general manic raving to redefine concert movies. "It's an action film," he told us, "somewhere between Ben-Hur and Nosferatu. It has an infrared Mondo Kane Skeletor mood to it and I believe it's what the women of today want."
Bassist will lee, best known as a member of the World's Most Dangerous Band on "Late Night with David Letterman," has played with everyone from Cher, Cissy Houston, Mick Jagger and Chaka Khan to Miami Sound Machine, Bette Midler and Diana Ross. Another high-profile bassist, Rob Wasserman, recently cut an album with assorted singers and instrumentalists called "Duets." Lee was hot to take a listen.
Kick out the Jams, Irving, Department: We're pretty sure you missed thisIrving Berlin birthday tribute last summer. The Ramones were playing at an amphitheater across the street from the Hollywood Bowl tribute to Berlin. The Ramones' promoter received a complaint that I Want to Be Sedated was drowning out Alexander's Ragtime Band. Said Joey Ramone, "It was our way of saying, 'Happy birthday, Irving.'"
Working from his own shrewd screenplay co-scripted with protean humorist (and Playboy cartoonist) Shel Silverstein, David Mamet takes the Mafia for a joy ride in Things Change (Columbia), his second shot as a movie director. It is also filmdom's second pot shot at the Cosa Nostra this year, with Married to the Mob an established hit. While he persists in the mannered style of his first film, House of Games, Mamet has it together here in a richly funny, satisfying spoof of Mob morality. Joe Mantegna costars with Don Ameche in an odd-couple partnership several cuts above your standard buddy film. Ameche is a shoe repairman who happens to resemble a wanted hit man and agrees to face the look-alike fugitive's murder rap for a large cash payoff. Mantegna's the gang's bottom-rung gofer who's assigned to keep Ameche amused until it's time to give himself up. On impulse, he takes the hired patsy to Lake Tahoe and passes him off as a mysterious Mafia capo on the very eve of an important conclave of godfathers presided over by superdon Robert Prosky. Mere mischief about mistaken identity soon snowballs into a pitch-black comedy of errors. While Things Change has some weird time warps--a drive from Tahoe to Chicago seems to be an easy overnight trip--Mamet is forgiven, because his gifts as an entertainer strikingly outweigh his drawbacks as a travel guide.
IsMorgan Freeman the greatest American actor? That question was posed by a rapturous critic after Freeman almost grabbed an Oscar for last year's Street Smart. We put the question to the man himself. "Hmmm," he began warily. "If I say yes, it's arrogant. If I say no, it's false modesty."
A Matter of Size: Big ones, tall ones, short ones, small ones: Sony is trying to cover all bases--from a rear-screen-projection 67-inch TV to a 43-inch direct-view Trinitron set all the way down to a two-and-seventenths-inch color LCD model that can double as a camcorder monitor.
While most Americans will once again be rerunning It's a Wonderful Life this month, don't look to Penn and Teller, the nation's leading con men bizarre, for the preservation of sacred holiday sentiment. They'll be sticking with their usual panseasonal fare. "When I write," says Penn, "all I do is run porn videos back to back with the sound down." Adds Teller (adds Teller?!), "I'll look up from typing if Penn tells me I should see some particular move. Otherwise, I just regard the videos as very witty wallpaper." On Christmas Day, though, Teller promises he'll be watching Hitchcock--either Psycho (a past yuletide gift from Penn) or North by Northwest--"Just like I would do on almost any other day of the year."
Some films deserve to fail, but others have flop status thrust upon them--despite good reviews, enticing talent or a nice twist on run-of-the-mill fare. Neglected masterworks they're not, but here are a handful of theatrical also-rans making comebacks as tapes:
Yuppiest Porn Title:Real Men Eat Keisha;Best Meet-Your-Next-Door-Neighbors Video:Massaging Your Friends;Best Annoy-Your-Downstairs-Neighbors Video:Beginning Appalachian Clogging;Best It's-a-Living Video:Building Model Railroad Scenery with the Experts;Worst Family-Get-Together Video:How to Prepare Your Last Will & Testament;Best Thrill-a-Minute Video:How to Pass the Postal Exam;Best Play-with-Your-Food Video:Egg Art.
These days, fiction readers demand deflation. They want to go behind the magician, expose the illusions, stomp on clay feet and get right to the heart of the matter. Three new novels--Anne Rice's The Queen of the Damned (Knopf), William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive (Bantam) and Larry McMurtry's Anything for Billy (Simon & Schuster)--plunge into hoary literary territory to emerge fresh and (dare I say it?) relevant.
