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Mitchell, Taylor Joy.
Cold war playboys :
h [electronic resource] /
b models of masculinity in the literature of playboy
by Taylor Joy Mitchell.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 215 pages.
(Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: "Cold War Playboys: Models of Masculinity in the Literature of Playboy" emphasizes the literary voices that emerged in response to the Cold War's redefinitions of space and sexuality and, thus, adds to the growing national discourse of Cold War literary and masculinity studies. I argue that the literature Playboy includes has always been a necessary feature to creating its masculinity model; however, that very literature often destabilizes the magazine's grand narrative because it presents readers with alternative models of masculinity. To make that argument, I presume five things: 1) masculinity, like femininity, is a construct; 2) the mid-century masculinity crisis should be attributed to redefinitions of space and sexuality; 3) the crisis generated a variety of masculinity models; 4) Playboy presents its own, unified model of masculinity through its editorial features; and 5) finally, that Playboy should be considered an early Cold War artifact because the space Playboy magazine represents, dually domestic and privatized, is hardly trivial--decade after decade, it has absorbed society's shifts and reflected them back to readers. Citing biographical, historical, critical, and textual evidence, I consider how the literature of Playboy magazine responds to the construction of Cold War discourses regarding sexuality and space. In particular, I examine how Playboy contributions from Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, and James Baldwin detail models of masculinity informed by Cold War culture. Playboy's emphasis was obviously Playmates, but fiction always appeared in its pages. As its largest component, fiction became the backbone of Playboy. Therefore, Hefner's educated, sexual male identity included, and still includes, reading a wide array of literature--from Ian Fleming to Ursula le Guin. "Cold War Playboys" asks: How did literature gain primacy in Hefner's ideal male identity? What purposes does reading this literature serve when appealing to a particular masculinity? Answering these questions allows me to explore how one mass-produced magazine and specific literary figures participated in and resisted the construction of Cold War discourses regarding space and sexuality.
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Sipiora, Phillip .
x American Literature Gender Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Cold War Playboys: Models of Masculinity in the Literature of Playboy by Taylor Joy Mitchell A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctoral of Philosophy Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D. Diane Price Herndl, Ph.D. Andrew Berish, Ph.D. David K. Johnson, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 31, 2011 Keywords: Masculinity Studies, Space, Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, James B aldwin Copyright 2011, Taylor Joy Mitchell
DEDICATION I dedicate this dissertation to my father, who reads the articles and loves me unconditionally.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to acknowledge all who have made this scholarship possible. First and foremost, I must thank Dr. Phillip Sipiora whose trust in my abilities made this w ork a reality. Dr. Sipiora led me through this explorative process, all the while r eminding me of stative verbs and deductive claims. Excited to take this project on when others might not be so keen to do so, Dr. Sipiora recounted his personal experiences working with Hugh Hefner and guided me through my dissertation chapter by chapter, sentence by se ntence. I also want to thank my interdisciplinary committee for its leadership and invaluable suggestions. Humanities and American Studies professor, Dr. Andrew Be rish made this dissertation a do-able project by suggesting that I scale down the sc ope of my original idea; Dr. Berish offered me the confidence to move forward using Playboy as my primary source. And from this projectÂ’s inception, Dr. Johnson has always asked m e the tough and practical questionsÂ—those answers will shape my future research. His historical scholarship on the Cold WarÂ’s Lavender Scare made me realiz e that the roots of my fascination with Cold War literature were grounded in post-war political a nd sexual turmoil. Dr. Diane Price HerndlÂ’s willingness to take on this project, at so la te a date, is nothing in comparison to her careful comments, suggestions for revision, and compassion. Her work with Cold War literary criticism and reading suggest ions helped me understand why the Cold War is a legitimate field of study for literar y scholars. At the culmination of my graduate career, I need to thank my professors, department members, and colleagues. Since his arrival, Dr. Hunt Hawkins has been a
model of service; his commitment to the field and members of his department does not go unnoticed. Through her commitment to graduate students, Dr. Laura Runge has inspire d my enthusiasm for teaching and eased my fears of the market. Dr. Joseph Moxley o ffered me multiple opportunities to exert my own agency. Department members like Dee dra Hickman, Nancy Morris and Jerry Medlen have always been more than gracious, whi le Nancy Serrano has kept me informed, fed, and laughing. And there will never be enoug h words to thank Lee Davidson for all that she does for us, especially me. As for my colleagues, I want to especially thank Melinda Hollis, Chrissy Auger, Kendra Bryant, and Liz Kicak for their representations of strong, intelli gent women. I also want to thank Bob Batchelor, Kyle Stedman and Quentin Vieregge for welcoming me into collaborative projects. To Kendra Lee: thank you so much for befriending me on day one; Sprout and I are lucky for your loving supervision. To Jessica McKeeÂ—w ho read every word, heard every whisper of worry, shared every moment of excitem entÂ—I am forever grateful for your friendship, so in awe of your intelligence, and ready for our future collaborations. Thanks also go to Rebecca Messinger, Alyssa LaPatra, Amanda Elff and Renee Cadwallader for their faith in me. I must also acknowledge my big brother, Ma tthew, for his lessons in kindness and for letting me always tag along. And to my mother, I am so fortunate to be growing into the likes of you and to know your love. Thanks for bearing this burden, and all the others, for me. Finally, I wish to acknowledge Kevin Reinhardt for his unending patience, unfaltering belief, and making me laugh when no one else could. Sharing this accomplishment with him makes it worth my while.
TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACTÂ…Â…..Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â….iii INTRODUCTIONÂ…Â… .......................................................................................................1 Cold War Redefinitions of Space and Sexuality ......................................................4 Research Questions ................................................................................................14 CHAPTER 1Â—PLAYING IT HOT IN THE COLD WAR ................................................20 Cold War Models of Masculinity ...........................................................................21 PlayboyÂ’ s Models of Masculinity ..........................................................................25 Sexuality ....................................................................................................26 Wealth ........................................................................................................28 Sophistication .............................................................................................29 Bachelor .....................................................................................................31 Reclamation of Space ................................................................................32 Playboy and Fiction ...............................................................................................34 A Literary Tradition of Virility: Hemingway and Mailer ......................................37 Conclusion .............................................................................................................50 CHAPTER 2Â—BROKE AND ON THE RUN WITH JACK KEROUAC ........................53 Setting up the Foil ..................................................................................................55 Â“Good BlondeÂ” as a Cold War Text .......................................................................73 Â“Good BlondeÂ’sÂ” Model of Masculinity ................................................................86 Space ..........................................................................................................87 Sexuality ....................................................................................................91 Conclusion .............................................................................................................98 CHAPTER 3: SOPHISTICATED SPENDING BY VLADIMIR NABOKOV .................99 Getting NabokovÂ’s Attention ...............................................................................100 Mutual Kicks ........................................................................................................107 A Suitable Climate in Cold War America ............................................................123 AdaÂ’s Models of Masculinity ...............................................................................134 Space ........................................................................................................135 Sexuality ..................................................................................................140 Conclusion ...........................................................................................................143 CHAPTER 4Â—BRICK BY BRICK: JAMES BALDWIN IN PLAYBOY .....................144 Using Race, Not Sexuality ...................................................................................147
Baldwin in the Cold War ......................................................................................166 Â“The Man ChildÂ’sÂ” Model of Masculinity ...........................................................177 Space ........................................................................................................181 Sexuality ..................................................................................................185 Conclusion ...........................................................................................................186 CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................188 WORKS CITED ..............................................................................................................192
ABSTRACT Â“Cold War Playboys: Models of Masculinity in the Literature of Playboy Â” emphasizes the literary voices that emerged in response to the Cold WarÂ’s re definitions of space and sexuality and, thus, adds to the growing national discourse of Cold War lit erary and masculinity studies. I argue that the literature Playboy includes has always been a necessary feature to creating its masculinity model; however, that very lit erature often destabilizes the magazineÂ’s grand narrative because it presents reader s with alternative models of masculinity. To make that argument, I presume five things: 1) mas culinity, like femininity, is a construct; 2) the mid-century masculinity crisis shoul d be attributed to redefinitions of space and sexuality; 3) the crisis generated a variety of masculinity models; 4) Playboy presents its own, unified model of masculinity through its editorial features; and 5) finally, that Playboy should be considered an early Cold War artifact because the space Playboy magazine represents, dually domestic and privatized, is hardly trivialÂ—decade after decade, it has absorbed societyÂ’s shifts and reflect ed them back to readers. Citing biographical, historical, critical, and textual evidence, I consider how the literature of Playboy magazine responds to the construction of Cold War discourses regarding sexuality and space. In particular, I examine how Playboy contributions from Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, and James Baldwin detail models of masculinity informed by Cold War culture. Playboy Â’s emphasis was obviously Playmates, but fiction
always appeared in its pages. As its largest component, fiction became the backbone of Playboy Therefore, Hefner's educated, sexual male identity included, and still incl udes, reading a wide array of literatureÂ—from Ian Fleming to Ursula le Gui n. Â“Cold War PlayboysÂ” asks: How did literature gain primacy in Hefner's ideal male identity? What purposes does reading this literature serve when appealing to a particular m asculinity? Answering these questions allows me to explore how one mass-produced magazine and specific literary figures participated in and resisted the construct ion of Cold War discourses regarding space and sexuality.
