Tales from My Fun Filled Years at Playboy
Never thought I would start a blog. Being a die hard print guy, I still haven’t given up on ink and paper. But both the mechanical and the digital mediums are basically meant to communicate. So why not take advantage of the medium which is literally at my finger tips, easily available and sitting right here on my desk top?
You will read more compelling reasons for why I decided to revive my blog, Azad Diary, which I had registered in April of 2008, remaining dormant up until now. Playboy Stories is why. Many of these stories I have told at one time or another when a conversation triggered a certain scrap of memory. Likewise, what you will see on the blog does not follow chronological or any other kind of order – but when put together, they will contain stories of my twenty one years of sojourn at Playboy. They are anecdotes, interesting tidbits and answers to questions that I have been asked over and over again. The stuff I cherish and enjoy sharing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
000 / CONSTANT
Photos and brief bios of the author Haresh Shah and the illustrators Jordan Rutherford and Celia Rose Marks.
100th Playboy Story
FRIDAY, JULY 31, 201
The Quirky Brilliance Of The Head Guru
I am willing to bet that most of you reading this have no clue who this Arthur Kretchmer is, even though his name appeared on the masthead right under that of Hugh M. Hefner’s for more than thirty years as the magazine’s editorial director. While the boss HMH was out frolicking and building the Playboy image, it was Arthur and his team that toiled spinning out an issue after an excellent issue month after month. Hugh Cook – the editorial director of he University of Illinois Alumni Publications says it all: legendary Arthur Kretchmer, who, in my opinion as an ardent magazine junkie and long-time editor, is one of most underrated chief editors in the history of magazine publishing
An underhanded tribute to the quirky brilliant mind, by another magazine junkie.
099: FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2015
BEFORE THERE WAS INTERNET THERE WAS MINITEL
And Forget Paris – Think Lyon
Almost twenty years before the World Wide Web made its debut, French Telecom introduced Minitel. They gave away to their millions of subscribers free of charge those clunky small screened devices attached to the telephone lines, which provided all sorts of information and services which then morphed into coded telephone numbers, what for us today would be a web address. One of them was Playboy chat line. And it was based not in Paris, but in the most luminous second city of France: Lyon. It was more than mere love at the first sight. Here is a different kind of business/travel story. Fused together just like the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône. And the life that throbs on their banks. Combined with the fascinating beginning of what we now know to be the Internet and the World Wide Web.
098: FRIDAY, JULY 03, 2015
JUDGING THE BOOK BY ITS COVER
Lifting Of The Fig Leaf
Even after sixty two years of Playboy’s existence, people still recoil at the fact that it contains nudes. Nothing else. Like when thinking of India, the image that conjures up still in people’s minds is that of the snake charmers, elaborately adorned elephants, the tigers and the camels. Or their perception of the Hindu-Muslim conflicts based on the few frames of their television screens. No matter how hard I and probably most of us who love and worked for Playboy try to break through their perception. Nope! Quite disconcerting actually. But it sure makes for animated conversations!
097: FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 2015
MULTIPLYING LIKE RABBITS
The Pirates Of The Intellectual Properties
You of course know Playboy to be the name of a magazine, but you have also seen or heard of Playboy Clubs, Playboy Apparels, Playboy Pinball machines, Playboy fragrances, Playboy cigars, Playboy golf balls. Have you ever wondered how a sheer magazine became known for all of the above? There are creative people and there are “creative” people. The inverted commas types have uncanny sense of spotting a trend, most of the time even before the creator himself realizes the real potential of what he has created. Something the most creators, let alone Hugh M. Hefner was aware of. By the time his corporation realized how big and valuable the name Playboy and its cute Rabbit Head logo had become, the “creative” bunch of the world was busy registering them in their territories – thus blocking the original creator from being able to do the same. Welcome to the world of intellectual properties piracy.
096: FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2015
TO GHOST OF DON MANUEL
The Dream That Never Died
This is as much a story of the building in the residential heart of Mexico City as it is of the man who dreamt of building it and not living to see it completed. The unfinished bare boned structure would go on to become a laughing stock of Don Manuel’s folly and eventually transferring itself into the sleek and shiny tower of the World Trade Center, housing the offices of NAFTA (North American Fair Trade Agreement), Playboy had a minor but a vital role to play in for a few years into what was otherwise an embarrassing eyesore of an abandoned and desolate skeleton of the rusted metal stakes.
095: FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2015
TO HELL AND BACK
The Terror Of The Righteous Rage
When I was fired for the second and the last time from Playboy, included in my severance package was a stint with one of the most expensive outplacement firms. Not knowing exactly what the hell they did for you, I plunged into it head first, to the extent that I must have been the only executive to have a unique distinction of being fired by an outplacement firm. And the rage that erupted, I haven’t forgotten even after twenty three yearsJ Originally published in much shorter version in The Wall Street Journal, under the title, The Outplacement Firm Showed Me The Door, I have always considered this to be one of my better pieces of writing. My horrible experience with an outplacement firm juxtaposed with the arrogant and self righteous born again head of the family in England.
094: FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2015
THE DELICATE BALANCE
Flying Free Like A Hawk
How do you manage to remain the nail that manages not to be pounded down and still make everyone feel that your head is as sunk in as theirs, and that you’re one of them and trust you despite the fact that you’re employed by the other side? Indeed a difficult task, but not impossible. Yastaka Sasaki was that man, who knew how to maintain such a delicate balance and yet not be seen as someone who sold out to one or the other. My fond homage to this incredible man who is no longer with us. http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-zx
093: FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015
THE TUNNEL OF LOVE
My Pied À Terre In Mexico City
Other than that first meeting, I never have had no reason to see Antonio in flesh and blood until one evening when I am home early and am lying on the couch reading. I hear the elevator door open in my apartment and someone getting off. Only other persons who had the keys to my place were my friend Ignacio, and Antonio’s manager Sergio, who would stop by every month to collect the rent. But neither would ever show up without first having called. A jolt of fear runs through my system, I jump up from the couch and run to the kitchen.
092: FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2015
LOVE AND DEATH
Reflections On Japan’s Preoccupation With Death
This is more of an essay with the elements of a story. As many times as I have been to Japan, I can’t exactly say that I know what the Japanese are like. Probably the best way to get to know them is by bits and pieces, anecdotes and observations. One of the things that surfaces over and over again in my thoughts is how pre-occupied the Japanese are with the glory of death – something that’s entwined and dug so deep into their day-to-day lives, literature and the culture. Here are my personal reflections while I walked down the narrow alleys of its ancient capital city, Kyoto.
091: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2015
ONCE BITTEN FOREVER SMITTEN
It’s Not Enough To Dream
Every story has a flip side and this one is the other side of the last week’s Those Eyes. Even before I was presented to Beata Milewska and her team, I was approached by some others, among them, Elgaz’ Janusz Lekztoń. He was indeed someone who sincerely and deeply believed that he was the right person to bring Playboy to Poland. Yup! That’s the power of the cuddly Bunny for you. A story of the young man’s falling in love with the idea of publishing Playboy in Poland, while having no clue what it really takes to create a magazine. But when you’re in love?
