The envelope has been opened, and the winner is you--because Karen McDougal, the overwhelming choice of our readers, is Playmate of the Year. A lucky 13 months after our last PMOY feature, Karen's pictorial will give you a big Mac attack.
Playboy (Issn 0032-1478), July 1998, volume 45, number 7, 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. 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: 730 fifth avenue, New York 10019 (212-261-5000); Chicago; 680 North Lake Shore Drive. Chicago 60611 (312-751-8000); West Coast; SD 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, 8 Faneuil hall marketplace, Boston 02109 (617-973-5050). For subscription inquiries, Call 800-999-4438.
Looking all grown up, petite Christina Ricci plays a precocious runaway named Dedee in The Opposite of Sex (Sony Classics). Writer Don Roos (his screenplays include Love Field and Single White Female) debuts as a director with this be-guilingly tangled tale about relationships. When Dedee flees Louisiana to live with her gay half-brother, Bill (Martin Donovan), in Indiana, everyone's life gets complicated. Bill, a teacher, has inherited money from his recently deceased lover and acquired a handsome new beau, Matt (Ivan Sergei). Dedee seduces Matt, who decides he's not gay after all, while Matt's angry ex-lover charges Bill with sexual harassment at school. Harping about all the confusion is the deceased man's frigid sister, Lucia (Lisa Kudrow in a scene-stealing coup), who is finally warmed up by the local sheriff (Lyle Lovett). The plot becomes even messier--which must be Roos' point in making this free-for-all comedy that rates commitment higher than mere carnality. [rating]3 bunnies[/rating]
Billed opposite Harrison Ford in the romantic comedy Six Days, Seven Nights,Jacqueline Obradors makes her bid for the big time as a latter-day Lana Turner. Like Turner, who was allegedly discovered in a drugstore, Obradors was discovered while working as a checkout girl at a Malibu supermarket. A producer chose her to do a TV pilot, and she was on her way. Several forgettable movies and TV shows later, she finds her Six Days role enhancing her future prospects. "When I heard I got the part, I dropped the phone and screamed, then started crying. But when we got to Kauai, Hawaii to start shooting, Harrison was super cool and made me feel very comfortable." Obradors plays "a sort of showgirl-dancer," co-piloting Ford's plane until Anne Heche and David Schwimmer show up as an engaged couple. After a crash, Ford and Heche are marooned together, and Obradors and Schwimmer team up. "This is a love swap, absolutely," she reports.
MPI's The Voyage of La Amistad: A Quest for Freedom may not have that Spielberg magic, nor the jaw-dropping performance by Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams. But what the documentary lacks in theatrics, it makes up for in credibility. The 70-minute history lesson provides the back story to Spielberg's recent retelling of the 1839 mutiny by 53 Africans aboard a slave schooner off the coast of Cuba (see "Video Mood Meter"). It draws its narrative from court documents, newspaper articles and personal letters, along with expert commentary by modern-day scholars. Charles Durning and Brock Peters provide illuminating interpretations of the story's major players, while the peerless Alfre Woodard narrates. Call 800-777-2223.
"What's good on video?" asks David Spade, who plays the smarmy smart-ass Dennis Finch on NBC's Just Shoot Me. "My buddy told me to rent the movie The Hot Spot and just fast-forward until you see Jennifer Connelly naked. That's how deep my video viewing is." After that, Spade confesses, he enjoys pulling multiple copies of Black Sheep and Tommy Boy off vid store shelves, "just so people think my movies are doing well. 'Wow, looks like they're sold out again, honey.'" Spade says Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid could be his all-time favorite rental, with honorable mention going to anything starring Pacino, Hackman or Newman. "But," he says, "comedies are the most fun to sit through. It's my biz, after all, and watching them allows me to go into a jealous rage about everyone who's funnier than me." Which isn't a lot of people.
