Our suggestions for a happy New Year? A couple cups of kindness, another log on the fire and the January issue of Playboy. We've got it all—the thrills, the stars, some fact, some fiction and 1992's college basketball preview—all in one place. When we interviewed Robin Williams in the early Eighties, he was a wild man—funny, inventive and out of control. The Robin Williams Contributing Editor Lawrence Grobel found this time has lost none of his creative edge, but his humor is richer and deeper. You can see it in this month's Playboy Interview and in such movies as The Fisher King and the Christmas blockbuster Hook. We also have the goods on two other pop giants: Whatever You Say, Arnold, a tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger by America's king of drive-in culture, Joe Bob Briggs, and Lewis Grossberger'sMadonna, Inc.: The Annual Report, a bottom-line look at the Material Girl's assets. P.S.: The figures are real.
Playboy, (Issn 0032-1478), January 1992, volume 39, number 1, published monthly by Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60811. Subscriptions: $29.97 for 12 issues, U.S. Canada, $43.97 for 12 issues, all other foreign, $45 U.S. currency only fornew and renewal orders and change of address, send to Playboy subscriptions, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. please allow 6-8 weeks for processing. for change of address. send new and old addresses and allow 45 days for change. postmaster: send form 3579 to Playboy, P.O.Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. Advertising: New York 747 third avenue, New York 10017; Chicago, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago 60611; West Coast; 8560 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, Ca 90069; metropolitan publishers representatives, Inc.: Atlanta: 3017 Piedmont Road Ne. Suite 100, Atlanta, Ga 30305, Miami: 2500 South Dixie Highway, Miami, Fl 33133; Tampa: 3016 Mason Place, Tampa, Fl 33629.
Nanci Griffith'smusic evades description. "I usually just say I'm a singer—some folk, some country, some adult contemporary." The Texas native is also a songwriter. Griffith's ninth LP, "Late Night Grande Hotel," is her latest. It's often said that Nanci Griffith is one of music's best-kept secrets; Griffith says the same about Cliff Eberhardt.
Doo-Wop Christmas Department: No No holiday party will be complete without some singing around the tree. If you get a copy of Street Carols, you won't even need a piano. Performed a cappella by Jerry "Iceman" Butler, Ronnie Spector and the Chi-Lites, among others, these songs give Christmas soul as well as heart.
An Old Woman leaning against the wind in a violent rainstorm is the final, most memorable image a viewer will take away from Rhapsody in August (Orion Classics). Pointedly symbolic, the scene recalls the day the U.S. dropped an atom bomb on Nagasaki. Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, arguably the greatest living film maker, has made Rhapsody—his 29th movie—a rueful, conciliatory and quietly humorous family drama about the poignant aftermath of war. Richard Gere, the first American star ever hired by Kurosawa, stands out in a key secondary role as Clark, the half-American nephew of a victim of the atomic catastrophe. He's a rich man's son who visits Nagasaki because his father is dying in Hawaii and wants his elderly sister to come and say sayonara. Gere is entirely right in a self-effacing role opposite Sachiko Murase as Grandmother, his reluctant old aunt. In Kurosawa's almost delicate treatment of U.S. guilt and corresponding resentment in Japan, the younger Japanese—who wear American-style T-shirts and seem uniformly Westernized—appear more embarrassed than angry over a past as distant to them as a samurai legend. Only the living relatives remember the terror that Rhapsody in August brings back with the haunting beauty of a dark reflection in a lily pond. [rating]3-1/2 bunnies[/rating]
Her glowing reviews as the heroine of Thousand Pieces of Gold (see our December review) have given a boost to California native Rosalind Chao, whose Chinese-born parents own a restaurant called Chao's "in Anaheim, right across from Disneyland." On hearing her Asian surname, she says, people expect to see her serving tea or doing laundry. "They're shocked when I show up in blue jeans and a T-shirt. I'm more all-American than they expect." Still, ethnicity dominates Chao's breakthrough Pieces of Gold role as a 19th Century Chinese girl sold into slavery and winning her self-respect in an Idaho brothel.
