Sunday, May 29, 2016


I was reading an old copy of the London Review of books, in which contained a Christopher Turner review of a book titled Pornotopia; An Essay on Playboy's Architecture and Biopolitics by Beatriz Preciado, who I understand has now transitioned to become Paul B. Preciado.

The review contained a quotation form the Playboy philosophy, about the extent to which the playboy is an indoors kind of guy.  "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, and sex.”  I can’t believe that even Hugh Hefner wrote that with a straight face.

That of course sent me to look at some back issues of Playboy stored in the Nicholsonian Archive – specifically January 1980.

I can’t pretend that I ever bought Playboy for the articles though there’s a pretty good interview with Steve Martin in this issue, and fiction by Roald Dahl and John Le Carre.  In fact it’s hard to see why I ever bought it at all.

But on this occasion, I read it in order to mock the advertising.  Especially the drink advertising: an easy target I know but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun.  Consider this one:

Those two people do look fairly happy with life happy and their booze.  The small print in the ad tells you not to waste your time adding vermouth – which I suppose is just a way of telling the aspiring playboy that it’s perfectly OK to drink neat gin.  And there is an olive in each glass, which I suppose indicates sophistication.

Now the couple above look even more sophisticated, though to my eyes they look a lot less happy, but that may be because they’re sitting in an empty restaurant and nobody seems to have offered them a drink.   And on second thoughts the hostility in their eyes is perhaps supposed to be smoldering sensuality.

Now, look at the ad above: say what you like about Champale there is at least some indication of racial integration in the ad.  They’re also drinking outdoors, which we’ve established is not very Playboy.
And finally there’s this, the Thermos Bartender.

Press the top and out squirts some liquid, go pick the symbolism out of that one fellers.  What you seem to get, if this picture is to believed is a martini, not shaken, not stirred, but pre-made and stored in a very unattractive 70s-style flask.  The drink looks kind of warm too.  But I suppose you could use it outdoors if you wanted to.

Mr. Hefner, drinking Pepsi, I imagine.

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