Archives for posts with tag: Serial

A Lesson In The Linguistic Sexism

Haresh Shah

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My first encounter with ová came in early 1991, when we were putting together the first issue of the Czech edition of Playboy. I noticed on the proposed cover, Pamela Anderson having become Pamela Andersonová. First I thought it was a typo, so I brought it up to the attention of then editor-in-chief Jaroslav Matejka. No, apparently it wasn’t an error. That’s how the Czechs called their women and Anderson in its Czech version had to be Andersonová. Even after Jaroslav gave me an elaborate explanation on the Czech language and its grammar, it didn’t quite fit my logic. At that time I didn’t know any Czech at all, even so, I was not swayed. I did not want them to Czechify a person’s name. It would be like calling Paul Pavel and Michelle Michaela. I am particularly sensitive about this – perhaps all my life living in the West, I have had often to fend off people’s attempts at turning Haresh into Harry. The first issue came out with hers and dozens of other featured foreign females with their original names.

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Haresh Shah

Every Life Untold Is A Pandora’s Box

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The reason I decided to write Playboy Stories is: However I try not to talk about me having worked at the magazine for twenty one years, it always comes up. Like the afternoon when I was visiting my childhood friend Deven at his brother Madhu’s house in Elgin. I also met for the first time Madhu’s son Mehul and his wife Priti. We’ve had a leisurely late afternoon lunch and were just trying to catch up when out of a clear blue sky, Deven comes out and says to Priti that I worked for Playboy. No wonder you’re so cool! She exclaimed. Whatever that meant. As I began to answer some of her questions and mentioned I was thinking of starting a blog about my years at Playboy, suddenly her husband Mehul’s antenna popped up. Up until then, he hadn’t said a word other than the initial hello, beyond that his nose remained buried into the screen of his I-Pad.

About a month earlier, I had invited for dinner my two young neighbors, Alex and Evan with their  girlfriends Jessica and Tara. When Alex happened  to mention my Playboy connection, that answered the girls’ curiosity regarding why half of my wall in the guest room is filled with every single issue of the last fifty years of the US Playboy, as well as the landmark issues of the international editions of which I was editorial director. The girls had questions. Tara 22 and Jessica 23. What was it like to work for Playboy? Had I ever met Hefner? Had I been to his mansion? Was I ever present at photo shoots? What are those girls like? They can’t all be that perfect. And so on, is when Alex said good humouredly, Don’t ask many questions. Its like opening up Pandora’s Box. A week later, when I ended up sharing a steak dinner with Alex and Jessica, I couldn’t help but think how pretty she was, and how unpretentious, down home simple. Just like, yes, the girl next door. I said out loud, that she could be a Playmate.

‘No, I can’t. With my height, and…’ She didn’t finish the sentence, but I presumed, she didn’t think her breasts were ample enough.

‘No Jessica, not all Playmates are tall and buxom. For example…what’s her name?’ As it often happens to me, even though I could clearly picture Jenny McCarthy standing next to me, fitting snuggly under my arm – a whole head shorter than me. And I am only five-five (1.65m). After they left, I rummaged through one of my many shoe boxes of photographic prints waiting to be included in an album I may make someday or never get around to ever doing it. But our brief conversation inspired me to do just that – to throw together all the stray photos depicting bits and pieces of my life at Playboy in a scrapbook  ostentatiously titled,  La Vie Playboy – Das Leben und Zeiten von Haresh Shah – 1972-1993.

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