From CAV Distributing come Cult Epics' The Bettie Page Collection ($69.95) and 100 Girls by Bunny Yeager ($69.95), two limited-edition lasers crammed with pin-ups and vintage clips of America's most recognizable faces--and bodies. The Bettie platter includes scenes from the legend's three feature-length Fifties burlesque films--Striporama, Varietease and Teaserama--as well as snippets from her 8mm and 16mm classics. (Some of Bettie's wildest shorts--fetish and bondage sequences, catfights--were previously available only through mail order.) The Bunny Yeager retrospective features more than 200 photos, plus archival footage from Bunny's career as a model turned glam photographer. Six of the 100 women spotlighted here are Playmates--including Lisa Winters and Bettie Page--and Yeager provides the disc's commentary. Call 650-588-2228.
Maturity, motherhood and enlightenment can be tough on pop artists. So maybe what's most remarkable about Madonna's Ray of Light (Maverick) is that it isn't half bad. Working with electronica pro William Orbit, Madonna has organized a great-sounding album without resorting to instrumental clichés. And when she sings about sex (on the boy-toy Candy Perfume Girl and the spiritually needy Skin) she doesn't let us down. Still, it's hard to trust that this synthesis of Hollywood insights and radio-friendly dance music will solve Madonna's biggest career crisis: What does an impossibly famous person do for an encore?
Feeling nostalgic about that great music from the Seventies? Think the Carpenters and Abba were underrated? Maybe so. But the Seventies were also a decade of schlock of the worst order. Slap on Seventies Party Killers (Rhino) at your next dinner party and watch your guests lose their appetites. See them gag over Billy, Don't Be a Hero, choke on (You're) Having My Baby by Paul Anka and pass out over dessert to the unbelievably smarmy Candy Man by Sammy Davis Jr. If those don't clear the room, nine other horrors are included. All of them were top-ten hits.
Pilgrim (Reprise) may be the nadir of Eric Clapton's once great career. From the lounge singer's quaver in his voice on Broken Hearted to his phrasing on much of the rest, Clapton has never sounded worse. Even his guitar cannot rescue him, because it takes a backseat to electronic drumbeats. The first dozen tracks have a concept--a confessional suite about addiction and recovery--but they never come together. This can't be Clapton's true heart speaking.
Both punk and alternative music often lack a decent groove and a respect for roots. The Red Hot Chili Peppers spice up their thrash with a healthy dose of funk. R.E.M. shows that punks can build on bittersweet Appalachian folk to make alternative music melodic as well as rough. EMI-Capitol has released limited-edition collections by both groups that include rarities, remixes, live tracks and never-before-released material. The Essential Red Hot Chili Peppers: Under the Covers features 13 examples of what the band did best--punk-funk covers of classic songs, ranging from Robert Johnson's They're Red Hot to the Hendrix-influenced remake of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground. They even take on Elton John's Tiny Dancer, showing another virtue that is rare among punks--a sense of humor. R.E.M. in the Attic: Alternative Recordings 1985-1989 includes eight live recordings of such classics as The One I Love, Driver 8 and South Central Rain, plus obscure covers and remixes. EMI's Essential Series also includes worthy collections by Blondie, the Beach Boys and David Bowie. But grab them fast. Each album will be manufactured for only six months, making them collector's items.
Morcheeba's Who Can You Trust? was one of 1996's surprises. The London-based trio's first album is one of the most melodic, accessible releases to have emerged from the UK trip-hop scene. With its impressive second album, Big Calm (Sire), Morcheeba stretches beyond trip-hop, sounding more like an alternative band. Morcheeba's grasp of blues and funk--and the band's use of creative samples, loops and instrumentation--show considerable growth without the band's having to alter its identity. Shoulder Holster, Part of the Process and Fear & Love are singles, though Big Calm will be best appreciated in long, laid-back listening sessions.
If you think Percy Sledge and Billy Swan are one-shot wonders, you're wrong. Everybody knows Swan's I Can Help and Sledge's When a Man Loves a Woman. But for a full load of Swan's Southern hospitality, get The Best of Billy Swan (Epic/Legacy). And for Sledge's Deep South intensity, get The Very Best of Percy Sledge (Rhino).