This is the 50th anniversary of the college football season that made me want to become a sportswriter, which was a good thing, as it happened, because I had already learned, at the age of eight, that I would never make it as a triple-threat quarterback, an aviator, a G man, an ambulance driver, a doughboy knocking out German machine-gun nests or a cowboy.
[Q] When I'm at a bar, I find it quite hard to meet and talk to girls. I am tall, dark and reasonably good-looking. It's not that girls never look at or talk to me, it's just that it seems that this is as far as it ever goes. I'll buy a girl a drink or dance with her, but that is it. My friend tells me I must be much more aggressive. This is probably the problem, but how do I know what is too aggressive--without getting slapped? Thanks.--K. S., Edmonton, Alberta.
Last month, we published "Kansas City Con," a reprint of an article by the Reverend John M. Swomley, Jr., first published in Christian Century. Reverend Swomley questioned the ethics of the antiporn movement STOP (Stand Together Opposing Pornography) and challenged its use of facts. When the article originally appeared, it precipitated a debate that spilled over onto the pages of The St. Louis Journalism Review. Below are reprints of a response by Chris Cooper, executive director of STOP, and Swomley's rebuttal. Together, they show how truth can be used and abused.
I have no interest in defending pornography as such, but I have a great interest in defending free speech and expression. As readers will note, the article by Chris Cooper, STOP's director, advocates censorship by closing adult bookstores, preventing the rental or sale of X-rated video cassettes and passing laws against obscenity, which he equates with sexually explicit material.
Congressman William Dannemeyer called the bill the rejoining of "morality and ethics with human sexuality." Senator Jesse Helms noted that it would "keep at bay certain vile and base instincts of our fallen nature for the good of individuals and society alike."
If you stayed home to watch TV one hypothetical evening in April 1988, and somebody told you to catch a certain entertainer with a single name and a photogenic navel, you might have caught these glimpses of her--click!--as a serious actress in three movies ("Silkwood," "Mask" and "Suspect") playing on various cable channels--click!--as the campy, vampy video star of her own rock single on MTV--click!--as the Vampirellalike pitchwoman for a line of health spas--click!--and hold--as she takes Best Actress on the Academy Awards show, brandishing her Oscar and smiling a can-you-believe-this-shit grin, and--click!--a bit later, wearing a dress made of several sequins, appearing on "Late Night with David Letterman" for a reunion sing-along with her former husband and partner.
On a moonless night in March, returning to The Keep, I took the coast road from Bath to Belfast in Maine, the road that goes by Camden. In every cove was fog and it covered one's vision like a winding sheet, a fog more than worthy of the long rock shelf offshore where sailing ships used to founder. When I could not see at all, I would pull the car over; then the grinding of the buoys would sound as mournful as the lowing of cattle in a rain-drenched field. The silence of the mist came down on me. You could hear the groan of a drowning sailor in the lapping of that silence. I think you had to be demented to take the coast road on a night like this.
For a long time now, I've known that I could never be President of the United States. This is very sad, because all Americans, and particularly the children of immigrants, are brought up believing that the Oval Office is within their reach. The advent of Ronald Reagan only underlined such gaudy ambitions. After all, if Reagan could become President, anybody could.
Here they were in the night, dressed like they were Lord Mayors, gold chains as thick as forearms hanging around their necks, sitting in a white Excalibur that was stuck among all the limousines, Jaguars and Rolls-Royce convertibles in the circular driveway in front of the hotel.
Watkins wandered with the other ghosts in North Beach on Christmas Eve--the divorced, the bereft, the deserted, the left out. It was more in accord with his nature to be a lonely ghost than a happy drunk, he decided. The important question remaining was to find how to end the night decently with sleep.
We'll be in good shape in the Nineties, but it won't be the shape we're in now. Fashions in bodies change, like car chassis. We take our cues from movies, ads, album covers and rock videos, choosing our clothes, workouts and diets accordingly. In the Baroque period of the early 1600s, as all students of Art Appreciation 101 know, the right look was Rubenesque: ladies voluptuously plump, gentlemen blatantly of substance. In fact, current research shows that fatness enhances fertility. Ancient Hawaiians wanted to be blala (gargantuan), because taking up a lot of space was a sign of importance. Late--19th Century gentlemen saw a big belly as signifying power and cut their coats to emphasize their rotundity. Then came the 20th Century and a new ethos: You couldn't be too rich or too thin. The portly tycoon evolved into the Fifties greaser. Skinny Sergeant Pepper quick-dissolved into the Yuppie Nautilus jock.