Looking for a special how-to vid? The Complete Guide to Special Interest Videos (James-Robert Publishing; $14.95) is a compendium of more than 7500 titles—from Algebra Basics for Beginners to Zen Shiatsu. Call 800-383-8811.... Strand VCI's Search for Adventure series is, let's say, adventurous. Raft of Zaire takes you down African rapids, Cave Diving Down Under explores the Aussie underwater world and Birdmen of Kilimanjaro is hang gliding at its best—and scariest.
You've seen them all over late-night TV: the 1-800 come-ons that hawk magazine subscriptions by throwing in video freebies. The clips look great, but are the tapes worth a twirl? We gave a few a try. People: A subscription to the pop weekly brings you Diana: The Making of a Princess, a vid built on the principle that too much footage is never enough. Yup, you'll O.D. on Di—and those hats! The girl does for headgear what Imelda did for shoes (bottom line: 55 issues for $79.95).
Puccini's La Bohème, one of the world's best-loved operas, is a bona fide tearjerker: ill-fated romance, tuberculosis, the works. Opera buffs and tyros alike can sniffle through several video versions, rated here in teardrops.
"The six o'clock news has raised the ante for horror films," says Robert Englund, the actor under Freddy Krueger's crater-face mask. When he isn't slicing and dicing his way through your (and Elm Street's) nightmares, Englund searches for the right videos to spook his Laguna Beach house guests. His favorite fright-night features: Brian De Pal-ma's Sisters and the bizarre thriller White of the Eye. Toss in Rutger Hauer's The Hitcher and you have "the ideal desert-island videos—the ones you watch over and over again." What wouldn't Freddy be caught dead watching? "Ghost. I thought the effects were cheesy." On the demise of America's scariest horror-meister in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Englund is emphatic: "This is the last one...it really is the end of Freddy." Uh-huh.
It's tough being a man these days. Sure, we still get some nice perks, such as running the world and making most of the money, but lately we've been facing the down side of being a guy: the image shortfall.
Last October, Nadine Gordimer, 68, South Africa's premiere novelist and passionate foe of apartheid, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is the first woman in a quarter century to have received the honor in that category. Playboy has been honored to publish Gordimer's work on several occasions during the past few decades. Her first words to appear in the magazine, in our May 1972 issue, introduced the work of street poets from Soweto. Her most recent contribution to these pages was the masterful short story "A Journey" (June 1989). Writer Claudia Dreifus caught up with Gordimer in New York City, where she spoke with her both before and after the Nobel award—which confers not only honor but also a $1,000,000 cash prize—was announced.
My wife and I have set up the camcorder a few times while making love. We have two thrills in mind—performing on camera flagrante delicto and later watching ourselves doing it. The camera's presence has certainly added extra zing to our sex. We both find it very arousing to be filmed. But we've been a little disappointed in our tapes. Don't get me wrong: My wife and I look fine and project our enjoyment convincingly, but with a single stationary camera aimed at our rumpled sheets, our tapes have a static, one-dimensional quality neither of us finds sensual. A hand-held camera might add some interesting motion, but we'd rather keep our performances private. What else can we do? There must be a way to add some Hollywood flair to our home erotic video.—A. D., Sparks, Nevada.
New York—For 12 years, the Playboy Foundation has followed the struggle for freedom in America. We recognize the heroes and heroines with a plaque, a check and a luncheon. The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards are not the star-studded, ticker-tape-style celebrations thrown for returning vets.
In the early morning of December 2, 1972, my father was dying in a hospital room in Washington, D.C. Outside the door to the room were oxygen tanks and cardiovascular resuscitation equipment. He had been in a coma for two days. When we arrived, my mother ordered the nurses to take the technology away...and they did. We then sat, waiting until he died a few mercifully short hours later.
One day I found myself being the lone nut in an uncomprehending crowd, yelling. Quite an experience for someone settled into the role of mature journalist and part-time professor. It was at the University of California-Irvine a couple of years back, when Phyllis Schlafly, the self-appointed goddess of virtue, had just referred in a public debate to the problem of "illegitimate" children.