The reunion of the Flatlanders is the high point of The Horse Whisperer (MCA/Nashville) soundtrack. Lubbock, Texas singers Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock recorded one album in 1972 as the Flatlanders before embarking on successful solo careers. They re-formed as the Hill Country Flatlanders to sing South Wind of Summer, a dramatic waltz they wrote for the Robert Redford film. Each of the 11 songs on Horse Whisperer echoes some truth about the American West. Other notable tracks include Dwight Yoakam's take on Tex Owens' 1943 Cattle Call (with Yoakam's yodels rolling across Tex-Mex accordions), George Strait's fiddle-heavy cover of Gene Autrey's Red River Valley and Steve Earle's Me and the Eagle. Only a few contemporary soundtracks corral the mood of a film as well as Horse Whisperer does.
Sean Lennon's debut, Into the Sun (Grand Royal), is influenced more by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Burt Bacharach than it is by his father. It's also damn good. The music career of Sean's half brother, Julian, was stalled by the burden of being the son of a legend, but Sean seems poised to build his own legacy. Melodically, this is a smart, surprising and delicate 13-track collection. Recorded last year in a Manhattan studio and produced by Lennon's girlfriend, Yuka Honda of the band Cibo Matto, Into the Sun has a relaxed, intimate sound. The opening composition, Mystery Juice, moves from ballad to rock and jazz instrumental in remarkably smooth segues. Two Fine Lovers and the title song are softly inviting, with exquisite melodies and harmonies, while Home dexterously blends pop and rock. The album ends with a funky jazz piece, Sean's Theme, that illustrates how much he's his own man. Even the expected vocal similarity to his father shouldn't distract listeners from Sean's individual vision.
On House of Secrets, Mike Ireland creates a seductive sound and lyric that come off as a male version of Ode to Billie Joe. Later on his debut album, Learning How to Live (Sub Pop), he and his band, Holler, recast Banks of the Ohio as if the old ballad had happened behind a steel mill. Ireland can sing anything from honky-tonk (Worst of All is right out of Webb Pierce) to torch ballads (Johnny Ray's Cry), although he makes a specialty of heartbreak.
Nobody has ever played the slagverk, the fogsvans and the mungiga better than Hedningarna on Tra (Northside), its third CD. As Jimi Hendrix was to guitar, as John Bonham was to drums, as Miles Davis was to trumpet, Hedningarna is to these instruments. The three men hammer away with intensity while the two women sing and howl in Swedish. This is folk music for a rave, a Dionysian frenzy with a minimum of electricity and nothing verbal to distract you.
Sink and Swim Department: You say you're not tired of Titanic? You will be after the tour, the soundtrack sequel, the TV special and the video release--all due in 1998. The tour will feature a 30-minute suite of the soundtrack's composer's themes as well as Irish dance and chamber music from the film.
Whether you're on the North Pole or in Machu Picchu, it would be nice to carry one phone and have one number where anyone can reach you. That will be possible with Iridium, a Motorola-backed global satellite communications service set to debut this fall. Because Iridium uses low-orbiting birds to beam pager messages and voice calls, its phones require less signal strength to make radio contact and, thus, are much smaller than the suitcase-size satellite phones introduced a few years ago. And talk about versatile: If you're in a cellular mecca such as Paris, Iridium will attempt to transmit calls via land-based wireless networks before bouncing to satellite. This will save you some cash, as calls placed via satellite cost at least 25 percent more than cellular ones. You'll be able to rent the phones from dealers (fees will vary) or purchase them for up to $3000 each.
If IBM has its way, the Jetsons-style dream home will become a reality for mainstream America. Under a new program called Home Director Professional, Big Blue teams up with contractors to construct computerized intelligent homes. A spin-off of IBM's Home Director consumer software, which enables computer users to operate basic home appliances, lighting and security via their PCs, HD Professional provides contractors with parameters for building single-family homes and condos with a wide array of features. At the heart of IBM's smart home is a computer network that enables households with multiple PCs to share printers, modems and other peripherals. More sophisticated home automation features include video-monitored security systems that mimic your room-to-room lighting sequences when you're away and computerized kitchens that keep inventories and make menu recommendations based on items in stock. Installing a system in a new home, which would include structured wiring, a computer network, basic lighting controls and security, plus the ability to expand automation in the future, starts at $7000.