1 INTRODUCTION In Â“Cold War Playboys: Models of Masculinity in the Literature of Playboy ,Â” I examine the literary voices that emerged in response to the Cold War and, thus, enter the gr owing national discourse of Cold War literary studies. Though I am too young to have any Cold War memories, I have traveled the intimate American landscapes of Vl admir NabokovÂ’s and Jack KerouacÂ’s road novels. I craved the testimonial and confessional poetry, w hat seemed to be the new expressive and powerfully descriptive "I" used by Allen G insberg and Frank O'Hara. For weeks, I found myself broken into incompatible pieces after sifting through Doris Lessing's notebooks. Finding The Invisible Man on every corner I have never watched a boxing match without thinking of the Battle Royal. Sylvia Plath's tale of psychological ruin, framed by the Rosenberg's execution, still haunts me and James Baldwin's images of homosexual passion set in foreign cities frankly s tirs me. Like Thomas Schaub, I was not "aware" that the mesmerizing undertones of thes e works were really "expressions of political turmoil, in which the nature and obligati ons of writing were altered in response to the decline of the left, to the fact of Hiros hima, Nagasaki and the Holocaust, and to the anticommunism which dominated politics and culture for some years afterward" (vii). After learning about post-wa r America, it was difficult for me to ignore that the literature I loved revealed aspects of t he cultural Cold War. And then Hugh Hefner, in his silk pajamas and smoking jacket, began to invade my scholarship. While watching Â“The History of SexualityÂ” documentary on the History
2 Channel I was, at first, shocked to note that Hefner opened the series and was presented as the figurehead on American sexuality. Shortly after, in December 2009, PlayboyÂ’s publication of Vladimir NabokovÂ’s unfinished, fragmented novel, The Original of Laura caused a media frenzy which reminded readers of the magazineÂ’s original obje ctiveÂ—to combine physical and mental stimulation. Publishing The Original of Laura made it difficult for me to dismiss Playboy Â’s literary history. PlayboyÂ’s current literary editor, Amy Lyod Grace states that Nabokov knew Playboy presented readers with an interesting blend of high and low features by publishing quality fiction. GraceÂ’s revelations led m e to concede that in over its five decades in print, Playboy has published an obscene amount of renowned authorsÂ—and all of the authors I was fascinated with. Therefore, I was forced to reassess the clich I have heard so many times about why so meone purchases Playboy Â—Â“I buy it for the articlesÂ” might actually be true; Playboy proves that literature can Â“liveÂ” anywhere. PlayboyÂ’s sensational rise and continued dominance offers a compelling primary source to study the mid-century masculinity c risis, Cold War redefinitions of space and sexuality, and the literature this culture produced. In Â“Cold War Playboys,Â” I argue that the literature Playboy includes has always been a necessary feature to creating its masculinity model; however, t hat very literature often destabilizes the magazineÂ’s grand narrative because it presents readers with alternative models of masculinity. To make this argument, I presume five things: 1) masculinity, like femininity, is a construct; 2) the mid-century masculi nity crisis should be attributed to redefinitions of space and sexuality; 3) the crisis generat ed a variety of masculinity models; 4) Playboy presents its own, unified model of masculinity through its editorial features; and 5) finally that Playboy should be considered an early Cold War
3 artifact because the space Playboy magazine represents, dually domestic and privatized, is hardly trivialÂ—decade after decade, it has absorbed societyÂ’s shifts a nd reflected them back to readers. Analyzing Playboy allows me to respond to Judith Keenan GardinerÂ’s call for an expansion of masculinity studies. Growing from the more traditional Second Wave feminism, masculinity studies posits that gender constructs mark men as well a s women. Urging for more study into masculinity, feminist scholars, such as Calvin T homas and Michael Kimmel, are committed to recognizing both genders as constructs in order to render them permeable to change. Cultural concerns about manhood reveal that masculinity crises are cyclical and reciprocal in nature. The mid-century masculinity crisis can be attributed to the Cold War redefi nitions of space and sexuality. Government officials and cultural campaigns made the once private domestic space public, so that political subversives, or sexual deviants could be identified as national threats. Cold War anxiety produced the need to classif y who might be a Communist party member, and that anxiety encouraged the penetration of privat e and domestic space. The government infringed upon civil liberties Â“to preserve fre edom in generalÂ” (Whitfield 233). In Cold War, Hot Houses editors Beatriz Colomina, Annmarie Breannan, and Jeannnie Kim argue that the Cold War was an incredible "conflation of public and private" (17). Public spaces, such as national parks and drivein theaters, were privatized. Concurrently, private space, especially the dom estic space, became publicized (14). Domestic space projected the image of the good life: a lifestyle of prosperity and excess that was the weapon" in a war between capitalism and communism (16). The fight against communism was staged as a fight for commoditi es,
4 and as the Â“Kitchen DebatesÂ” between Nixon and Khrushchev aired to millions of Americans, congressional law and mass marketing served to domesticate wa r veterans. The reconstitution of sexuality or space is not exclusive to the Cold War. As Michel Foucault's and Michel de Certeau's work have demonstrated, sexuality and space are two highly contested realms of power, especially because the meanings of these terms shift depending on context. Anthropologists Ellen Ross and Rayna Rapp declared, in their 1980s seminal research, that sex is "always experienced culturall y, through a translation" (51). The bare biological notions of sex, and thus sexuality, cannot be viewed in isolation. Sex "feels individual or at least private," but those feelings are necessarily predicated on the "incorporation of roles, definitions, symbols and mea nings of the worlds in which they are constructedÂ” (51). According to geographers, t he "relationships between sexualities and space are made clear when we begin t hinking about the power of particular landscapes as either libratory or oppressive sit es for the performance of our sexed selves" (Bell 98). Because "space and bodies are int imately tied together," the relationship between space and sexuality is complex and discursi vely produced (Johnston 16). No spaces rest outside of sexual politics because "sex and space cannot be 'decoupled'" (Johnston 3). These works suggest that the simultaneous politicization of space and sexuality is made apparent during the Cold War. Cold War Redefinitions of Space and Sexuality The United StatesÂ’ political strategy to contain the expansion of communism overseas can be applied more generally to the domestic anxiety over boundaries whether political, sexual, or racial. After World War II, complementary proces ses decentralized, and simultaneously concentrated, American space. For example, highway s ystems and
5 broadcast television decentralized space, while suburbia and corporatization c entralized space (Kozlovsky 196). Based on the government's ideology of containment, the Cold WarÂ’s reorganization of space delinated the unstable Â“boundaries between publ ic and private life" (Nelson xii). George Kennan, director of Secretary of State George MarshallÂ’s policy planning staff, deemed containment of communism a necessary strategy, because, unlike the clearly demarcated boundaries of battlegrounds, C ommunist ideology could infiltrate borders and infect anyone. Kennan compared communism to Â“a fluid stream which moves constantly, wherever it is permitted to move. Its main c oncern is to make sure it has filled every nook and cranny available to it in the basin of w orld powerÂ” (par. 24). The United StatesÂ’ Cold War containment strategy influenc ed how citizens viewed and participated in space; borders between private and public space became contested. Anxiety over racial, sexual, and political borders caused suburban sprawl, which encouraged discriminatory practices, such as red-lining. The Servicemen's Readjustment Bill of 1944, popularly known as the GI Bill, provided education and housing to over eight million, mostly white middle-class, veterans. After the passage of the Interstate Highway Act of 1956, creating easy access to suburbs, the United States governme nt finalized it subsidy of the domesticated male. Demographically, marriage rates increased, while the age at which couples married dropped to unprecedented lows. According to Elaine Tyler May's Homeward Bound: American Families during the Cold War Era, families were encouraged by popular narratives to expand as the post-war housing boom transformed America's physical landscape. Eighteen million, white, mi ddle-class citizens moved to suburbia after the war. In Domestic Revolutions Steven Mintz and Susan
6 Kellogg claim that eighty-five percent of the thirteen million homes built be tween 1948 and 1958 were constructed in the suburbs. To keep new suburban communities white, government policy allowed banks to delineate areas suitable for investment. Real tors and bankers used red-lining to discriminate against African Americans by designating certain communities as white only. These officials claimed that sustaining housing -market pricesÂ—not racial discriminationÂ—was the purpose of red-ling. Red-lining allowe d officials to maintain control over communities and interfere in what was once cons idered private space. Likewise, government officials discriminated against homos exuals by penetrating their private spheres for proof of Â“deviantÂ” sexuality and the n ousting them from government jobs because their sexuality was labeled a national threat During the Cold War, the United States government felt obligated to penetrate private spac e, in order to protect its national borders. The rhetoric of containment for communism and domestic space extended to discourses regarding sexuality. American males needed to conform to Cold War redefinitions of public and private space, which meant they had to adhere to a strict code of heterosexuality. Post-war scientific studies, such as the Kinsey Repor ts of 1948 and 1953, suggested that sexual behavior is not static and sexuality should be viewed on a sliding scale. However, the Â“specter of the homosexualÂ” caused widespread panic because, like Communists, homosexuals could not be easily identified (Chauncey). Robert Corber, Robert D. Dean, and David K. Johnson prove with their recent scholarship that homosexuality became a national security concern. Deemed a m ental illness by the psychiatric community of the 1950s, especially governing offic ials, homosexuality was also considered immoral by societal values. Citizens Â“a ffectedÂ” by
7 this Â“illnessÂ” were susceptible to blackmail, and thus, security risks. The gr owing visibility of homosexuality during the Cold War, combined with a perceived crisis i n American masculinity, made space and sexuality extremely contested re alms in the postwar period. This homosexual community was first solidified during World War II, and its visibility helped to spur a perceived post-war masculinity crisis. World W ar II's demands on the United StatesÂ’ population created an atmosphere that "fostered a tolerant a ttitude" toward sex and sexuality (Johnson 52). David K. Johnson explains in the Lavender Scare how the northern migration for Washington employment caused "horror stories" of housing shortages and more "opportunities for sexual encounters" (52). War took men away from families, women entered the workforce, and medical advances depres sed the effects of sexually contracted diseases. Gore Vidal illustrates the heightened sexuality in the 1945-46 winter: "We were enjoying perhaps the freest sexuality that Americans would ever know" (qtd. in Johnson 52). A burgeoning homosexual literature bolstered the widening sphere of sexuality. But, by the time Alfred Kinsey published his f irst comprehensive survey of male sexuality in 1948, many Americans were conce rned about the sexual freedom Vidal celebrated just three years earlier. In his jour nal, John Cheever declared that 1948 was "the year everybody in the United States was worried a bout homosexuality" (qtd. in Johnson 55). Cheever wrote: A great emphasis, by way of defense, was put upon manliness, athletics, hunting, fishing, and conservative clothing, but the lonely wife wondered, glancingly, about her husband as his hunting camp, and the husband himself wondered with whom he shared a rude bed of pines. Was he? Had he? Did he want to? Had he ever? (qtd. in Johnson 55)
8 According to Cheever's observations, World War II's tolerant attitude towa rd sexuality reverted to fears regarding homosexuality. The shifting freedom of sexualit y mirrored the unstable boundaries between Â“public and private life" in the United States (Ne lson xii). Concerns about manhoodÂ—its absence, possible withering, and inconsistent performanceÂ—became a focus for 1950s American culture. The mid-century witnessed what some historians deem a Â“male panic:Â” a time when Â“men self-consciously r ebel against real or imagined Â“feminizationÂ” developing within the workplace, publi c spheres, and/or domestic relationshipsÂ” (Gilbert 3). Historical and cultural studies like Robert D. Dean's Imperial Brotherhood and K. A. Cuordileone's Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War have focused on how government policy constructed masculinity and how aspects of masculinity shaped policy. From this scholarship, two main Cold War models of masculinity have been analyzedÂ—the hyper-masculine and the domesticated. Icons like, John Wayne, and government officials, like John F. Kenned y, represent the hyper-masculine image. The domesticated male is best repr esented by William Whyte's Â“Organizational Man,Â” a gray-flannelled, white-c ollared, suburban father. More recently, cultural and gender scholars, such Bill Osgerby, James Gilb ert, and Michael Davidson, have worked to define a spectrum of mid-century masculinity mode ls, which encompasses more than the hyper-masculine and domesticated. With any number of masculine roles to choose from, masculinity Â“remained a contested terrain t hroughout the postwar periodÂ” and produced a masculine phenomenon much like the one chronicled by Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique.
9 Responding to the Cold WarÂ’s changing notions of space and sexuality, Playboy mapped its own model of masculinity in the virtual space of its pages and the litera l space in its clubs and mansions. For white middle-class, heterosexual men, Playboy formulated a particular model of masculinity with its extremely coherent editoria l features, such as its playbill, advice columns, advertisements, pictorials, and nonfiction columns. A qui ck comparison between a table of contents from a 1950 issue to one from 2011 reveals that editors knew the secret to building a lasting brandÂ—consistency. With its rabbit ears and fluffy tail, Playboy has mastered branding. Growing from publishing a modestly-sized magazine to running international clubs, the Playboy Empire has consistently pre sented a meta-narrative of heterosexuality, upward mobility, and the reclamation of dome stic space. Playboy Â’s editorial features work in conjunction to form a model of masculinity distinct from other Cold War models. Playboy Â’s model of masculinity is heterosexual, wealthy, sophisticated, educated, single, and proud of his domesticated, urban space. Constantly working to increase subscription rates, Hefner and his editors inevitably provided cultural commentary on the nature of American masculinity, m aking Playboy an early Cold War artifact. Playboy magazine should be viewed as an early Cold War artifact because it owes its success to Cold War paranoia, homophobia, c onspicuous, consumption and fears of feminization. From the city to the suburb, Cold War culture spawned new artifacts: TV sets, plastics, drive-ins, Tupperware, shopping pla zas, office cubicles, national parks, etc. Playboy should be catalogued alongside these other artifacts. In Mr. Playboy, Steven Watts argues that Â“[i]n the heart of the Eisenhower era, it was the genius of Playboy and its editor to articulate an approach that tapped both mainstream aspirations and marginal unhappinessÂ” (91). Russell Miller goes so far as to
10 suggest that Â“America had been waiting for PlayboyÂ” (44). If Hugh Hefner had gone to print just a few years earlier, during the height of the McCarthy era, the se cond issue would most likely have never been printed. Senator McCarthy would have branded Hefner as an enemy of the state; but, by 1953, McCarthy was exposed as a tyrant and a drunk and the economy boomed. Exploiting Cold War fears and new capitalistic agend as, Hefner produced a didactic manual for the upscale, urban bachelor. In the decade following World War II, Americans experienced incredibly unsettling changes. As Americans adjusted to an uneasy peacetime, they worked t o restore the family unit and stabilize gender roles. The war separated husba nds from wives and moved women into the workforce. Immediately after the war, percepti ons of juvenile delinquency and divorce rates spiked. Historians and cultural critics often c ite fear as a part of the general Cold War atmosphere. Thomas Mann feared that Â“ Barbarism [was] descending upon us,Â” and he was prepared for Â“a long night and perhaps a deep forgettingÂ” (qtd. in Whitfield 232). For many, the Cold War became menacing. Nor man Mailer declared, Â“Dread has been loose in the twentieth century, and America has shivered in its horror since the Depression and the Second WarÂ” (Â“Presidential Pa persÂ”). After 1947, Americans experienced Â“an increasing anxietyÂ” (Field 7). At omic anxiety, Red and Lavender Scares, and waning McCarthyism produced a general atmosphere of fear. Directly responding to this sense of fear, Hefner positioned Playboy as a diversion, a light-hearted form of entertainment that offered sex, not politics, t o the American male. His often-quoted first editorial note explains how PlayboyÂ’s main objective is entertainment.