In many ways, Robin Williams is just a big kid. Watch him play with eight-year-old son Zachary. Williams is positioned in front of the laptop computer, joystick in hand, as planes fly at him on the screen. He pops them off with childlike enthusiasm. "This is great!" he says, racking up kills. "Spielberg loves these, too, you know." Williams is just back from his day on the set of "Hook," in which he plays, appropriately, Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up. And what about Zachary, Williams' son and playmate? He stands by quietly as dad downs more planes, patiently waiting his turn.
After years of TV commercials in which men hoisted beers in the great outdoors and swore, "It doesn't get any better than this," Old Milwaukee's ad agency had a brain storm. Wait! What if it does? Enter the Swedish Bikini Team, five buxom blondes designed to make men sweatier than the coldest bottle of brew. They appear out of nowhere, preposterously gorgeous proof that Old Milwaukee can make your best day sexier, bubblier, perfect. Who are these Scandinavian sirens, sent from heaven—or at least Stockholm—to sexify U.S. beer bashes? How do they find you in the wilderness at the moment you open a brew? And don't they get cold in those teeny bikinis? The answers: Karin, Hilgar, Eva, Uma and Ulla. They are magical creatures, able to find beer drinkers by E.S.P. (Extraordinary Swedish Pulchritude). They keep warm by dancing with American men until our men say, "It really doesn't get better than this!" Are they for real? Well, sort of. For the full story, read on. And enjoy our photos—when it comes to the Bikini Team, a picture's worth 1000 fiords.
The house comes and goes, comes and goes, and no one seems to know or to care. It's that kind of neighborhood. You keep your head down; you take notice only of the things relevant to your personal welfare; you screen out everything else as irrelevant or meaningless or potentially threatening.
A Century Ago, Christopher Columbus inspired what was arguably the greatest party ever thrown on this continent, the most visionary of all world's fairs, Chicago's World Columbian Exposition, which raised a gleaming White City on the shore line of Lake Michigan. Even the guarded and ironic Henry Adams said this vision had battered his defenses and left him "crushed flat" by revelations: "Chicago was the first expression of American thought as a unity." All that to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas.
A Famous man once observed: "That which does not kill you will make you strong." This is precisely the way Americans should view the appalling decade that recently ended. As a people, we were assaulted during the 1980s by Nancy Reagan, herpes, Manuel Noriega, crack, the Federal deficit, a magazine called Wigwag, the pit-bull scare and two books by Lee Iacocca. It did not kill us. We were set upon by such malignancies as Charles Keating, Contras, heavy hands, Judas Priest, HDTV, James Watt, AIDS, Louis Farrakhan, supply-side economists, VH-1, fresh pasta that costs $7.98 a pound, David Crosby's autobiography, radiation from Chernobyl, Redbook jugglers, antique shops, Bon Jovi and waiters named Trent who insist on reciting the house specials—which always feature angel-hair pasta in a light but piquant pesto sauce. We survived. We found ourselves hemmed in by Ivan Boesky, angel dust, Morton Downey, Jr., junk bonds, T. Boone Pickens, Kitty Dukakis, rap music, Muammar el-Qaddafi, the New York Mets, the bow-tied Pee-wee Herman, nine Barbara Mandrell comebacks, the bow-tied Senator Paul Simon, Milli Vanilli, 437 overnight delivery services, 243 John Candy movies, Regis Philbin, tofutti, 1213 serial murderers, the Fox network, the United States Football League and Donna Rice. It only made us stronger.