090: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2015
I Went Home And Cried
Nothing can be more emotionally draining than some business meetings. And so it was when I first met Beata Milewska. Whatever our professional roles, what we both remembered a year and a half later was how impacted each one of us was as we looked at each other across the conference table. A profile of the friendship into making.
089: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2015
FRIENDLY SKIES NO MORE
Or How The Airlines Got To Make Us Do Their Work?
Step by step, airlines’ bean counters chipped away at the very thing once they prided themselves of: The Service. From the ground down to the 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) up above in the blue skies. I love to fly. The excitement and the adventure of it, the feeling of being totally disconnected from the world, being able to kick back and relax. And being pampered. And airports were the civilized places from where to leave and arrive at. Sadly, no more.
088: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 06, 2015
LA PLAYMATE MEXICANA
The Reverse Migration To El Sur
The beauty is universal and to give it a geographical designation is futile. And yet, the very phrase, the girl next door does just that. This is the story of a young girl’s whim to become a Playmate, who sent to Playboy a Polaroid of herself wearing only a tan and mascara. And her journey from Los Angeles to Chicago to Mexico City. And this is the story of more than three decades of friendship between Elda Lopez and myself. A personal profile of a dear friend. One of the fringe benefits of what I did for a livingJ
087: FRIEDAY, JANUARY 29, 2015
TO BE OWNED OR NOT
A Lesson In The Linguistic Sexism
There are times when you run into little problems with big implications that you would have never even imagined in your wildest dreams. And so it was while putting together the first issue of Playboy in the Czech, I realized that they had Czehified the names of all the foreign females by adding a suffix – ová to their last names. Suffix ová stands for belonging to or owned by the father or the husband, why weren’t the Czech women instead demanding to do away with it for all? The linguistic battle I had to fight more than once.
086: FRIDAY, JANUARY 23, 2015
THE OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS
Crushed Under The Brutal Boots Of The Fascist
As glamorous as the life at Playboy could be, you would never imagine the kind of hazards lurk behind such publications. The most recent example being the cold blooded massacre at the French publication Charlie Hebdo. Censorship is nothing new for Playboy. It’s the battle Hefner has been fighting since the early days of Playboy, going back to the early Fifties. It’s something that the magazine had to face through its different re-incarnations around the world. Most of it were the bureaucratic absurdities and the cat and mouse games. But in some countries, not quite so.
085: FRIDAY, JANUARY 16, 2015
THE TRAVELING AGENT EXTRAORDINAIRE
Too Good For His Own Good
Now that we all are traveling agents, we can relate more than ever to this profile of my friend and the forced-to-retire traveling agent, Satya Dev. Even though, most of you have never had an opportunity to cross paths with a good old fashioned traveling agent, don’t you wish sometimes, that instead of struggling with the jumbled intricacies of the Internet, you could just pick up the phone and call the same person and know that everything would be taken care of and that should things don’t go right, there would be someone who would pick up your call at the first ring?
084: FRIDAY, JANUARY 09, 2015
TENDER LOVING CARE
As Long As There Is Hope
As the saying in the Czech goes: naděje umírá poslední – hope dies last. And so it is in the day-to-day life. We all have ups and downs and we have also experienced pain of existence, despair and loneliness and physical ailments. All of which is a part of being alive. But as long as even a single atom of your being is beating life, you are not dead. The winter of 1983/84 in Chicago was as severe as the one we had in 2013/14. The mounds of snow on the ground. Constant sub-zero temperatures for days on end. The cars wouldn’t start. Our radiator freezes and cracks. And one of my office plants is frozen stiff.
083: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2014
THE ARABIAN NIGHT
From Irish Eyes To The Razzle Dazzle
It is said that No Business Like Show Business! But when you come to think of it, every business is a show business. However good the product, to be able to sell it, you need to expose and promote it. Your success or failure mostly depends on how good you are at the art of Show & Tell. Of the multitude of PR events sponsored by Playboy across the world, Playboy Germany’s 20th anniversary’s BIG BANG party sticks out the most in my memory. And then there was a low key event just a year before.
082: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2014
JINGLE BELLS IN TOKYO
A Fleeting Glimpse At The Land Of The Rising Sun
Not even giving it a second thought to the fact that my first trip to Tokyo coincided with the Christmas Eve and the Christmas day. Why would it matter to the Japanese? Wrong. To my utter astonishment, I had unknowingly walked into what I felt it to be the Christmas themed amusement park which was all practically all the main streets and the stores doused into the décor and things Christmas. Along the way are my first impressions and observations of this land of intriguing people.
081: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2014
THE TRADER OF EVERY PORT
Always Ready For A New Business
Even before the Berlin Wall came down and even before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the pot of capitalism had began to simmer in many of the former Soviet block countries. Hungary was the first to come out with its own Playboy edition in that November of 1989. Followed by Czechoslovakia a year and a half later. No small thanks to the the vision and the daring of the independent minded entrepreneurs. Here is the story of one of them. Rolf Dolina wasn’t even a publisher, and yet I couldn’t ignore his enthusiasm, his sheer business acumen and the tenacity. Not easily dissuaded, he would make his mark on the Hungarian, the Czech and the Polish editions.
080: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2014
UNDERNEATH HER CLOTHES
There Is An Endless Story
Fantasies know no bounds, and my photographer friend Patrick Magaud thrived on them. He would dream up the most unusual situations and locations to plant his beautiful and erotic females in the nude, be it in the middle of Paris or in Havana, right under the nose of Fidel Castro, or have one frolicking with a baby tiger. Then one evening he talks to me about his fantasy of all fantasies…
079 THE NAIL THAT STUCK OUT…
Daring To Be Different
So much has been written about the Japanese and their seemingly strange manners and how to respond to them without taking a risk of offending your hosts/business partners that a trip to Japan requires a different kind of preparedness than venturing anywhere else in the world. Deru kui wa utareru, literally means: The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down! This aptly defines the psychology of the group in the Japanese society. To be different is to be hammered down. In the society where individuality has no place, I knowingly decided to commit the ultimate social faux pas, at the risk of alienating my Japanese hosts.