11 Affairs of the State will be out of province. We donÂ’t expect to solve any world problems or prove any great moral truths. If we are able to give the American male a few extra laughs and a little diversion from the anxietie s of the Atomic Age, weÂ’ll feel weÂ’ve justified our existence. (2, Dec. 1953) Playboy diverted readers from Cold War anxieties with nude pictorials, garish cart oons, and a joke column. In less than one year on the stands, Playboy was selling 185,000 copies per month, and by the close of the decade, those monthly numbers breached the million mark (Gunelius 14). In Reaching for Paradise, Thomas Weyr argues that the general public shied Â“away from politicsÂ—especially liberal or left-w ing politicsÂ” in the early years of the 1950s (xvi). Sex emerged as a Â“surrogateÂ” for politics Â“a way of expressing opposition to the status quoÂ” (xvi). Playboy embraced sex, Â“not only as a moral good but a moral imperativeÂ” (xvi). Hefner avowed that his entertainment magazine offered men a perfectly normal outlet to engage with appropriate s exual material. PlayboyÂ’s display of appropriate sexual content filled the void between swanky menÂ’s magazines, like Modern Man, and more high-brow entertainment journals, such as Esquire. Set within a Cold War context of fears regarding the state of masculinit y, Playboy's overt emphasis on heterosexuality allowed the magazine to flourish. Hefner might have presented the magazine as apolitical, but he deliberately positione d its sexual content as a means for discovering national dissenters. Because the single bac helor technically defied the traditional, social institution of marriage, he could be bra nded as homosexual or sexual deviant. But, according to Hefner, if the single bachelor was interested in gazing at nude females, he couldn't be a Communist. Strategi cally placing his magazine within the Cold War anti-Communist and homophobic climate, Hefner
12 claimed that Â“a picture of a beautiful woman is something that fellow of any age ought to be able to enjoy. If he doesn't, then that's the kid to watch out forÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 41). Hefner later commented that Â“there were two kinds of boysÂ—those who liked to pul l the wings off flies and those who liked girls. We confess to preference in the latte r. The deviants, the perverts, the serious juvenile delinquentsÂ—they are not interested in healthy boy-girl relationshipsÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 41). National anxieties reg arding communism and deviant sexuality were intertwined. Gazing at female nudes apparently af firmed heterosexual virility and spurred on national well-being. Playboy also owes its success to the fact that it stressed participation in conspicuous consumption. In features such as Â“The Advisor,Â” Playboy defined what t o buy, what to listen to, what to read and how to respond. Playboy offered American men what Pierre Bourdieu would call Â“cultural capital.Â” David Halberstam a ttributes Playboy's spectacular rise to the "post-war decline of Calvinism and Puritanism in America" and as much as "anything else to the very affluence of the soci ety" (576). Americans were begging for access into the post-war world of plenty because the y "lived in a world of more and more toys" (576). But Playboy did not Â“link consumption to fatherhood and homeownershipÂ” (Corber 9). Severing the link between consumption and domesticity, Playboy encouraged males to satisfy their pleasure principle. In "Czar of the Bunny Empire," Hefner claims that his magazine stimulated readers to j oin in the consumption campaign. Urged by the material and physical rewards presented i n Playboy, readers would be encouraged to "educate themselves so they can make enough money to enjoy these benefits" (qtd. in Davidson Â“CzarÂ” 32). Hefner then surmis ed that Playboy would "help overcome the educational gap between ourselves and the Russians"
13 (qtd. in Davidson Â“CzarÂ” 33). Hefner thus exploited the Cold War fight over economi c systems and helped Playboy readers join the capitalist cause by advertising a variety of items from liquor to high-tech gadgets. The other Cold War concern Playboy exploited was the anxiety over the Â“womanizationÂ” of America. Cultural myths suggested that men had to relearn how to behave like men because the Â“sex rolesÂ” had been confused. The confusion could be traced to a variety of sources: the growing white-collar, masculine, c orporate world of grey flannel suits; the feminization of the consumer society; or the burden of be ing of breadwinner. Whatever the source, mid-century critics, like Philip Wylie Â“frequently chargedÂ” women with Â“trying to Â‘dominateÂ’ menÂ” (Fraterrigo Â“Answer to S uburbiaÂ” 750). Betty Friedan explained that women were blamed for men's troubles: Â“No one has ever been blacklisted or fired for an attack on the 'American woman'Â” it was Â“[s]a fer to take it out on his wife and his mother than to recognize a failure in himself or in the sacred American way of lifeÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 29). Even family-orientated Life magazine claimed, in 1954, that women were Â“winning the battle of the sexes.Â” Esquire followed those critiques with questions such as Â“Whatever happened to the girl who was loving rather than just loved, serene rather than strident, comforting rather than compe titive?Â” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 33). Assertions of masculine crisis often found their ways i nto the pages of Playboy. Philip Wylie's 1942 vitriolic attack on women, Generations of Vipers continued throughout the magazine in articles such as Â“The Abdicating Male and How the Gray Flannel Mind Exploits HimÂ” (1956), the panel on Â“The Womanization of AmericaÂ” (1958), and non-fiction articles on Â“The Career WomanÂ” (1963). Playboy depicted caricatures of nagging housewives, who undermined individualism and
14 masculine authority. According to Hefner, Â“womanization meant the development of a 'female-oriented society...A matriarchy instead of a patriarchyÂ’Â” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 3334). Hefner claims that the anxiety over the sex roles stemmed from the woma n being Â“pushedÂ” into a more dominated position: Â“Woman's suffrage gave them the right to vote, etc. All very positive things...But we've gotten ourselves into a situation where ...the roles of the sexes...are becoming less and less definedÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 33-34). Hef ner continues to show how the once-clearly-defined roles have been muddled: You know it goes back to the very beginning of time. The man goes out and kills a saber-toothed tiger while the woman stays at home and washes out the pots. Fair, unfair, good, bad, or indifferent, the roles were clearly defined. Sadly as they become less defined and more confused, we get into a situation...with a tremendous amount of national neuroses...She wants to dominate the male, the man gets into a position in which he feels dominated, and thus the woman loses identity...marriage collapses. (qtd. in Fraterrigo 33-34) Outliving and outnumbering males, females wielded new political power as voters, earned their own wages, and constituted a major sector of consumption, but the rhetoric of female domination was overblown (Fraterrigo Â“Answer to SuburbiaÂ” 750-1). Nonetheless, Playboy continually participated in the discourse of a masculinity crisis throughout the Cold War. Research Questions If Playboy's main objective is to present a specific image of manhood, how do the literary selections conform to that vision? Would the magazine have been as succ essful if it did not contain the larger editorial content? Much quality research has been compl eted on PlayboyÂ’s didactic, mid-century program for American males; but hardly any scholar s have analyzed its fiction. For instance, four recent works analyze Playboy's impact on
15 mid-century masculinity: Thomas Weyr's Reaching for Paradise, Bill Osgerby's Playboy's in Paradise: Masculinity, Youth, and Leisure style in Modern America, Steven Watts Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream and Elizabeth Fraterrigo's Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America. Each of these texts explores how Playboy editors created a specific, lasting image of American manhood. And while each mentions how Playboy's literary contributions include an Â“awesome selection of names, the making of any college course in contemporary American literature,Â” none devote more than a few paragraphs to analyzing PlayboyÂ’s fiction (Weyr xii). Even Fraterrigo's most recent text does not examine how quality litera ture supports the Â‘good life.Â’ Â“Cold War Playboys: Models of Masculinity in PlayboyÂ’s LiteratureÂ” responds to this oversight and situates the literature as an integral aspect of the Playboy model. PlayboyÂ’s emphasis was obviously Playmates, but fiction always appeared in its pages. David John Lambkin's rhetorical analysis of Playboy discloses how fiction is PlayboyÂ’s single largest element; modeled on EsquireÂ’s editorial features fiction became the backbone of Playboy Therefore, Hefner's educated, sexual male identity included, and still includes, reading a wide array of literatureÂ—from Ian Flemin g to Ursula le Guin. How did literature gain primacy in Hefner's ideal male identity? What pur poses does reading this literature serve when appealing to a particular masculinit y? Answering these questions allows me to explore how one mass-produced magazine and specific liter ary figures Â“participated in, responded to and resistedÂ” the construction of Cold War discourses regarding space and sexuality (Redding 4).
16 Playboy's literary selections reveal wide-ranging models of masculinity. Unl ike the pictorial and editorial features, which celebrate and perpetuate a heter osexual, upwardly mobile, and educated model of masculinity, the literature published in Playboy during the Cold War often contradicts this model, as well as the seemingly Â“toug h guyÂ” or domesticated Cold War images of masculinity. The chapters that follow spe cifically explore how PlayboyÂ’s literary selections respond to Cold War culture. Citing biographical, historical, critical, and textual evidence, I consider how the lite rature of Playboy magazine responds to the construction of Cold War discourses regarding sexuality and space. In particular, I examine how Playboy contributions from Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, and James Baldwin detail models of masculinity inform ed by Cold War culture. My first chapter thoroughly explores Playboy's model of masculinity and its tradition of publishing virile literature, so that comparisons c an be made in subsequent chapters. Chapters 2 through 4 contain archival research, liter ary analysis of each authorsÂ’ short stories, rhetorical analysis of their non-f iction, and an analysis of how selected contributions support or challenge Playboy's model of masculinity. In Â“Chapter 1Â—Playing it Hot in the Cold War,Â” I focus on masculinity models and how the literature published in Playboy supports or negates the model of masculinity presented in the magazine's other features. I describe reigning Cold War mas culinity models, as well as define PlayboyÂ’s slightly alternative model. Relying on archival research, editorial manifestos, biographies, and recent scholarly attention, I examine PlayboyÂ’s monthly features and ever-expanding Playboy Empire to explain how it promoted a new kind of masculinityÂ—one that encouraged men to stay indoors and read
17 high-brow literature. I detail PlayboyÂ’s editorial process and argue that PlayboyÂ’s Associate Publisher and Editorial DirectorÂ’s main objective was to remas culinize the act of reading literature. To fulfill this objective, Auguste Comte Spectorksy relied on the popular personas of virile authors, especially Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mai ler. However, even HemingwayÂ’s and MailerÂ’s fiction provide an alternative image of masculinity to PlayboyÂ’s readers. Having established Playboy's model of masculinity in my first chapter, I move on to consider how Jack Kerouac's contributions undermine Playboy's grand narrative. In Â“Chapter 2Â—Broke and on the Run with Jack Kerouac,Â” I analyze Playboy Â’s strategic use of the Beats, especially Kerouac. I argue that Hefner used the Beats as a f oil to PlayboyÂ’s Â“Upbeat Generation.Â” Playboy heavily solicited work from Kerouac, even while maintaining a sanctioned distance. As Barbara Ehrenreich observes, "the Beats' rejection of convention and their virtues of masculine independence, non-conformity and (often misogynistic) sexual expression found a degree with the playboy ethos of hedonism and personal indulgenceÂ” (qtd. in Osgerby 184). However, the Beats rejected PlayboyÂ’s call for conspicuous consumption. To support my argument, I review all of Kerouac's Playboy contributions, as well as his short fiction, "Good Blonde" (1965). Then I move onto an analysis of Â“Good Blonde,Â” in which Kerouac embraces mobility and uses the new highway system to defy implied gender roles and social responsibilitie s regarding work. Vladimir NabokovÂ’s fictional contributions, like KerouacÂ’s, also undermine PlayboyÂ’s model of masculinity. In Â“Chapter 3Â—Sophisticated Spending by Vladimir Nabokov,Â” I argue that Playboy used NabokovÂ’s high-brow literary status, in order to
18 enhance the quality of its regular contributors and present readers with serious, sophisticated fiction. I also reveal how Nabokov heightened the sexual and violent imagery when he translated his early Russian works for a Playboy audience I then argue that the Cold War climate helped to make Nabokov an immensely successful author. I conclude this chapter with an analysis of how Nabokov's serialized selections from Ada (1969) construct an alternative model of masculinity from the Playboy model. While Ada Â’ s male narrator reclaims domestic space, he presents Playboy readers with a variant sexuality. Similar to the ways that KerouacÂ’s and NabokovÂ’s fictional selections underm ine PlayboyÂ’s grand narrative James BaldwinÂ’s contributions offer Playboy readers an alternative model of masculinity. In Â“Chapter 4Â—Brick by Brick: James Baldwin in Playboy ,Â” I argue that Playboy relied on Baldwin as its representative for the Civil Rights Movement. Both Baldwin and Playboy preferred to ignore BaldwinÂ’s sexuality and focus on his efforts to promote racial equality. But BaldwinÂ’s open homosexuality dir ectly opposed the Playboy ethos; Hefner admitted that, while Playboy did not discriminate against deviant sexualities, male readers preferred to view naked women. It was not until the late 1980s, with the publication of BaldwinÂ’s Â“Freaks and the American Ide al of Manhood,Â” that Playboy began to expand its notions of sexuality and consider how it participates in the construction of sexual identity. I conclude this chapter w ith an analysis of how Baldwin's "The Man Child" (1966) engages with Cold War discourses rega rding space and sexuality. I frame my study of Â“Cold War PlayboysÂ” with Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer because both represent ideal Playboy authorsÂ—virile and intelligent. In my first
19 chapter and conclusion, I argue that Playboy editors used MailerÂ’s connections to Hemingway and his virilized, literary persona to remasculinize high culture. Like Kerouac, Nabokov, and Baldwin, HemingwayÂ’s and MailerÂ’s cultural currency encouraged editors to continually publish their non-fiction and fiction. But, unlike to Kerouac, Nabokov, or Baldwin, Hemingway and Mailer were exactly the kind of author s one would expect to find in PlayboyÂ’s pages. And yet, as I argue in Chapter One, even HemingwayÂ’s and MailerÂ’s fictional works undermine PlayboyÂ’s commitment to heterosexuality and conspicuous consumption. This discovery suggests that PlayboyÂ’s literary feature is the only component of the magazine that contains models of masculinity which deviate from the other features. Playboy's inclusion of popular postwar literature expands the magazineÂ’s seemingly restrictive model of masculinity, suggesting that despite its seemingly didactic nature, editors were wil ling to publish contradictory images of masculinity.