Yep, she's really Finnish--a model of Scandinavian design who comes to you by way of Helsinki, Rome and Rapid City, South Dakota. Confusing? Her hair color changes as often as the weather in her homeland, her address changes almost as often and her accent is a concatenation of Finn lilt and South Dakota drawl. "Yep," says Kata Kârkkâinen (say cotta car-kynen; that's as close as you'll get without yodeling), "it is a little confusing. I guess I'm a combination of things, Finnish and American. Is that good or bad?" In this case, all to the good--the collision of hemispheres has brought forth a confusing, intriguing combination of the best of East and West. Kata, the lissome emerald-eyed only child of two attorneys, grew up "spoiled and happy" in Helsinki, where she became, at the age of 15, the finest-looking bowling champion in history. "My dad loved to bowl, and he used to take me along when I was little," she explains. "I got pretty good and even won the national championship for girls under 18. Daddy was very proud of that." Shortly thereafter, a bit weary of snow and solitude--"Finland was too quiet for me"--Kata joined an exchange program, jetted to remotest Rapid City and gave her high school classmates a crash course in Eurostyle. Stevens High School is still reeling. "They found me pretty wild," Kata says of the teachers and schoolmates she bowled over at Stevens High. "I dressed punk. I dyed my hair blonde--or red and black--or wore it in a Mohawk. I wore wigs, and sometimes a tuxedo, to school." To top it off, this Finnish ambassador of punk went out for the bowling team and trounced all the guys. She was promptly bounced from the squad. "They said it was a boys' team." Kata has warm memories of her Dakota days. She treasures her Stevens diploma and now confuses Finn friends with her favorite American expression: "Yep!" "People in the U.S. are extroverts. I like that. Finnish people are shy, not as wild. That is not always bad--American men, I think, can be a little too aggressive. All they want is to get into your pants! Finnish men have better manners. They can wait, you know, a couple of weeks," Kata says, laughing. Not that she minds a little American lust directed her way--it's just that Eurostyle is different. "I don't go crazy over how many muscles a guy has or how hairy his chest is. I kind of like skinny, feminine guys. One of my boyfriends in Finland used to wear make-up. We'd go out and some people thought we were sisters. It was kind of embarrassing, but kind of interesting, too." Don't abandon hope, American guys: The more she sees of American chests, Kata says, the better she likes them. Vacationing in Italy last year, Kata caught the eye of a fashion photographer. Next thing she knew, she was in the Italian edition of Playboy. Now she's back in the States as Miss December. Next up: a fashion shoot in Paris. Will she sit still long enough for American males to prove that they want more from her--or at least other things as well--than entree into her pants? The answer, Kata says with a smile, is yep.
Over the next five months, 293 Division I college basketball teams will play more than 4500 games and score more than 1,000,000 points on jump shots, dunk shots, three-pointers, free throws, layups, hooks, double-pumps, tips, swats and half-court lobs. Much sweat will be sweat, more than a few punches thrown and countless rolls of paper, diverted from the purpose God intended, will unfurl onto basketball courts across the country, all part of the search for the Holy Grail of college basketball, the national championship.
The colder the winter, the greater the pleasure of kicking the weather off your boots, closing the door of your castle and treating yourself to a single-malt whisky. Let your hands cradle the glass to warm the amber liquid. Inhale the peaty aroma of the malt. Amid such a glow, ice hasn't a snowball's chance. Just a dash of water to release the whisky's vapors. Then take a sip of the smoky, smooth malt. Don't hurry. Make the pleasure last.
The Polo Lounge in The Beverly Hills Hotel--enduring, unchanged, a Hollywood landmark. Refurbish it if you must, but please don't update it. Let it remain as it is, timeless and one of my very favorite places to visit.
Joe Tobul's Mother ruined my life. Under another name, Joe Tobul's mother blighted your life as well. For the past 50 years, all the Joe Tobul's mothers of America--kind and decent women who kept kitchens so clean you could eat off the floor, and who wouldn't harm a fly--blighted the lives of boys and girls with absolute innocence. They did it, as Joe Tobul's mother did it to me, by tossing out all those kids' funny books.
