In nutshell – unlike Time & Life, Playboy’s foreign editions are licensed to local publishers. To Bauer Verlag in Germany.  The contract stipulates that Playboy would have direct editorial and printing quality control of its editions through Playboy hired and paid representatives to be posted on site.  Neither Germans nor Italians or the French were thrilled with this clause in the contract and had put up strong resistance to the condition. In the end, Playboy prevailed. And here I am – unwelcomed and unloved. Imposed upon them. Nobody other than the management knows of their contractual obligation. To make matters worse, instead of building bridges, Gerrit (Huig) – my predecessor had however inadvertently managed to burn some. Leaving me to waddle through muddy waters.


Up until then, Heinz Nellissen of the Bauer Team was in complete control of their flagship weekly, Quick. Bauer’s editorial offices were based in Hamburg and Munich and they had their own printing plant in Köln for their mass market publications. But they printed their quality publications in Essen at Girardet. And like us at Time, Bauer’s production team had set up their shop right at the printers’ doorsteps. So Heinz and his colleagues had plump jobs like we did at Time. They would do their jobs, stop for a beer or two or three and then go home. Other than occasional visits from their Hamburg based boss, Herr Schatong, for practical purposes, they were their own bosses. It even got better for Heinz when they assigned him to Playboy. Like me, up until then he had done weeklies and to be assigned to a single product a month for him was a child’s play. But to his chagrin, not one, but two of us intruders were dispatched back-to-back to disrupt his paradise.

Little by little, this becomes clear to me. But what am I supposed to do? Quit? Go back to Time? If I had any illusions about such a possibility, that too is shattered just before Christmas when the front page headline in The International Herald Tribune cried: LIFE DIES. I remember walking past the Essen Hauptbahnhof, struggling to hold back tears. My last days at Time were also my most glory days when I was given Life back, something they were forced to remove me from the very first month of my employment with them. In the meanwhile, I have dissolved my home and life in Chicago, my possessions overstuffed inside a container or two floating eastward on the Atlantic and so is my brand new beautiful Buick Skylark.

So suddenly we have two equally as qualified and experienced professionals assigned to the job which either of us could have done with our eyes closed. Plus, Heinz has an edge. He knows the Photogravure inside out of which I only have theoretical knowledge. I have specialized in Offset, the newer printing process that has already made big strides in the States, but the old world still hangs onto the Gravure.  And he has long established pleasant working relationship with the people at the plant.      

We are practically in each other’s way. So what do we do?  We accept each other’s existence –however reluctantly. We begin to build some semblance of working relationship. Thanks to Rainer (Wörtmann) realizing my usefulness, I carve out a role for myself and become his liaison with Essen – to make sure his creative vision is reproduced and reflected in the final product.  Freddy (Baumgärtel) – the Playboy team leader – invites me to attend regular editorial meetings. I become their direct link to Chicago.  I partner and discuss with Heinz the best technical possibilities and solutions. Something our teams at Time did with art directors and editors in New York. Heinz helps me with finding a beautiful one bedroom apartment in Essen’s ritzy Stadtwald neighborhood, so that I would have my own pied-à-terre there instead of being stuck in hotel rooms.  Thanks to Bauer’s discreet and Playboy’s generous expense

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5