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‘Like a little gem’: The Grateful Dead do two awesome early rarities live on TV in 1969
07.26.2017
02:16 pm
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The Grateful Dead perform a delicate “Mountains of the Moon” and a rip-snortin’ “St. Stephen” from their 1969 Aoxomoxoa album on Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark TV show. Aoxomoxoa is considered a strong highlight among the group’s studio output by fans, but “Mountains of the Moon” and “St. Stephen” were thought to be too hard to play live by Jerry Garcia—there were only thirteen live performances of “Mountains of the Moon” in total and after 1971 “St. Stephen” was only pulled out on very rare special occasions.

Despite this, Garcia once remarked that “Mountains of the Moon” was “one of my favorite ones. I thought it came off like a little gem.” It does, like something you’d hear at a Renaissance fair. And if I had to pick just one song by the Dead of this vintage to see them do live, it would probably be “St. Stephen” (no, “Dark Star,” no, “St. Stephen,” no, “Dark Star”...). Even with the hatchet-like unsubtle edits in this clip, it’s still pretty fantastic.

Next week, over 450 theaters nationwide will present the Grateful Dead‘s seventh annual “Meet-Up at the Movies” a one-night-only event featuring the screening of the Dead’s previously unreleased July 12, 1989 concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., a show that was performed in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 40,000 fans. Produced by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment this year’s Meet-Up is being held on August 1 and is timed to celebrate what would have been the 75th birthday of Jerry Garcia. Get tickets at the Fathom Events website, where you can enter your zip code to locate the nearest of the 450 theaters that are hosting a screening.

Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.26.2017
02:16 pm
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Playboy Playmates recreate their iconic covers 30 years on

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Monique St. Pierre, Playmate of the Year, June 1979.
 
Marilyn Monroe was the first Playboy cover girl featured in the magazine in December 1953. That copy of Playboy wasn’t actually dated as publisher and editor Hugh Hefner didn’t know if there would ever be a second issue. Marilyn was also the magazine’s first “Sweetheart of the Month,” a title which changed to “Playmate of the Month” with Playboy’s second issue in January 1954 when Margie Harrison became the magazine’s first ever centerfold. Marilyn’s iconic photo spread only appeared over pages 16-18. Since then, Playmate of the Month has continued right on up to present day with Elsie Hewitt featured as Playmate of Month for June 2017 and Brooke Power featured on the cover as Playmate of the Year.

There was a well-told urban myth about the glamorous Playmates featured on the cover that claimed they were given a marking, out of twelve, according to Hefner’s tastes. This was based on the stars printed on the cover either on or next to the letter “P” of Playboy. This rumor alleged Hef was giving “stars” for either the cover girl’s looks, or performance in bed, or even how many times the old goat had slept with her. This was never true. The stars which appeared on the cover between 1955 and 1979 denoted regional or international advertising for that particular issue.

Playboy is now synonymous with America and American values as Mom’s apple pie, the Stars and Stripes, and Abraham Lincoln. That Hefner’s magazine and his multi-million dollar porn industry have achieved such a strange (shall we call it?) respectability says much about the dynamic changes in culture and morals over the past six decades.

A selection of Playmates was recently offered the opportunity to replicate their iconic covers some thirty years on from their original appearance. Playmates Candace Collins, Monique St. Pierre, Cathy St. George, Charlotte Kemp, and Reneé Tenison, among others, were photographed by Ben Miller and Ryan Lowry as part of this project. As can be seen from the photographs below, the results are quite incredible.
 
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Monique St. Pierre, 2017.
 
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Candace Collins, Playmate, February 1979.
 
More then and now Playboy Playmates, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.07.2017
09:57 am
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Climb aboard ‘Hare-Force One,’ Hugh Hefner’s $5 million DC-9 jet with its own discothèque
08.24.2016
09:25 am
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‘Hare-Force One’ aka the ‘Big Bunny’ Hugh Hefner’s DC-9 jet.
 
Well, would you expect anything less from what was basically the Playboy Mansion with wings? Hugh Hefner’s custom DC-9 jet “Hare-Force One” (also widely known as the “Big Bunny”) pretty much had that and a lot more as you might imagine. In fact the jet was so ostentatious that when Hefner has it painted black so it would “stand out” while in flight he added spotlights to the tail of the plane so that the Playboy Bunny logo could still be seen at night. Nice.
 

Hef’s fabulous ‘Jet Bunnies’ standing outside of ‘Hare-Force One’ aka the ‘Big Bunny.’
 
Hef had his “Jet Bunnies” (who were cherry-picked from Playboy clubs in LA and Chicago) attend formal stewardess training at a school run by Continental Airlines and their outfits were as slick as the jet itself, consisting of leatherette mini-dresses, leatherette pants and black go-go boots. According to Hefner he wanted his stewardesses to look like “Bond Girls” and again since this is Hugh Hefner we’re talking about how they did. Of the many features that the plane had to offer were a discothèque, a bar, a shower and a movie theater of sorts featuring a Cinemascope projector. There was also a round water bed covered in fur that was accessed through Hef’s private entrance. Essentially the jet included all the comforts of “home” as long as your actual home was the Playboy Mansion.