When she was 17 and starring in her first important film, Krull, Lysette Anthony looked the perfect English hothouse rose. With her long burnished-gold hair, wide Orphan Annie eyes and schoolgirl dresses, she was the picture of a fairy princess--which is what she played in that doomed movie. "I hate that film as only one who passionately loved something can hate it," says Lysette today. "It has haunted me for years. People still think of me that way. Casting directors still say, 'Where is your long blonde hair, Lysette?'" These days, Lysette wears her dark hair cropped close to her head. Her blue eyes, still round, are now teasing and savvy and her figure is as trim and lithe as a dancer's. She talks in short bursts of speed, her words barely keeping up with her thoughts. "I didn't realize it, thank God, or I would have curled up and died," says Lysette, "but after Krull, people wouldn't cast me, because they said I was too pretty, too chocolate-boxy." Her brow knits in disdain. "You know the English; they like to keep you in a niche. You have to shock them if you want to make a change." Lysette, who thrives on shocking people, has made a lot of changes, and her seven-year battle to be taken seriously as an actress is beginning to pay off, with three films this year. The first to be released is the current Without a Clue, a Sherlock Holmes spoof starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley. ("I play a baddie for the first time.") CBS has just aired Jack the Ripper, again starring Michael Caine. It's a feisty Lysette this time. "I play an Irish girl--raw, drunken, a little slut. Fighting, but with a kind of innocence that I can understand." Then in December comes Dangerous Love for CBS, based on the book Cupid Rides Pillion, by Barbara Cartland, with a cast that includes Michael York, Oliver Reed and Claire Bloom. "It's a formula thing, like all Cartland books. I play a virginal young girl, orphaned and very rich. I have such problems describing her, because this whole virginal thing is last on my list of priorities." None of these projects would have happened had the outspoken Lysette not forced the issue. She had to fight to be auditioned for Without a Clue. "I heard at first that the producers wouldn't see me for the film. I nearly killed the casting director. I thought, Fuck the lot of you, you're going to see me. And they did. I read for the part with a lot of other girls who all came on as sweet, sweet, sweet. I thought to myself, There's only one girl in this film and she's got to be sexy. English actresses are afraid of that. That's why they don't do well. I used to be that way myself. I'd go to auditions in proper dresses like a nice clean English girl. Now I say 'Fuck it' and go looking like me." It was not only her looks but a combination of assets that won her the challenging lead in a small Dutch film, Looking for Eileen, which required her to play a dual role--as a scruffy Belfast girl and a (text concluded on page 221)Lysette(continued from page 168) look-alike Dutchwoman who is killed in an accident and whose husband finds in Eileen a substitute for his dead wife. Neither role came easily to Lysette. "I had to learn the Belfast accent and I had to learn Dutch," Lysette recalls. "I worked very hard and it paid off. I went to Amsterdam at 22, shit-scared, knowing if I couldn't do it, I should go and have babies and let others get on with acting. I came out of that experience knowing that I could survive." She easily survived a nude scene for Eileen and now laughs at the recollection. "The only thing was, I was terribly fit from running and I was playing this little Belfast girl who couldn't look muscular. I had to stop running, so that when I took off my clothes, my body looked right." Amsterdam, which Lysette found liberating, killed her preference for England. "I could not just come back and say, 'Yes, I'd love to play a Dickensian character,' or 'Thank you very much, I do agree that Juliet should carry a Teddy bear and suck her thumb.' I couldn't do it. After Eileen, I wanted to make things happen. For a week back in London, I sat in front of the telly and wept." Then she got a grip on herself and went to work with a vengeance. She took on a project in Israel, did some modeling, made commercials, did a very well-received television comedy series, Three Up, Two Down, for the BBC, became the Cosmo girl for health and beauty and last year did a play at the Bristol Old Vic, one of the most prestigious regional theaters in England. "It was a horrendous experience," says Lysette. "Really the worst time, with actors not getting on together, everybody hating one another. The play itself, by Michael Frayn, was wonderful, but it didn't work. I thought, What am I going to do?" She decided to go to the gym every day and become "an obsessed person, then I'd sit in the bath at night with a large glass of whiskey and read poetry. I also thought about what I wanted to do. I'd been desperate to get back to Paris since I was 16. So I went, took a weeklong Berlitz course and got a French agent." That's where Lysette now spends a lot of her time--in Paris--which comes as no surprise to her mother. "She always saw me as some wild creature who kept saying, 'I'm sick of this; I'm going to Paris.'" The current man in her life, whom Lysette met in Amsterdam while filming Eileen, is an art consultant whose business base is in Holland. "It has been difficult, because I've been filming all year, but we're engaged to be engaged. I've never had such a strong friend. When we go on holiday--we've had two wonderful ones, in Key West and Provence--I start out tense, with a cigarette, highly nervous. By the end, I'm like a six-year-old."
