Whine, Women and the down low. That's the short version of our annual Year in Music package. Last year, record companies bitched about deteriorating sales, musicians bitched about lousy contracts and consumers stole everything that wasn't encrypted. Despite all the complaining, we heard some interesting sounds coming out of our speakers. Spin associate editor Dave Itzkoff got Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to salute Hall of Famers Run-DMC. Alan Light, former editor of Spin and Vibe, writes that the garage surpassed the club as hangout, prepackaged pap flinched in the face of Avril Lavigne's snarl and Eminem strengthened his spot at the top. Slim Shady's success just demonstrates how resilient hip-hop remains--and nobody is more consistent than Jay-Z. Witness J-Hova's record--he has sold more than 16 million albums, including his recent smash, The Blueprint 2. In this month's Playboy Interview with Rob Tannenbaum, Jay-Z says, "I fire my accountant every year--every time I pay taxes. My accountant says, 'Be happy you're fortunate enough to cut this check.' Oh yeah? Fuck you! You're fucking fired! Then I hire him back, because he's right.''
Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), April 2003, volume 50, number 4, 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; Bentz & Maddock Inc., 5180 Roswell Road, Suite 102, South Building, Atlanta, GA 30342 (404-256-3800). For subscription inquiries. Call 800-999-4438.
The Matrix: Reloaded: This long-awaited first of two sequels to 1999's mind-bendingly cool sci-fi blockbuster should be the movie of the summer. The buzz: The Matrix-heads will have plenty to chew over until the release of this winter's finale, The Matrix: Revolutions. Again the plot involves good old Neo (Keanu Reeves), now armed with superhero powers, who has only 72 hours to save Trinity (a never-sexier Carrie-Anne Moss) from a scary fate prophesied in a dream. Other good omens? Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving are back in fine form as Morpheus and Agent Smith. We are promised such innovations as trippier flying sequences, more cryptic mythology and dreadlocked assassins. Best of all are the absurdly luscious Monica Bellucci as temptress Persephone, Jada Pinkett Smith as Morpheus' girlfriend Niobe and Nona Gaye (daughter of Marvin Gaye) as Zee, the role meant for singer Aaliyah. One question remains: the blue pill or the red pill?
The Hunted is one of the first bright spots on the movie horizon this year, an action thriller that's genuinely exciting. Benicio Del Toro plays an American soldier who carries out a political assassination in Kosovo in 1999 but can't erase the nightmarish images from his mind. Back home in Oregon, he becomes a predator who ambushes hunters in the woods. In desperation, the FBI turns to the man who trained Del Toro, Tommy Lee Jones, but he wants to track and capture the killer on his own terms. All of the promise in this intriguing script is realized by director William Friedkin, who hasn't made hearts pump this hard since his unforgettable street chase in The French Connection three decades ago.
Cameron Diaz hadn't yet made There's Something About Mary when she was signed to do the voice of the princess in Shrek. In the years it took to complete production on the animated film, several things happened: Chris Farley, the original voice of Shrek, died, Mike Myers was hired and Diaz became a star. For Shrek 2, Myers, Diaz and Eddie Murphy are reportedly being paid $10 million each, about half of what they would make to star in a liveaction film. But it isn't too shabby for a series of recording sessions that require no memorization, no makeup, no wardrobe and no travel.
Jennifer Beals. First noticed: As the sexiest hard-hat worker in movie history in Flashdance.Most recently onscreen: As Elizabeth Berkley's worldly friend in Roger Dodger.Did you aspire to become the queen of in-die films? "Gena Rowlands will always be queen of the indies. A Woman Under the Influence alone qualities her as empress.'' After you made a splash in Flashdance, did you have a goal for your career? "No, I never even thought about having a career. I remember getting a call from somebody in the business who said. 'Do you realize your film made more in its third weekend than its second? and I said, 'How do you know that?' He said. 'It's in Variety.' I was so naive about the business I didn't realize that people follow the financial trajectories of films.'' What makes you decide to be in a film? "The Anniversary Party came about because Jennifer Jason Leigh is a friend and envisioned me in the part. With Roger Dodger. Campbell Scott called me, and I didn't have to read the script. because I wanted to work with him. For A Feast of All Saints I called Forest Whitaker, whom I didn't know, and said. 'I want to be a part of this project.'' Describe yourself. "Complicated. Even-tempered. Not a good cook. Dog lover. I get hungry for the world sometimes, to be in the middle of some foreign adventure. I like to travel.'' Whose career do you admire? "Jennifer Jason Leigh's is extraordinary. I don't need or want to be the homecoming queen.''