During the time that Hef owned the plane it made numerous trips around the world and at the end of the Vietnam War became a giant stork of sorts used to bring orphans to their new adoptive homes in the U.S. Hefner would routinely lend out the use of the jet to celebrities like Yul Brynner, Elvis and Sonny and Cher and also entertained a litany of famous guests like Twilight Zone host Rod Serling, director Roman Polanski and poet and author Shel Silverstein. Hefner sold the jet in 1975 to Venezuela Airlines and in a 2010 interview for the Wall Street Journal when asked if he missed his sweet, sweet mile-high club ride his response was “only when I fly.” Awww. Images of Hef’s beloved Big Bunny, Hare-Force One follow.
 

 

 
More livin’ large with Hugh Hefner after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.24.2016
09:25 am
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‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’: When Hugh Hefner and Roman Polanski made a movie

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Roman Polanski’s first film after the horrific murder of his wife Sharon Tate and their friends at 10050 Cielo Drive, Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, in 1969 was a reworking of William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. Polanski said the murders had traumatised him to such an extent that making movies seemed utterly pointless.

I couldn’t think of a subject that seemed worthwhile or dignified enough to spend a year or more on it, in view of what happened to me.

That may sound extremely pompous, but I couldn’t make another suspense story. And I certainly couldn’t make a comedy: I couldn’t make a casual film.

Polanski suffered a severe depression. He was deranged with grief and felt a terrible guilt for what had happened. He abandoned the film he had been working on, The Day of the Dolphin, but eventually he started to tentatively look for a subject of substance worthy of his attention. He had once had an ambition to make a film based on one of Shakespeare’s plays. Together with the writer and critic Kenneth Tynan he began adapting Macbeth for the screen.

This dark film of witchcraft and brutal, bloody murder was considered too close to the recent events in Polanski’s life for any Hollywood studio to produce. The director therefore approached a friend, Victor Lownes, who was a senior executive with Playboy. Lownes had been partying with Polanski the night of the Manson murders. He had also produced Monty Python’s first theatrical film And Now For Something Completely Different. Lownes secured $1,500,000 from Hugh Hefner to make Macbeth.

Polanski and Tynan refused to cast the expected middleaged Shakespearean actors in the lead roles opting instead for the relatively unknown Jon Finch as Macbeth and Francesca Annis as his wife, with Martin Shaw as Banquo and Terence Bayler as MacDuff. Polanski had met Finch on a plane journey and was mesmerized by the young actor’s charisma. Finch was then best known for his television work, while Annis had at one time been considered the next Elizabeth Taylor. In fact Taylor herself briefly took the actress “under her wing.” She had also modelled and was friends with a many of London’s music scene—including Jimi Hendrix.

Filming took place during some of the worst weather imaginable in Wales and the north of England. The weather along with Polanski’s perfectionism and his insistence on multiple takes caused a $600,000 overspend. On its release, the critics were overly harsh—either damning it with feint praise or like Pauline Kael, impolitely suggesting that the excessive violence in the film was Polanski’s way of exorcising his wife’s murder. The film was bleak, unrelentingly so, with an ambiguously downbeat ending. However, it was also far, far better than any critic gave it credit for, and Polanski was more in tune with a younger audience who were coming of age at the start of the 1970s against a background of Vietnam, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and terrorism across Europe and the Middle East.
 
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More ‘Macbeth’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.01.2016
04:25 pm
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The Grateful Dead on Hugh Hefner’s ‘Playboy After Dark,’ 1969
04.24.2014
09:44 am
Topics:
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The Grateful Dead perform a delicate “Mountains of the Moon” and a rip-snortin’ “St. Stephen” from their 1969 Aoxomoxoa album on Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark TV show. Aoxomoxoa is considered a highlight among the group’s studio output by fans, but “Mountains of the Moon” and “St. Stephen” were thought to be too hard to play live by Jerry Garcia—there were only thirteen live performances of “Mountains” and after 1971 “St. Stephen” was only pulled out on rare special occasions.

Despite this, Garcia remarked that “Mountains of the Moon” was “one of my favorite ones. I thought it came off like a little gem.” It does, like something you’d hear at a Renaissance fair. And if I had to pick just one song by the Dead of this vintage to see them do live, it would be “St. Stephen” (no, “Dark Star,” no, “St. Stephen”...). Even with the hatchet-like unsubtle edits this is still fantastic.

Eagle-eyed culture vultures will spot the gorgeous English Playmate Dolly Read who would soon be cast as “Kelly MacNamara,” the lead role in Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls to Jerry’s left during the interview. You’ll want to skip directly to 3:30 to avoid the boring introduction and a brief flash of NSFWishness.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.24.2014
09:44 am
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Romney’s not the only one with binders full of women
10.17.2012
01:27 am
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Posted by Marc Campbell
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10.17.2012
01:27 am
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Hugh Hefner tries to sing, fails, on ‘Pink Lady & Jeff,’ 1980
04.06.2012
11:10 am
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An awful song/sketch from one of the most insipid TV series of all time, Pink Lady & Jeff from 1980. Sid and Marty Krofft produced this stinker, which was basically a Donny & Marie knock-off starring a Japanese pop duo who at the time were considered the “Japanese Beatles.”

