REALLY READING IT FOR THE ARTICLES!

In the previous issue (Vol. 20-No. 44), this writer made a series of comments over the state of magazines and how they have attempted to keep up in a post modern digital world. And to stay keen with the times, a recent announcement by one of the pioneers of its type stated they are buckling down to create a drastic makeover of something that’s been their “bread and butter” for decades, and what had made this same title the pioneer of its genre.

Playboy, the magazine that invented the picture centerfold (among other notions), announced that beginning with their March, 2016 issue, will no longer print pictorials that feature nude women! This change reflects the every growing trend with domestic times that has progressed faster than one can keep up with. Those that desire to view this title with its world famous images of woman under the age of 25 or so baring it all, better grab on to the previous month’s issue to ponder on it. Otherwise, those bare breasts and other body parts will disappear from their pages forever–or unless the magazine ceases publication, whatever comes first!

The reason for this change of pix? Blame it on the ‘net for offing those who has a hot desire to see pictures and related imagery of total strangers prancing around wearing nothing but a smile, assuming they are smiling to begin with!

Playboy, created by Hugh Hefner in the early 1950’s, wanted to offer a magazine title that catered to his own gender, perhaps competing with the leader of the pack at the time, Esquire. That title was best known for the “pin-up” drawings that appeared in its magazine beginning in the 1930’s. These were artistic renditions of woman, looking like they were in their 20’s, in various poses that were suggestive for its time, but nothing more! Many issues of Esquire were delivered to servicemen during WW2, where these same fighting boys would tear the pages that features these artist renditions, and placing them in lockers, duffle bags, and anyplace else that they can keep to look at while on various missions and outings. Many of these renditions found were coped, painted on the fronts of war planes, along with a one line title. (“Sleepy Time Gal’”, “Shoo-Shoo Baby”, etc.) These renditions on the aircraft, called “Nose Art”, assisted in the overall moral these servicemen really needed. Military brass, knowing that this moral was important to fight and win in the battles, tended to look the other way. And Esquire, knowing what was best for its readers, not only included these pin ups, but offered articles that deemed ideal for men, as well as offering  short fiction written by those that were well known along with many up and comer writers.

Playboy did the same with one change to Esquire’s editorial policy. Not only it would feature articles, notes and other bits of text suitable for the progressive male at the time, but it would features pictorials of woman that were nude. Real photographs, not necessarily limited to artists renditions, but photos shot in Kodachrome. The standard of nude females at the time (c.1953) were limited to exposed breasts and rear ends. (Anything “below the belt” didn’t become standard until the late 1960’s.) The photos itself would be tasteful, more akin to something considered as “art” rather than total smut–the 1950’s term for “porn”!

With its first nude pictorial feature, a series of pictures that were leased by the photographer of a well known actress contracted to 20th Century Fox, that issue made its mark. However, Hefner, not knowing the future status of his magazine, never placed a number on its first issue, believing that there wouldn’t be a second edition!

Some sixty plus years later, Playboy in indeed ailing, not necessarily as well as it used to be! When the magazine was in its peak in the middle 1970’s, it’s circulation was over one million copies! It had a lot going for this title, offering thought provoking articles, a great selection of short story fiction, interviews with people of important interest, amusing humor ranging from articles, the for noted short stories (this writer became aquatinted with the humor of Jean Shepherd where he wrote about his childhood days living in Hammond, Indiana c. 1940), and for its panel cartoons, many titillating while others friendly enough to post openly on a bulletin board. (Another personal disclaimer. While attending junior high school, a teacher at the school used to post a selection of its cleaner panel cartoons on a bulletin board found in his office. It wasn’t know by me if anyone was aware to where these cartoons came from. But yours truly knew!!)

Playboy itself was slowly weaning out the nude stuff for a while. It’s website no longer posts nude pix, making it more friendly to view in a public location. And with the ‘net, there are too many places to check in to see the same kind of content that were part of the Playboy lifestyle. Unlike the magazine that one had to pay for, many of the ‘net’s offerings post these for free!

