We like to think of our December issue as a holiday family reunion. Far-flung relations come calling with stories of presidents and movie stars. Some bring friends, some send cards. The highly opinionated bring new arguments and the sexy next-door neighbors bring themselves. Our cover girl (and Miss October 1993) Jenny McCarthy even dragged in a naughty old dude in a red suit (see When Jenny Met Santa).
Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), December 1996, Volume 43, Number 12. Published Monthly by Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: U.S. $29.97 for 12 Issues Canada, $43.97 for 12 Issues all other Foreign, $45 U.S. Currency only for new and Renewal Orders and change of Address. Send to Playboy Subscriptions, PO 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, 730 fifth Avenue, New York 10019 (212-261-5000), Chicago, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago 60611 (312-751-8000). West Coast So Media, 2001 Wilshire Boulevard. Suite 200, Santa Monica, CA 90403 (310-264-7575), Southeast Coleman & Bentz, Inc., 4651 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30342 (404-256-3800); Boston; Northeast Media Sales. B Faneuil Hall marketplace, Boston 02109 (617-973-5050) for subscription inquiries, call 800-999-4438.
With its last two albums Pearl Jam attempted to reinvent itself as a post-grunge band. At times it was too rigidly punk, at other times, too spacey. But it always had the courage to experiment. On its fourth album, No Code (Epic), that hard work finally pays off as the band finds its true voice. The new songs fuse punk intensity with acoustic integrity. Even the exotic modalities of Eddie Vedder's work with singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are seamlessly interlaced throughout the album. Like R.E.M. and the Beatles, Pearl Jam has found it can evolve musically by constantly embracing change.
Despite the hip-hop beat with which it opens, and the annoying insertion of synthesizer and percussion effects in assorted places, R.E.M.'s New Adventures in Hi-Fi (Warner Bros.) is a traditional rock album. The band's strength remains songwriting, and its signature sounds--Peter Buck's guitar and Mike Mills' keyboards--stay clearly rooted in the Beatles and Byrds. Michael Stipe's vocals have become a convention of their own, widely imitated by today's alternative rockers. Stipe is coherent. You can actually make out almost all the words on Electrolite, the album's most important song. Stylistically, the release jumps around more than usual. The hip-hop is a ruse, but there are lots of folk-rock variations here, and even some power pop in The Wake-Up Bomb. Perhaps because of the commercial failure of Monster, there's also a new edge of cynicism in Stipe. This is rock as substance, not as flavor of the month, and that's an adventure in itself.
For most of hip-hop's two-decade history, Chicago hasn't been an important source of talent. Now, Crucial Conflict, a quartet from the Windy City, has made a major splash with Hay, one of the biggest hip-hop singles from that city. That's been followed by a debut CD called The Final Tic (Pallas/Universal), showcasing the style of Crucial Conflict members Kilo, Never, Cold Hard and Wild Style. Conflict moves between quick phrases undercut with sung choruses. Even when the flow gets monotonous, the production doesn't.
Everybody Boogie! Wynonie Harris (Delmark) is the most famous example of what happened when the blues moved to the Southwest. Harris (working here with Illinois Jacquet, Charles Mingus and Bill Doggett, among others) did as much as Louis Jordan to set the stage for the leap from small combo blues groups to the hard R&B now known as rock and roll. That means the lead instrument is a sax and the lyrics are lewd. Harris has a voice that could call you in out of the world's deepest fog.
Whatever happened to that unique blend of country, blues and rock that produced bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and Little Feat? Much of that spirit can be found on Tin Cup (Epic), the soundtrack to Kevin Costner's remake (with a putter) of Bull Durham. Austin's Texas Tornados serve up a heady Tex-Mex brew, while Jimmy Vaughan proves that he's less flashy but just as pungent a bluesmaster as his brother Stevie was. Keb' Mo', Bruce Hornsby and Joe Ely join Nashville outsiders Mary Chapin Carpenter, Amanda Marshall and George Jones, turning in some of their grittiest, most bluesy work to date.
The B Sharp Jazz Quartet has brought new life to the basic sax-and-rhythm format with a breakthrough album, Searching for the One (MAMA Foundation). This Los Angeles band thrives on the drumming of Herb Graham Jr. and the nononsense saxophone work of Randall Willis. Here they blend hip-hop into the progressive mainstream, with dynamic results.