20 CHAPTER 1Â—PLAYING IT HOT IN THE COLD WAR The quantity of the fiction published in Playboy is astonishing. For instance, in its first year of publication, from December 1953 to 1954, Playboy devoted 168 pages to literary selectionsÂ—over 30% of its content, making fiction the single largest component of the magazine (Lambkin 26). Increasing circulation allowed Hefner to offer wri ters the highest magazine trade fees, which in turn Â“increased the quality and quantity of literature and reportage that filled its pagesÂ” (Fraterrigo 46). Most of PlayboyÂ’s fiction is either written by popular, contemporary authors or can be classified as a parody of a famous story by an unknown author. Publishing only popular authors or familiar narratives proves that Playboy often relied on the cultural currency of contemporary authors to help sell magazine copies. The vast amount of literature published in Playboy makes it a valuable resource for analyzing post-war literature. PlayboyÂ’s sensational rise and continued dominance offers a compelling primary source to study the mid-century masculinity crisis. Constantly working t o increase subscription rates, editors inevitably provided cultural commentary on the nature of American masculinity, and their printed features explored how the Cold War aff ected masculine identity. In Creating the Modern Man, Tom Pendergast claims that Â“[m]agazines provide a fertile and contained testing groundÂ” to assess chang ing images of masculinity (17). Yet, Pendergast ends his study of American magazine a nd consumer culture in 1950. Pendergast ignores the mid-century masculinity crisis, because he Â“assum[es] that by 1950 modern masculinity had attained a dominance akin to that whic h
21 Victorian masculinity had held in the late nineteenth centuryÂ” (29). However, Playboy's lasting effect on masculinity should be recorded. Playboy promoted a specific, gendered narrative that responded to the explosive growth of suburbia and the so-called Â“feminizationÂ” of society. Its editorial features form a critique of Â“so cial and gender order in fluxÂ” for its readers (Fraterrigo, Â“Answer to SuburbiaÂ” 749). PlayboyÂ’s editorial features include Â“Playbill,Â” Â“After HoursÂ” Reviews, Â“Playboy Advisor,Â” Â“ Dear Playboy,Â” panels, forums, advice columns, cartoons, joke column, pictorials, advertisements, and other non-fiction cultural commentary. Each of these editorial features support s PlayboyÂ’s Â“idealization of straight masculinity through consumerismÂ” (Pitzulo 1). The literature, however, must be categorized separately from these other editorial feature s because it often challenges PlayboyÂ’s ethos of heterosexuality, upward mobility, and the reclamation of domestic space. Isolating Playboy's literary selections and analyzing how they differ from PlayboyÂ’s editorial features helps to better define Playboy's masculinity model. Cold War Models of Masculinity PlayboyÂ’s consistent message in its editorial features illustrates how the magazine constructed its own version of ideal masculinity in comparison to Cold War models of masculinities. Cold War popular and historical culture produced a variety of mascul inity models, but the hyper-masculine and domesticated models are the most prevalent. Cultural critic Neal Gabler states that 1950s Â“American male sexuality Â” was generally Â“a function of muscle, aggression and force associated with such things as manly labor, the outdoors, athleticism, ruggedness and riskÂ” (110, July 2010). Archetypes of this model range from John Wayne to Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowalski. Gabler suggests t hat Â“even the smarter, more self-reflective post-war male sex symbolsÂ—Bog art, Mitchum,
22 Lancaster, DouglasÂ—were required to display masculine brioÂ” (110, July 2010). Historical and cultural studies like Robert D. Dean's Imperial Brotherhood and K. A. Cuordileone's Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War have focused on how the Cold War constructed masculinity or how aspects of masculinity shaped Cold War policy. From this scholarship, two main Cold War models of masculinity have been analyzedÂ—the hyper-masculine and the domesticated. According to Dean's Imperial Brotherhood this model of masculinity influenced the United States' Cold War containment policy; officials had to remain steadfast and Â“strongÂ” against t he infiltration of Communists. The Â“tough-guyÂ” masculinity produced Â“clichs from western fil msÂ” and Â“served as descriptions of the strengths of American determination and the character of our response to threatsÂ” (Gilbert 3). Dean stresses the ramifications of Â“c ollective and 'hegemonic' aspects of cultural ideologies of masculinityÂ” (12). The overwhelm ing, pervasive nature of these models made it difficult for individual males to contr adict them. The other main Cold War model of masculinity is the domesticated male, best represented by William Whyte's Â“Organizational Man,Â” a gray-fla nnelled, white-collared, suburban father. White, middle-class, heterosexual males conformed to suburban lif e, mass culture, and consumption practices. Just as communism needed to be contained during the Cold War, sexuality was contained by heterosexual marriages and t he nuclear family. The traditional family, portrayed by popular television shows like Ozzie and Harriet (1952-1963) and Leave it to Beaver (1957-1963), upheld the primacy of the nuclear family and Â“supported conventional gender arrangements and sex norms, w hile also affirming the socioeconomic orderÂ” (Fraterrigo 3). These Cold War c ultural studies
23 suggest that the mid-century crisis of masculinity resulted from, and caus ed shifts in, cultural and national policy. Concerns about manhoodÂ—its absence, possible withering, and inconsistent performanceÂ—became a focus for modern American culture during the Cold War The mid-century witnessed what some historians deem a Â“male panicÂ”: a time whe n Â“men self-consciously rebel against real or imagined Â“feminizationÂ” developing w ithin the workplace, public spheres, and/or domestic relationshipsÂ” (Gilbert 3). The hist orical juncture of the Cold War produced a perceived masculinity crisis in which Â“assum ptions about masculinity and expected male behavior are being undercut by circumsta nce and social and psychological changesÂ” (16). For instance, anti-Communist sentim ents ultimately encouraged anxieties about masculinity which had little to do wi th communism (Cuordileone viii). The anxiety regarding manhood also occurred because of the domineering nature and ubiquitous reproduction of the hyper-masculine and domesticated masculinity models. Analyzing the present masculinity cr isis in Stiffed Susan Faludi connects "the empty compensations of a masculine mystique" to the heavi ly prescribed 1950s gender roles (40). Although Faludi correctly links the current ma le panic to the 1950s, the recent crisis needs to be viewed as cyclical, rather than del ineated. For Michael Davidson, the crisis of gendered identity "has revolved itself c yclically every decade since Freud," and any gendered crisis "involves an attempt to stabi lize or normalize categories that are then used as the basis upon which to erect juridical, s ocial, and economic systems" (26). For instance, Cold War culture used the hyper-mascul ine model to reinforce military decisions and solidify economic institutions, such a s highcapitalism. The domesticated model was used to support juridical policies, such as red-
24 lining. Concerns about manhood and resulting masculinity crises need to be analyzed in terms of their cyclical and reciprocal nature. More recently, cultural and gender scholars, such Bill Osgerby, James Gilb ert, and Michael Davidson, have worked to define a spectrum of mid-century masculinity mode ls that encompasses more than the hyper-masculine and domesticated models. With an y number of masculine roles to choose from, masculinity Â“remained a contested te rrain throughout the post-war periodÂ” (Corber 8). Bill Osgerby argues that, as the middle class adapted to new socioeconomic standards, Â“articulations of masculinitiesÂ” erupte d and Cold War culture presented the middle class with a variety of masculine ident ities (14). According to James Gilbert's study, Men in the Middle: Searching for Masculinity in the 1950s assumptions about the male, sexed body during the Cold War need to be expanded in order to incorporate multiple masculinity models. Gilbert claims that there i s no single, prevailing, agreed-upon norm of masculinity during the 1950s. Michael Davidson specifically inscribes the image of homosexuals into the wide range of m asculine identities to remind readers that, during post-war culture, a burgeoning, though subversive, homosexual identity provided alternative models for young men and women. Davidson begins his Cold War literary study recalling the image of televisi on comedian Ernie Kovacs playing the effeminate, outrageous Percy Dovetonsils, the Â“poet la ureateÂ” with the syrupy lisp, martini glass, and cigarette. While KovacsÂ’ portrayal of Dovetonsils was meant to reflect homophobic stereotypes, his television appearance as Dovetonsi ls still offered a homosexual representation. The growing body of Cold War gender scholarship works to justify how containment policy and cultural paranoia construct ed wide-ranging cultural icons. This range of masculinity models, from Dovet onsils to
25 Kennedy, produced a masculine phenomenon much like the one chronicled by Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique. And PlayboyÂ’s editors exploited this masculine phenomenon to construct and present PlayboyÂ’s own model of masculinity. PlayboyÂ’s Model of Masculinity For white middle-class, heterosexual men, Playboy formulated a particular model of masculinity in response to Cold War ideology's reorganization of space and redefinition of sexuality. Playboy's model of masculinity is heterosexual, wealthy, sophisticated, educated, single, and proud of his domesticated, urban space. Even though Playboy's first editors, Hefner, Ray Russell, Arthur Paul, and Eldon Sellers, worked issue to issue, they maintained an invariable message throughout the magazine's basic elements. Hefner admits that the early issues consisted of Â“largely re print materialÂ… It was pickup stuffÂ” (Weyr 25). However, Lambkins argues that while this mater ial was Â“pickup stuff,Â” it still presented a very specific image which Â“emphasized se xuality, material gains, and masculine clevernessÂ” (38). Even if editors Â“didn't think m ore than one issue ahead,Â” Hefner Â“knewÂ” from the magazineÂ’s inception what he wanted to produceÂ—a guidebook for the up-and-coming bachelor (25). Elizabeth Fraterrigo claim s, in Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America, that from its first drafting stage, Hefner envisioned Playboy would always promote a Â“masculine persona in tune with a modern, sexually liberated, consumer society, freed of the burdens of breadwinning and untainted by the feminine associations of consumptionÂ” (35). PlayboyÂ’s masculinity model modifies the hyper-masculine model because playboys preferred to stay indoors entertaining female guests, listening to jazz a nd reading Nietzsche, as opposed to thrashing outdoors with other men on hunting expeditions. It
26 also revises the domesticated model because the playboy prefers bachelorhood in an urban setting over a nuclear family in the suburbs. PlayboyÂ’s alternative model of masculinity, however, only slightly deviated from reigning Cold War models. For instance, the playboy reinforced the virility of the hypermasculine model, as well as preserved the heterosexuality of the domestic model. Hefner did change the representation of a manÂ’s Â‘good lifeÂ’ from one of ranch houses with grills and dens to one of bachelor penthouses with hi-fi stereos and entertainment spaces. Although, Hefner liked to characterize himself as a pioneer rebelling a gainst the Â“conformityÂ” suffocating other men, PlayboyÂ’s model of masculinity was not completely subversive. The playboy model, for example, did not oppose working, women, or commodities. The playboyÂ’s most rebellious act was not getting married; wi th this simple refusal, the playboy ignored the cultural markers of maturation, denied the role of t he breadwinner, and refused to support a family. While this might position the playboy as stalled in his maturation process, his multiple female partners and virility pe rpetuated a sense of masculinity: Â“a playboy didnÂ’t have to be a husband to be a manÂ” (Ehrenreich 51). Thus, the playboy image as the rebel needs to be reconsidered. Barbara Ehrenrei ch argues that taking Â“fun morality seriouslyÂ” was HefnerÂ’s only rebellion ( 45). PlayboyÂ’s tempered model of masculinity helps to explain why the Playboy model of masculinity was so successfully adopted. Sexuality Sex, specifically heterosexual sex, was Playboy's model of masculinityÂ’s fundamental element. Editors knew that Playmates sold the magazine. Discussing Playboy's early readership, editor Ray Russell states that readers Â“bought the mag azine
