Music and Supermodels go together like spring breezes and cotton dresses. Take away the tunes, and runway shows are dry pantomime; take away a rocker's model lover, and he's just another sweaty guy. But together they're a pop explosion--and one of our most anticipated issues. Thanks to Senior Art Director Chet Suski and Associate Photo Editor Patty Beaudet for supplying the model visuals: Cover girl Claudia is joined by Eighties icons Cindy and Naomi. Add some nextgeneration stars and a fresh-faced discovery, and it's the hottest-ever display of the supermodel firmament. On the down beat, Associate Editor Barbara Nellis sorts through Tupac's death, flat CD sales and Wal-Mart's wanker moves in 1997 Playboy Music. In choosing the winners of our annual music poll, readers had No Doubt. Also, you oughta know that Alanis won for female rock vocalist and that Kiss concerts ruled. For a lighter shade of pumpkin, turn to our Q. and A. with Billy Corgan for his insights on staying sane in the music biz.
Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), May 1997, volume 44, number 5. Published monthly by Playboy in national and regional editions, Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, Illinois and at additional mailing offices. Canada Post Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 56162. Subscriptions: in the U.S., $29.97 for 12 issues. Postmaster: Send address change to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most Brit pop bands, including Oasis and Blur, are incredible stiffs in the rhythm department. In contrast, Brit trip-hop bands such as Tricky and Massive Attack are all beat and texture without much melody. Doesn't anybody over there have it all together? The Fine Young Cannibals did. Composed of refugees from the English Beat and fronted by the gifted soul stylist Roland Gift, the Cannibals made two Eighties albums that blended punk, Motown and reggae. The Finest (MCA) collects their hits, including Johnny Come Home, She Drives Me Crazy and Good Thing, plus three new tracks from an uncompleted album. The band dissolved at the turn of the decade. Roland, come home. We miss you.
Ralph Stanley's Short Life of Trouble: Songs of Grayson and Whitter (Rebel) is a brief (30 minutes) but exceptionally potent tribute from the greatest living bluegrass artist to a pair of the old-timey singers who most influenced him. Train 45, Rose Conley and Nobody's Darling are great songs. And Stanley's voice remains far stronger than could be expected of any man in his 70s.
The passion and purity of traditional country make it a natural companion to gospel music. So what happens when young country artists tackle old-time gospel? That's the call of Peace in the Valley: A Country Music Journey Through Gospel (Arista/Nashville). The response is predictable, surprising and sometimes even inspiring. It's an in-house project featuring Arista artists such as Alan Jackson, BR5-49, Brooks & Dunn, Pam Tillis and Lee Roy Parnell. Parnell emerges as the centerpiece with a haunting version of Son House's John the Revelator. Parnell's singing and slinky guitar are framed by vocals from the Nashville-based Fairfield Four gospel group. Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken is based on a traditional Welsh melody, and Pam Tillis reinterprets it as a Celtic gospel ballad. BR5-49 drops to its collective knees to celebrate the simplicity of Hank Williams' A House of Gold.
No documentary of early rock and roll can be complete without a vilification of Pat Boone for his white covers of Little Richard songs. Bereft of catharsis, ecstasy, rage, lust, defiance and everything else that rock excavated from the American subconscious, Boone crooned lead for the pop counterattack. Which makes In a Metal Mood--No More Mr. Nice Guy (Hip-O), Pat Boone's tribute to heavy metal, one of the best jokes in rock-and-roll history. Without fear of contradiction, I can say that Boone still lacks any hint of catharsis, ecstasy, rage, lust or defiance. Accompanied by a big band in various configurations, Boone covers some of the heaviest songs in the heavy metal canon--Smoke on the Water, Enter Sandman, Paradise City and the sacred Stairway to Heaven--and demolishes them all with blandness. You wouldn't listen to this every day, but the next time it's three a.m. and you need to clear the guests from your house after a party, Pat's your man.