Members of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion don't listen to purists. They listen to garage bands from the Sixties, who were trying to sound like the Stones, who were trying to sound like Muddy Waters. And they've listened to punk and noise bands from the past decade. They also listened to the raw, cathartic electric blues artists such as R.L. Burnside and Hound Dog Taylor. So the blues on Now I Got Worry (Matador) is savage, crude and completely invigorating. Played with two guitars and one set of drums, it rises out of the chaotic noise with blood on its teeth. Not for B.B. King fans, but guaranteed to make a whole new set of connections among your synapses.
At best, rock reunions are futile attempts to rekindle extinguished sparks. At their worst, they are shameless schemes to sell expired brand names. Between the speed of the Sex Pistols' flameout and the candor of their cash-in, you might expect the blatantly entitled Filthy Lucre Live (Virgin) to distinguish itself only by taking these tendencies to new extremes. But even though it reprises all 12 songs from Never Mind the Bollocks: Here's the Sex Pistols, the new release is a rare thing, a live album with a life of its own. Steve Jones' immense, bluesless riffs and Paul Cook's simple beats have gained magnitude with the years. Bassist Glen Matlock always provided melodic glue. And it's impossible to miss how John Lydon's hilariously ill-humored gutter-prophet howl, now broadened with age, could define both a new rock voice and a new rock attitude.
Parlor James is part of a weary dust-on-the windshield vision shared by the likes of the Cowboy Junkies, Gillian Welch and Iris DeMent. The Parlor James debut, Dreadful Sorry (Discovery Records), celebrates traditional country themes in a progressive landscape. At first, the pairing seems peculiar: Ryan Hedgecock, founder of Lone Justice, and Amy Allison, daughter of jazz hipster Mose. But Hedgecock's stiletto tenor and Allison's wanderlust vocals create a perfect counterpoint in a stark drinking ballad, Cheater's World, and the narcotic epic Down on Dreaming. This isn't Wal-Mart stuff.
Ralph Stanley has been recording bluegrass, gospel and mountain folk songs for 50 years. He ranks with the great banjo players of all time and, to many ears, he is the finest high tenor singer in bluegrass. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Rebel) is one of the most powerful storehouses of traditional music ever assembled.
Sandra St. Victor's Mack Diva Saves the World (Warner Bros.) presents the soaring, soulful voice of the Family Stand's ex-lead singer. St. Victor's most affecting tracks are the down-tempo and sexy Come Over and the stirring Lonely in a Crowded Room.
I'll give it a 97 because you can dance to it department: Dick Clark'sAmerican Bandstand has been on the music scene for five decades and is still running on VH1. Next spring Harper Collins will publish a coffee-table book that traces the show's history and includes reminiscences from the master himself. If you don't know who Justine and Bob are, ask your mom.
Philip Glass wrote his ambitious Music in 12 Parts between 1971 and 1974, but the work hasn't been fully available on CD until now. As released by Nonesuch, 12 Parts is a surprisingly active study in repetition. Simultaneously hypnotic and chameleonlike, this is minimalist music at its finest. It's nice to see this monumental composition get the technical and artistic attention it deserves.
Twins separated at birth, mistaken identities and misplaced affections are all parts of Shakespeare's ever-popular Twelfth Night (Fine Line), which may become even more popular when movie audiences are exposed to Trevor Nunn's crisp, funny and stylish adaptation. Imogen Stubbs portrays Viola, the shipwrecked, long-lost twin sister of Sebastian (Stephen Mackintosh). Disguised as a boy, she is sent to woo reluctant Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter) on behalf of the amorous Duke Orsino (Toby Stephens). Let the plot's intricacies entangle you as they should. The language is great and the cast (including Richard E. Grant, Nigel Hawthorne and Mel Smith, respectively, as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch) is superb. While Nunn's Twelfth Night can't match the youthful zest and ebullience of Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing, this rollicking classic is definitely something to see. [rating]3-1/2 bunnies[/rating]
She drives a Jaguar now. But with or without wheels, Lela Rochon, 30, is already in moviedom's passing lane. She has a lead in The Chamber, John Grisham's latest thriller, with Chris O'Donnell, Faye Dunaway and Gene Hackman. She copped the role originally written for a white actress after telling the director it was "totally unrealistic" not to have a major black character in a story set in Mississippi today. "So they put me in these dresses I call funeral clothes--no flash at all. I'm a straight-arrow lawyer from Jackson. I don't get to be cute this time."