078 / FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2014
UNLOVED IN THE LANDS OF L’AMORE L’AMOUR
My Not So Intimate Encounters With Italy And France
A recent Lufthansa ad goes: Seduced by Paris. Inspired by Rome. I can’t even begin to count how many times I must have been in Italy and France – the two of the most sought after tourists destinations in the world. Just the thought of the either would conjure up the images of wine, women and song. I guess I just traversed the wrong alleys and the plazas and the boulevards. And yet, up until recently, I never realized the image I had left behind. http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-vh
077 / FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 07, 2014
BACK IN THE USA
All I Want To Do Is To Take A Break
When my first foray with Playboy ended, like everyone else, I too thought of start looking for another job. Thanks to my friend Celeste Huenergard, who worked for Playboy in Italy, nudging me: Why are you running back to find another job? Didn’t you always want to write? That’s all it took for me to make up my mind. That’s what I would do, at least give it a go and see. But the rest of the world thought otherwise. How do you convince a train full of commuters that you really wanted to get off the train. http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-v6
076 / MONDAY, JUNE 30TH 2014
OH, TO BE IN RIO…
My First Taste Of The Feral Passion of Soccer
I know, I am on a break, but couldn’t resist this one. How can I? More than ever before, this World Cup has created the frenzy and enthusiasm the kind I have never seen before. What would be more appropriate time than right now to share with you my very first experience with the feral passion of the soccer fans? And of all the places in the world, I was introduced to the game and its mass madness in he place no other than Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It was only my second trip to the country and along with Samba, the Girl from Ipanema and Feijoada, we were invited to experience the national obsession and the unbridled passion of the country – the soccer. And of all the games, it was the final regional championship game Campeonato Carrioca between the two of Rio’s arch rivals, Flamengo and Botafogo. Never before or after have I experienced such a passion, rage and fury. http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-uM
NEXT – THE SEASON’S BREAK
JUNE 1, 2014
As you already know, this is my 75th Playboy story. Do you believe it? When I first started this blog in November of 2012, I thought I had in me maybe about twenty five good stories to tell. I have done three times as many with a couple of shorter breaks. As much fun as I am having writing and publishing them, I suddenly feel that a little longer break might do me good. Give me bit of a breathing space and for a while do nothing or focus on other things I have already written or want to write. This is not by any means a goodbye. Just a so long… an auf wiedersehen if you may. I don’t want to commit to an exact date, but I hope to be back with more Playboy stories in a couple of months – probably in the early fall. In the meanwhile, I want to thank you all for staying with me for now almost two years. I am extremely appreciative and touched! Please don’t go too far, I will be back before you know it.
In the meanwhile, now is the time for many of you to catch up with the stories you never got around to read or have them flagged to be read. EnjoyJ
Have a great summer.
075 / FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2014
SAILING THE QUEEN
The (Interim) End Of The Longest Cocktail Party
This can hardly be called a story. It’s more of a travelogue which wraps around the stories told before and will be told in the future. It’s about my journey across the Atlantic on the famed Queen Elizabeth II. Sound exciting? Like a dream? Well, it turns out, neither. But it’s important, because it’s about the transition between the first phase of the stories I tell and the second – some told , some yet to come. And it makes for interesting reading because it’s a low energy travelogue. Sort of soft sailing for five nights and four days, instead of rushing back to the same old chaotic world.
074 / FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2014
THE KING OF COCKTAILS
The Beginning Of The Longest Cocktail Party
It’s not that often that you run into someone you can call a friend for the rest of your life, but there are some special people out there and one of them happens to be my friend Dieter Stark. I can’t think of my most exciting days in Munich without thinking of Dieter. Not only did we hang out, but the friendship and concern he always showed in his caring for me made all the difference. Facilitating the beginning of what would turn out to be the two and a half years of fun and frolicking – what I would come to call the longest cocktail party.
073 / FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2014
THREE CHEATING HEARTS
Falling Like Dominos
I tell this story reporting like a journalist would, because it’s not my place to moralize, but the situation and the evening I write about seemed quite humorous to me. However, the thought crossed my mind of what Woody Allen once said: The heart wants what it wants. However in love or committed you’re to someone special, there are moments when your heart wants to be with someone else. A light hearted look at what the Germans so cleverly call seitensprung – a sideway leap.
072 / FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2014
FOR THE LOVE OF MARY JANE
Beautiful..Ye High..Ye Wide..
Most of us need a shot of caffeine to get us out of the slumber after an all night sleep, some need cigarettes and yet some can’t begin a day without lighting up a big fat roll of Mary Jane. For many, their relationship with the pot is sacrilegious. More spiritual than it’s physical. For them the best is always harvested from their own love of labor. Uruguay just legalized Marijuana and so did the state of Colorado in the States. Its also legal in Washington state. California can be termed lenient, but It’s still against the law, so there is that inherent risk involved. A tragi-comic story filled with the clouds of weed smoke from my days in Santa Barbara.
071 / FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2014
A NIGHT OUT IN TOKYO
A Post Card From London Carrot
Of all the cities of the world I have been to, none other quite compares with Tokyo. The city so chaotic and yet so organized that it functions like the Swiss watch. The crowd, the contrast, the differences are so glaring that you can’t help but be in awe of the place. To write about all of my first impressions of Tokyo would require me to write a book. Hence, here I focus only on one night encompassing the scenes from the dinner to the dawn.
070 / FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2014
THE BOSS’S DAUGHTER
The Impossibility Of Being Christie Hefner
By no means was I close enough to write about Christie Hefner with any authority. But she was our collective boss for the majority of my years at Playboy and therefore a part of our universe. Someone who would cross our paths and would frequently form a part of our conversations. Here I have strung together the scenes from my personal and up-close encounters with her in an attempt to answer some of the questions many of you have asked me over a period of time.
069 / FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2014
HUGH GRANT IN MY SHOES
Prowling The Streets Of Beverly Hills
When in June of 1995, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill star Hugh Grant was arrested and booked by LAPD, his police mug shot along with that of the prostitute Devine Brown were splattered all over the international print and television media. I couldn’t help but think: it could have been me nineteen years earlier. I had written this one down not too long after that evening of DINING WITH THE STARS (http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-rZ), more like a journal entry for myself but not something I thought I would ever share publicly. But now, thinking of that evening feels more like a fond memory than something I sit here and regret.
068 / FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014
OF BOOKS AND WHORES
Scattered Gems Of Practical Wisdom
No business school or a bestseller can teach you how to succeed in business as much as what you learn on the job and from the people you work with. And if you happen to be as lucky as I was to have had the kind of bosses I did, and the people I got to know during a course of doing business, they could become your ultimate gurus and pass on the secret mantra to guide you for the rest of your life. They have influenced me in a positive way. I share with you here the sentiments and the sentences I cherish because collectively they have helped shape my life and character.
067 / FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2014
DINING WITH THE STARS
Or How To Raise Quick Cash
It’s a story of how two journalists and two international news agency photographers prowling in the heart of Hollywood to hobnob on the stomping grounds of the stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Nicolson, Candice Bergan and anyone who was who’s who in in the tinsel town – just to be snubbed and double crossed by one of their hangouts. The place none of us could afford, let alone actually dine there. But we do.
066 / FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 2014
THE STRANDED BRIDE
Lost In The Labyrinth
Anxious, her heart is filled with the fear of the unknown and yet she feels incredibly excited as she walks across the hall and places the tray on a low table next to the man who could become her husband. Her head is partially covered with the end of her sari. Her eyes are lowered. She raises them as discreetly as she could to get a closer look at the young man she has already seen photos of and glanced at from the slight opening of the door from the inner room….