If it's true that alternative rock died in 1996, taking the record business into the tank with it, there's only one proper response: Laugh in its face, spit in its eye and kick out the jams, motherfuckers. Buick MacKane's The Pawn Shop Years (Rykodisc) does all three. A sort of punk supergroup led by the brilliant writer-singer Alejandro Escovedo, Buick MacKane eschews trendiness. The quartet has played together since 1989, and, in fact, recorded six of these ten tracks in 1993. The band's unusual self-assurance plays well with its roaring fusion of West Coast punk and protopunk. The six-minute rendition of the Stooges' Loose is so snarling it feels as if it lasts about eight seconds. Major credit goes to Escovedo, now in his mid-40s, who moves gracefully from the contemplative modes of his solo albums to the riotous exuberance shown here. Buick MacKane's best two songs, The End and Falling Down Again, appear in totally different guises on Escovedo's solo discs. That kind of range marks a major talent. Pawn Shop Years is our chance to hear him having the time of his life.
Aaliyah had an explosive debut, Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, produced by R. Kelly. She dropped out of sight for a while and then moved to a new label where she has recorded a very sexy record, One in a Million (Blackground/Atlantic). One of R&B's hottest young producers, Timbaland, handled the title track and If Your Girl Only Knew. This is R-rated stuff.
The way to buy country artists is in the greatest-hits format, and the current prize is Mark Chesnutt's Greatest Hits (MCA). Chesnutt, a homely little powerhouse from east Texas, did well to survive Nashville's hunk boom with his cowboy hat intact. Much is made of his authenticity, but it shouldn't concern us if Bubba Shot the Jukebox actually reminds Chesnutt of his honky-tonk days. What matters is that it exploits the good-old-boy myth with grit and humor, just like Goin' Through the Big D ("and I don't mean Dallas") and It Sure Is Monday ("catching z's on lunch break").
Tarika is a roots-pop band from Madagascar. On Son Egal (Xenophile), Tarika has melded African, Polynesian and Arab traditions into the most gorgeous album I've ever heard. The tart, bright harmonies recall Tahiti, while the buoyant rhythms remind you of Graceland's Soweto beat. Tarika's celestial music even has a message. Son Egal deals with reconciling old ethnic wounds and protesting corruption, without any sacrifice to the music. Africa has finally produced its own Graceland, a miracle of radiant, danceable music.
For the past ten years, the Jazz Passengers have laced their infectious hyperbebop with wigged-out humor. The versatile sextet's breakthrough album, Individually Twisted (32 Records), stars the vocals of former Blondie Debbie Harry, a perfectly attuned addition to the band. It also features some guest spots by Elvis Costello. Edgy solos and delightfully strange lyrics distinguish the originals, while jazz and pop classics wake up with wild new wrinkles.
On Small Revelations (Hightone), gravel-voiced singer and songwriter Chris Smither hits a career peak thanks to fine songs both original and drawn from blues and folk tradition (Dust My Broom, Sportin' Life). The guitar picking is excellent.
Though they were arguably the greatest of all West Coast doo-wop groups (meaning they were more rough and raucous than that term usually implies), the Jewels never had their own compilation. The 30 tracks on B-Bomb Baby (Gold Dust) include all the Jewels' important songs, highlighted by their immortal Hearts of Stone.
The Erotic and explicit sexuality of Bliss (Triumph Films) marks a new direction for mainstream movies. Writer-director Lance Young's highly concentrated drama about a young married couple's search for better sex is both original and daring, though clinical to a fault at times. Shorn of inhibition as Joseph and Maria, Craig Sheffer and Sheryl Lee perform as much on-camera lovemaking as the movie's R rating allows. Sessions with their shrink (Spalding Gray) don't quite work for the newlyweds. Instead, they make out according to the instructions of a sex therapist named Baltazar (Terence Stamp, scoring again in a role nearly as offbeat as his elegant transsexual in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert). The film largely concerns the sexual education of Joseph, who must learn to love himself in order to help his troubled bride overcome a history of frigidity and sexual abuse. Getting right to the point, Baltazar challenges Joseph: "Tell me what you think of your penis." To which the discomfited Joseph replies, "Well, I like it . . . it's large and powerful." That leads to much talk about tantric positions, tai chi, sex without orgasm and mutual masturbation, all part of Baltazar's eccentric master plan for achieving pure, monogamous ecstasy. Buy it or not, it's sophisticated voyeurism. [rating]3 bunnies[/rating]
Like Tim Roth and Gary Oldman, Scotland's Ewan McGregor, 25, is a British-bred actor able to switch accents with ease. He can sound as much like Pittsburgh as his native Perthshire. Calling in from Los Angeles, McGregor was wrapping a guest appearance on ER, his favorite TV show. "It's terrifically popular in England. I told my agent to pass on my best wishes because I like it so much. Next thing you know, they wrote a show around me. I play a loser who robs a grocery store. Enjoyed it a lot."