You're trying to finish that report when your laptop battery drains in the middle of your flight. Don't sweat it--just plug the computer into your armrest. Several major airlines, including United, American and Delta, allow passengers to tap into the plane's power source with a device called the PowerXtender. This $100 cable from Xtend Micro Products comes with two sets of plugs: one for the cigarette lighter in your car, recreational vehicle or boat; the other for an airplane armrest. A voltage regulator takes the plane's 15-volt power supply and converts it to whatever voltage your notebook requires. (Xtend makes more than 500 adapters for new and older laptops.)
Call it saving face. Next time you're on one of those monthlong business trips from hell, use Sharp's Mobilon HC-4500 (pictured) to fire off an e-mail--complete with a photo and voice message--to your main squeeze back home. This handheld computer with an optional digital camera card weighs 17 ounces, compared with about six pounds for the average notebook computer. And because it runs Microsoft's Windows CE 2.0 operating system, documents you create on the road are easily transferred to a PC. The price: about $1000 for the computer and $400 for the CE-AGO4 digital camera card.
Richard Price does a lot of research: ride-alongs with cops, interviews with pushers and knuckleheads, reportorial forays into the inner city--all of which helped him ground his last novel, Clockers, in urban reality. His latest offering, Freedomland (Broadway), is rich with the sort of street details, complex personae and pitch-perfect vernacular that suggests he's kept up his cops-and-robbers ties and neighborhood credentials. Freedomland is a tabloid-savvy whodunit involving a carjacking, a kidnapping and the ensuing media frenzy. It is also a riff on race relations in the abutting worlds of working-class whites and ghetto blacks in two New Jersey towns. What's impressive here is how Price manages to keep such issues simmering mostly below the surface--where they belong--while his narrative does its dramatic work. If the book has a flaw, it's that it seems written more with an eye toward the screen than the printed page. This gives the prose an exceedingly visual, dialogue-heavy cast, like that of an elaborate movie treatment. Urban chaos is given a different take in Robert Stone's Damascus Gate (Houghton Mifflin), a Jerusalem-based thriller in which mad bombers run loose in holy places. This novel rises above its genre in so many smart ways it ought to occupy its own category. Stone is simultaneously lewd, sensitive, plainspoken and deep; in short, the major talent we know him to be. Price's writing leans toward Hollywood; Stone aims higher.
Why clean up the mess in your house when you can just look at pictures of tasteful domestic order? DK Publishing has an excellent series of workbooks designed to help you rearrange your living space--if you're eventually inspired to get off the couch. They offer plenty of ideas and solutions for design dilemmas. Storage, by Dinah Hall and Barbara Weiss, might prompt you to diminish the clutter. One-Room Living, by Sylvia Katz, offers hope to the urban besieged. Sarah Gaventa's Home Office will help you set up an attractive tax deduction. And Kitchen, by Johnny Grey, shows plenty of great gadgets and inventive ways to display them. The only problem: Where do we put the books?
Motorcycles in museums! Battling biker books! Motoculture becomes high culture! What will be next? Leather tuxedos? BMW and the Guggenheim Museum are hosting an exhibition on the art of the motorcycle (running from late June through September) that will have every chief executive in America asking his wife's permission to park a 1939 Triumph Speed Twin in the foyer, or hang a 1911 Flying Merkel over the mantle. If you can't make the exhibition, buy the companion volume, Motorcycle Mania: The Biker Book (Universe). Or spend hours polishing the pages of Hugo Wilson's Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle and The Ultimate Motorcycle Book (both by DK Publishing).