Just married in India. On her way to the west to meet up with her husband and start her new life. Miss her connecting flight in Rome. Totally lost. Run into me.
065 / FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014
AN INDIAN AMONGST THE INDIANS
Still A Damn Indian? Call Me At The Bank
With the passing of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988, that allowed the American Indians to open and operate the casinos on their land had them suddenly bathing in the wealth and prosperity they couldn’t have imagined even their wildest dreams. Assigned to do a story by Playboy Netherlands, I talk personally with the “dark skinned” Indians, not resentful but happy to have had an opportunity to beat the “white man” at his own game, e.g.: money and greed. And the “white man” who are not only happy to work for them but are grateful to the Indians for proving them with jobs and prosperity.
064 / FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2014
IN THE DEPTH OF HIS EYES
The Spanish Civil War Looped Into A Gaze
Up until my first trip to Spain in the fall of 1978, I only had a vague knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and how Franco ruled the country for almost forty years with his ruthless iron fist. In fact it was the dictator’s death that would make possible even to think of bringing any western publication in to the country, let alone a local edition of Playboy. This is as much a story of a friendship as it is a poignant personal account of a Spanish individual of a certain generation who has lived through the Spanish Civil War. It’s my subjective portrayal of my friend Sebastian Martinez, using it as a small example of what must have been the story of many others I must have crossed paths with during my dozens of trips to Barcelona over a period of years.
063 / FRIDAY, MARCH 7, 2014
Sweet, Silky And Slippery
Someone who traveled as much as I did, always staying in the top hotels and frequented the most trendy spots around the world, you are more likely than not, stumble upon one of those pretty and tempting ladies of the night. Mostly they were no more than just us crossing paths. I share with you here some that have remained in my memory and the nostalgic tenderness that I feel when I think about them. Most of them, you couldn’t even tell apart, because at the end of the day, they too are women like any other.
062 / FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2014
WHAT TIME IS IT?
Butting Heads With Experts
If you work long enough in the corporate world, sooner or later you are likely to have to subject yourself to so called experts, also known as consultants. I am sure there are some good ones out there, but in my experience, by and large I have found them to be less knowledgeable and more filled with smug attitude, overflowing to the brim with buzz words and the clichés that become business world’s mantra. Add to that my own attitude and the lack of patience fueled by the built-in disdain for them, and you’ve got a natural cause for the heads butting.
061 / FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2014
THE EARTHY AZTEC BEAUTY
The Domestic Arrangements South Of The Border
The poster on the wall of the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles read: So close and yet so different. And you see the difference right away as soon as you cross the border from the United States into Mexico. The Mayans and the Aztecs had long defined the country way before the Spaniards ever put foot on the continent. How each one of you will interpret this story is going to be a personal thing, but in my mind, this is a story about relationships and how they are formed in the backdrop of the social norms or a culture. I have reported it just as I have observed and experienced it and the fact that it has remained with me now decades later, makes it a story woth telling. Decide for yourself.
060 / FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2014
THE PEEPING TOMS
Paparazzi In His Own Backyard
If you’re lucky, it’s only once in a life time that you meet a person quite like Franz Hermann Gomfers, let alone call him your friend. Here was the man, for whom everyday of his life was a Karneval.A joke. Hewould have laughed at whoever said Curiosity kills the cat. Because what would life be without him being so curious about people and things? And then to have sense humor about it. He had this mischievous streak that endeared him to people. I tell here a sexy story of shooting of a Playmate as asmall tribute from one of his umpteen friends.
059 / FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2014
PORK, DUMPLINGS AND CABBAGE
And The Power Of The Power Before And After The Communism
Imagine this. For a long time nothing changes and you get used to your dismal lot. And suddenly, the Berlin Wall falls, and there is Velvet Revolution and you’re set free. Now what? I arrived in Czechoslovakia within the first six months of the fall of communism in the region. When the Prague airport was just a shack and the quality of the food and the rooms in the hotel and the way people lived was all in stark contrast to the Western borders of Germany and Austria – not far at all. Some serio-comic experiences and observations of the world changing right in front of my eyes.
058 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2014
LOVE, LIES AND THE LATIN LOVERS
How Can You Not Fall In Love With Them?
Something I personally would never find out. But there must be something about handsome Latin men that attract a slew of women to them like moths to the flickering flames just to burn and fall. I share with you some stories of if not exactly fatal, but heartbreaking encounters.
057 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014
WHO’S EVER SEEN GOD?
Body And Soul Union
Even though I grew up in a very staunch religious family of Vaishnava faith, religion is not something that crosses my thoughts often. But one Sunday I spent in the Mexican town of Cuernavaca, mainly to taste and enjoy exquisite Mexican cuisine in the most natural of environments, at Las Mañanitas garden restaurant, we began the day with attending the mass at the Catedral de la Asunción de María, whose extremely popular Bishop was like no other preacher I had ever encountered. The day seemed somehow fused in spiritual thoughts and just plain living for the moment hedonism.
056 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 17, 2014
The Patch of Recognition
The psychologist Edward B. Titchener in his 1928 A Textbook of Psychology, defines déjà vu as “caused by a person having a brief glimpse of an object or situation, before the brain has completed “constructing” a full conscious perception of the experience. As time passes, subjects may exhibit a strong recollection of having the “unsettling” experience of déjà vu itself, but little or no recollection of the specifics of the event(s) or circumstance(s) which were the subject of the déjà vu experience itself.”
Sounds serious. But here is the delightful déjà vu I have had during my early days in Munich while I was actively looking for Playmates and actually ran into one. Not once, but several times in a city as big as Munich is, with its more than a million inhabitants. It conjures up the near mirror images of the three generations of beautiful women I once came across. Amazing!
055 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014
HONEST TO A FAULT
Taking My Turn At Collecting Unemployment Or How To Drive Bureaucrats Batty
Like everyone else, I too have had a couple of brushes with being on a dole. Being unemployed is never a fun, but if you accept it as something that doesn’t always happen to someone else, then you just join the line. It wasn’t until after more than a year later that I show up at the unemployment office to apply for the benefits I was entitled to. This in itself was enough for David M. to wonder about during our initial interview. There were other things about my application that he couldn’t quite put in the standard slots. What followed was enough to drive him up the wall.
054 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 2014
THE TERROR OF THE TWO Cs
The People, The Pride, The Passion And The Philosophy of Making California Wines
Up until my trip with Jan (Heemskerk) to California Wine Country now almost twenty years ago, I had no notion of how personal the business of making wines is. During our trip, we met with some of the most passionate California wine makers and listened of their pride, the passion and the philosophy of why they choose to make the wines they do. Their devotion and their love of their products – if wines can be called that, was overwhelming. The wine makers we talked to include, Randall Graham of Bonny Doon, David Stare of Dry Creek, Bob Levy of Merryvale, Jimmy Fetzer of Fetzer and Timothy Mondavi of Robert Mondavi – among others. I am pleased to share their words of wisdom with all of you wine aficionados.