The fact that neither spoke any English and had to learn their scripts phonetically was not considered an impediment, apparently, to them starring in an American TV variety show. Equally unfunny comic Jeff Altman was brought in to support them.

In this clip, Mie and Kei visit the “Playboy Mansion” to audition as Bunnies. So unfunny. It’s the opposite of humor!

Then listen with your ears plugged tightly as Hugh Hefner proceeds to murder “My Kind of Town.”
 

 
Thank you (I think) Chris Campion of Berlin, Germany!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.06.2012
11:10 am
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Hugh Hefner interview on New York City cable TV from the mid-1970s
09.13.2011
08:54 pm
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I’m not going to go into the whole song and dance about how Playboy provided a forum for some of the most progressive thinkers and artists on the planet including Lenny Bruce, Robert Anton Wilson, Paul Krassner, Timothy Leary, Joan Baez, R. Buckminster Fuller, Jane Fonda, Muhammad Ali and many more. I’m not gonna tell you how I bought the magazine to read the interviews and fine fiction from writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, Gabriel García Márquez, Joseph Heller, Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. No, I’m not gonna tell you all about that because it won’t make any difference in anyone’s opinion of Playboy magazine. You’ve got your opinion, I’ve got mine.

Playboy and its creator Hugh Hefner have been polarizing people for the past half century. I happen to like Hefner and his magazine, though the nude spreads have rarely featured much that floated my boat. My taste in women rarely coincided with the picture perfect All-American, mostly white, women of Playboy. I was also never into the “Playboy philosophy” when it came to stuff like cars, fashion and cocktail culture. I never wore an ascot or cufflinks and I wouldn’t know the difference between a Cuban cigar and a dog turd or good champagne from Everclear and 7-Up.

What I dug about about Playboy is that it introduced my young Catholic-corrupted brain to the idea that sex could be fun and intelligence could be sexy. In retrospect, the nudity objectified women, but at the time, for me, it opened up a world in which women’s bodies were wondrous and beautiful. I may be one of the only teenage boys of the Sixties that didn’t use Playboy as jerk-off fodder. I gazed upon the full-bodied Playmates during breaks in reading the genuinely mind-opening interviews with some of my counter-culture heroes. There literally was nowhere else to get some of the insights that Playboy published (I wasn’t reading Evergreen or Paris Review yet). Between bouts of being battered mentally and physically at school by malevolent Nuns, it was liberating to come home, lock my bedroom door, and read about psychedelics, beatnik culture and the pleasures of the flesh in a girlie magazine. And the nudes did steer my thinking away from perceiving the human body as a vessel of sin and shame toward an appreciation of it as something delightful and fulfilling.

Here’s an interview with Hefner from the mid-1970s that was conducted for City University of New York TV show Day At Night hosted by James Day. I like Hefner’s belief in the liberating power of a healthy sex life. And I bet the Bunnies did too. I can’t recall any of Playboy’s models ever complaining about their jobs and several books have been written about and by them.

As we once again enter an era of prudishness, over-zealous political correctness and sexual repression, some of what Hefner has to say sounds as relevant as it did 40 years ago. While the bunny costumes may seem silly and dated, the truth is always hip.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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09.13.2011
08:54 pm
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Birthday boy Lenny Bruce on Playboy’s Penthouse, 1959

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Speculating on how an 85-year-old Lenny Bruce would be celebrating his birthday today is as fun as it is pointless.

But it’s pretty easy to guess that edgy comedy’s patron saint would not have been able to stretch out casually on TV for 25 minutes in conversation with a legendary publisher and lifestyle creator like the Hef.

That’s what happened in 1959 on the first episode of Playboy’s Penthouse, Hugh Hefner’s first foray into TV, which broadcast from WBKB in his Chicago hometown. This was the first mass-market exposure of the erstwhile club-bound Bruce, and its high-end hepness set the tone for the show’s two-season run, which featured a ton of figures in the jazz culture scene.

Of course, the dynamic between the eloquent snapping-and-riffing Long Islander Bruce and the perennially modest Midwestern Hefner is classic as the comedian covers topics like “sick” comedy, nose-blowing, Steve Allen, network censorship, tattoos & Jews, decency wackos, Lou Costello, integration, stereotypes, medicine and more.
 

 
Part II | Part III | Part IV

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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10.13.2010
05:17 pm
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Bunnies in the cockpit: Hugh Hefner and Roman Polanski aboard the Playboy ‘Big Bunny’ Jet
08.28.2010
04:46 am
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I could fake it and pretend I have some culturally significant insight about this video, but I don’t. It’s mod and sexy, it’s black and white and Barbi Benton is in it. Shot in 1970. Dig?
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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08.28.2010
04:46 am
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