In Imperial America, his new compilation of essays and articles (one of which first appeared in Playboy), Gore Vidal proceeds from the premise that the America Thomas Jefferson envisioned has faded. In this month's Jefferson vs. Hamilton, Vidal examines the Manichean battle for the American soul, which finds its basis in the diametrically opposed philosophies of Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. "We're caught between Hamilton and Jefferson," Vidal says. "That is the fault line, and they are the two tectonic plates in American history: Jefferson, representing individual freedom and a minimal state, and Hamilton, representing international banking and a state with great controls and rights. And the battle goes on and on."
For Chanel Ryan, the slow transition from model to actress has at least been colorful. "I've done fun independent films that haven't necessarily gone anywhere," she says. "I played a schizophrenic, a crazy pregnant alcoholic teenager, a nerd and an obsessed fanatic who drools over Gary Sinise in TNT's George Wallace. In Beach Balls I play a waitress in a rubber-ducky inner tube and full snorkel gear. It's a Roger Corman film, so it's all about hot chicks skimpily clad." Sounds terrific--and appropriate for a seaside stunner who designs swimwear and shot her 2005 calendar in Puerto Vallarta. Her company, Babes With Brains, publishes all her calendars, books and Benchwarmer trading cards, available at chanelryan.com. Life seems like an endless summer for Chanel, but she wouldn't mind a partner for beach blanket bingo. "There's this vicious rumor that girls don't like sweetness and that nice guys finish last, but not with me," she says. "A lot of L.A. guys cop an attitude and won't call back, but I don't play that. When I start to think I'm too cool for school, I go home to Pennsylvania, where people put you right in your place. I'd like to settle down in the country in a few years. I love that way of life."
What's worse than a room-temperature shot of vodka? Aside from disease and a Sting concert, not much. To keep your Russian firewater frosty, Stolichnaya is packaging its 750-milliliter bottles with shot-glass-shaped ice molds. Make your cool cups with juice to add a touch of flavor; for the ultimate turn-on, freeze the original aphrodisiac--chocolate--and fill with Kahlúa or Bailey's.
If you know anything about skiing, you know Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia has been the hottest winter resort in North America for years. This season the party picks up more steam with 1,100 acres of virgin terrain and a new Four Seasons hotel that will knock your frozen socks off (book at fourseasons.com/whistler). We asked ski bum and local legend Johnny Thrash to plan your perfect day. "Start by skiing from the peak of Black-comb right to Merlin's Bar & Grill for a pint of O'Keefe and a shot of Crown Royal," Thrash says. Then head to Whistler for some cruise-and-schmooze skiing on the new Peak to Creek run, one of the longest trails on the continent, with a vertical drop of more than 5,000 feet. You'll end up at Dusty's Bar & BBQ for a Dusty burger and another pint. For après-ski, head to the Fairmont Chateau ("if you're on an expense account") or Garfinkel's ("for the drunk chicks"). Then it's dinner at Sushi Village and dancing at Tommy Africa's. "Years ago it was 15 guys swarming one barmaid," Thrash says. "Now it's five girls swarming every guy." Don't you want to be that guy?
According to Gallup, 35 percent of Americans believe the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of the creator of the universe. Another 48 percent believe it is the "inspired" word of the same--still inerrant, though some of its passages must be interpreted symbolically. Only 17 percent doubt that a personal god has authored this text or, for that matter, has created the earth, with its 250,000 species of beetles. If polls are to be trusted, nearly 230 million Americans believe a book that shows neither unity of style nor internal consistency was created by an omniscient deity.
When William Jackson Marion was executed for murder in 1887, his guilt seemed beyond question, having been resolved by a jury and affirmed by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Yet Marion was innocent. Four years after his execution, his presumed victim turned up alive and well in Kansas.