053 / FRIDAY DECEMBER 13, 2013
FACE TO FACE WITH THE MASTER OF MAGICAL REALISM
My Close Encounter With An Angry GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
Of the fifty two posts published so far on Playboy Stories, the most viewed and the most continuously visited post remains my face to face encounter with the Nobel Laureate, GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ. That is not counting the sudden surge of my posting, I DANCED WITH DONNA SUMMER. http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-8o The version I had published here at the beginning of this year was abridged by about 35% from the original text which was recently published in the local literary magazine 1007. In the original version not only had I focused on my encounter with GGM, but also used it as an example of all the effort and energy that goes into making of a Playboy Interview as well as the brief history of how it came about and into the pages of Playboy. A valuable addition to the original post FACE TO FACE WITH GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-62 which you may or may not already have read.
052 / FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2013
“HE’S A SON OF A BITCH”
How Does One Get A Job At Playboy?
That’s me they’re talking about. The question most asked of me time and time again is: How does one get a job at Playboy? Or more to the point: How did you get to work for them? Other than joking around, I have always avoided giving a straight answer to these questions – lest it may end up sounding like a boast. So here we go, at the risk of sounding boastful. But the trajectory I have laid down is basically about having a steady purpose and following through. The rest is just pure dumb luck!
051 / FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2013
MY WINTER VALENTINE
Of Pinot Noir And The Burlaping In Boonville
Jan Heemskerk, the editor-in-chief of Playboy’s Dutch edition and I take a trip to California’s wine country north of San Francisco and visit various wineries and their owners and the winemakers. Quite sophisticated, and then take a long and winding mountainous road to a little town called Boonville, which prides itself in its exquisite Pinot Noir. Nothing had prepared us for the wonderful evening we spent with the men and the women of the Pinot Noir country. And did we have fun talking about those sexually charged local slangs that only the locals could understand. And then unfolds some sad, tender moments that pull the strings of your if heart.
050 / FRIDAY, November 15, 2013
Lonely And Lost On The Road
As much traveling as I did during my Playboy days, I have often run into people and situations that are not something you run into in your day-to-day life. Here are two such encounters which pop in my memory time and time again and they are significant more so because all of us could relate to them as having experienced something similar in our lives. We all need people and we all need rides sometimes even from the strangers. Am I philosophizing? Sorry! Click the link for the concrete examples.
049 / FRIDAY, November 8, 2013
THE PRAISE OF MY BUICK PART II
THE BUICK, THE BEUREAUCRAT & THE BLONDE
And The Tearing Of My Heart
You wouldn’t think that another automobile either behind you or cruising by your side and the stranger inside can conjure up such emotions, so much so that you feel a certain amount of intimate affinity to the person driving parallel to you on a swiftly moving highway traffic. You even forget the humiliation you had to suffer at the encounter with a typical bureaucrat. The ache you feel at the another automobile speeding away feels like a real loss. The kind one feels at a break up at the end of a long term relationship.
048 / ON FRIDAY, November 1, 2013
IN PRAISE OF MY BUICK
You Are What You Drive
People have written about mixed tapes and memories all those songs bring back. I have some of those too, most of them on large 10” reel-to-reel spools and I too may someday come to them. But for now, I want to talk about my third car, a Buick Skylark, which for ten years was my inseparable companion and confidante. It took me all over the world and introduced me to people like no living beings could. And even in adversity, became instrumental in me making friends. When you think of it, most of us spend more time in our cars than we do with our families. Some of my fondest memories are connected with my most beautiful Buick.
047 / FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2013
Taking A Stab At Respectability
Does anyone remember why the Playmates are called centerfolds? When Playboy was saddle-stitched and not perfect bound as it is today? Playboy was saddle stitched, which also gave it its unique identity of having the Playmates fold out of its center – thus the centerfolds. It all changed in October 1985, when it switched to perfect binding, thus permanently unbinding the staples that held them in embrace. These kind of decisions are not taken lightly. What then caused Playboy to abandon its classic identity and switch?
046 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2013
MY FATHER’S SECRET STASH
Uncovering An Intimate Inheritance
Do you have anything like that stashed away some place? Asked my daughter Anjuli when I told her of the contents of my father’s personal trunk inherited by us four brothers. Not really, you may find some erotic writing in my diaries here and there. Otherwise my life is like an open book in what I write and what I believe and things I talk about. But perhaps it’s nice to leave a few secrets and surprises behind, like my father did.
045/FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2013
THE DUTCH TREAT
Happiness Is The Piping Hot Croquette
Nope, this one is not a cheap one. Actually its about the dinner at Restaurant de Hoefslag at the time of its two Michelin Stars glory. It must have cost an arm and a leg. Delicieux. And all that champagne flowing? Lekker!
This is the story, told and re-told over and over again. In the early Seventies, Hefner moved to live in California and at the time was dating Barbi Benton and she had turned him onto getting out of the mansion and explore the world. During his stop over in Paris, a dinner was arranged at the world renowned Maxim’s. But you know what? Hefner brought along his own chef to cook for him the crispy Southern Fried Chicken while everyone else feasted on Maxim’s most exquisitely delicious cuisine. Why am I telling you this? Click on the link and find out yourself.
044 / FRIDAY, OCTOBER 04, 2013
THE TAIWANESE BARBER SHOP
What’s There Not To Like
When I was just a little kid, the family barber would stop by our joint family home every morning to shave-cut hair-do head massage to the grown up males. He would squat on the floor with one of the males sitting in front of him, also on the floor, with his legs crossed. And submit himself to be pampered. My generation got more modern barber shops called salons. And then I got to visit a Taiwanese Barber Shop. That would change forever the way I would think of the business of cutting hair. Because they have taken the basic concept of the modest barber shops to another level. Intrigued?
043 / FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013
LA DOLCE VITA
The Strike Italian Style
Italians are the people like no other. Easy going and the lovers of sweet life and delicious food and wine, proud of their history and heritage. It’s hard not to have good time when visiting their country. That is: until you find yourself suddenly stranded at Milan’s Linate International Airport and at their mercy. And when the fog season coincides with the strike season and when they go on two hours’ strike, which has the ability to disrupt and paralyze more than just the air traffic.
042 / FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
HOLA Y ADIOS AMOEBAS
Usurped By The Occupational Hazard
Did I ever tell you that once I almost died? That if I were a politician or a celebrity of sorts, they would have already written my obituary and it would be press ready waiting for the time and date filled in? I had totally forgotten this story up until a week ago, when visiting Svetlana from Prague and I were having drinks with my friends and neighbors Paul and Melissa. Something triggered me to tell the story to them and that’s how most of my stories come about. Because over those twenty one years at Playboy and me criss-crossing the globe, I was exposed to and experienced so much that even if I tried, there is no way I could remember it all in chronological or any logical order. Other than going through my old agendas, its something and someone that triggers the memory and as for this one, I am happy to still be living and have lived to tell the tale twenty five years laterJ
041 / FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2013
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
Eat Your Heart Out!