Bundled in sweaters, snow crunching beneath her boots, Suzi Simpson trekked onto Alaska's Colony Glacier with a small army of attendants in her wake. While the photo crew framed this month's northern exposures, Suzi gazed at the Chugach Mountains in the distance and let memories roll past like ice floes in a swift current. Cross-country skiing through the woods. Racing snowmobiles across frozen fields. Harnessing her pet Samoyed dogs to a sleigh for a mush down snowed-in suburban streets. The last time Suzi saw the Great North, she was 11 years old and tomboy tough. Her father, a career Navy man, was stationed in the Aleutian Islands, which meant a summer of midnight sun for his itinerant clan. The oldest of four children, Suzi learned her first lessons in independence early—how to go along and get along but keep her self-image intact. "Some military children have a terrible time adjusting to a life that's maybe not the norm. They become really introverted people," she says. "I always figured that you make your own way in the world, and you might as well make it a good one." Born in a military hospital in Greece at the height of the Vietnam war (her father, stationed on a gunboat in the South China Sea, scooted over to Athens to attend the birth), Suzi made her way through schools in Maine, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona and Virginia before settling in southern California to do what young blonde beauties do out there—model and act. The erstwhile tomboy, now a femme fatale, spends her work week in the city at auditions and photo shoots, then kicks back on weekends in a little seaside town far from the maddening smog. Last summer, after a two-year romance, she walked down the aisle with a Marine just days after he returned from war in the Persian Gulf. En route to their Hawaiian honeymoon, they joined the mile-high club. "I had to talk him into having sex on the airplane," Suzi says, with a laugh that's two parts carnal and one part shy. "I thought, Here's this guy who has lived a much wilder life then I have—he was president of his fraternity, he sowed his little wild oats all over the place. And I've always wanted just one person to be wild with. I guess that's the difference between a hormonal young man and a woman. The funny thing is, it turns out I'm the more playful and uninhibited one. I figure if you love someone, the two of you can do anything you want with each other."
I'm still not sure I made the right choice when I told my wife about the bakery attack. But then, it might not have been a question of right and wrong. Which is to say that wrong choices can produce right results, and vice versa. I myself have adopted the position that, in fact, we never choose anything at all. Things happen. Or not.
Even the most successful, most celebrated, most pre-eminent and most powerful among us begin each year by making resolutions, setting down goals, pledges, self-admonitions, commitments, disavowals and good intentions that are designed to make us better persons, to get our friends, families and PR consultants off our backs and maybe even to help us to screw up less than we did in the previous year.
<p>Emmy-winner Woody Harrelson is best known for six seasons of lending bar as Woody Boyd on "Cheers." He's been called the "best dumb blond on TV," a guy who has "the lovable-yokel act down." He has also earned the reputation as one of Hollywood's leading ladies' men, "the slick prince of El Lay." Most recently, he consorted with—but never talked publicly about—actress Glenn Close, whom he met while doing the play "Brooklyn Laundry." Harrelson has also been linked with Brooke Shields, Ally Sheedy, Moon Unit Zappa and Carol Kane.</p>
For a while last summer, it looked as if the Presbyterian church was about to lose its virginity to the real-world notion that it might be possible to enjoy a healthy, moral sex life outside of traditional Christian marriage. It was the best chance any mainstream denomination has ever had to modernize and humanize Christian sexual morality, and it arrived with the publication of an official church report, Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality, Spirituality, and Social Justice. The committee that produced the report spent three years listening to sincere Christians who were suffering with the church's stubborn, long-standing refusal to say anything but "thou shalt not" about sexual realities that were all around them. And when the committee members sat down to write, they didn't pull any punches.
As the century that saw the birth of electronics and optoelectronics draws to a close, virtually everything we have wished to do in the field of telecommunications is now technically possible. The only limitations are financial, legal or political.
If you're throwing a New Year's Eve bash, auld acquaintances won't be forgot if you skip playing bartender and spend the evening mingling with your guests instead. A bowl of tasty punch, of course, is the answer. Not only does it leave you free to play the congenial host, but, if you pick your recipe wisely, what you serve will also make for a happier—and safer—holiday on-the road. Sure, a glass bowl looks great at a wedding reception, but silver is the way to go on New Year's Eve—and if you can afford a hallmarked bowl such as the stunning example pictured here, so much the better. For all you couch-potato quarterbacks, punch also makes a nice alternative to beer when you and the gang sit down to watch the bowl games New Year's Day.