From a guide for sex-industry workers prepared by the New Zealand Department of Labor: "At a practical level, occupational health and safety means (1) making sure beds are in good repair and give proper support, (2) ensuring that outfits worn by workers when seeing clients are comfortable and do not affect posture if worn for long periods, (3) supplying water-based lubricants and massage oils, (4) ensuring that workers have adequate breaks between clients and (5) maintaining work spaces at between 66 and 75 degrees in summer and from 64 to 72 degrees in winter. In some rooms, such as those where employees spend extended periods with little or no clothing, the temperature may need to be maintained at higher than 77 degrees."
For years the federal government has relied on unusual code words to conceal its adventures. The forthcoming book Code Names (Steerforth) blows the cover off cloak-and-dagger nomenclature. Much of the accumulated mystery surrounding government programs serves to divert public debate and congressional oversight. Below is an exercise in transparency--consider it the ABCs of secret codes. These encrypted programs hint at what goes on beneath the surface in the world of warfare and espionage. Breaking the codes may be the only option for Americans who want to know how public resources are used and what our true relationships and commitments are.
Almost from the moment he arrived on the national stage in the late 1920s as a young bumpkin millionaire, Howard Hughes seemed to capture the American imagination, and for more than 50 years thereafter he never relinquished his role as the country's most legendary eccentric. He not only dominated headlines with his escapades, he inspired novels and plays; one movie, Melvin and Howard; and at least half a dozen other films that never got produced, with everyone from Warren Beatty to Jim Carrey considering the part. This month, nearly 30 years after Hughes's bizarre death in 1976, director Martin Scorsese has finally brought his story to the big screen in The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the enigmatic industrialist, giving testimony once again to Hughes's stubborn grip on America. Throughout his life and even after his death, Hughes was a man of abiding mystery. Of the many questions that swirl around him, the persistence of his legend may well be the most intriguing: How did someone of so little accomplishment, personal charm, magnetism, compassion and decency manage to captivate his country and become an enduring cultural icon?
Jenny McCarthy has conquered a lot of territory since the 32-year-old Chicago native became our Playmate the Year in 1994. Guys lined up to be harangued by her on Singled Out. Then she created a self-titled comedy show for MTV, had recurring roles on series such as Just Shoot Me and spoofed herself in Scream 3. She also somehow found time to get married and have a kid. Those in need of a new Jenny fix-- and who isn't?--relish her return to the small screen on UPN's The Bad Girl's Guide, based on the popular book series. She'll be back on the big screen as well, in Dirty Love, directed by hubby John Mallory Asher, and the Swingers-esque Cattle Call. While pregnant with her son, Evan, Jenny wrote her hilarious best-seller, Belly Laughs, which exposes the untold side of pregnancy. "I remembered all the books I read,' and I thought, Damn it, everybody lied," she says. "I was not in the mood for sex for at least eight months after," she says. "It took that much time and a naughty weekend in Vegas, and now I'm back with a vengeance. It came down to letting go and having fun with my husband. So I could say, 'Hey, let's play some blackjack and--ooh, let's go up to the room, and I'll give you a blow job.' Now that I'm in my 30s, I feel sexier than ever. I'm so happy to be able to pose again and show off my stuff after being a mom." Would she like to clear up any misconceptions? "I'm not scandalous," she says. "I never got busted for drugs or married a rock star. I'm just a focused, hardworking girl. Now that I say that, I'll probably get arrested for public indecency this weekend."
One day a few months ago I was in my Washington, D.C. office when my assistant, LaMoyne, buzzed to say that the French ambassador wanted to see me. LaMoyne is highly efficient but a bit of a snob, so even he was impressed. The client list of my firm, Renard International Strategic Communications, tends toward the less upscale. (I don't like the terms disreputable or criminal element.)
There are reasons champagne is the default drink for romantic occasions. Soon after a blind monk named Dom Pérignon produced the first vintage in 1690 (or so the myth goes), champagne as we know it became the original cult wine. It was so elegant you could sip it out of a lady's slipper--and that's saying something in the days before the shower was invented. Because the wine was expensive and carried an aura of mystery ("I'm drinking stars!" the monk supposedly shouted after his first taste), it became the de rigueur prop for a guy on the make. For you, sweetheart, nothing but the best. The pop of the cork said everything about a man's intentions, and the heady buzz was just the thing to get her in the mood.