27 for the girlsÂ” (Weyr 35). If editors took the Â“sex out,Â” the magazine would Â“die l ike a dogÂ” (Weyr 35). Â“We could have all the Nabokovs in the world and the best articles on correct attire,Â” Russell quips, Â“without attracting readersÂ” (35). Thus editors offered readers sex, but the sex was far from vulgar; Hefner worked diligently to ma ke Â“sex safe for AmericaÂ” (Gabler 108). As Time magazine remarked in 1967, a young, blonde Playmate carefully posed in familiar settings in order to resemble the girl-next-door is hardly erotic (Ehrenreich 50). Ehrenreich argues that HefnerÂ’s family hi story and childhood faith mollified his vision of erotic. Growing up in the mid-west with incredibly conservative, religious parents, Hefner parlayed his sexual fa ntasies into a tasteful, controlled empire. His parents were high-school sweethearts from rural Nebraska who married in Chicago in 1921. Their Â“severe emotional decorumÂ” often frustrated Hefner who assumed that Â“puritanical sexual tyrannyÂ” twisted Â“ good people into sad deformityÂ” (Valiunas 33). Hefner has claimed that Â“Puritan repressi on is really the key that unlocks the mystery of my lifeÂ” (qtd. in Valiunas 33). Hefner was revolutionary only in his desire to show bare breasts and bottoms; in the early decades o f the magazine, he refused to incorporate too much obscenity and the nudity had be tasteful. HefnerÂ’s usual strict editorial control grew maniacal wh en it came to editing sexual content. Interested in the prolonged survival of Playboy Hefner shrewdly edited explicit text. For example, Russell recalls having a conversation with Hef ner regarding a story that included the word Â“ass.Â” Hefner wanted Â“assÂ” revised to something l ess explicit like Â“rumpÂ” (Weyr 35). Hefner also asked Russell to Â“bowdlerize excerpts fr om classics by Boccaccio and BalzacÂ”; Hefner made Russell change the main character in a Decameron story from a young amorous priest to a student in order to Â“keep the church
28 off our neckÂ” (35). The Â“interface of sexuality with composed self-possessionÂ” produced a model of masculinity that differed from crude, hyper-masculine models (G abler 110). Intently controlling the magazine's basic sexual element produced an appropriate balance between sexual freedom and containment. Wealth HefnerÂ’s desire to make the sexual content appropriate was also extended to the advertisements and editorials that promoted commodities. Playboy's liberated male model was urged to consume specific, sophisticated, manufactured commodities. HefnerÂ’s most innovative advertisement campaign was Â“What sort of Man Reads Playboy?Â” Starting in 1958, editors began embedding monthly advertisements, whic h usually contained a picture of a dapper man interacting with an attractive wom an in an urban setting. Some photographs contain men drinking expensive liquor, hailing cabs, or hosting a party, but all of the pictures reinforce the playboyÂ’s purchasing power. Underneath every photograph was text declaring how the average Playboy reader was a trendsetter with an expendable income. The text in Â“What Sort of Man Reads Play boy?Â” was adopted from outsourced or independent studies on magazine readers, such as the Playboy commissioned survey by Gould, Gleiss, and Benn (1955), or the Daniel Starch and Staff (1958) independent study. These studies collected educational, economic, a nd marital statuses, as well as smoking, drinking, driving, and vacationing habits fr om Playboy readers. The Â“What Sort of Man Reads Playboy?Â” advertisements serve dual purposes: companies know exactly what products to market for the target audience a nd Playboy editors can portray a wealthy, cultured audience. By creating such a spec ific
29 target audience, Playboy encouraged advertisers to bombard the male consumer with upscale goods. Playboy's promise of material reward echoed the national call to pursue pleasure. Hefner correctly gauged that Â“American consumer society, as it evolved t o a more advanced stage in the post-war era, involved more than just buying goods. It was intimately connected to a larger ethos of pleasure, leisure, and entertainme nt. Uninhibited consumption depended on the emotional joys of self-fulfillment, not the moral satisfactions of self-denialÂ” (Watts 129). The editorial focus on entertai nment and leisure time actively encouraged men to partake in the Â“creature comforts and the inf inite variety of man's more elegant, leisure-time possessionsÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 48). Acc ording to Hefner, his magazine stressed the Â“prizes available in our society in return for honest endeavor and hard workÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 48). Clear to position readers as consumer s of hi-fi stereos or mechanical beds, rather than lawn mowers or grills, edit ors avoid linking Â“consumption to fatherhood and homeownershipÂ” (Corber 9). #UNQPICU RNC[DQ[URCTVKEKRCVGFKPVJGRTGUGTXCVKQPQHECRKVCNKUOVJTQWIJEQPUWOGTKUOVJG[FKFPQVVJTGCVGPVJGRTQLGEVGFJ[RGTOCUEWNKPGQTFQOGUVKECVGFOQFGN They could hang out in their kitchens, whip up appetizers, and wear their pajamas all day--as long they kept their purchasing power. Sophistication Playboy promoted an idealized figure who possessed sophisticated taste, employing wealth as a facet for its model of masculinity. In the April 1956 adve rtisement for Playboy readers, the playboy model was clearly depicted:
30 Is he simply a wastrel, a ne'er do well, a fashionable bum? Far from it: He can be a sharp-minded young business executive, a worker in the arts, a university professor, an architect or engineer. He can be many things, provided he possess a certain point of view. He must see life not as a vale of tears, but as a happy time, he must take joy in his work, without regarding it as a the end of all living; he must be an alert man, an aware man, a man of taste, a man sensitive to pleasure, a man whoÂ—without acquiring the stigma of voluptuary or dilettanteÂ—can live life to the hilt. This is the sort of man we mean when we use the word playboy. (73) According to the above description, the playboy lived a full life. The ideal play boy had to work hard to play hard. But because most readers were unaccustomed to abundance of consumer goods, Playboy promised to instruct its readers in the Â“fine art of consumption, cultivating taste and imparting expertiseÂ” (Fraterrigo 49). Reading the advice columns, learning the jazz scene, collecting the right furniture, and absorbing the right literature were all necessary expenditures. From the first editorial, which deem s the magazine quality entertainment Â“served up with humor, sophistication and spice,Â” to its music reviews, editors stressed sophistication (3, Dec. 1953). Thus, the material found in the pages of the magazine would help mold readers into connoisseurs. Hefner hardly exudes hyper-masculine tendencies in his silk pajamas and bathrobe. Sophisticated but lanky, Hefner became Â“the antithesisÂ” of the 1950s hy permasculine model for his readers. Norman Mailer described Hefner as a Â“lea n, rather modest cowboy of middle sizeÂ” and seemed shocked that Hefner was the publisher and owner of Playboy clubs (qtd. in Gabler 110). The June 1957 Â“PlaybillÂ” introduced readers to Editor-Publisher Hugh M. Hefner. Penned by Hefner, the introduction c laims Hefner is a Â“restless fellowÂ” whose Â“conservative and casualÂ” dress is always coupled with loafers and a bottle of Pepsi-Cola (2). Apparently Hefner liked the same thi ngs that Playboy readers supposedly liked: Â“jazz, foreign films, Ivy League clothes, gin a nd tonic
31 and pretty girlsÂ” (2). The introduction went on to reinforce the relationship betwee n the editor and the reader. It concluded with Â“ Playboy 's unprecedented popularity with the young urbane male is a direct result of the fact that the editor-publisher a nd his audience see eye-to-eyeÂ” (2). Gabler claims that Â“forswearing macho,Â” Hefner Â“preferred cocktails to whisky or beer, Franz Kline to Thomas Hart Benton, foreign sports ca rs to Cadillacs and the indoors to the outdoors. He loved jazz, cutting-edge comics like Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory, minimalist architecture in the Mies van der Rohe and Fra nk Lloyd Wright style, and modern furnitureÂ” (Gabler 110). Gabler ends his analysi s of Hefner's masculinity by stating that Â“he was the epicure who always knew what was coolÂ” (110). And if Hefner did not always know what was cool, he had the ability to commission writers to promote his version of sophistication. Bachelor The sophisticated playboy enjoyed a sense of sexual freedom. Playboy really only attacked the conventional male's monogamous marriage status. During a climate which stressed family togetherness, the Playboy model hardly goaded men to become the head of a household; rather, it suggested that men escape marriage by dating a vari ety of women. Ehrenreich reiterates that this notion of escape was Â“strong stuffÂ” dur ing a time of suburban migration and when Look coined the phrase Â“togethernessÂ” (Ehrenreich 50, Fraterrigo 47). However, according to the Playboy philosophy, the magazine was Â“neither wholly against nor in favor of lifelong bachelorhoodÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 47). Apparently the magazine was only concerned with promoting a longer period of bachelorhood, so that men could Â“assume adult responsibilities after they had formulate d a clear sense of identity and had come to know what they wanted in a spouse and out of
32 lifeÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 47). Hefner even justified an extended bachelorhood for t he good of the country. A longer period to Â“play at the finish of education and before taking the responsibility of having a familyÂ” would combat identity crisis caused by nuc lear threats and Â“womanization of AmericaÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 47). And, after this Â“period of pla y,Â” the playboy could settle down and Â“continue his well-honed pursuit of pleasurable consumption and keep the nation's economy humming alongÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 47). Hefner assertions that the nationÂ’s well-being depended on an extended bachelor life style match his logic that PlayboyÂ’s centerfolds could uncover national dissenters. Reclamation of Space The reorganization of space is the last primary element of the Playboy model of masculinityÂ—reclamation of domestic space. +PJKUHKTUVGFKVQTKCNOGUUCIGVQ TGCFGTU*GHPGTTGENCKOGFVJGKPFQQTUHQTOGPrnGORJCUKU'JTGPTGKEJ 6JGOCUVJGCFGFKVQTKCNVQNF2NC[DQ[UTGCFGTUVJCVVJG[UJQWNFRNCPQPURGPFKPIOQUVQH=VJGKT?VKOGKPUKFGrn*GHPGTYCUKPUKUVGPVVJCVVJGDCEJGNQTNKHGUV[NGFKFPQVTGSWKTGVJTCUJKPIVJTQWIJVJQTP[VJKEMGVUQTURNCUJKPICDQWVKPHCUVHNQYKPIUVTGCOUrn4CVJGTRNC[DQ[UYGTGGPEQWTCIGFVQTGENCKOFQOGUVKEURCEGHQTVJGOUGNXGU7PNKMGFQOGUVKECVGFOCNGUYJQJCFVQECTXGQWVURCEGUNKMGFGPUQTDCUGOGPVUKPQTFGTVQFQRGTHQTOOCUEWNKPGCEVKXKVKGUVJGRNC[DQ[YQWNFDGEQOGCEQPUWOGTQHFQOGUVKEURCEGKPJKUQYPTKIJVrn(TCVGTTKIQ#PUYGTVQ5WDWTDKCr$[ECTXKPIQWVCOCUEWNKPGFQOGUVKEURCEG Playboy revolutionized the bachelor pad. The bachelor pad, or the