Now that baseball season is in full swing, search the AM dial for a doubleheader, kick back with a brew and peruse colorman Jon Miller's Confessions of a Baseball Purist (Simon & Schuster), written with Mark Hyman. Throughout his career, Miller has rubbed elbows with some of baseball's best-known personalities, many of whom appear in this book. He devotes a chapter to Cal Ripken Jr., and Harry Caray receives his due as well. Currently host of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and announcer for the San Francisco Giants, Miller combines a veteran's knowledge with a fan's enthusiasm. Or maybe golf is your thing. Its occasional tendency toward deification notwithstanding, Tim Rosaforte's unauthorized Tiger Woods: The Makings of a Champion (St. Martin's) is an often insightful tribute to the game's boy wonder. Now out in paper-back, Rosaforte's book is short, as it should be. After all, his subject's brief life hardly needs more. Another golf-oriented tome with a less serious bent is Tom Cunneff's Hollywood on the Links: A Collection of the Greatest Celebrity Golf Stories of All Times (NTC/Contemporary Publishing). Joe Pesci cusses like a Goodfella on the links. Jack Nicholson is just as handy with his three-iron on the course as off. Dennis Franz is no pansy hump on the greens. Best of all, the hundreds of anecdotes are indexed for quick reference, so you can spend more time practicing your putts. If the bloodless civility of golf makes you snore, pick up Sports Illustrated writer Richard Hoffer's A Savage Business: The Comeback and Comedown of Mike Tyson (Simon & Schuster). Much more than an account of the latest rise and fall of Mike Tyson, Hoffer's book is an astute look at the high stakes of heavyweight boxing and its darkly comic side. A member of the media once asked the boxer during a national conference call: "Mike, is there any truth to the rumors that you've got some eye injury, and, if so, is that from the effects of all those years of Mace during sex?"
Don't tell me you've never done it, stud, because I know better. At some point in your career, you were so desperate and lonely that you took the greatest gamble a man can take and agreed to go on a blind date.
Is inflation really dead? The recent news that Donald Trump put a $17 million price tag on a Manhattan penthouse that may have cost him no more than $4.6 million a couple years back makes you wonder. This month I'll suggest how you might make a buck out of inflation for rich folks.
If you're looking for a traffic stopper, forget a Ferrari. Volkswagen's New Beetle took our grin meter to the max, rivaling the Plymouth Prowler in smiles per mile. Even though the new Bug looks as if it's a runaway from Toys R Us, it drives like a real car. Bucket seats, a bud vase, a passenger grab-handle and a cramped backseat that converts to a hatch will take you back to VW's Herbie era. But the four-wheel disc brakes, front and side air bags, air-conditioning and six-speaker stereo system are definitely of the Nineties. Independent suspension borrowed from the Golf allows you to toss the car into a tight turn at speeds that would have toppled the old rear-engine model. (The motor is now up front, and it's water cooled.) Choose from a turbo diesel model or--better still--one powered by a 115-hp four-cylinder engine that will get you from zero to 60 in 10.6 seconds. ABS brakes and an automatic transmission are optional, as are several packages that include heated front seats, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Base price for the new Bug is $15,200. A peppier 150-hp gas turbo model is due soon (and there's talk of a convertible and an all-wheel-drive version), but you may not want to wait. Order yours in red, white, black or yellow, or check out a metallic option in silver, bright blue, green or dark blue.
The Strip isn't Las Vegas' only fast track. The Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway packs more of a rush than making your point at the craps tables at Caesars. Nemesis Formula SC99 race cars are the vehicles of choice. A variety of instructional programs are available, ranging from the $475 Half-Day Formula Race Car Introduction ("For those who just want to feel what it's like to drive a single seater," says Daly), to the Three-Day Formula Race Car School ($2195), where you'll learn advanced car control, spend time on the track's technique oval and generally get the bejesus scared out of you. (When you graduate from the three-day program, you can apply for a Sports Car Club of America regional license.) But if you have only one day to spare, the abbreviated Formula Race Car School ($895) is a smart buy. It gets you plenty of classroom instruction plus a minimum of three hours' track time on the technique oval and road course. You'll experience using the proper racing line, downshifting correctly, braking properly and using the "heel-toe" technique.
Want to read the Rogue Warrior series at the beach without having to remove your designer shades? Check out Optx 20/20 reading lenses, which consist of crescent-shaped pliable plastic pieces that adhere to any style of sunglasses. The lenses ($25 a pair) are reusable, come in six strength levels (+1.25 to +3.0) and are housed in their own carrying cases.