Andy Richter may play second banana to Conan O'Brien on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, but he's clearly a take-charge guy when it comes to selecting home videos. One of his favorite rewinds is Night of the Hunter--the only film that actor Charles Laughton directed. "It's strange and audacious," Richter says. "The plot also takes on new meaning when you realize Laughton was this big old queen." W.C. Fields' It's a Gift also registers high marks on the Richter scale. (It's rarely available, and Andy confesses he has "a slightly illegal copy.") Recently, Richter has become a big Jackie Chan fan, and the search is on for a few of the elusive early ones. So until then, he'll settle for an old standby: The Wizard of Oz. "Face it," says Richter, "it's the Rosetta stone of movies."
She was only 21 when she changed the way America would remember its war dead. Maya Lin's simple design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. would incite a firestorm of controversy before it became one of the nation's most beloved monuments. This story, among others, is deftly captured in Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (American Film Foundation, $29.95), the 1995 Academy Award winner for best documentary. The 83-minute film also chronicles Lin's creation of the graceful Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. . . . If you missed the theater reissue of Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 classic, Vertigo, don't sweat it. Universal Studios' home version of the rebuilt and remastered James Stewart-Kim Novak thriller has its pluses, among them the original trailer, documentary footage from the restorers and an enhanced version of Bernard Herrmann's score ($19.95).
As silent-era fans can tell you, Harry Langdon wasn't exactly Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd, but the guy still hung in there with his trademark hangdog charm. Now, Kino celebrates the baby-faced actor with Harry Langdon: The Forgotten Clown ($100). Included in the three-disc, black-and-white package: The Strong Man, Long Pants and Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (all directed by Frank Capra), as well as the shorts All Night Long, Saturday Afternoon and His Marriage Vow. . . . So, collectors, which hefty boxed set should you buy? Disney's Deluxe Letterbox Edition of Toy Story ($125)--complete with hours of background material, five shorts from Pixar (the animation house that created the film), a behind-the-scenes documentary and a souvenir booklet? Or MCA/Universal's Limited Edition boxed set of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial ($150)--with THX transfer, John Williams' score on CD, outtakes, a making-of featurette and concept designs for the alien and the spaceship? Answer: Buy both--then take out a second mortgage.
Rumor has it that attempts to integrate women into the armed forces (and certain military educational institutions) have not been smooth. The stories I hear from my friends in the military and at some of those schools indicate that there is mutually desired hanky-panky aplenty between the sexes, from offices in the Pentagon to foxholes in the boondocks.
Last night, two of my buddies and three women we know were hanging out at my place. We decided to play strip poker, but everyone kept folding. After a few hands, I suggested that if a player folded, he or she should remove a piece of clothing. Even if no one folds, does everyone but the winner remove a piece of clothing? What are the rules?--J.F., San Diego, California
Drunk driving can get you a lot of things in Lake Charles. Louisiana. In 1993 it got Gregory Thompson a year's probation, a $400 fine plus costs, driving classes, substance-abuse counseling, community service at a sewage-treatment plant and loss of driving privileges for a year.
Never let it be said that expensive tastes and rational thought go hand in hand. Some California wine connoisseurs who savor French wine couldn't stomach the label of a 1993 vintage that featured a nude drawing by Balthus. Destpite the fact that the art is the work of one of the world's most famous living artists, the offended parties managed to browbeat the vineyard into relabeling 30,000 bottles.
As we approach the millennium and, many believe, the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about the end of the world, I have discovered that there are five horsemen of the apocalypse: Pestilence, Famine, War, Death and Crappy Novels About the Apocalypse.
If we judge our artists by the awards they receive, then Saul Bellow must be America's best living writer. He's won three National Book Awards (for "The Adventures of Augie March" in 1953, "Herzog" in 1964 and "Mr. Sammler's Planet" in 1970), the Pulitzer Prize ("Humboldt's Gift," 1975), the Gold Medal for the Novel (1977), the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1952), the Friends of Literature Fiction Award, the James L. Dow, the Prix International, the Fomentor Award (for "Herzog"), the Croix de Chevalier (1968) and the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature. He's received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Ford Foundation grant and, in 1983, he was made a commander of the French Legion of Honor.