<p>Destiny Davis studies economics and business law at a college less than a mile from the blinding glow of the Las Vegas Strip, but this determined 19-year-old isn't easily distracted. "I worked hard to graduate from high school when was 16," she says. "I wanted to get a head start and do something more productive." With Sin City's demand for models constantly high, Destiny soon found herself posing at conventions and other events--and even got certified as a lifeguard to be part of a Baywatch-themed resort production. "Vegas is cool, but it's not cultural," she says. "It's a transient town. No one develops roots, and it's difficult to sustain friendships when you're always on the go. Growing up here. I never appreciated it, but I love it now. Locals know there's an entire city to explore beyond the Strip." After Destiny won first place in a bikini contest, Playmate Angela Melini, Miss June 1992, took pictures of her and whisked them off to Playboy. Miss January's blend of Irish, Swedish, English and Syrian features wowed us, and her distinctive name sealed the deal. "I don't know what my mom was thinking when she named me," Destiny says. "People ask, 'Is that a stage name?'"</p>
Master-slave relationships were so prevalent in America that Sally Hemings, the slave with whom Thomas Jefferson is thought to have fathered several children, was also in essence his sister-in-law. Jefferson inherited Hemings with the estate of his father-in-law, John Wayles. Wayles fathered Jefferson's wife, Martha, of course, but he was the likely father of Sally Hemings as well. Born in 1773, Hemings attended Jefferson's daughters from 1784 on, lived with Jefferson and his daughters in Paris from 1787 to 1789 and remained at Monticello until Jefferson's death in 1826. (Jefferson's wife died in 1782.) Monticello records list six children born to Hemings between 1798 and 1808. Two died as infants; three of the four who survived passed into white society when they were freed. The Jefferson-Hemings link was first alleged by a political opponent in 1802. (The cartoon above is from 1805.) Largely discounted for the next two centuries, the probability of a connection was bolstered when a 1998 DNA test determined that descendants of one Hemings child carried genetic material from a male Jefferson. While 25 males in Virginia at the time had Jefferson genes, circumstantial evidence adds to the probability that Thomas Jefferson himself fathered some if not all of Hemings's children. Though he traveled frequently, he was present nine months before the birth of each child. And he freed all her children.
Can you feel it? The heat is on in the car business. Enormous pressure from globalization and new technology has spurred designers to trash decrepit corporate traditions. Engineers have been freed to design for singular perfection--if it isn't sexy, no one wants it. This year a decadelong flirtation with electronics culminates in new standards for adhesion, performance and safety. Automobiles have never before been so able to give you what you ask for or what you need, Playboy's role in this renaissance was to choose the most appealing new cars for 2005. We assembled an experienced team of car writers with a bias for things that go fast and hug the road but also for cars that take the drudgery out of daily driving. We put countless miles on scores of new cars and judged them everywhere from switchbacks north of Turin to traffic jams in downtown Tokyo. Our feature ends with Playboy's choice of the best of the best, our car of the year. As you'll see, we were players in a no-limit game.
I hardly remember the reason for coming up here now, I mean, in the first place. Isn't that weird? Sometimes things happen, the smallest little thing during a day or a lifetime, and everything else that preceded it--even big, major events--becomes so insignificant or minor in comparison that it just doesn't seem to matter. Or register, even. It doesn't even register with you, not really.