Since it was introduced in 1986, Riedel's Vinum line of machine-blown wineglasses has been considered the definitive stemware for serving different wine varieties. Now that the martini has been resurrected, Riedel has introduced the classic silver bullet glass (pictured above) in 24 percent crystal. Price: about $20 at fine wine merchants nationwide.
Biker numbness (which could lead to impotence) is on the rise. Doctors have discovered that the problem is caused by putting one's body weight on the arteries and nerves to the penis. The Italian-made Biko adjustable saddle pictured here helps alleviate the problem by elevating the rider's position half an inch above the seat's horn, thus distributing pressure from the perineal area to the butt bones. It also features seat pads that are adjustable in width to four positions for more support and extra comfort. The price: $50.
Nikon is synonymous with cameras, but not many people know that its optics division has been around for 80 years. To commemorate its anniversary, the company has introduced a 6x15 Porro prism binocular (near right). The exterior is identical to the original model's, but the optic innards are contemporary. A close-focus distance of only 6 1/2 feet makes it ideal for sporting events, the theater or your favorite gentlemen's club. Price: about $390. While the Porro prism celebrates the past, another new Nikon binocular, the 8x42 Venturer LX (far right), looks to the future with a new eyepiece lens design that offers superior sharpness and clarity as well as a completely flat viewing field. Its $2000 price is quite contemporary too.
Andy Richter is the sidekick on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, but when it comes to fashion he's no second banana to his boss. Richter recently trimmed 55 pounds from his 6'2" frame, so he was delighted when the show's stylist set him up with a personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue. His favorite acquisition: a wool double-breasted pinstripe "gangster suit" by Corneliani. He wears it with a muted-orange dress shirt from Ascot Chang and a Krizia tie that "looks like the trim on Heidi's lederhosen." On his size-12EEE feet, Richter favors the forest-green nubuck oxfords by Alfred Sargent he bought on sale at Tootsie Plohound in Manhattan. For casualwear, Richter just purchased a pair of black leather unlined pants from the Leather Man on Christopher Street between Bleecker and Hudson in Greenwich Village (where "you can admire their nifty collection of sex toys while your pants are being hemmed").
Tiger Woods has Fluff Cowens, but you have Golf Club Valet, the first nationwide golf club rental service that delivers premium clubs to your hotel and whisks them away after the last putt has been sunk. Callaways, Cobras, Pings, Titleists, Tour Edges, Odysseys and others are available in a variety of shaft lengths and flexes--along with clubs for lefties, seniors and women. Valet's top-of-the-line rental package, which includes a Titleist titanium driver, Cobra Ti woods, Cobra II irons and a Ping putter, goes for $42 a day. Other packages cost as little as $25. You can also put together your own set, or customize a package for an additional charge. It's best to call about a week in advance to ensure that you get your clubs on time. Call 888-846-5318 for more information or to reserve your set of clubs.
The United States Croquet Association has more than 3600 members, and none of them has ever been suspended for cheating. "Nothing can be done to a cheater, because strikers are on an honor system," observes Michael Mehas, one of the country's highest-ranking players. Offenses include double-tapping the ball, or favorably placing a ball that has rolled off the court. Etiquette also requires quiet during your opponents' turns. That hasn't kept Mehas, called the "bad boy of croquet," from meditative chanting on the sidelines. But the sport's all-white dress code isinviolable. Mehas was banned from USCA title events for a year because he strolled onto the playing field in black tennis shoes.
Dismantling and eating a boiled lobster is one of the great joys of summer. Use the easy-to-follow blueprint above to get the most out of the experience. There are crustacean fanatics who suck the meat from the legs and savor the green tomalley. But if you're that hungry, just order another lobster.
When the temperature is warm and the mood is light, you may find yourself with a taste for a less demanding wine. While the oaky, complex French chardonnays are fine in cooler months, we prefer Bourgogne aligote in July. It is the only nonchardonnay white wine allowed in Burgundy, and although it is a secondary grape variety, the wine is very pleasant when drunk young. Similarly, check out the sauvignon blancs of the Graves region. The Chateau Carbonnieux, for example, is a crisp, elegant wine that has a spicy character without losing its lightheartedness. When having seafood--including shellfish--try a Sancerre from the Loire Valley or a steely Chablis village wine (the 1996s are exceptionally good). The French take the month of August off--they are experts at vacationing--and cases of these wines are likely their only form of heavy lifting.