Bend It Like Beckham This British crowd-pleaser about a girl from a traditional Indian family who dreams of being a football star is ideal for people who found My Big Fat Greek Wedding too subtle. [rating]2 bunnies[/rating]
Just as John Sayles' films cover many topics and unspool in a number of styles, his favorite movies are tough to nail down. Not that he doesn't favor certain directors. "The Kurosawa movies that are on DVD I watch quite often, especially Ikiru and some of the later work. Having a really good-looking movie on DVD, there's nothing like it,'' says the writer and director of Lone Star, Sunshine State and the upcoming Casa de los Babys. "I also watch a lot of early Italian cinema--films by De Sica, Rossellini and Ermanno Olmi (director of The Tree of Wooden Clogs). And I'm interested in the movies from the early Seventies that brought over the European sensibility. The early movies of Scorsese and Coppola proved you can stretch the possibilities of what can be done in American cinema.''
Could Natalie Wood sing? Fans will find out when the new two-disc special-edition collector's set of the 1961 classic West Side Story (MGM, $40) hits shelves in April. Wood's singing parts in the multiple-Oscar-winning hit were famously dubbed by Marni Nixon, with tracks enhanced by Dolby 5.1 recording in this version. But among the disc's special features is Natalie's resurrected warbling--for better or worse. There's really no knocking Wood's sex goddess credentials. And while her accidental drowning in 1981 at the age of 43 made her the sick-joke punch line of the year, at least it spared her the indignity of aging in Hollywood. She enjoys mythic status, unsullied by years of lousy TV movies and dumb infomercials. How bad can her I Feel Pretty be?
You may have seen Paz Vega in Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her, but there she's mostly in a coma. You owe it to yourself to see her in Sex and Lucía, a voluptuously sexy film from Julio Medem (Palm Pictures). Vega plays Lucía, a young waitress in Madrid. After she loses her boyfriend, she retreats to a Mediterranean island. The fresh air, sun, glistening sea, a new man--you get the picture. The sex is remarkably candid and curiously intelligent. --John Rezek
Made our day department: We hear Clint Eastwood took in an Other Ones (the post-Garcia Dead) concert last winter. Percussionist Mickey Hart's wife is on the California State Parks Commission with him. Reeling and rocking: Snoop Dogg plays Huggy Bear in the movie version of Starsky and Hutch, starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. ... British director Stephen Frears is making a comedy about an Elvis conspiracy.... Missy Elliot, Tweet, Ginuwine and the L.O.X. make cameo appearances in Jessica Alba's movie Honey, co-starring Lil-Romeo and Mekhi Phifer. Newsbreaks: Detroit will be home to the new Motown Center, on the site of its former headquarters. The interactive museum will include exhibits, dining and entertainment.... Pink Floyd's Roger Waters debuted the overture from his opera in London.... Shaggy wrote a book and made a CD for Scholastic's Hip Kid Hop series.... The Napster auction was called "collectibles of the future'' and included Shawn Fanning's laptop, T-shirts and file servers, but, sad to say, no music. ... Get your tickets now: Metallica and Iron Maiden have announced appearances at the summer Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
Rob Jungklas' Arkadelphia (Madjack) is as creepy as a midnight ride down Highway 61. The music is stark, with Delta slide guitar and black-cat moans. Jungklas' disquieting songs are profane and poetic, haunted by ghosts and damnation.
<p>Doom III finds Nine Inch Nails' front man and Id Software's John Carmack paired up to create what could be the most anticipated video game in history. Just don't hold your breath--according to Id Software, the game's official release date is "when it's done.'' We tracked down Reznor to ask, "Are we there yet?''</p>
Auto Modellista (PlayStation 2). Race cars from Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru and others across cityscapes, countrysides and dirt tracks. Dust the competition and you'll earn upgrades such as suspension, tires and turbine kits. Don't be fooled by the colorful cartoon cars--opponents are aggressive and tough. It's our new favorite racing game--especially in the online multiplayer mode. Too bad a car-sickness bag isn't included.
Depictions of men and women masturbating adorn ancient Greek pottery. But no one talked about sexual self-gratification until a short book titled Onania (referring to a biblical story about a man named Onan, whom God killed after he "spilled his seed on the ground'') hit London in 1712. In Solitary Sex (Zone), Thomas Laqueur traces masturbation theories from the time when people thought it caused hunchbacks through the age of the Internet, when it creates creditcard debt. Who would have thought reading about whacking off could be so enlightening?