Mexico is where the soccer world cup, Mundial ’86 was held and we were there three months before as a warming up gig with nine of the most beautiful young women from around the world of Playboy to replicate the games with a special Playboyesque scenarios taking place at the very fields where the real games would take place. Add to that some fantasies – like the girls swapping their shirts and frolicking au naturell in the locker room. Imagine this! Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The sun is shining bright, the sky is blue as can be and the waves of Banderas Bay breaking into surf. We are conferring by the poolside, deciding on the next dramatic but a fun shot, with nine of the world’s most beautiful women. Lined up in the water by the edge of the pool, holding on to the long railing and ready to lift their bare butts in action.
040 / SEPTEMBER 06, 2013
THE CORPORATE CASTE SYSTEM
A Touch Of Communism In The Capitalistic Culture
In 1989, Playboy moved its corporate offices from Chicago’s 919 N. Michigan Avenue to a few block away on 680 N. Lake Shore Drive. With a massive move like that, you can’t keep everyone happy and some corporate system had to be devised to minimize the discontent among the employees. And yet you run into certain peculiar – if not outright absurd and funny situations that you need to survive. Something you can only do with some sense of humor and pragmatism. Unfortunately, as I write this, the 680 office is no longer and Chicago is no longer the Playboy kind of town(:
039 / FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013
MY INTIMATE ENCOUNTER WITH EROTIC OYSTER
How I Came to Like / No, Love Oysters?
Oysters have been credited for their aphrodisiac qualities, but are also considered visually erotic because of their succulent, raw, moist, tender and glistening look. And yet, I couldn’t for the life of me, see them in that context, let alone really put them in my mouth and savor. Oysters have been credited for their aphrodisiac qualities, but are also considered visually erotic because of their succulent, raw, moist, tender and glistening look. And yet, I couldn’t for the life of me, see them in that context, let alone really put them in my mouth and savor.
To kick off our second Foreign Edition’s conference, we all travel to Paris and meet at the city’s cultural landmark, La Coupole. While everyone is stuffing themselves with the luscious Normandy oysters, I am munching on the crusty French bread and sipping Sancerre. My stomach screaming with hunger, I am not even envious of them eating ungodly looking soft and shiny lumps. I want some real food, that is until….
038 / FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2013
DESIGNING IN HIS DREAMS
The Spookiness Of The Creative Mind
Over the period of time, I have worked with some of the most talented art directors in the world. Some of them super well known fine artists in their countries, some just plain awesome in the way they interpreted and gave a graphic identity to their editions. With very few exceptions, the art directors are also quite colorful characters, a bit crazy, if you may, and bon vivant in the true sense of the expression. Among them, Germany’s wunderkind, Rainer Wörtmann.
037/ FRIDAY, AUGUST 16, 2013
THE BEST MAN AND THE BRIDE
Just One Last Time
Having never been formally married, I can’t even beginning to imagine what it must feel like agreeing to totally surrender to what’s called marriage. The reason many cultures have the bachelor and the bachelorette parties preceding the marriage, mostly the night before, for the would be bride and groom to go wild and have one last hurrah, to get whatever it is out of their systems. But what if the feeling still remains as you hurry through the planned events of the day and promise everything to your now spouse but not quite yet ready to let go and are still wishing, just one last time before you begin to realize the meaning of the vows you have taken and have proclaimed to the world loudly and clearly your love and loyalty to the other?
036 / Friday, August 9, 2013
TO EXPENSE IT OR NOT
A Fine Art Of Getting Away With Murder
For most people, expense account is a perk to be envied. I have often heard people say: Oh, you’ve gotten expense account! As if it were a bonus of sorts. What they don’t realize is that an expense account is the reimbursement of the money spent on the company’s behalf. And it’s a hassle keeping track of and accounting for monies spent. But then, people wink at you, you know, they are thinking of some of the creative ones who can actually turn an expense account into a handsome perk.
035 / Friday, August 2, 2013
STRANGERS ON THE PLANE
In the Journey Of Life One Meets Only To Part
We have all joked, wondered and wished about what it would feel like to join the Mile High Club. I had completely forgotten about this tender/sexy, living in the moment encounter, until a week ago when I woke up, thinking about it, as if someone had uploaded it while I slept. I suddenly felt the same pining for Chantal as I did then, now almost forty years ago. And not to a small measure, Celia’s illustration recreates that short hour and a half journey from Milan to Düsseldorf all the more alluring.
034 / Friday, July 26, 2013
BOYS’ NIGHT OUT WITH PLAYMATES
The Rituals Of Wine And Women And All That Jazz
Twelve of our Japanese readers won a trip to Los Angeles and Chicago that included a tour of the Playboy Mansion and the Dodger’s game in Los Angeles. A visit to Playboy’s headquarters in Chicago and dinners at Playboy Club, fussed over by Playboy Bunnies, and at a Jazz Restaurant in the company of Playmates, Susi Schott (August 1984) and Carole Ficatier, (December 1985) And they got to taste some good California wines as selected by their beautiful and the most gracious hosts for the night A true kids in the candy store experience.
033 / Friday, July 19, 2013
FACE TO FACE WITH HUGH M. HEFNER
The Real Man Eclipsed By His Image
I can’t claim to have known the man closely or even casually. But yes, I have had a couple of face to face encounters with the capo dei capi. Quite pleasant actually. And long enough to form a certain impression of my own about the man with the initials HMH. First of all, he is the creator and the Editor-in-Chief of one of the most personal and extremely well conceived magazines on earth. The very fact that Playboy is approaching its 60th anniversary is in itself speaks for the magazine’s highest editorial standards and the staying power that somehow transcends generations. Who is this man out of his silk pajamas and the robes? Here is a sliver of glimpse at the editor par excellence of our time.
032 / FRIEDY, JULY 12, 2013
PLAYBOY AND WOMEN IN MY LIFE
Painting Devils On The Wall
No one, even the women in your life understands that working for Playboy is like any other job – just making a living. That its not any different than working for Time or Life magazines. Personal anecdotes about working for living and matters of the heart.
HOW PLAYBOY STORIES ILLUSTRATIONS COME INTO BEING
If you have ever been to Prague, you would instantly recognize the graffiti filled iconic John Lennon Wall, on which Celia has cleverly incorporated the naughty doodles burned into the copper plates by Jeanette Newton, back in 1977. At the time the executive secretary at Playboy Mexico – who had done them for me in exchange of a mini Casio calculator. The way it works between me and my most imaginative illustrator Celia, and with Jordan prior to her is: I would mail her the rough draft of my post still in works. Then we would discuss some basic concepts about what the illustration should be. Sometimes she would do a rough pencil sketch. And then she goes to work on it. For this week’s entry, we had agreed on a woman spray painting the devil on the wall. Which she did. But then I thought of the “devilish” images by Jeanette hanging in my guest room. Out went the real devil with the horns and in came… see it for yourself.