33 penthouse, emphasized sophisticated tastes with modern technologies, like the built -in bar or self-timing dimmers; advertised as necessary for successful ly dating women, these technologies confirmed the bachelorÂ’s heterosexuality (Fraterrigo Â“ #PUYGTVQ 5WDWTDKC Â” 756). Holed up in his technologically advanced bachelor pad, making dinner for his date, the playboy converts the home-space from a feminized space to one for the upwardly-mobile man. Playboy used the city and the image of the bachelor pad as a foil to the allegedly feminized suburbia development. The simple declaration to stay indoors, rather than Â“thrashing outdoors,Â” proves Hefner's awareness of Cold War's spatial reorganization of domestic space The magazineÂ’s constant focus on the bachelor pad and the playboy penthouse forced men to pay attention to interior spaces. As Beatriz Preciado's analysis of t he Playboy architecture reveals, Playboy "played in a domestic space for a domestic audience" (Brennan 17). "Erotica in the age of suburbia," according to Beatriz Colomina, "i s the fantasy of the girl next door, delivered to one's bedroom through the media" (18). $GECWUG2NC[DQ[UJGVGTQUGZWCNDCEJGNQTHGGNUOQUVEQOHQTVCDNGKPFQQTU JKUUMKNNUKPVJGMKVEJGPCPFJKUCRRTGEKCVKQPQHJKIJCTVQHHGTCUNKIJVN[FKHHGTGPVOQFGNQHOCUEWNKPKV[FWTKPIVJG%QNF9CT Dually domestic and privatized, the space Playboy magazine represents may seem trivialÂ—a glossy magazine with advice for the young bachelor. However, the ma gazine should be viewed as cultural artifact which has, decade after decade, absorbed soc ietyÂ’s shifts and reflected them back to readers in a surprisingly consistent forma t. A quick comparison between table of contents from a 1950 issue to one from 2011 reveals that the
34 editors knew the secret to building a lasting brand: consistency. According to Susan GuneliusÂ’s economic study, Building Brand Value the Playboy Way there are three primary steps to branding: defining the desired image, communicating the brand message, and being consistent and persistent with the brand message and image (26). With its rabbit ears and fluffy tail, Playboy has mastered branding. Growing from publishing a modestly-sized magazine to running international clubs, the Playboy Empire has consistently presented a meta-narrative of heterosexuality, upward mobil ity, and the reclamation of domestic space. The only feature that interrupts this consiste nt message is PlayboyÂ’s fiction. Therefore, it needs to be isolated from the magazineÂ’s other features in order to understand how, and why, the fiction Playboy published often undermines its grand narrative. Playboy and Fiction From its inception, Playboy has always maintained an intimate relationship with literature. Using Esquire as a model, Hefner published well-known authors to help him defend Playboy as more than a mere Â“skin-magazine.Â” At first, HefnerÂ’s limited resour ces forced him to search for fiction available in the public domain, such as Boccaccio and Arthur Conan DoyleÂ’s Â“Sherlock HolmesÂ” stories. Yet, even when obtaining copyr ightfree material, Hefner often sought out a particular kind fiction to suit his audienc eÂ—one that privileged entertainment, consumption, and female objectification. Quali ty, entertaining literature helped make the magazine thrive. Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” l etters prove that the published fiction is integral to its success. Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” first a ppeared in Playboy's second issue, January 1954. Only a third of the published letters addressed the magazine's sexual content and only one letter gushed over Marilyn Monroe's Â“ au naturel Â”
35 centerfold pictorial (3, Jan. 1954). The majority of the letters discuss editoria l features or the fictional selections. For instance, James M. Spivak wrote about how much he enjoyed Arthur Conan Doyle's Â“Sherlock Holmes.Â” Spivak assumes that most of the Â“first-issue mail will be on Marilyn Monroe,Â” and admits that he enjoyed he r pictorial (23, Jan. 1954). Yet, Spivak confesses that he enjoyed Â“Sherlock Holmes most of allÂ” (2-3, Jan. 1954). The publication of this letter suggests that, from the beginning, Hefner wanted to make literature an integral aspect of his enterprise. PlayboyÂ’s reputation for publishing quality literature continued to grow. The L.A. Times noted in 1957 that Â“[s]ome of the best short fiction written in America today is being published in Playboy These short stories are gutty and imaginative, skillfully written, andÂ—perhaps most importantÂ—experimentalÂ” (qtd. in Watts 131). A mere f ive years after PlayboyÂ’s launch, Ray Russell, a contributor and executive editor, compiled an anthology of Â“the cream of Playboy proseÂ” (vii). The collection includes stories by Jack Kerouac, P G. Wodehouse, Philip Wylie, William Iverson, Ray Bradbury, Herber t Gold, and Charles Beaumont. In his introduction to The Permanent Playboy, Russell posits that these stories will endure past the pages of the magazine because they Â“answer the description Â‘entertaining,Â’ soÂ—as Bryon sagely counseledÂ—let joy be unconfine dÂ” (viii). RussellÂ’s introduction predicts three main threads of Playboy literature: a masculine forum, entertainment, and the Â“permanenceÂ” of the literary selections. Ma ny of the authors that Playboy published did withstand the test of time, but not all of them addressed a masculine forum. In the 1960s, the magazine maintained over 200 page issues and published elite critics and authors, such as Alfred Kazin, Leslie F ielder, Shirley Jackson, James Baldwin, and Vladimir Nabokov. Contemporary fiction wri ters
36 and readers have come to regard Playboy as a quality source. Ranked third on a list of Â“great high-paying fiction markets,Â” Tina Samuels declares the magaz ine Â“one of the very top fiction markets in the world todayÂ” (par. 1) With its high author fees and incr edibly large audience, Playboy still vies for quality, serious fiction. Some critics claim that PlayboyÂ’s fiction fits more comfortably into an entertainment mode rather than a literary mode; a closer analysis, however, suggests otherwise. Thomas Watts claims that Playboy tries to publish easily digestible morsels of fiction, Â“providing a greater portion of pleasure than thoughtÂ” (Watts 131). He sta tes, when looking for the right kind of selection, editors sought to publish Â“a yarn that has all the elements of exciting story tellingÂ—suspense, ironic humor, a pip of a plot, and a twis t endingÂ—written with flair and flavorÂ” (qtd. in Watts 131). According to Harvey Cox 's 1961 Â“Playboy's Doctrine of Male,Â” the magazineÂ’s fiction is simply a Â“re gular run of storiesÂ” with a repetitive and formulaic structure: Â“A successful youn g man, either single or somewhat less than ideally marriedÂ—a figure with whom readers have no diff iculty identifyingÂ—encounters a gorgeous and seductive woman who makes no demands on him except sexÂ” (par. 12). Cox claims the heroine of Playboy's stories duplicates the girlnext-door centerfold who Â“knows [her] place and ask[s] for nothing moreÂ” (par. 13). He argues that Playboy authors present Â“detachable and disposableÂ” females who Â“present no danger of permanent involvementÂ” (par. 13). Cox's notion of the female as an accessory can be generally applied to the magazine; however, much of the published Cold War fiction involves more than boy-meets-girl to have random sexual encounter. For instanc e, the first Playboy issue contains three fiction selections and only one of those deals with sexual intercourseÂ—one of the Â“Tales from the Decameron.Â” And while Boccac cio's
37 bawdy classic can be classified as a humorous tale of adultery, the focus of this fiction is on the relationship between the two main male characters, Spinelloccio and Zeppa. The remaining two stories, Arthur Conan Doyle's Â“Introducing Sherlock HolmesÂ” and Ambrose Bierce's Â“A Horseman in the Sky,Â” do not even include any female chara cters, let alone one that readily seduces a young man. Thus, despite being marketed as a swinging bachelor lifestyle manual, Cold War Playboy fiction taught men to be romantic heroes, faithful companions, and keen observers. With PlayboyÂ’s wide array of fictional selections, editors seem to view literature as a necessary tool that proves a certain level of sophistication, a tool needed to Â‘ge t the girlÂ’. Playboy's early literary selections were, in many ways, closer to the popular, instead of the literary culture: commentaries on sex, stories of "the jazz unde rworld," and far-out tales of science-fiction (Fogarty 228). Slow to publish up-and-coming challenging fiction, like the fiction that appearing in The New Yorker or Esquire, Robert Fogarty claims that Playboy's literary selections "always followe d on the heels of success rather than breaking any new ground" (228). For evidence, Fogarty cites Playboy's propensity to publish authors, like Philip Roth and James Baldwin, only after their commercial success. But Hefner seems to have included popular authors for two m ain reasons: to help sell magazine copies and to propel readers into "mainstream debates about society, economics, and culture in post-war America" (Fraterrigo 2). If a playboy could participate in cultural discoursesÂ—he might be more successful in bed. Playboy successfully proves that quality literature can appropriately be juxtapos ed with naked pictorials in mass-produced entertainment magazines. A Literary Tradition of Virility: Hemingway and Mailer
38 Playboy linked sophisticated readings with nudity and restored Â“elite cultureÂ” to its Â“rightful place as a model of intellect and manlinessÂ” (Gilbert 199). Hu gh Hefner hired the up-and-coming journalist Auguste Comte Spectorsky as an editor in 1956, for the express purpose of elevating the magazineÂ’s literary content. Hefner considered Spectorsky Â“a real heavyweightÂ” because of his literary talents and E ast Coast connections. SpectorskyÂ’s The Exurbanites had recently reached the bestsellers list, and he had the literary connections needed to Â“upgradeÂ” PlayboyÂ’s fiction (Fraterrigo 32). While Hefner and Spectorsky did not always agree on lifestyle choices, they w ere both committed to producing a virile, high-culture publication. According to Spectors ky, Playboy was his platform to Â“redefine male readers as Â‘whole menÂ’Â” (Gilbert 207). He wrote: Each issue is a tacit statement to [readers] that they are responsive to fi ne fiction and to pretty girls; to Lucullan dining and drinking and to serious articles and interviews that bear directly or philosophically on todayÂ’s serious issues; to sports cars and classical music, jazz, fashion, the struggle for ci vil rights, bachelor high-life, and the world of business and finance. (qtd. in Gilbert 207) Spectorsky sincerely believed that Playboy was a viable vehicle from which to Â“preachÂ” his literary tastes. For Spectorksy, the literary selections would provide re aders an outlet for discussing the pertinent issues of the day, providing them with the knowledge needed for sophisticated conversations. Spectorsky immediately began recruiting personal friends to contribute the magazine; for instance, he solicited Ken Purdy, Philip Wylie, Vance Packard, and John Steinbeck to write fiction and non-fiction pieces. Hefner and Spectorsky worked together to Â“remasculinize American literature and consumerism through the juxtaposition of good writing with pictures of nude women and sophisticated
39 advertisingÂ” (Gilbert 207). Spectorsky looked to authors, like Ernest Hemingway and Norma Mailer, to accomplish this lofty goal. SpectorskyÂ’s first order as editorial director was to increase fees for PlayboyÂ’s writers, Â“offering one of highest fee in the magazine tradeÂ” (Fraterrig o 46). By increasing author fees, Spectorsky altered PlayboyÂ’s editorial process for finding and publishing quality fiction. Playboy no longer had to recycle copyright-free material and, with fees ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 dollars per fictional selection, contributions began pouring in. Spectorsky created a literary editorial staff devoted to shif ting through these contributions; he kept on Ray Russell, but later hired Sheldon Wax, Murray Fisher and Nat Lehrman to bring in fresh perspectives (Watts 193). Yet, Spectorsky w as a handson editor, Â“shouldering many tasksÂ…from securing writers to reading every word that went into the magazine, from integrating the various editorial functions to serving as a liaison between editorial and circulationÂ” (Watts 91). Spectorsky also cha nged PlayboyÂ’s author contracts and began offering authors Â“first refusal.Â” Under this plan, whi ch the magazine still operates under, authors send Playboy editors a large amount of material consisting of anything they might want published; Playboy reserves the right to refuse any material but in return for sending multiple contributions, authors can negotiate for higher fees (Combs 1003). Spectorsky set up clear guidelines to ensure that PlayboyÂ’s literature would remasculinize the act of reading (Gilbert 207). These lit erary guidelines suggest that Hefner and Spectorsky believed literary selections were a crucial component of PlayboyÂ’s ethos. Each issue of Playboy would be an implicit statement to readersÂ— they were responsive to both naked women and fine fiction.