My girlfriend and I have been dating for 18 months. Three weeks ago, after a particularly good night of lovemaking, we began talking about what it might be like to be married. We both decided it was something we wanted. As soon as we announced the engagement, she began planning the wedding. Meanwhile, I've been preoccupied with doubt. The stress has paralyzed me; I can't sleep, and it's affecting my work. Before I asked her to marry me, I remember thinking, You're never going to do any better. Now, when I see a woman more attractive than my girlfriend, I think, Could I have her? I'm only 22, and I don't know if I'm ready to commit for the rest of my life. I'm also not one of those guys who tells himself, If it doesn't work out, we'll just get divorced. On the plus side, I trust her and care deeply for her, and ours is the most open and honest relationship I've ever had. I'm so confused, and that can't be how I'm supposed to feel. Tell me how to know if this is right.--W.T., Baltimore, Maryland
Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reviewed 15,500 sexual harassment complaints. Only 3253 were deemed to have merit. In other words, only one in five lawyers knows sexual harassment when he or she sees it. The cases that reach a judge or jury do little to clarify the confusion. Why is a rape worth $165,000 and a crude remark millions? If money talks, what is it saying in these cases?
It is something of a miracle that the fate of the presidency hinges on sexual favors. The news of Bill Clinton's alleged dalliance with Monica Lewinsky sickened me at first, especially when everyone (from the news media to the parents at my son's basketball practice) let the gossip drown out discussion of all else in the world. I hated the right-wingers for their byzantine plotting and opportunism. The Wall Street Journal pretty much called for Clinton's impeachment just hours after the sex-with-an-intern story broke. I hated Clinton's having to answer not-so-veiled questions about oral sex while hosting Yasir Arafat in the Oval Office. How absurd that the spokesman for a movement acquainted with bus bombs and exploding passenger jets should sit in the White House as a state guest while the leader of the free world is nearly hounded out because he may or may not have had sex with a woman he gave a dress to. But when gossip about the affair overwhelmed news of a possible war with Iraq, medical insurance reform, organized-crime busts, the booming Dow Jones industrial average, economic collapse in Asia and the spread of AIDS, I began to cheer up. Where else but in America are people so fat and happy and starved for political drama that a presidential blow job commands larger headlines than the Allied invasion of Normandy? Real news leaves us bloated, so we choose news lite. And then gorge on it. A country in which people don't suffer vapidity but embrace it is truly blessed.
On this particular morning, Jerry Springer is on a cell phone in a limo speeding toward Mickey Mantle's Restaurant and Sports Bar in New York City with his bodyguard, Steve, the bald security guy who separates the fighters on America's wildest TV spectacle, the "Jerry Springer Show." Springer is talking to his agent in Hollywood. (He's since signed a $2 million movie deal with "Dumb and Dumber" producer Steve Stabler.) When the limo pulls in front of Mantle's, it is greeted by a camera crew and reporter from "Access Hollywood." They ask to tail Springer for the day, one that will take him to "The RuPaul Show," then to "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," then on to a late flight back to Chicago so Springer can tape episodes of his own show the next day. Springer agrees, but first there is lunch at Mantle's, his favorite hangout when he's in Manhattan.
Whoopi Goldberg. Keenen Ivory Wayans. Pat Sajak. Jon Stewart. Lauren Hutton. Dennis Miller. Chevy Chase. The world of former talk show hosts is a graveyard. But that's not stopping Magic Johnson. His Magic Hour debuted last month, and Magic is in training. Writer Scott Howard-Cooper caught up with Magic between sessions with his speech therapist and his interview coach. Johnson admits his new job has made him more nervous than anything since high school. It's an amazing admission from a man who faced down the NBA's toughest opponents and who remains the most famous man in the world to go public about testing positive for HIV.
Helmut Newton can transform women. With that in mind, we asked him to photograph six women who are dear to our hearts--Playmates, in fact--and work his flashy way with them. Newton works in a world of careful contrivance filled with aberrance and artifice. His photos often describe the difference between nude and naked. The former is being seen without clothes on, the latter is being caught with nothing on. This is an essential law of Newtonian physics.