031 / FRIDAY, JULY 05, 2013
SCENES FROM MISS PLAYBOY INTERNATIONAL BEAUTY PAGEANT
Glamour And Glitter, Trials And Turbulence, Tears And Joy
It took all of these emotions for two full weeks in Hong Kong, when we staged for the first and the only Miss Playboy International Beauty Pageant in the winter of 1987. We shot an entire pictorial, we partied, we exhausted ourselves, we had some crisis, minor and major. The limelight shone over the fourteen most beautiful women from the fourteen Playboy countries contesting for the title, Miss Playboy International. 95% of the television viewers of Hong Kong watched Luma de Oliveira being crowned, and then the lights dimmed. Here are some of the scenes from those fourteen days that I still remember.
030 / FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2013
ALL ABOUT THE WILD PARTIES AT PLAYBOY
Not Following In The Boss’s Footsteps
You will hate me for shattering your image of the wild parties you have seen on the TV and featured on the pages of Playboy magazine. Of course we partied at Playboy in the fashion of the good times had by all. But they were nothing like you would imagine. You may even begin to see some virtue in the saying: the ignorance is indeed a bliss.
029 / FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2013
LA TOYA JACKSON : BEWITHCHED BY THE BOA
Tempting Eve To Tempt Adam
Ever since La Toya Jackson asked for a Boa Constrictor to accompany her to the popular television talk show to promote her layout in Playboy Germany, I have often wondered what it is about the snakes that enchant women so?
FRIDAY, JUNE 07, 2013
FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2013
028 / FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2013
DEVIL IN THE PARADISE
Bonding With Beer And The Blue Eyed Bitch
When Playboy offered me the job everything happened with such a lightening speed. It felt almost like them having airlifted me and dropped me off in what turned out to be a hostile war zone in Germany. Of which, neither them, nor I was aware. Here is the story of another lifelong friendship that grew out of what could have possibly ended in a lifelong anymosity instead.
027 / FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2013
BEAUTY AND THE BREASTS
Let A Pencil Be The Judge
What is this with women and their breasts? And why are we so obsessed with them? Help, Herr Dr. Freud. Because all I feel qualified is to tell you of what I have encountered on the subject matter to illustrate what only a pencil can touch.
026 / FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2013
Yes, Things Happen
You walk into the studio. It’s quiet. The crew is out on a small break. Lone Ans is sitting at the edge of the set, her legs dangling. She has not bothered to cover herself. You stand in front of her and make small talk.
025 / FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2013
FOLLOWING IN GANDHI’S FOOTSTEPS
An Emotional Journey Of South Africa
Soon as the South African President F.W. de Clark repealed the last vestiges of apartheid in 1991, I took my first exploratory trip to the country. But if you are born of my generation in India, taking a trip to South Africa has to have some emotional undertones, for that’s where Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement first took roots. Never mind that the purpose of my trip was to study the feasibility of publishing Playboy there. And then there was history being made on the cricket grounds across India precisely during the days that I was in their country. In the spirit of Gandhi’s forgive and forget, India was the first one in the world to invite the team that was banned from playing international cricket for twenty one years.
024 Friday, May 03, 2013
FEEL GOOD SISTER
If Only I Could See Through The Depth Of Those Eyes
There are images that remain with you forever. One of them is me meeting Ann for the first time at Ristorante Positano in Munich, almost exactly forty years ago. The beautiful mélange of the east and the west and her mysterious eyes shining through that dark corner of the restaurant had such a mysterious look that my second name for her is mystery lady’
023 / FRIDAY APRIL 26, 2013
MOTHER KNOWS BEST
Thing That Only Mothers Can See
The answer to “would you ever let your daughter pose for Playboy?” is YES. Of course not every mother out there cherishes the idea of seeing their daughters au naturel for the whole world to see. But then there are mothers who have absolutely no reservations about letting the world agree with them that they are the proud mothers of their beautiful daughters. I suspect that some of them would do it themselves had there been an opportunity. I tell the stories of two such mothers.
022 / FRIDAY APRIL 19, 2013
SEX EDUCATION À LA JAPONAISE
Lessons In Interactive “’Bout The Birds And The Bees”
As excited as I was when my boss assigned me to work in tandem with the Japanese editorial team, I also knew that Japanese were unlike any other people I had ever worked with and that I needed to know about them beyond the books I read. So before meeting with them, I embarked upon a weeklong journey of the country on their famed Shinkansan bullet trains. Crisscrossing the country, meeting people, visiting places, a university and pachinko parlors, staying only at the inns and eating only
Japanese food, and yes, spend an afternoon watching striptease routine that included educational live sex show.
021 / FRIDAY APRIL 12, 2013
FACE TO FACE WITH JAN CREMER
The Bad Boy Of Holland And The “Future Husband” Of Jayne Mansfield
It is very likely that the most of you have never heard of Jan Cremer, the ultimate entfant terrible of the Dutch literature and the art. He once famously said in an interview: Rembrandt? I have never heard of him. I’m not interested in sports. Arrogant? Brilliant? Whatever. But I am a big fan of his books, I Jan Cremer and Jan Cremer Writes Again. The very fact that Jayne Mansfield ended up spending a whole year with him following a publicity shoot, in itself tells you something about the man I have had an opportunity to chat with.
020 / FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013
MY SPRING VALENTINE
As The Time Goes By
Its Easter weekend already and the sun is shining bright and the temperature in Chicago is creeping upwards, slowly but surely. And I am thinking of the decades-a-go winter in Amsterdam and the many faces of love. And then one of them showing up at my doorsteps years later on a beautiful spring day just like today, only warmer – because it’s Santa Barbara, California.
019 / FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2013
THE STORY OF MY TUXEDO
What Good Is A Teacher If His Pupil Can’t One Up Him?
This is as much the story of a lifelong friendship in the making between me and Ivan Chocholouš as it is the story of how I ended up buying a tuxedo for the launch of Playboy in Czechoslovakia. And the shiny shoes and the ruffled front shirt and the cummerbund and the bow tie. Fortunately, I had inherited from my dad a set of all gold and beautifully inlaid studs and the cufflinks, so I was saved that ordeal (and expenses). I still have the tuxedo, which I have had a pleasure of wearing all of five times in the twenty two years. The good news is: I still fit into it very comfortably and am dying to show it off if only someone would have a black tie affair.
018 / FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2013
LIVIN’ LA VIDA LOCA…
From Sleazy Sex Show To The Celebration Of Suave Saxophonist’s 50th
When I look back and think of the whirlwind life I lived crossing from one country to another and hopping across oceans to different continents, it all seems a little surreal. Here is the story of eleven days in the life of Haresh Shah. Racing with time, the days that were normal for me, but somehow they weren’t.