Ba-Dum-Chuunk! A funny thing happened on the way to the Nineties. Stand-up comedy has emerged as a national obsession, and laughing stock has gone through the roof. It's all in the timing. The Rim-Shot Generation has produced its own ironic voice and a breed of cheerful cynics to calibrate it. In droves, these strange, brave men and women prowl stages, wielding microphone and attitude, making sense of morass. Laffeterias have replaced night clubs and proliferate in chains and franchises that compete for talent like old warring Hollywood studios. Stand-ups, meanwhile, are entrusted to sell us beer and corn chips and deodorant--and motor oil, too. They have made cable their corral and they infiltrate virtually every network sitcom. And all of them yearn for approval from the gap-toothed Hoosier whose post-Carson vortex exists solely for their career advancement. At last, they got respect! But, boy, are their arms tired. ...
New agers have a theory: There's no such thing as time, at least not the way the rest of us see it. Therefore, all the Sex Stars of 1988 are actually living decades ago--and today, too. Well, why not? Once you're accustomed to getting the best tables, it's probably no big trick to pick and choose among time warps, and heaven knows, the Eighties have had their drawbacks. There is something suspiciously like the Forties and Fifties in the way so many celebrities are finding themselves caught between marriage and divorce. One day, they may attempt a wholesome romance, slipping into something more comfortable but less fun; the next, they're sleeping (text continued on page 198) Sex Stars (contiuned from page 181) around into something more fun but rather less comfortable. Is that Dick and Liz over there, or Sly and Gitte? Did you say that singer who's on the balcony with Another Woman was the Fifties' Frank Sinatra or the Eighties' Bruce Springsteen, out for a romp with backup singer Patti Scialfa--to the dismay of his 1985 bride, Julianne Phillips, who filed for divorce? Has Clark Gable come back as Kevin Costner? If gossip died with Hedda, Louella and Walter, who are Oprah, Phil and Geraldo?
What do I have that other guys want? Women. Lots of them." Gene Simmons, for 15 years, with and without the make-up, has been the snake-tongued focal point of Kiss, one of the hardiest heavy-metal machines to ever hit the hi-fi. He's also an actor, a personal manager and a record-company mogul. He holds a college degree in education and speaks four languages. Contributing Editor David Rensin talked with Simmons on the roof of his New York City hotel, as the renaissance rocker acquired some color before an extended Kiss tour of Europe. Afterward, over lunch, according to Rensin, "Simmons told me that the strangest thing he'd seen when a woman dropped her drawers was his Kiss face, in full make-up, tattooed on a shaved area of skin 'quite close to the gateway to hell.' Then he said he'd be in town for a few more days and to call if I got bored."
Of all the routes a serious actress might take to a career in Hollywood, Arkansas-born Tess Harper chose the most circuitous. Best known for her role in Tender Mercies, Harper, 36, who also co-stars in Criminal Law with Kevin Bacon and in Sam Shepard's Far North, attended Southwest Missouri State College, then spent eight years in Houston and Dallas, performing in small dinner-and children's-theater productions. "Dinner theater is kind of like the Laverne and Shirley of theater," she says. "It's amazing to go out there and do a performance with people still chomping on their roast beef and clinking their glasses together." Although strikingly attractive, Harper is almost always cast in meatier character roles. "I'm never going to get a part where they put me in designer clothes," she admits. "I want to have the respect of people in the business, but I don't care to be on the cover of National Enquirer." Of course, "it is nice to get a decent table at a restaurant," she says with a smile.