The March ‘16 issue will be available in February of that year, still keeping a dating schedule that is just as old as the magazine itself! How did that came about? When magazines were primarily sold on corner stand alone newsstands, the newsstand dealer had to make sure that the issue found on the rack were current. Many magazine titles including comic books, posted the month when the magazine was conceded “stale”, and was suppose to be pulled from the rack to make way for the newer edition. So it one was posting Playboy in July, the current issue was dated August. When August came around, the dealer would see the “August” date on the cover, meaning that that issued “expired”, and had to make room for the September edition. That was why the Playboy Christmas issues were dated December and January–they were sold in November and December!

So it you are a collector of Playboy and wish to find an issue out on the stands around the time your were born, grab the issue dated one month ahead of your birth month. This way, one can see what was in each edition around the time the collector made its world debut in the same clothing scheme as to the pictured women in question!

Oh yes! Don’t forget to read the articles and related material. There’s a lot of great content found in that issue one won’t want to miss, even if it’s long after the fact!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     Theatre Palisades presents Ken Ludwig’s THE GAME’S AFOOT (or HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS) a mirthful murder mystery where a featured actor best known for playing a well distinguished detective uses the sprit of his portrayed character to solve the case, rounds out this theater company’s 2015 calendar season.

John Mawson plays William Gillette, a thespian of the stage best accepted as the master sleuth Sherlock Holmes. He just completed a successful theater run as the deerstalker donning hawkshaw. But somebody in the audience attempted to shoot him, possibly for some form of revenge. But the shot only winged him. Presently, he’s making a steady recovery at his lavish castle-esque home in rural Connecticut with his mother Martha (Gail Bernardi) not too far off to his side. It’s now Christmastime,1936, and for the holidays, he’s invited a few of his fellow stage performers for some seasonal cheer. Joining him is Felix Geisel (James Lujan), his wife Madge (Andi Wagner), Simon Bright (Matthew Godfrey) with his fiancé Aggie Wheeler (Nicole Knudsen). Another guest shows up somewhat unexpectedly: Daria Chase (Maria Pavone) a theater critic that writes her reviews with a rather sharp prose, ready to pan any play set in front of her! William’s home is very charming, and taking on a tradition to a setting found in an Agatha Christie thriller, he has his homestead full of gadgets and secret passageways, making his quarters an ideal place to host a murder. Sure enough, somebody is indeed bumped off! A police detective, Inspector Goring (Maggie Peach) is taking the case in hand. But now William must solve the murder in classic Homes style. But there are many questions to answer! Will William expose the deep secrets his guests are possibly concealing? Will he determine who the murderer is before this mystery person snuffs another victim? Who really “dunnit”, and why? It takes the skill and savvy of somebody like Homes to indeed solve the case as (what else?) elementary!

This play by the American master of comical stage farces Ken Ludwig creates a story that hones its comical overtones in the same style and method as to his other stage works. In this production by Theatre Palisades, there are moments where the action is connected to frantic activity along with the verbal wit as spoken by its cast. John Mawson as William Gillette has that leading man prose that was once found in film stars from this era. (1930’s). His presence is ideal for any type of work that is set during the first third of the 20th century, or as a piece created by wit spinning playwrights. In fact, he, along with this play’s director Gene Franklin Smith, were involved in a Noel Coward revival performance of The Vortex performing in Hollywood last year. (See review-Vol. 19, No. 46). Although this play is more farseful that a Noel Coward creation, most of the comedy presented is more visual that verbal. Mason’s cast members do align fittingly as well, as each player keeps up the pace from its first scene (an unnamed Sherlock Holmes play) to its dramatic conclusion! (The murderer’s identity reviled!!)

As to the visual aspects that make this play happen, June Lissandrello provides the period costumes fitting for a time where clothing elegance was in style for the better off, and Sherman Wayne provides the set and lighting design that blends throughout each scene.