017 / FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2013
PLAYBOY ON COFFEE TABLE
How Do An Indian Grandma And Her American Grand Daughter View Playboy?
Not until four years after I had left Playboy, did it ever cross mind that my leaving issues of Playboy on my living room coffee table, along with half a dozen other magazines I subscribed to would be deemed offensive to some people. It has been as much a part of my life as anything else. An angry outburst from my girlfriend conjured up some funny stories about coffee table display of the magazine. After all, to use the cliché, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And so is the nudity.
016 / FRIDAY MARCH 8, 2013
WELCOME TO AMERICA
Playboy – The Declaration Of Independence?
As far as the subject matters go, Immigration’s got to be as bone dry as they come. But not if your immigration saga ran parallel to your working life at Playboy. And wouldn’t it be great if the statue of Liberty greeted you with issues of Playboy instead of the Torch and the Declaration of Independence? http://wp.me/p2QJ0f-8M
015 / FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013
I DANCED WITH DONNA SUMMER
A Fond Farewell From A Friend
Not that we were ever bosom buddies, but it just so happened that Donna lived in Munich at the same time as I did and for some months was a part of my close circle of friends. She would hang out with us, we would go out for dinner and be a part of her small fandom when she did her gigs at one of the Munich’s night spots. Reading the news of her untimely death on May 17, 2012, the memories of her came crashing down on me in cascades. Here is my tender tribute to the Lady of the Night.
014 / FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2013
BY THE TIME I GET TO AMSTERDAM…
Leaving On A Jet Plane
The following news item appeared in New York Daily News on February 15, 2013
Breakups spike after Valentine’s Day
It’s known as D-Day — when divorce attorneys’ phones start ringing off the hook. Valentine’s Day, along with New Year’s Eve, is an ‘expectation holiday’ that often precedes breakups. In keeping with the post-Valentine break ups, here is a story of a woman’s impulsive escape from what on surface seemed to be an enviable relationship.
013 / FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2013
IN THE NAME OF LOVE
Every Picture Tells A Story
Its one thing to fall in love and get married, quite another to sustain and nurture a relationship. It requires adjustments and compromises. Give and take, if you may. Most of the time its only little things. Here is what a Playboy executive does to preserve his.
012 / FRIEDAY, FEBRUARY 08, 2013
MY LATIN VALENTINE
Eres Tu, Eres Tu, Asi Asi, Eres Tu…
Love at first sight? You bet. It’s the month of February and the air is filled with Amor. I have a dream new job, working in one of the most exciting cities in the world. We cross paths by the fountain, and fall in love, head over hills. What more can one ask for?
011 / FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2013
MEXICAN CONSUL AND MATTERS OF THE HEART
Corazon de Melon de Melon de Melon
The First of the three Valentine month’s stories
If you are wondering what the tagline Corazon de Melon is all about; it was a popular song in Mexico in the Seventies. It describes someone’s heart as bright red as water melon, sumptuous, soft and juicy. Certainly describing the heart of a lover. But you can also use it for any heart that is kind and sensitive. So when it seemed to me that the Mexican consul was about to deny me a visa, appealing to his heart remained my only option.
010 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2013
FACE TO FACE WITH GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
My Close Encounter With The (Angry) Master of Magical Realism
When I had a reason to meet with the Nobel Prize winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, my role was that of a messenger. But instead I got a taste of how some messengers get killed for no fault of their own. After I was pelted with his anger at Playboy, the gentle giant calmed down and I also got the taste of his kindness. Never mind that he was, and still is one of my most favorite authors. A classic example of why Playboy Interviews have become the standard against other interviews are measured.
009 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2013
THE TALES OF TWO PLAYMATES
Without Make Up And With Their Clothes On
As the tagline, without makeup and with their clothes on, aptly describes, this entry is my reminiscence of the two wonderful young ladies, Barbara and Dagmar, who were the first two centerfolds of Playboy magazine’s German edition. That they have remained in my fond memory thirty eight years later is my humble tribute to their inner and the outer beauties.
008 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 11, 2013
THE COMPANY POLICY
Originally Published as TELEVISION, VCR, CAMCORDER & ME
How Did I Get Suckered Into Having One Of Them?
In Japan, the saying goes: the nail that sticks out, pound it down. How can you live in these days and age and not have/want one of the above? The improbable story of how I got suckered into having a television set delivered right on my doorsteps. I have been incessantly and relentlessly pelted by e-mail, mail orders and telephone marketers offering me package deals for satellite/cable services. When I tell them, I own no television to start with, they are left with a speechless Oh!
007 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 2013
TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN…
From Only One Nipple To Pubic Wars And Back
Silly as silly can be is how I think of all the legal battles and censorship and restrictions on books, movies and all other art forms. How can Playboy be an exception? I share with you some outlandish, bizarre but funny episodes experienced from around the world. Sometimes its so mind-boggling that its actually funny how our concepts of decency and aesthetics change so radically over a period of time.
006 / FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2012
HERR DOKTOR SHAH
That’s Just What I Needed To Be
There are times when its not good enough to be just yourself. So our editorial assistant Tim invented a clever little white lie for me while I was looking to rent an apartment in Munich. Sorry to say, it worked like magic.
005 / FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2012
MY SWEET LORD
Playmates, Playmates, Playmates Überall
Well, if you have been wondering whatever happened to the beautiful Barbara and her photographer, and his botched test shoot, wonder no more.
004 / FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2013
Some Call It Smut – Others Read It For Interviews – And You?
When I worked for Time and Life magazines, I could have taken a bucket full of them through Indian customs, but quite a different story when the name of the magazine happens to be Playboy. How would I hoodwink the guardians of the morality?
003 / FRIDAY, DECEMBER 07, 2012
HUNTING FOR THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
Why Even Go As Far As The Next Door?
Up until then I hadn’t realized how many young and pretty girls wanted and were willing to be photographed in the nude. Especially if it was for Playboy. The challenge was to find that special one who would become the first German Playmate.
002 / FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2012
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
How I Managed To Put My Foot In My Mouth?
The girl next door is how Hefner defined his Playmates as opposed to celebrities and professional models. She is not just another pretty face with near perfect vital statistics. She has certain personality traits She is smart, she is articulate, she is confident and she is gracious. Not someone you run into everyday. She is the one you have to go looking for. Read about how I ended up taking it upon myself to find her. Awwww!
001 / FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2014
Every Life Untold Is A Pandora’s Box
A brief rundown on where I am coming from, what qualifies me to tell the stories that only I can. And what triggered me to do so now nineteen years after I left Playboy. It is basically an introductory post that you can refer back to for the background information and the timeline. In addition to what you would read in the post itself, what I found most inspiring was the iconic film critic Roger Ebert’s memoire, Life Itself. In it Ebert has written about his life through flickers of memories. When clustered together they make up a bright bouquet of sparkles.