Break out the bathtub gin. Vitaphone's 70th Anniversary Celebration (MGM/UA) revives more than eight hours of hot Twenties jazz and vaudeville shtick on laser disc. This historic boxed set is the product of UCLA's restoration process, in which the shorts' original sound platters, on shellac, were digitized, then re-synchronized to cleaned-up prints of the actual films. Among the collection's gems: Al Jolson in A Plantation Act (1926), made one year before The Jazz Singer; violinist-singer Russ Columbo, sitting in with Gus Arnheim's Ambassador Hotel Orchestra; and the antic follies of Burns and Allen, Fatty Arbuckle (postscandal) and Baby Rose Marie, "the Child Wonder."
The Smothers Brothers have shared the stage for more than 30 years--but not the same taste in vids. The more worldly-wise Dick (above, left) favors L.A. Story and S.O.B. ("Tom's in denial, but L.A. is just like that"), while his smartass sib prefers frequent repeats of Groundhog Day ("It doesn't matter which part you watch"). Dick likes The Wedding Banquet and anything with De Niro (especially Casino, in which he cameos); Tom opts for the 1945 version of State Fair and all Jimmy Stewart movies ("I liked him even before becoming a professional stutterer myself"). The pair also parts company on the subject of screen vixens. Dick succumbs to the lusty looks of Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch, while Tom still has the hots for Virginia Mayo. "I love The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," he raves. "Virginia turned my little body on at the age of eight."
John Le Carré considers the fate of the Panama Canal in an unusual new spy thriller titled The Tailor of Panama (Knopf). This one begins with the recruitment of Harry Pendel, creator of English suits for the gentry of Panama City, by brash young British Intelligence agent Andrew Osnard. From the outset, it's clear that the author is up to something different: Le Carré has written a hilarious send-up of a le Carré spy novel.
If we lived in an even vaguely humane public environment," News-week's Joe Klein noted with exaggerated sincerity this past September, "Dick Morris' private tragedy would be strictly offlimits." If Morris did anything with a call girl, wrote Klein, he did it "on his own time and, most likely, with his own money. But we live in a public sewer. 'Stories' are bought and sold. There are no limits."
I've enjoyed the debate you've been having with readers over whether a man can change the taste of his ejaculate. Here's the formula for a "sex shake" that does the trick, invented by a shaman named Harley Swiftdeer. I copied it from a book called The Clitoral Kiss: A Fun Guide to Oral Sex and have been using it for a year with no complaints from my wife. Blend the following and drink it one hour before lovemaking: 2 teaspoons honey, 1 cup milk, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and 1 egg. Enjoy!--L.R., Des Moines, Iowa
"The last time I had sex was in my dorm room with my lover. We didn't plan to have sex then. We were just kissing and playing with each other and he got the most beautiful hardon. I just figured it shouldn't go to waste, so I pulled him on top of me. It made me feel kind of special because I had initiated the whole thing." (Female, 20)
My father ran a small architecture firm in Chicago that specialized in public projects. One night at dinner he mentioned an attempted bribe. A state aide had stopped by his office to suggest that a certain sum of money might increase contracts. Dad said he turned the aide away rudely. I asked my father recently if he remembered the aide's visit 30 years ago. "Why should I?" he said, surprised. "It was a normal, everyday thing. People are always trying to weasel money."
When Rose Miller entered a nursing home at the age of 82, she gave her savings to her nephews to pay for her health care. One of the nephews, James Stey, checked with a lawyer, who advised that he deposit the money into several banks in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid having to fill out a cash transaction report. It seemed like a simple way to preserve the family's fiscal privacy and respect his aunt's reservations about banks.
Playboy's History of the Sexual Revolution Part I 1900--1910: The City Electric
James R. Petersen
Imagine the city electric, some great switch thrown for the first time. At night the lights come on, turning each restaurant and theater into a blaze of bodies. Electricity pours through penny arcades and nickelodeons where, for pocket change, you can witness Little Egypt, Serpentine Dancers, How Girls Go to Bed, How Girls Undress, The Marvelous Lady Contortionist, Three Skirt Dancers and something called The Kiss.
What do You give the man who has everything? How about a date with the woman everyone wants? Of course that's Jenny McCarthy, Playboy's 1994 Playmate of the Year. Now starring on MTV's Singled Out and featured on calendars and posters and in male fantasies everywhere, Jenny is fast becoming America's most wanted blonde--the funniest, least stuck-up sex symbol ever. They may seem an unlikely pair--tanned, curvy Jenny and Santa with his polar pallor and weight problem--but these celebs are all about spreading good cheer. Both bring joy to millions. And both know how to dress. Santa drapes his unbuffed shape in red while Jenny wears bikinis, the teenier the better. Or even less, on special occasions.
