He has outraged more people than probably any other rock musician, and his admirers are as diverse as The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and Czech President Václav Havel: Frank Zappa, the subject of this month's Playboy Interview conducted by Contributing Editor David Sheff, has lost none of his feistiness despite his battle with cancer. Zappa is one of rock and roll's most experimental figures, and this month he becomes the 43rd inductee into the Playboy Music Hall of Fame.
Playboy, (ISSN 0032-1478), April 1993, Volume 40, Number 4, Published Monthly by Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: $29.97 for 12 issues, U.S. Canada, $43.97 for 12 issues. All other foreign, $45 U.S. Currency only. For new and renewel 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: 3018 Mason Place, Tampa, FL 33629.
The Biography of an author who grew up angry in the Pacific Northwest is filmed as a jarring family feud in This Boy's Life (Warner). Based on the book by Tobias Wolff, with a humane and sympathetic screenplay, the movie is heightened by several compelling performances. Opposite teenage newcomer Leonardo Di-Caprio, who plays young Toby in the Fifties as a sullen but feisty rebel, Robert De Niro goes for broke as the boy's abusive stepfather, a lout named Dwight. When he's not being aggressively buoyant, Dwight beats down Toby both physically and emotionally--all justified by the bully's usual boast that he will make a man of the kid or kill him. Ellen Barkin plays the mother, a well-meaning woman so bruised by the men she has known that she can't bring herself to referee the conflict between her son and a demanding new husband. Directed by Britain's Michael Caton-Jones, This Boy's Life depicts a mean streak all too familiar in parent-child relationships. But the film manages to keep depression at bay with regard for the indomitable spirit of youth that survives and even thrives in adversity.[rating]3-1/2 bunnies[/rating]
Cult films live on. From Seattle comes Mike Vraney's Something Weird Video, a mail-order outfit specializing in the exploitation "nudies" and "roughies" that flickered across drive-in screens in the Fifties and Sixties. Vraney's catalog offers hundreds of them--from trailers to loops to features--in all their "unabashed, unaltered, untamed" glory.
The last thing singer Patti LaBelle wants from video is more of what she does for a living. "I don't like comedies," says the star of TV's Out All Night, "and I can't take most musicals, either." So what's on the VCR? "Tearjerkers and dramas. Like Imitation of Life with Lana Turner. That's my all-time favorite. Then comes Cabin in the Sky and Bette Davis in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Which brings us to Patti's other passion--namely, "suspense and gore and blood. Like Silence of the Lambs. I like stuff like that. I am the bloody type. Very, very bloody." Yikes.
Forget the deficit. Forget Somalia, the Eurocurrency crisis, Sarajevo, all that trivia. We're talking sports. We're talking Jordan, Canseco, Montana. Should Michael buy the NBA? Can Oakland win without Jose? Is Joe washed up, his spine like driftwood in San Francisco Bay?
By the time I get to Woodstock Department: Mark your calendars, all you bell-bottom-wearing, psychedelic-loving air-guitar players: Officials in Bethel, New York have given preliminary approval for a 1994 celebration concert of Woodstock's 25th anniversary. Promoters expect a crowd of 100,000. We predict rain.
In 1983 Robert Mason wrote a powerful memoir of the Vietnam war, Chicken-hawk, which vividly recalled his combat experiences as a helicopter pilot. The epilog of that best-seller offered, with no explanation, the jarring note that he had been arrested for smuggling marijuana. Now, in Chickenhawk: Back in the World (Viking), Mason tells the story of his transition from the jungles of Vietnam to civilian life in 1966. His difficulty making that transition landed him in jail.
Of this we can be certain: Madonna is the greatest artistic force of the AIDS generation. As a sex symbol, she is allwe have, but she is a lot more than that. It doesn't matter that she can't sing very well, that she's an ordinary dancer, that there are many women of more refined beauty. She is the triumphant mistress of her medium: the sexual imagination. In an age when real sex can lead to horror and death, here is Madonna--reckless, bawdy, laughing and offering us all the consolation of outrageous illusions.
It is the end of a long and busy day, but you feel good. You got to the office before anybody else, spent another day in the professional jungle and survived with some grace, came home, fixed the leaky faucet, washed dishes and took out the garbage. Now it's time for bed.
I'm thinking about getting myself an old guy. An old guy won't be so much trouble. He'll lie around on the couch, eat, fart, scratch, sleep. Young guys run around too much, need too much attention and are constantly picking fights.
I have a problem. My new girlfriend enjoys sex but hates to kiss. I've never encountered this before. At first I didn't care, but now it really bothers me. Have you ever heard of a woman who doesn't like to kiss?--G. J., Cypress, Florida.
Word from the advertising industry is that clients are adjusting their conservative attitudes when it comes to buying time on shows with controversial subjects. As media buyer Paul Schulman puts it: "Sex and violence become love and adventure if a show has a 25 [share] or higher."
Detroit is back. American carmakers are gaining market share, and sales of once-invincible Japanese nameplates are slipping. The question is: Will actions in Washington put the brakes on this long-awaited turnaround? We don't think so. While President Bill Clinton and his environmental champion, Al Gore, espouse a 40-miles-per-gallon standard, they know that American consumers have historically preferred bigger cars and pickup trucks. For classic full-sized cars such as Ford's Crown Victoria and Chevrolet's Caprice (two law enforcement and taxicab favorites), the high-mileage hurdle is virtually impossible. "If there is evidence the forty-miles-per-gallon goal can't be achieved," the new president said, "I've never said we should write it into law."
In 1989, New York magazine called supermodel Cindy Crawford, now 27, "the Face.... a model for the Nineties."But even then it was clear that Crawford didn't need anyone to make that pronouncement. She had already been on more than 200 magazine covers and had become part of the Revlon pantheon, snaring millions of dollars for a few days' work a year. Crawford, though, is no rich slouch. She also hosts an MTV show, "House of Style," has put out best-selling provocative solo calendars and has posed nude for Playboy. She married Richard Gere after a four-year courtship and has just released her own exercise video. Now when she graces a magazine cover, the story is often about her rather than fashion. Contributing Editor David Rensin talked with Crawford poolside at the home she shares with Gere in Los Angeles. Rensin reports: "Soon after we began, Gere came home and ambled over to say hi. An hour later, he returned to say I want my wife. The interview's over.' I bargained for more time. Later, Gere and Crawford tooled around their kitchen discussing schedules. Suddenly, Gere said, 'By the way, I'm going to knock up my wife tonight.' Crawford winced. 'Richard!' she groaned. 'Now that's going to be in the interview.' She was wrong. It's only in the introduction."
So you want privacy? Then forget everything your parents told you about being courteous to strangers. Private detectives are notorious for their smooth telephone manner, and they prey on people who volunteer information in the name of helpfulness. Says New York private investigator Terry Lasky, "You call up because maybe you'll get a friendly person. It happens all the time." College alumni offices pass on an address. Hospitals detail visits. There's a lesson there: Never, ever, conduct business with a caller.
Keller's Therapy--J. P. Keller, hit man extraordinaire, goes to a shrink who has his own problems: A troublesome Ex-wife, to name one. But keller is looking for answers, not work. or is he?--fiction by Lawrence Block