Celibate monk-turned-successful sex-and-relationship mentor John Gray is waxing philosophic about a subject dear to our hearts--and lower parts: blow jobs. However, the volume of his diatribe is disconcerting. It's not that we don't share his enthusiasm for the subject, but we aren't used to discussing it so loudly. Gray doesn't stop with blow jobs. In fact, he gets even louder when he talks about other sex acts--masturbation, say--and just wait until he gets to the subject of sex on demand.
For Christy, Kim, Carmen and Carla Morrell, sisterhood is the best game of all. "You wouldn't believe the fun we have," says elder sis Christy, who was five when her three sisters came along. "I remember when they arrived at home, how tiny they were. Their little bottoms were the size of silver dollars," she says. Christy, a model and costume designer in Oklahoma City, was in kindergarten when Kim was born in 1965. Ten months later came the twins, Carmen and Carla. "They were an accident, a big surprise to our parents," Christy recalls. Carla became the bookish twin, while Carmen was the wild child, always swiping the others' candy. She entertained the family with her strutting, vamping Cher impression. "Nobody can do Cher like Carmen," says Kim, a hairstylist who lives near Christy in Oklahoma. Twins Carmen and Carla share a home near Los Angeles, where they work as identically gorgeous actresses. For holiday get-togethers, the Morrells convene to gossip, dance and give onlookers double double vision.
A New James Bond Adventure, Part Two: Zero Minus Ten
The British Airways flight that carried James Pickard, Esquire, of Fitch, Donaldson and Patrick arrived on time at Kai Tak Airport. "Representatives" from Eurasia Enterprises were waiting, not in the gate area or in the greeting hall beyond immigration, but in the movable bridge that connected to the hatch of the aircraft.
Designers have a thing about retro. Think of it as one last chance to relive old trends before the millennium wipes the fashion plate clean. In Milan, the Seventies were reborn in the clothes of D2, as the design team of Dean and Dan Caten brought street smart America--and a certain Rabbit Head--to the European runway. Against a backdrop of 100 classic Playboy covers, models strutted to the occasional strains of Bruce Springsteen. It was a Marlboro Man meets What Sort of Man look, from back in the days when men wore tight turtlenecks and Frye boots. Aside from a soft spot for Supertramp tunes, which played during much of the show, the boys got the Playboy feel just right.
Stately, plump Donald J. Trump drapes his right arm over the back of a wicker sofa, balancing his breakfast at arm's length on a white plate. Stacked on the plate are a dozen strips of fried bacon. Just bacon. It's part of this diet. The greatest diet. All protein. The best. He reaches with his left hand across his body to the plate, picks off a stiff piece with two famously stubby fingers, steers it to his famously curled lips and chomps off the end.
Between several sips of ice water at a chic Chicago watering hole, Lynn Thomas works intensely on her latest artistic endeavor--building a house of sugar packets. As a studio art major at a college near New York City, Miss May is more accustomed to working in a medium of sheet lead when she sculpts. But Lynn is a resourceful soul. "I'm going to start living after I get out of school," she says, explaining how she handles the challenge of an accelerated course load that will enable her to graduate in three years. "I'm future-oriented--driven, in a sense." She also conveys an air of mystery. This may partly be because of her alluring features, but it also may have to do with being, by her own admission, "very shy." Put these seemingly disparate qualities together, and it seems apt that her name in Vietnamese, Linh, translates as "spirit or intuition."
Good news for a drab world: Designers are putting color back on the beach with vibrant suits and dive accessories. Neon signature patterns, which cunningly incorporate designer labels, are this year's most readable fashion statements. The other big trend is to go small. Leave your long, floppy jams in the closet of the summerhouse. This year's suits are fitted. Don't trends just make you crazy?
Baseball has been like a bad movie lately. Like Ransom, but dumber. It started three years ago when the players went on strike, taking the game hostage: "Pay up or else." Owners were furious. They wanted to kill the game themselves. They shot the hostage, canceling the World Series. The labor wars of 1994--1997 snuffed interest in the game. The last man standing was Yogi Berra, looking around an empty Yankee Stadium, saying, "If the people don't want to come out the park, nobody's going to stop them."