40 Spectorsky sought to publish works devoted to the celebration of masculinity as his response to the post-war masculinity crisis. He instructed his fiction staff to discard any Â“castration-defeat-doom storiesÂ” in favor of Â“Hemingway heroesÂ…wh o deal with the world instead of cringing and having high-tone failuresÂ” (Gilbert 208). Using Hemingway to advertise the magazine's commitment to masculinity, Spect orsky helped to resurrect the masculine, intellectual man during the 1950s gender debates. Spe ctorsky based much of his criteria for quality fiction on Hemingway, the author and the man. T he magazineÂ’s 1956 September Â“PlaybillÂ” proclaimed Hemingway as a man of Â“unimpeachable moralsÂ” and possibly the Â“greatest writer in the worldÂ” (4). Playboy relied on Hemingway to prove that reading elite literature would not negate masculi ne identityÂ—that, in fact, reading such literature could make one more of a man. HemingwayÂ’s words appeared in Playboy only minimally, but his literary presence directed much of the editorial content selected for publication. According to T homas WeyrÂ’s Reaching for Paradise Hefner desperately wanted to include a Hemingway original in the inaugural 1953 issue (10). Yet due to the magazineÂ’s content and budgetary restraintsÂ— PlayboyÂ’s first issueÂ’s editorial content only cost $2,000Â—Hefner could not obtain the Hemingway, John OÂ’Hara, or James Thurber pieces he so desired (Weyr 10). The New Yorker Â“haughtilyÂ” refused to sell Hefner reprint rights for a Thurber piece and HemingwayÂ’s publisher rejected HefnerÂ’s request Â“because his magazine had not Â‘demonstrated its characterÂ’Â” (Miller 35). It would take three years and over 300,000 subscribers until Hefner and Spectorsky could include HemingwayÂ’s presence. The y commissioned Jed Kiley for his unauthorized Hemingway biography, to be seriali zed over eight issues. Beginning in September 1956, with the first installment of Ki leyÂ’s
41 Â“Hemingway: A title bout in ten rounds,Â” Hefner and Spectorsky added to the myths of Papa. In that monthÂ’s Â“Playbill,Â” editors remind readers that Hemingway h as, for many years, Â“hit the bottle, tumbled wenchesÂ” and Â“enjoyed such organized carnage as war and bullfightingÂ” (2). Quick to dismiss accusations that his actions were immoral or sinful, they paint Hemingway as a cheater of death who became Â“a scarred and bearded American legend, a Great White Hunter, a husband of four wives, a winner of Nobel and Pulitzer PrizesÂ” (2). They quote Alfred KazinÂ’s praise of Hemingway a s Â“the bronze god of the whole contemporary literary experience in AmericaÂ” (2). But what seems most important about the Hemingway myth is that he comes from a middle-class, devoutly Christian family in the MidwestÂ—the same family history as Hefner and m any Playboy readers. Hemingway appears to be the quintessential literary model for Playboy because of his roots and his eventual fame Growing out of middle-class America and a devoutly Christian home, Hemingway became Â“the hard-drinking, death-happyÂ…swaggering, irresponsible author of best-selling Hollywood fodderÂ” (2). This image of Hem ingwayÂ— a Midwestern everyman growing into a courageous, financially successf ul, and intellectual authorÂ—supports the grand narrative Playboy presented for its readers. Every male has the potential to get the woman of his choice if he works hard, participat es in capitalism through conspicuous consumption, and reads quality fiction. Playboy editors continued to add to the Hemingway myth throughout the 1960s. In January 1961, Playboy published Â“Hemingway Speaks his Mind,Â” quotations from a variety of HemingwayÂ’s collected and unpublished works. Editors thoroughly searched HemingwayÂ’s works for scraps of prose suggesting his lifestyle mim ics that of a playboy. Quoted topics range from musings on Cuban women to his many cats, but the myth of the
42 man that emerges is one of strength and smarts. For instance, HemingwayÂ’s obse rvations about war, being hit with a mortar shell, seeking death, killing, drinking, boxing, bull-fighting, cooking a lion steak, deep-sea fishing, gate-crashing and cursing remind readers of his masculine persona. His ruminations on hunting are particularly insightful: Â“Y ou must be calm inside, as if you were in church, when a lion or a rhino is coming at you. A charging rhino will come in at a trot that turns into a gallop. I let him come much far ther than is good for either of us in order to be truly sure of my shot. Then I squeeze the triggerÂ” (96). HemingwayÂ’s use of the second person oddly addresses Playboy readers in the comforts of their suburban homes or urban bachelor pads. Littered in-between musings on big-game hunting are serious deliberations about being a writer. Editors present HemingwayÂ’s observations regarding the classics, contemporary themes, revision, Mark Twain, style, symbolism, the ice-berg principle, and the Nobel-prize. Edi tors even include HemingwayÂ’s criteria for what makes a great book: Â“after you f inish reading it you feel that all of it happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people in it and the places and how the weather wasÂ” (96). HemingwayÂ’s criteria for active reader par ticipation mirror how Spectorsky wants Playboy readers to feel after they finish reading his literary selectionsÂ—as if the storyÂ’s contents happened to them. HemingwayÂ’s quotes concerning sexual relationships also support the Playboy lifestyle; Hemingway becomes an honorary playboy. Even in his dreams, Hem ingway is the spitting image of a playboy: Â“In my nocturnal wanderings I am always betw een twentyfive and thirty years old and am irresistible to women, dogs, and on one occasion, to a very beautiful lioness, who subsequently became my fiancÂ” (96). The good t hings in life
43 that Hemingway wants are what Playboy readers allegedly want as well: wine, bread, oil, salt, bed, early mornings, nights, days, the sea, women, love, and honor (97). In this list, Hemingway conflates necessities, like food and sleep, with amenities like w omen and early mornings. Much of PlayboyÂ’s editorial content, like its monthly Playmate, sought to make sex and honor necessities. After the success of Â“Hemingway Speaks his Mind,Â” Playboy continued to use the myth of Hemingway to promote its literary selections and grand narrative. In 1961, Spectorsky serialized HemingwayÂ’s first authorized biography. Specto rsky paid a reported $25,000Â—approximately equivalent to $160,000 in current United States dollarsÂ—for the serialization rights (Harry Ransom). Beginning in Decembe r, Leicester HemingwayÂ’s Â“My Brother Ernest,Â” spanned four issues and over sixty pages. P ublished only eight months after HemingwayÂ’s suicide, Â“My Brother ErnestÂ” rece ived favorable reviews from Playboy readers. Readers responded so well to the Hemingway material that Spectorsky published HemingwayÂ’s Â“Advice to Young MenÂ” posthumously in 1964. Consisting of previously unpublished observations on some of the ground rules of life and literature, this piece is eerily similar to the earlier Â“Hemingwa y Speaks his Mind,Â” sans the heavy dose of observation on traditional masculine activities like boxing biggame hunting, and fishing. The main focus of Â“Advice to a Young ManÂ” seems to be on the art of writing and responding to critics. This shift could be due to the fact that t his advice is dedicated to both young men and women; however, there is a section Â“On Love and WomenÂ” that invalidates women as an intended audience. Hemingway shares hi s wisdom on other topics, most notably education, achieving success, happiness, living with honor, prejudice, death, faith and the future. The piece concludes with a
44 Hemingway quote that reinforces PlayboyÂ’s call for its readers: Â“All the glory of life, all the romance of living, all the deep and true joys of the world, all the splendor and the mystery are within our reachÂ” (225, Jan. 1964). HemingwayÂ’s advice echoes the hear t of PlayboyÂ’s call to work hard enough in order to enjoy the products of capitalism and a female companion. Relying so heavily on Hemingway allowed Spectorsky to Â“advertise the m agazineÂ’s commitment to masculinityÂ” (Gilbert 209). HemingwayÂ’s Â“reputation as a lit erary tough guyÂ” had been well established in the 1930s (Osgerby 45). Esquire proudly featured Hemingway for his Â“rough-hewn machismo,Â” even offering him one thousand shares of stock in 1937 (Osgerby 47). Due to HefnerÂ’s relationship with Esquire and SpectorskyÂ’s desire to remasculinize readers, Hemingway became an obvious Â“godfatherÂ” for the journal during the Cold War. For instance, rather than publish what Spectorsky dee med literature of Â“morass incense and butterflies and Spanish moss, of precieuse st yle and hyperfine imagery,Â” Playboy published what it considered to be quality, ableit accessible, fiction for its masculine audience (2, Sept. 1956). It did not want any writers too busy Â“exploring stylistic junglesÂ”; instead, it wanted Hemingway, Â“perhaps be cause he has trekked many a real jungle in his lifeÂ” (4, Sept. 1956). Spectorsky claimed he w anted to veer away from stories likely published by The New Yorker ; stories that reflected what he called a Â“womanized,Â” Â“neurotic,Â” and Â“castrating worldÂ” (Gilbert 208) He promoted HemingwayÂ’s attributes because he knew the magazine Â“was surelyÂ” to Â“ge t literally hundreds of Â‘fineÂ’ stories a month which are intricate embroidery on the motto: The Sensitive Misfit is a More Interesting Man and a worthier Topic than The Man Who Fulfill His Masculine DestinyÂ” (Gilbert 208). Instead of wasting time re viewing stories
45 about sensitive misfits or mutilated heroes, Spectorsky wanted Hemingway heroes. And yet, ironically, HemingwayÂ’s heroes are often castrated in some way or another. While many of HemingwayÂ’s characters are Â‘realÂ’ men on the ba ttlefield or on the hunting grounds, they could also be classified as androgynous, in terms of their sexuality. These misgivings about HemingwayÂ’s sexuality are subtly addre ssed in the 1956 September Â“Playbill,Â” the same one that praises him in comparison to other contemporary writers as a Â“standing out like a rugged oak in a field of delica te pansiesÂ” (2). In response to the rhetorical question, Â“What, then, is Hemingway?Â”, editors lis t his drinking and death-defying, before calling him Â“sexually insecureÂ” (2). Why would Playboy editors admit this, in the same announcement that begins over a decade of Hemingway contributions? Why would a magazine striving to push its elite, heterosexual agenda on middle-class American men, rely on a sexually inse cure author? Quite possibly, Spectorsky assumed his readership would miss the subtle class ification. Maybe Spectorsky published only HemingwayÂ’s non-fiction to avoid the obvious contradictions. Or, more likely, the myth of the man looms larger than fiction. Similar to its heralding of Hemingway, Playboy relied on the cultural myths surrounding Norman Mailer; beyond writing combative and controversial prose, and stabbing his wife, Mailer looms over American literature Â“longer and larg er than any writer of his generationÂ” (McGrath). His virile image fits into PlayboyÂ’s agenda, and his non-fiction texts reveal the historical shifts in post-war masculinity constr uctions. The Â“most transparently ambitious author of his era,Â” Mailer was a prolific aut hor, social commentator, and cultural provocateur (McGrath). He cofounded The Village Voice, won the Pulitzer Prize twice, ran for New York City Mayor, married six diff erent women,
46 fathered eight children, directed films, and made sure everyone knew his name by appearing on talk-shows and participating in many interviews. In short, Mail erÂ’s ambition and the immense quantity of his work make him an appropriate Playboy contributor. Similar to the way Playboy recruited Jack Kerouac for his cultural currency, Vladimir Nabokov for his literary career, and James Baldwin for his racial stance, editors relied on Mailer for his ever-present, masculine persona. Mailer had already established his tough-guy persona by the end of the 1950s. Hi s violence in his war novel, The Naked and the Dead (1948), and the obscenity in The Deer Park (1959) set the stage for MailerÂ’s 1959 Advertisements for Myself : Â“a tough-guy writerÂ’s apologia for his literary lifeÂ” (Castronovo 180). In his life and lit erature, Mailer can stand in as a Hemingway hero, especially because Mailer lacked Heming wayÂ’s ambiguous sexuality. Thus, Playboy editors, from Spectorsky to Christine Hefner, frequently used Mailer to connect with readers. Beginning with an Â“After H oursÂ” Book Review reference to The Deer Park in January 1958 and lasting to the publication of his conversation with Michael Lennon, Â“On the Authority of the Senses,Â” in December 2007, Mailer contributed directly to Playboy on seventeen different occasions. Mailer even wrote the keynote piece for PlayboyÂ’s fiftieth anniversary issue. Playboy posthumously published Â“A Man of LettersÂ” in January 2009 to honor Mailer. The byline to the featur e reads: Â“A literary giantÂ’s correspondence on Hollywood, celebrity, and soci ety shows him to be a critic and crusader, pugilist and poetÂ” (70). That simple eulogy for a poe tic boxer sums up why Playboy continued to rely on Mailer for his non-fiction and fiction contributions; MailerÂ’s persona represented PlayboyÂ’s commitment to masculinity and intellect.