The whole Hollywood star system--I love that," says actor Liam Neeson. "Over the past three years, I've thought, Yeah, I can do that. I wasn't in a position to pick and choose roles, but a body of work fell into my court, so I get my passport stamped and I'm off." Neeson's off, all right, in a big way. He has already established himself with Suspect, for which he earned raves as the homeless deaf-mute defended for murder by Cher, and Clint Eastwood's The Dead Pool. More recently, he scored as Diane Keaton's uninhibited lover in The Good Mother, and then joined Daryl Hannah and Peter O'Toole in the comedic ghost story High Spirits. It's an enviable record for a 36-year-old who started out as a boxer in Ireland--including three years as Northern Irish amateur champ and one as Irish champ. But Neeson, despite his imposing physical presence (he's "six-four and a wee bit"), lacked the killer instinct and hung up his gloves in order to attend the University of Belfast, where he studied physics. He switched to a school for teachers, then drifted through an assortment of odd jobs before trying acting in 1976. Four years later, he made his screen debut in Excalibur and set his sights on Hollywood. Neeson has worked steadily in TV and films since then. Despite his bravado and good luck, he claims, "I always keep my psychological baggage sort of half-packed. Some mornings, you wake up and think, Gee, I look handsome today. Other days, you think, What am I doing in movies? I wanna go back to Ireland and drive a forklift."
So far, it has not been easy to categorize Toni Childs. Her debut album, Union, has made her the darling of cutting-edge pop radio, as well as New Age stations. Union has definite hints of Africa and the Caribbean, with backups by groups from Swaziland and Zambia, and Childs herself dresses in bandannas, long muslin dresses and exotic jewelry It's world-pop music, and Childs, 30, attributes her outlook to travel, particularly a four-year period in London. "I was becoming disenchanted with America," she explains. "When I went to England, I felt and saw why I was feeling that way But I also saw a lot of things that made me love America." Now back in Los Angeles, she tends her vegetable garden, soaks in a hot tub kept on cool and paints. "I can sing and I don't have to make records to do that. I can do other things and be happy but I love doing this."
Augie Nieto was a 20-year-old fitness-club owner when he got his first look at a Lifecycle. This, he thought, is the future of aerobic exercise. He sold his club and bought Lifecycle's world-wide marketing rights. How did he fare? "Lost my ass," he recalls, admitting that he sold only ten in nine months and lost $160,000. Ten years later, those same Lifecycles--computerized stationary bikes that vary pedaling difficulty and provide readouts on pace and calories burned--now flank one another on health-club floors like thoroughbreds at a starting gate (more than 100,000 have been sold), and the firm he heads. Life Fitness, has become the largest seller of computerized exercise equipment in the world. The marketing stroke that turned the tide was Nieto's. "We gave them away," he explains. "In a year, I was getting 25 orders a week." Nieto, 30, is a self-confessed bells-and-whistles man. His video bike of the future, a souped-up Lifecycle, will feature sound effects and a color monitor that displays the imaginary terrain the cyclist is riding. "To me, exercise has to be fun," Nieto says. "I need distractions, because in itself, it's torture."
It was not as though the world had never heard of Tom Bodett before the no-frills motel chain Motel 6. After all, he'd been a commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and he'd written a couple of funny books. But he wasn't quite prepared for the reaction he's gotten from those homey little radio commercials, the ones that end with his saying, "We'll leave the light on for ya." "It's been almost a little scary how that has spread my name around," Bodett says, in a voice that reminds one of porch swings and hammocks. Bodett, 33, has lived in Alaska for 13 years, building houses in Homer until a story he wrote for a local newspaper led to a stint on local radio and, finally, to NPR. Now, he is the star of his own syndicated radio show called The End of the Road. "Mostly, it's a lot of me telling stories," he explains, plus musical guests and the chance to be famous in his own right. "Sometimes it gets a little hard to steer people back to the fact that I am, in fact, a writer. They think I'm the president of Motel 6," he says. "Still, if that's the worst thing I have to complain about, I may as well shut up."
A new sense of style is creeping up on the men's-underwear industry. Oh, there was the boxer rebellion of a few years ago, when guys forsook their brief attachment in favor of shorts that resembled something Dagwood Bumstead would have been wearing when Mr. Dithers caught him with his pants down. Now there are a number of styles to choose from, including tight-fitting bicycle-racer looks that extend to mid-thigh and string bikinis that leave almost nothing to the imagination. (They also leave almost no underwear line on a tight-fitting pair of pants.) In between are a variety of other cuts and colors to choose from. Anyway, it's a whole new ball game. Hang in there, men.
Thirty-five years ago next month, a young man named Hugh M. Hefner rolled out the first issue of his magazine for the urban male. It was undated, because the fledgling publisher was unsure whether Marilyn Monroe, shown waving on the cover, was saying hello to legions of new readers or goodbye to his dreams of launching a new kind of sophisticated men's magazine. The first Playboy was a sellout, and the rest, as they say, is history