Direct broadcast satellite dishes are popping up everywhere--from the rooftops of suburbia and the windowsills of urban towers. Most are no bigger than the average pizza, yet all are mighty enough to pick, up signals from 22,000 miles in space. The allure is obvious: DBS systems deliver crystal-clear digital pictures and CD-quality sound, plus enough programming to satisfy even the most insatiable couch potato--up to four times what you can get on cable.
Believe. it or not. Cyndi Wood was so sure she was "too ordinary" to appear in Playboy, she didn't even submit her own photograph to us--a girlfriend mailed one in for her. Thank you, girlfriend. Cyndi's February 1973 centerfold won our hearts and inspired millions of Wood-worshipers worldwide. But it was just the beginning. Cyndi, a singer-daucer-actress with a smile to die for and energy to spare, went on to capture the Playmate of the Year crown for 1974.
There are two ways to look at the music of 1996. Al Gore dancing the macarena is one. The other is to think of 1996 as a transition year. If alternative is passé, then what's next? Music lovers voted on the year with their dollars--they didn't spend them. There were a few surprises--Celine Dion, LeAnn Rimes, No Doubt--and a lot of recycling. Kiss' comeback was a hoot and a financial success, Patti Smith's was poignant and the Sex Pistols' a flop. It's not enough to be in it for the money. The Beatles had a great year, Michael Jackson an off one, and Prince surprised everybody by making a three-CD album that wasn't a bomb.
It all starts with Cindy. Although the term supermodel has been floating about since the Forties, the modern definition arose by necessity to describe the break-out success of Cindy Crawford. Helped by her July 1988 pictorial in playboy, Cindy became a celebrity first and a model second. In the ensuing decade, new members of the supermodel genus (Vulpinus majoris) were identified. There were the girls-night-out trinity of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell, and our cover girl, Claudia Schiffer, who in any given year can lay claim to being the highest-paid supermodel ($12 million in 1993 alone). Supermodels made fashion superhot. MTV, or Model Television, caught on with its House of Style and runway-meets-dance party events. Even stodgy VH1 began taping fashion-award shows. Now, as the curtain rises on playboy's second annual rite of spring, you'll see our collection has a goddess for every supplicant. The year of the supermodel has turned into the decade of the supermodel.
What do you say to a woman with jet-black hair and piercing baby blues who also wears a leather battle dress, twirls a sword and gives you a saucy don't-fuck-with-me smile? We don't think it's "spank me," even if you've done something very wrong. Better to back up quickly. That's what most foes do weekly on "Xena: Warrior Princess," starring New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless. Spun off from "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," "X:WP" quickly became a top syndicated show. According to "Ms." magazine, its mythical heroine is a role model for women of all ages, everywhere. There's also plenty in "X:WP" for guys who appreciate a postmodern kick-ass warrior gal from across the sea of time. Lawless, 29, plays Xena with grit and style, doing many of her own stunts. Plus, she gets to love and loathe gods, battle tyrants and Cyclopes and ride the classical world while her trusty sidekick Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) walks. The show is funny, too. And using the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, it doesn't mind playing with your fantasies, either. We asked Contributing Editor David Rensin, who never misses the show, to meet with Lawless. She was recuperating from the pelvis-fracturing fall she took last October while filming a skit for "The Tonight Show." Says Rensin, "Lucy may have an American accent on the show, but in person she speaks flawless New Zealand English. She glided to the front door in a wheelchair and welcomed me with hearty good cheer. Then she asked me to get her a rolling office chair, switched seats and prepared a delicious brunch of garlic and tomato on toasted shepherd's bread. I kept my eyes peeled for the sword, though."
DSS is the only direct broadcast satellite system that offers a variety of equipment by top electronics manufacturers. While the 18-inch DSS dishes are virtually identical, not all receivers are created equal, and competition keeps pushing this product forward. To help narrow your hardware choices, we've high-lighted key differences among our favorite models. Note that the microprocessing speed of the various DSS receivers ranges from 8-bit to 32-bit. As with computers, the faster the processor the better, especially when you are accessing the various onscreen program guides.
Below is a list of retailers and manufacturers you can contact for information on where to find this month's merchandise. To buy the apparel and equipment shown on pages 26, 30, 32-33, 36, 108-109, 114-115, 151 and 175, check the listings below to find the stores nearest you.