The phone rang. It was a thing that had been sitting there, black and quiet like a holstered gun, unlisted, unknown to anybody, used only for local outgoing calls, and when it was triggered it had the soft, muted sound of a silenced automatic. I picked up the receiver off the cradle and in as growling a voice as I could put on, said, "Yes?"
I picked out my seersucker suit, appropriate for the Atlanta heat, along with a white shirt and a blue tie. I took particular care, which is unusual for me. In the taxi out to Kennedy, I told the driver I wanted to be dropped off at hangar 12. It crossed my mind that he might be impressed by this--perhaps presuming me to be a passenger on a private aircraft, surely a big tipper. We stopped at a checkpoint. Air Force One loomed in front of us, blue and white, mammoth. My driver, being a New Yorker and impervious to anything that might strike wonder, seemed hardly to notice. I gave him a hefty tip nonetheless.
Beautiful, passionate women shedding their inhibitions and acting out their wildest sexual fantasies. That's the recipe for Women: Stories of Passion, the breathtaking undertaking in female erotica that airs on Showtime every Saturday night. Not only is this new series of half-hour stories a feast for the senses, it also was created with a delicious twist: The episodes were written and directed by women. Which means it could prove to be educational as well as entertaining. Did we mention that the series was produced by Playboy Productions? Give it a good look, and a listen. In the meantime, in case you missed the first few tales in the series, we would like to introduce you to some of its stars. If you have been fortunate enough to catch the show on cable, then consider yourself to be twice blessed. Lights, camera, stop-action.
From the martini bar to the nightclub, downtown is dressing up. May-be not all together, maybe not even on the same evening. But there are retro strains in the air, Zippos on the bartops and drinks with names your dad would recognize. This is a trend that's about to gel as fast as Brylcreem. The look, cocktail confreres, is lounge.
In New Jersey, exciting steps have recently been taken to curb the rampant and potentially treacherous wild turkey population with the reintroduction of seasonal hunting (official term, harvesting) of these ungainly birds. (A historic note: The wild turkey became extinct in New Jersey in the 20th century through land development and overhunting and had to be reintroduced from Vermont 20 years ago.) Deer hunting by gun and by bow and arrow is allowed, in fact, encouraged, in certain counties, in an effort to control the burgeoning deer population, which numbers now in the many thousands and is a considerable problem to motorists and to suburban property owners whose trees, shrubs and flowers are devoured by the starving animals. Of course, there is widespread sentimental opposition to hunting on the part of individuals, often female, with an unreasonable repugnance for the display of human violence against helpless, semitame creatures; and on the part of individuals who more selfishly shrink from the sight of wounded and dying creatures staggering about on their property--deer with clumsily aimed arrows through their haunches or (concluded on page 226)Hunters' Harvest(continued from page 106) necks, for instance. Persons who object to the harvesting of wild turkeys are similarly shortsighted, refusing to see that the turkey, while seemingly harmless and in some quarters considered a beautiful and exotic bird with the singular heft and gawky grace of the peacock, has the capacity like any species to overbreed. If left unchecked, in a few years there could be millions of wild turkeys swarming over New Jersey expressways, into malls and onto private property. To consider the droppings alone is to recoil in disgust.
The world thinks everyone in Sweden is tall and blonde," says Victoria Silvstedt, who is grandly both. At six feet plus in high heels, Miss Sweden 1993 is blondeness perfected, the tallest and fairest of all. Growing up in the village of Bollnäs near the Arctic Circle, Victoria had two goals: "I wanted to live in Paris and to be in the American Playboy," she says.
Mongo's old lady decided she wanted to do something special to please him on his birthday, so she bought a pair of crotchless panties. That night as he came into the house, she lay sprawled on the couch spread-eagle.
In the early Seventies, when Al Pacino played Michael Corleone, the son who followed in his father's footsteps to become godfather, it was also a symbolic passing from one generation of actors to another, from Marlon Brando to Pacino. Later, the reclusive Pacino agreed to sit for a "Playboy Interview," but only with "the guy who did Brando." So Lawrence Grobel, who had interviewed Brando for Playboy in January 1979, spoke with Pacino, and their conversation appeared in December of the same year. But that wasn't the end for the actor and the journalist, who became close friends and have never stopped talking.
The bank managers who hired Christa Speck before she became our Miss September 1961 knew a competent secretary when they saw one. They also recognized beauty, and Christa was given a desk near the front window. "They put me on display," she says, laughing. The Germanborn gymnast quickly became a reader favorite. "I didn't speak much English, so when Hef said, 'We have news for you--you're Playmate of the Year,' I could only ask him, 'What is that?'"
