Inviting females for a quiet
discussion of Picasso, Nietzsche,
and jazz of course, may cause a riot
once sex turns out to be main feature.
You have to plan the evening well
to make Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz
effective, casting your sexspell,
to prove you’ve what no has-been has.
John Leland writes about Hugh Hefner’s book, “A Half Century of Amusement, Diversion & Entertainment” (“The Stories You Hid from Mom, ” NYT, December 28,2006) :
In the first issue of Playboy magazine, published in December 1953, Hugh M. Hefner wrote an essay speaking for its envisioned readers: “We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.” On first blush his commercial strategy here seemed straightforward: Men who make a habit of inviting female acquaintances in to talk Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz and sex will have a lot of free nights for reading Playboy magazine. Empires have been built on lesser principles. Yet the evidence presented in “The New Bedside Playboy: A Half Century of Amusement, Diversion & Entertainment” suggests a more ambitious grand plan. With its ribald jokes and cartoons, airbrushed “pictorials” and prose selections from America’s best-paid writers — all wrapped up into a glossy connoisseurship that Mr. Hefner called the “Playboy Philosophy” — the magazine can be seen as a mad plot: to create a race of men more boring and insecure than any before. As Mr. Hefner later proposed, “Playboy exists, in part, as a motivation for men to expend greater effort in their work, develop their capabilities further and climb higher on the ladder of success.” The fix was in from the start. It held sway over American men until the arrival of a medium even more effective at replacing male curiosity with useless pudding: 24-hour sports television. Mr. Hefner introduces the current volume, which has no photographs of naked women, with the wisdom, attributed to an “anonymous sage, ” that “most of man’s great pleasures can be found between a book’s covers and beneath a bed’s coverlet, ” setting the appropriate tone for this silken time capsule.