To the dismay of his father, who wanted him to be a baseball player, Craig Kilborn admits that he "just couldn't throw the ball very well." Luckily, young Kilborn had a backup sport. "I started dribbling the basketball when I was in second grade." And his height topped out at 6'4" in the ninth grade. Kilborn's ball-handling skills and long frame propelled him along the jock track right through college. After graduation, he toured Europe with an American basketball team and got an offer to turn pro with a Luxembourg team looking for an American to lend it credibility.
Catching up with Lisa Dergan is not easy. Just shy of 28, Lisa is already an in-demand model. You may remember her from three What Sort of Man Reads Playboy? pages (in June 1996, January 1997 and January 1998). Now this San Diego--bred beauty has turned her talents toward acting (landing parts on Silk Stalkings, Renegade and Frasier). We meet as she takes a breather after a morning workout at her West Los Angeles health club.
Amatron sitting at the counter of a sandwich shop was obviously annoyed by the cigarette smoke from the young woman seated beside her. The older woman turned to the girl and bellowed, "Young lady, I would rather commit adultery than smoke!"
Marvin Gaye preached sexual healing, Mick Jagger complained he wasn't getting enough (even though he was) and Alanis Morissette bragged about her theatrical head games. Obviously, the next best thing to being a rock star is having the love life of one. Now you can. All you have to do is to pay attention to what they say in their songs. For five decades they have been giving away their secrets and for years we have been collecting them.
Tiger woods has a power swing. So do Mike Piazza and Andre Agassi. You want one--indeed, need one--to hit 300-yard drives, homers and scorching forehands. The good news is, you don't have to spend long hours in the gym pumping iron. Speed, flexibility and coordination are as important as strength. Biomechanically, golf, tennis and softball swings are similar. Power starts from the ground up, in the big muscles of your lower body. Through proper hip and shoulder rotation, you coil your muscles like a giant rubber band. When you swing, energy is transferred from your arms to your hands to your equipment and into the ball. We asked a prominent coach from each sport to explain the nuances of the power swing and to offer the best training drill for getting those arms and hands moving faster. As you hone your swings, you'll also want to take advantage of technology with the latest power-packed gear on the market.
On a bitterly cold night 8000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains, the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel in Aspen is ground zero for people who make people laugh--and for people who make money from people who make people laugh. This is the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, an annual showcase and shmoozefest for buyers and bookers, stand-up stars and wannabe comics. In the St. Regis, the crowd that spills forth from the lobby bar is meeting and greeting with a vengeance.
Last December, Karen McDougal went on a modeling assignment to Cabo San Lucas and was surprised at the celebrity welcome she received. "Everyone there seemed to know who I am," says Miss December 1997. "I was out dancing and everybody was bringing me things to sign. I guess Playboy Mexico had just come out and people recognized me." Back in the U.S.A., where the December issue had already been out for weeks, Karenmania was sweeping the nation. The former preschool teacher with the Irish eyes, Cherokee cheekbones and "bubble butt" was an overwhelming favorite in the Playboy Readers' Poll, on the Internet and with viewers of Playboy TV. "Is all that true?" she asks modestly. "That's really cool. I'm honored."
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, 41, 45, 88--91, 96--97, 122--123, 130--141 and 183, check the listings below to find the stores nearest you.
Summer's hottest adrenaline fix is wakeboarding, a water-skiing spin-off that brings the daredevil elements of snow-boarding, surfing and skateboarding to the lake. Riders are strapped to fiberglass boards and launched at speeds up to 20 mph off wakes created by specially designed wakeboard tow-boats. The best board jockeys can soar ten to 15 feet skyward to execute spins and flips with names such as the "hoochie glide" and the "crow mobe 540." Meanwhile, water-skiers are enjoying their own wet rush thanks to new wider skis with 30 percent to 100 percent more surface area than a standard slalom ski. Midwidth models such as the one pictured below are easy to launch and are not so tiring to ride because they produce less drag in the water.