A buddy and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer and wonder if you could tell us the best places to meet women. We've heard suggestions of Aarhus, Denmark (because of its Scandinavian blondes who speak English), the Greek Isles (where those same blondes travel to party) and the south of France.--G.T., San Francisco, California
Constables Gary Featherstone and Phil Williams stroll down Electric Avenue in Brixton past teeming markets of fishmongers and produce stands, discount stores and drug dealers. Stereo speakers in open doorways blast out hip-hop and reggae, providing a soundtrack for the officers as they make their rounds in this largely working-class Caribbean neighborhood in the Lambeth borough of south London. Kids working as scouts run ahead to warn the dealers hanging out in front of the Kentucky Fried Chicken on the corner. With their white skin and trademark domed helmets, Williams and Feather-stone are not expecting to surprise anybody. They are simply making their presence felt.
Last year the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Pentagon announced a $200 million program to fight terrorism. It would create a "new intelligence infrastructure and new information technology aimed at exposing terrorists and their activities and support systems,'' and develop "ultralarge all-source information repositories'' and "a virtual centralized grand database.'' What Darpa wants is "an extremely large, omnimedia, virtually centralized and semantically rich information repository that is not constrained by today's limited commercial database products.'' Or, as Dave Barry might say, "a Really big computer.'' The goal: total information awareness. What's more, Admiral John Poindexter, of the Iran-contra scandal, would orchestrate the new system. Poindexter, alias Dr. Evil, is the nation's most notorious scofflaw. Think the Dirty Dozen gone digital.
In Los Angeles I never find the men, only the boys. Perhaps because the town dream is celebrity (an excuse to play all day), the males here seem trapped happily in perpetual adolescence. It's all about games and sex and drinking, a film executive says, pretty much summing up a typical LA boy's dream activities. Even the ones in suits--the ones alleging to be men--seem interested only in chasing after the perfect newbies with enhanced bosoms who flood LAX daily (part of California's fresh-meat-for-fresh-produce deal with the rest of the country). So convinced is the male Angeleno of his endless dating possibilities, LA girls have to get used to the fact that one day, out of the blue, he just may not call. The first boy who did this to me told me his reason years later: "You really needed to wax, baby,'' he said, shrugging. "Down there.'' Over time I got used to it. But when I grew up and the men around me didn't, I began to suspect that things might be radically different on the other coast. I decided a trip to New York was just what the waxer ordered.
I went to the West Coast to accomplish two things: learn how to make a left-hand turn at a four-way intersection and get laid. I am a New Yorker to the bone--I was born and bred in Brooklyn, learned to drive at 21 and have spent more time in cabs riding home from hookups than I've spent hooking up. But lately I've grown sick of the city; it's gotten to the point where I'm dating the same guys over and over again. I wanted to go someplace shiny, new and carefree, where all the women looked like whores and the men looked gay. I wanted to get busy with actors, agents, rock singers and valets. In a city of movers and shakers, I wanted a piece of the action.
On June 9, 1999 Stephen Reid--Novelist, Folk Hero, Junkie--Walked into a candian bank with a shotgun in hopes of paying off his $90,000 drug bill. Things didn't go as planned. This is his story, in his own words
Struggling musicians with subpar talent and an excess of Aqua Net form tribute bands faster than you can say "Send in the clones.'' Forget about Beatlemania--even the shittiest bands have their doppelgängers these days. We unearthed a few of the most disturbing of these new tribute groups, including a few that have become famous in their own right. Rock On.
Just a few years ago, women in rock were feted with self-congratulatory compilations and vaguely political big ups. Things have definitely changed. If anything was made clear in 2002, it's that the record industry has created a neverending, interchangeable, self-propagating supply of girlie pop stars. There's one for every taste. Fluffy. Slutty. Punky. All low-fat, all low-calorie--some with a shelf life as long as a quart of skim milk. In the old days, the Madonnas, Janets and Mariahs--hell, even the Taylor Daynes--of the world were viable for a few years. Now, each time a girl fades--even a little bit--a new one is hauled out to take her place. Usually one even younger than the last. Britney in self-imposed exile? Usher in a little self-immolating number by the name of Pink, a younger version of Tori Amos in Vanessa Carlton and middle-school pseudo punk rocker Avril Lavigne--pop tarts with some soul. Are they still too earnest? Try the cute and teeny Russian duo T.A.T.U., who parlayed their lesbian appeal into a top 10 single. Is this still too contrived for you? Are you suffering from tart fatigue? Don't worry about it--someone new will come around any day now. We guarantee it.
Mickey Mouse woke up one morning and looked out his window. Someone had urinated "Mickey Sucks'' in the snow. Furious, Mickey called the police. After a detective performed a DNA test, he said, "Well, Mickey, I'm afraid I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we found out who did it. It was Goofy. The bad news is, it was in Minnie's handwriting.''
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 33, 34, 43-44, 86-92, 116-121, 122-123, 126-127, 130-131 and 163, check the listings to find the stores nearest you.