Brittany DeWald is in another snit. "I'm cold!" Nothing. Her boyfriend, David Williams, is sitting on the sofa playing online poker on his laptop for $1,600 a pot. His friend Minh Huynh is sitting at a table behind him playing online poker on another computer in Williams's loft apartment, which is highceilinged, cold, dark and cavernous, with barren gray concrete walls and exposed pipes and air ducts. There is nothing on the walls--no prints, photographs or mirrors. The only furniture in the room is a black sofa, a matching love seat, a coffee table with a small photograph of a Chihuahua, a computer table with Williams's collection of Playboy magazines stacked chronologically under it and a 60-inch flat-screen television showing the finals of the 2004 World Series of Poker on ESPN.
past elections show that every vote counts, which is why the candidates for the 2004 Playmate of the Year urge you to focus on this race. Go ahead--slowly reacquaint yourself with the curvaceous qualifications of the dozen beauties pictured. Evaluate their positions. Scrutinize their stands. Consider which of them is likely to be a flip-flopper and whether that's necessarily a bad thing. Remember, you'll be seeing more of whomever you like as PMOY, so choose wisely. Once you've decided, go to playboy.com. Feel free to vote early and often.
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 38, 45--48, 90--97 and 198--199, check the listings below to find the stores nearest you.
You followed all of last year's new year's resolutions to the letter, weevil, and we're beginning to see results -- women no longer run from you on sight -- but if we're going to continue our little self-improvement program into 2005, we'll have to do a little fine -- tuning.Okay, Mr.Duck.
Dubbed the World's Sexiest DJ, Colleen Shannon has been spinning more than heads since being named our 50th Anniversary Playmate. What began as a hobby--with a borrowed turntable and a few hundred albums--has turned into a thriving career for Colleen, who has performed alongside renowned spinners including Funkmaster Flex. For the past several months Colleen has been touring the country, pumping up dance floors in New York, Chicago and Miami and hobnobbing with fellow musicians (that's her pictured with Herbie Hancock and Dweezil Zappa). Call it typecasting, but she has even landed roles as a DJ in the films Chasing Ghosts and The Gene Generation. "I'm proud to be a Playmate," Colleen says. "I want to show people that posing in Playboy is an effective way to achieve your dreams." Colleen's other realized aspirations include posing in an ad campaign for the Guess jeans spin-off Punkture and teaming with Jaime Pressly and Paris Hilton in ads for the edgy clothing line Material Junky. "I'm a risk taker," Colleen says. "I don't want to be one of those girls who disappear without making their mark."
"Just jump up, reach out with your arms, and fly," says Peter Diamandis. "That's how Superman does it." Such words normally earn the speaker a psych consult, but when Diamandis says them he is floating five feet off the ground, which lends him a bit of credibility. Dedicated to space exploration, the 43-year-old "astropreneur" has launched two future-forward ventures: Zero Gravity Corporation, which offers high-altitude flights in converted 727s that let passengers experience weightlessness, and the X Prize Foundation, a $10 million competition to jump-start the development of manned commercial spacecraft. One job requires him to coast in midair with ecstatic antigravity joyriders; the other lets him underwrite history. "When I was nine and watching NASA's Apollo program unfold on TV, I knew this was what I had to do with my life," he says. Neither the X Prize nor the Zero Gravity project was a cakewalk, but after 10 challenging years he is now booking Zero-G flights ($2,950 for a 60- to 90-minute trip) and has presented the X Prize to the developers of Space-ShipOne, which soared 71 miles above the Mojave this past October. When faced with skeptics, Diamandis recalls advice he received from Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey: "Truly revolutionary ideas go through three phases. First, critics say your idea is crazy; it will never work. Next, it might work, but why bother? When it finally happens, they say, 'I told him he could do it all along.' "
Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), January 2005, volume 52, number 1. 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. 40035534. Subscriptions: in the U.S., $29.97 for 12 issues. Postmaster: Send address change to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. For subscription-related questions, call 800-999-4438, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Real-life Desperate Housewives--The summer after his freshman year of college, Luke realized that every woman in his town had a vagina. He also noticed that while the town's men gathered like sheep on the train platform to catch the 7:15 into the city, the women--teachers, aerobics instructors, moms--were left alone and needy. By Rich Cohen