The Quirky Brilliance Of The Head Guru
I have just swiped my card and entered the sixteenth floor through the glass door. I see Arthur sitting by himself through the glass wall of his office across the atrium – the bank of offices we have come to call the fish tank, overlooking the square. I hurry to my office, remove my outer garments and pick up the phone and dial Arthur’s three digit inter-office number. Might as well get it out of the way before I chicken out. Having to call Arthur is something of an ordeal, because you never know what kind of mood you might catch him in. But there is nothing I can do about it. I am the one who needs him. Most of our telephone conversations would go something like this:
‘Good morning Arthur!’
‘What’s so good about the morning?’
‘Hi Arthur. How are you?’
‘Why do you want to know?’
‘Hi Arthur. This is Haresh.’
‘I know who you are!’
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My Not So Intimate Encounters With Italy And France
The first time I landed in the land of Ciao Bella and O sole mio, they dumped our baggage on the tarmac next to the aircraft, barely said sorry and told us we would have to carry it to the terminal ourselves – that the ground personnel had just decided to go on a strike. A bit different story when I first arrived at Charles de Gaulle in Paris. I am met at the airport by Gerrit Huig and the editorial assistant Ann Scharffenberger. They talk me into and I unwittingly agree to drive us through the city in our rented little Citroën. Though I had taken lessons in driving a car with manual transmission, this is my first time trying it out without an instructor sitting next to me. I haven’t yet gotten the knack of synchronizing the gears with the accelerator and the breaks. The car would shudder, stall and come to an abrupt stop in the middle of swirling rush hour traffic. Happens several times on the Arc de Triumph round-about. I get furious faces, obscene yelling that I don’t understand, French version of the finger and then silly mocking giggles from my two passengers. But I somehow manage to survive both welcomes. Not exactly j’taime.
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Taking A Stab At Respectability
When Celia – the young woman who so beautifully interprets and illustrates Playboy Stories week after week, returned the copy of my July 1988 issue of Playboy featuring Cindy Crawford on the cover, she had secured the pages with a little yellow and pink binder-clips. Apparently the pages of the issue had come apart at the perfect bound stiff spine, just like that of the cheap paperbacks from the Fifties. The issue was never before opened and was in mint condition. Quite unsettling for an avid fan and the collector of the magazine.
When the first issue of the perfect bound Playboy dated October 1985 landed on my desk, sometime around the first week of September, with the cover blurb proclaiming: COLLECTOR’S EDITION / THERE IS A BOLD NEW LOOK UNDER OUR COVER, I felt disoriented like never before. Devoid of the staples and lying there flat as the thick Dutch pancake, it felt akin to me returning to the little town of Schutterwald in Germany to visit my old landlady Frau Lipps – fully expecting, as in the past for her to have prepared my favorite Wiener Schnitzel with pommes frites and a small side of butter lettuce salad – instead to find a plate of a salmon filet with boiled potatoes and green beans. It threw me completely off balance.
Even though there were talks in the air for a while to switch to the perfect binding, deep down in my heart I still held out hopes that Hefner would never agree to such a move. But he did and now I was holding in my hands something I had thought would never come to pass.
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Not Following In The Boss’ Footsteps
‘No one aspires to Hef’s (Hugh M.Hefner) lifestyle anymore.’
Talking to us at our 1982 International Publishing’s Annual Conference is the US Playboy’s Editorial Director, Arthur Kretchmer. After having them held all over the world including at Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, we have brought the group of about sixty to the home turf in Chicago. Seamlessly connected to Playboy’s 919 North Michigan Avenue offices by a passageway is Playboy Towers, right next door at what used to be the landmark Chicago hotel, The Knickerbocker, now renamed Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel. We are breathing nothing but Playboy, practically day in and day out for four days and four nights.
Arthur is not the man of many words. But when you get him to say something, nobody can say it better than he could. Even though Hugh M. Hefner crowns the magazine’s masthead, being his eyes and ears, it’s Arthur who builds the magazine with his editorial team, nut and bolts, brick by brick. What he just said must have been obvious to most everyone present in the room, but coming from Arthur’s mouth makes it official – confirmed beyond doubt.
I for one had frequently felt that I was actually living the Playboy lifestyle in the real world, traveling first class around the globe, picked up and brought back home by stretched limos, staying at the best hotels in Paris, Munich, Milan and wherever else my assignments took me, eating in the best restaurants and having animated conversations with the crème de la crème of the publishing world, having a time of my life, while by then Hefner himself had slid into the surreal fantasy world of his own.
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