Although this play takes place at Christmastime, it’s not so much a “Christmas” play per se! (That Christmas play-type fodder can be found in various stage versions of

“A Christmas Carol” performing this season in many theaters around the area!) Whatever the case, this show has all of the basics one would desire in a play that holds action, suspense, comedy, and where one still can’t get away with murder–not if Sherlock Homes is hot on the trail! (PS…this really isn’t a spoiler alert, but there is no Dr. Watson to be found! Perhaps he’s on call or just playing golf!!)

     THE GAME’S AFOOT (or HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS) presented by Theater Palisades, performs at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Pacific Palisades, until December 13th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For more information, call (310) 454-1970, or visit online at http://www.TheatrePalisades.com

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The Latino Theatre Company presents the world premier of Cris Franco’s ‘57 CHEVY, a coming of age tale about a boy’s father as he did better for himself by raising a family, attempting to obtain the American Dream, and the car that made it all happen.

Ric Salinas is featured as he tells this tale through the eyes and mind of Junior. Junior’s father was born and raised in Mexico. He became an auto mechanic, able to repair Volkswagens. Through a lucky “accident”–not as an auto wreck, but being able to repair a member of the American Consulate’s VW bug while visiting that nation, arranged for him to obtain a visa to work in the USA. He settled in Los Angeles, getting a job working in the service bays for a Volkswagen dealership. Of course, Junior’s father left his wife and two kids behind. However, he was able to save enough money to buy a brand new 1957 Chevrolet, the first step to grab that American Dream! Before long, he drove back to Mexico in that car, picked up his wife and his two daughters, and came back to the USA. Shortly afterwards, Junior was born. From here, this Mexican-American boy spins his personal story, from living with his peers in South Central Los Angeles, to moving on up to what appeared to be a destitute place: The San Fernando Valley where orange groves once stood, now filled with housing track upon housing track. Junior learns that his father became an American through his hard work, and owing to the devotion to provide for his family, being able to get a kind of life he didn’t have as a boy.

This charming tale of growing up in 1950’s and 60’s Los Angeles is filled with little episodes that hold the illusion of being realistic because they actually happened–with the help of a bit of creative license added for “flavor”. Ric Salinas, a member of the Latino satirical group Culture Clash, presents his role as Junior, as well as playing other people that came and went through this boy’s life, in a method that is a cross between comedy and drama; A bit heavy on the former than the latter! But that’s OK as Ric keeps up the pacing as he emotes this mini saga, proving that it was possible to become an immigrant in the USA, and is able to get and live that dream that is part of the “Only in America” epic.

The backdrop setting mostly consists of video projection as desired by Yee Eun Nam, where a video “slide show” is projected upon a rear wall, illustrating to what Ric as Junior et. al. is speaking about or just speaking! The “real” set vs. the virtual one, is rather simple. It shows an office like scene, complete with bulletin boards, a bookshelf loaded with books and three ring binders, as well as a few office desk accessories placed about. (Metal pencil holder, etc.) Positioned within the front center stage area are a pair of two tables with a blond colored Flamica-esque finish tabletop–the same kind of tables one would find at Ikea, that are used as virtual props. But the set isn’t really part of this show. It’s Ric Salinas up front and center, taking the audience to places that Junior knows, or knows about.

Directed by Valerie Dunlap, ‘57 CHEVY can be described as a nostalgic piece. It also shows how domestic life was totally different some fifty years ago. Some of the differences have improved over time, while others became rather tarnished. In today’s world, the “American Dream” has turned either into a dream or a nightmare! But this performance speaks for a era where hard work actually paid off. No matter where one comes from, be in from America or from Mexico, one can really see the USA in that Chevrolet as long as one is keeping their eyes fixed upon the long road ahead!

57 CHEVY, presented by the Latino Theatre Company and performs at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 South Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles, until December 6th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Special performances take place on Wednesday, November 11th and Monday, November 16th at 8:00 PM. No performances on November 12th and November 26th.

     For ticket reservations or for more information, call (866) 811-4111, or via the web site at http://www.TheLATC.org

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2015 Linear Cycle Productions.

All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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