Graduating from Vassar College with a degree in biology, Lisa Kudrow intended to pursue a career in medical research and work with her father, a world-renowned headache specialist. But Kudrow's brother's good friend, actor and comedian Jon Lovitz, inspired her to audition for the Los Angeles improvisational group the Groundlings. She made the cut and, after appearing with the group for a few years, was offered guest roles on television's "Coach," "Cheers" and "Newhart." During the 1995 season, she was in two popular series, "Mad About You" and "Friends." Her "Friends" character, Phoebe, is a New Age ditz and arguably the funniest member of the cast. In support of the last point, she has garnered Emmy and Golden Globe award nominations as well as one for the American Comedy Awards.
College basketball is bleeding, and no one knows how to stop it. With a few notable exceptions, the best young players in the nation are cutting their college careers short or skipping the college experience altogether to become millionaires before their 21st birthdays.
Mae West said that "too much of a good thing can be wonderful," and we have no doubt that the spirits illustrated here will make it onto your "most wonderful" Christmas list. All are rare and expensive, which is just the way yuletide indulgences should be. High in the Alps of Switzerland, Etter produces some of Europe's finest eau-de-vies and a terrific grappa. All are sold in handblown bottles that won't be tossed after the last drop is finished. Black Bowmore 1964 scotch has been described as "the greatest single malt ever made" and Richard Hennessy cognac is a gift worthy of the Magi. More than 100 vintage cognacs have been combined in a silver-trimmed and etched crystal decanter. The taste? Smooth and supple with a complex blend of spice, fruit, oak and the earthy quality of long-aged cognac. Drink these spirits on Christmas eve with someone special.
Marilyn Monroe defined the role of a sex goddess in the Fifties, and Raquel Welch gave it an exotic twist in the decades that followed. Equally outspoken about her private life and Hollywood, she embodied the daring Seventies. This Terry O'Neill photo led our 1970 Sex Stars feature, when Raquel was hot off her title role in Myra Breckinridge. Her December 1979 Playboy pictorial showcased Raquel's best side--which was any way you happened to look at her.
Something is definitely happening in Sex Star Land. For one thing, the screens from which today's idols cast their spells are as likely to be attached to computer keyboards or cable jacks as they are to be part of the local Multiplex. Gen Xers are quick to hail their favorites. Among the five most-wanted personalities on Web pages this year, three--Jenny McCarthy, Pamela Anderson Lee and Anna Nicole Smith--are Playmates in their 20s. (The other two, according to the Internet search engine Hot Bot, are actresses Demi Moore, 33, and Alyssa Milano, 23.) The newcomers about whom Hollywood is most excited, A Time to Kill's Matthew McConaughey and Stealing Beauty's Liv Tyler, are 26 and 19, respectively--and Liv is the daughter of November 1974 Playmate Bebe Buell. And 1996 was definitely the year in which men became objects of unabashed lust. This was nowhere more evident than in sports. Olympic athletes were characterized as "studmuffins," and the Chicago Bulls' Dennis (text continued on page 164)Rodman, who displayed on his buffed bottom an awesome array of tattoos, announced that he wants to play his last NBA game in the nude. Because Rodman re-signed with the Bulls, that's a treat his fans will presumably have to wait for. But fear not--he's on view in his weekly MTV show Rodman: The '96 D Tour and is booked for the Jean-Claude Van Damme thriller The Colony. In the world of fashion, as Newsweek observed, men's trousers are now "so tight they're anatomically correct." Remarked Details fashion director Terence McFarland: "The time is right for men to be considered sex objects." Example: Antonio Sabato Jr. in his Calvin Klein shorts.
It's the jukebox, sailor. That's what makes a good lounge bar swing, not some clyde dripping his Feelings all over the piano keys. Today, lounge is for when martinis and Metallica just won't mix. Lucky for you, we've put together a starter kit for your next swinging soiree:
Sporty chronographs are perfect for clocking the ponies at the track, reef diving off Bimini or checking laps in the Ferrari. But when it's time for dinner and candlelight, slip on the Armani suit and put on a dress watch. There's a sophisticated subtlety in not having too many bells and whistles on your wrist. And trade the heavy metal band that resembles a bike chain for a leather strap. Some of our favorite dress watches are pictured here. Three are priced in the hundreds, while the fourth, Jaeger-LeCoultre's Reverso Classique, goes over the top. For $7350 you get a handsome watch with an 18-kt. white gold face that flips to a monogrammable "personal canvas." Buckle it--or one of the others--on and the remainder of the evening will go like clockwork.