47 MailerÂ’s relationship with Playboy involved lawsuits coupled with considerable praise. For instance, after Playboy editors paid $5,000 for the essay on his debate with William F. Buckley, Mailer sued Playboy on the grounds that his work was worth more than the paid sum (Buckley). Mailer also wrote to editors denouncing them for label ing him a liberal: Â“I donÂ’t care if people call me a radical, a red, a revolutionary, an out sider, an outlaw, a Bolshevik, an anarchist, a nihilist or even a left conservative, but please donÂ’t ever call me a liberalÂ” (8, April 1963). And later, in 1975, Elmo Henderson sued Playboy for publishing Â“The Fight,Â” in which Mailer states that Henderson had been in an insane asylum (Manso 560). But, according Arthur Kretchmer, one of PlayboyÂ’s executive editors, Mailer was Â“a long-run investmentÂ” (Manso 561). In an exc erpt from Peter MansoÂ’s Mailer: His Life and Times, Kretchmer explains how Playboy did not Â“function on pornography or Enquirer -like sensationalism. It functioned on the fact that people who read Playboy have a certain sense of upscale events, and NormanÂ’s part of that psychologyÂ” (Manso 561). In the 1970s, Kretchmer wanted to publish a magazine that Â“reflect[s] whatÂ’s going on in AmericaÂ…and that magazine has to have Norma n because itÂ’s a different world without Norman. Playboy with Norman is a magazine of the moment, of impact. Powerfully, incontestably, Norman has tried to express our era. H e looks through infinity and says, Â‘Who are we? What have we done? What can be done?Â’Â” (Manso 561). Kretchmer seems beguiled with Mailer, but other magazine editors, l ike William Phillips of the Partisan Review and Gordon Lish from Esquire, also sought out Mailer. Based on his growing fame, Esquire accepted MailerÂ’s offer to write a monthly column, Â“The Big Bite,Â” which ran from November 1962 to December 1963 (Dearborn 179). Clay Felker, Esquire editor, claimed that he assigned Mailer to write about Jackie
48 Kennedy because Â“at Esquire we loved to start fightsÂ”, and hiring Mailer to write about the First Lady immediately after he had stabbed his wife was Â“obviousÂ” (Ma nso 353). The enthusiasm surrounding Mailer as a magazine contributor was only reinforced w hen his Â“Prisoner of SexÂ” (1971) sold more HarperÂ’s Magazine copies than any other issue in the magazineÂ’s history (Manso 462). Like KretchmanÂ’s praise for the author, Mai lerÂ’s praise for Playboy, and its founding editor, seems equally enthusiastic. When covering the Liston-Patterson fights, Mailer recorded his first impressions of an a fter-hours Playboy Mansion party. After detailing the mansionÂ’s exaggerated dimensions, Mailer compares Hefner to FitzgeraldÂ’s American hero: Â“He had a quality not unlike J ay GatsbyÂ… there was something of a mustang about Hefner. He was not the kind of man one would have expected to see as the publisher of his magazine, or the owner of the Playboy Club, nor certainly as the undemanding host of his exceptional establishme ntÂ” (qtd. in Miller 130). This exchange of praise reveals how integral cultural myths can be for the success of a mass-produced glossy magazine. To Â“further gentrif[y]Â” its heterosexual perception, Playboy hired writers like Mailer to virilize high culture (Schuchardt). For instance, editors asked Ma iler to participate in the first Playboy Â“Panel on Censorship in Literature and the ArtsÂ” in the July 1961 issue. MailerÂ’s insights on censorship shine amidst the jumbled thinking presented by the panel and editors asked him to return for the next yearÂ’s panel on Â“The Womanization of AmericaÂ” (June 1962). In Â“The Womanization of America,Â” Maile r endorsed SpectorskyÂ’s claim that men are in need of remasculination. Maile r contended that Â“women are becoming are becoming more selfish, more greedy, less romantic less warm, more lusty, and more filled with hateÂ” (44). In response to PlayboyÂ’s concerns
49 about females refusing to complete household chores, Mailer states that Â“th ereÂ’s been a shift in the social and biological function of the woman, where she is expectedÂ…not s o much to create a home as she is to be an aide-de-camp or staff general to an ambit ious opportunistÂ” (49). Pinpointing the Cold War as the Â“certain historical phenomenonÂ” that Â“allowed penis envy to develop,Â” Mailer eloquently states that during these Â“rena issanceÂ” moments in history, there is a tendency for Â“this coming together of sexesÂ” (134,139). Mailer reminds Playboy readers that Â“masculinity is not something one is born with, but something one gains. And one gains it by winning small battle with honorÂ” (142). He warns those American men who fear the destruction of their masculinity to be wa ry of mass media because it gives an unrealistic view of life. Mailer claims t hat the majority of mass media is out to Â“destroy virility slowly and steadilyÂ” (142). MailerÂ’s argument directly reinforces SpectorskyÂ’s thoughts on masculinityÂ’s fundament al malaise in America and supports his argument for the necessity of Playboy American men needed magazines like Playboy to help combat the insipid depictions of masculinity in the mass media. Playboy relied on authors like Hemingway and Mailer to remasculinize literature; however, editors seem to rely on these authorsÂ’ personas rather than their pros e. For instance, Mailer only published one true fictional work with Playboy and that work, unlike his non-fiction contributions, does not abide by SpectorskyÂ’s guidelines for masculine literature. Technically a screen-play, the Â“Trial of the W arlockÂ” (1976) is an adaptation of J. K. HuysmansÂ’ La Bas. In the screenplay, Mailer appropriates the original novelÂ’s protagonist, Durtal, to revisit 19 th century Paris. Superficially, the story seems to contain all of PlayboyÂ’s necessary criteria for a quality story: the hero is not castrated; he
50 is heterosexual, and he is an intellectual, deeply entrenched in his research about t he first documented serial killer. However, the focus of the narratorÂ’s research is Gi lles de Rais. Once Joan of Arcs' second in command, Gilles de Rais transformed into a documented serial killer and practitioner of Satanism who Â“cannot speak of the thoughts [he has] when young boys pass before [his] eyesÂ” (132, Dec. 1976). De Rais moves beyond the 15 th century acceptance of fornicating with young boys and begins to abduct, rape, and brutally murder them. Once dead, he uses their bodies in unheard of ways for sexual pleasure. While MailerÂ’s tri-part role as novelist, journalist, and histori an help to explain the fascination with the historical content, the storyÂ’s form and style are extremely peculiar. MailerÂ’s fictional contribution to Playboy is representative of the magazineÂ’s literary selections: it does not quite fit PlayboyÂ’s masculinity model and it leaves the reader questioning certain aspects or characteristics of the story. Wi th the Â“Trial of the Warlock,Â” readers can question why Mailer used a screen treatment?; why the second person?; the original protagonist was a thinly veiled caricature of the origin al author, so what kind of layer does a new author offer? Upon closer analysis, MailerÂ’s r eturn to this century-old French novel erodes PlayboyÂ’s heterosexual, wealthy model of masculinity. Why would editors pay for and publish fiction that undermines its stated objectives? In fact, much of the fiction editors published contradicted, in one way or another, the Playboy narrative. Conclusion Much of the fiction Spectorsky did end up publishing challenged PlayboyÂ’s narrative. For instance, Jack KerouacÂ’s Â“Good BlondeÂ” (1965) contains a hero who would rather sleep under a bridge than in a round, mechanized bed. Vladimir Nabokov
51 and James Baldwin publish stories with homoerotic tendencies. And even Ian FlemingÂ’ s James Bond series undermines PlayboyÂ’s impetus for virile fiction because what, for Playboy, is sexual license becomes, for Bond, a license to kill (Nadel 143). Fleming a nd Bond, the archetypal Playboy author and hero, first appeared in Playboy in May and June 1953 with the serialized story, Â“On her MajestyÂ’s Secret Service.Â” In Containment Culture Alan Nadel argues that James Bond is Â“both quintessential playboy and the renunciation of almost everything for which Playboy arguedÂ” (143). Nadel suggests that Bond is Â“in fact the magazineÂ’s perfect mirror imageÂ” because Bond treate d everything from technology to women differently than Playboy advised or promoted (144). Nadel states that, unlike the playboy, Bond has a caviler attitude toward high-tech gadgetsÂ—he uses up gadgets as opposed to using them for leisure. Bond might have had been associated with good taste, with his high-class suits and expensive cars; but unli ke the Playboy reader, Bond was Â“inextricably linked to an apparently limitless expense accountÂ” (143). Playboy editors encouraged readers to participate in consumer culture; Bond, on the other hand, is not a member of a society interested in acquiring commodities or in participating in codes of consumption. Besides BondÂ’s rejecti on of capitalistic fetishes, Bond also relates to sex differently than a play boy does: Â“Whereas Playboy considered sex an appropriate topic of discussion for mature adults and urged frankness and openness, Bond specialized in the coy double entendre that made sex a topic always present but never frank and never open to discussionÂ” (144). Bond does not even get to fully enjoy a femaleÂ’s companionship; Nadel cites Thunderball in which Bond explains to his latest sexual partner that he had acted only in the interest of the Queen and Â“received no pleasure from the experienceÂ” (145). Fleming characte rizes
52 Bond as regarding Â“women with distrust, seeing each woman as a potential ass assinÂ” as opposed to a potential playmate (144). Therefore, the pleasure principleÂ—HefnerÂ’ s most oft cited principleÂ—is absent in the Bond stories. On the surface, Bond gets the wom en, the high-tech gadgets, and the cars that playboys covet, but his relationship to the m is autoerotic. A great deal of the fiction also destabilizes PlayboyÂ’s praise of the bachelorhood lifestyle, in addition to undermining PlayboyÂ’s pleasure principle. For instance, through the mid 1960s much of the literature could be classified as Gothic romance fiction, whi ch often includes narratives of traditional marriage. Marilyn Michaud, Englis h and American Gothic scholar, analyzes why Playboy 's early fiction Â“paradoxicallyÂ” encouraged readers to become husbands. She questions, Â“What does Gothic romance fiction teach the aspiring playboy? How does an aesthetically middle-brow publication with images of wholesome, semi-clad young women sit comfortably beside t ales of horror and distress?Â” Exposing the magazine's internal contradictions, Michaud argu es it is Â“not surprisingÂ” to find traditional narratives in Playboy Â“given the gender politics and the national anxiety over masculinity in the post-war period.Â” Michaud conclude s that the Gothic stories, while seemingly paradoxical to Hefner's agenda, reflect pos t-war culture because they focus on marriage and family. According to Michaud, teaching bachelors to be heroic rescuers of distraught females will teach them to be good husbands. T hus, it seems plausible that while Spectorsky sought to publish accessible, entertaini ng fiction with masculine heroes, he ended up relying more on authorsÂ’ reputations or their cultur al mythsÂ—like Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, or James Baldwin.
53 CHAPTER 2Â—BROKE AND ONE THE RUN WITH JACK KEROUAC On the surface, Jack KerouacÂ’s Â“Good BlondeÂ” (1965) supports PlayboyÂ’s Cold War masculinity model. PlayboyÂ’s editorial content promotes a heterosexual, well-educated, upper-middle class, model of masculinity for its mainly white, male reade rs. The playboy ethos rebels against monogamous relationships and celebrates Cold War calls for conspicuous consumption. Its centerfold encourages the male gaze upon the objectified female body. In the Â“Good Blonde,Â” the half-naked, female character becomes the focus of each male characterÂ’s gaze; the male narrator blatantly reject s the ideal post-war suburban life by refusing to marry or settle down outside of an urban center. And, y et, this selection opposes PlayboyÂ’s masculine narrative because the Â“Good BlondeÂ” negates one of PlayboyÂ’s most valued criteria: lavish spending on goods acquired for the display of wealth. The main character, like Kerouac and the Beats, presents himself as vagabond; he would prefer to camp out on the Â“riverbottomÂ” than dwell in the Playboy mansion (144). Marking the beginning of the end of KerouacÂ’s relationship with Playboy Â“Good BlondeÂ” represents the rocky relationship between author and empire. In Jack Kerouac: A Biography, Tom Clark states that the menÂ’s entertainment magazines Â“were just about the only publications that held no prejudice against KerouacÂ” (177). Yet, ClarkÂ’s
54 assessment disregards PlayboyÂ’s obvious prejudices against Kerouac and the Beats. For example, editors would solicit Kerouac for articles concerning the Beat Ge neration and then print selections condemning the Beat lifestyle, such as Martin ScottÂ’s Â“ Hickory, Dickory, KerouacÂ” or the reportage in Â“The Beat Mystique.Â” In one aspect, Playboy tried to Â“co-opt the movementÂ” with Kerouac and features such as the Â“Beat Playmat eÂ” (Watts 134). But, ultimately, editors used the Beats as a foil to help define PlayboyÂ’s model of masculinity. Playboy aligned itself with the BeatsÂ’ rebellious lifestyle but distanced itse lf from their low-class living. Even though Hefner admired the Beats for their non-conformity and sexual excesses, he was appalled with their disillusionmen t with American capitalism and claimed that Â“ Playboy has become, in its first five years, the voice of might be aptly called the Upbeat GenerationÂ” (qtd. in Watts 134). Whereas t he Beat Generation was known for dropping out of society, HefnerÂ’s Â“Upbeat GenerationÂ” embraced American creeds of working hard for social and material succe sses. Hefner used the Â“upÂ” to stress the main difference between the two movements: Playboy readers were hardly beat down because they understood that working for a living equated to having a good time. The BeatsÂ’ model of masculinity established the Â“rebellious, free-spirit ed, and sexually charged male persona as a popular model of masculinity for young Ame rican menÂ” (Carroll 50). Triggered by Allen GinsbergÂ’s obscenity trials for Howl and KerouacÂ’s success with On the Road, the Beat movement became a national phenomenon associated with cross-country hitchhiking, hipsters, spiritual journeys, and juvenile delinquency. According to Amiri Baraka, the Beat movement involved a Â“distinct reactionÂ…to reactionary politics, reactionary life style of American ruling cla ss and sections of the
55 middle class, reaction to conservatism and McCarthyismÂ” (Baraka 130). Even though this reaction often lacked a cohesive protest, it created an intense model of ma sculinity. The BeatsÂ’ iconic model was marked by Â“spontaneity, improvisation, and self-ex pression to convey both their deep alienation from consumer society and their rejection of a post-war masculine ideal that stressed hard-work, family responsibility, and s trict heterosexualityÂ” (Carroll 49). The Beats rejected the rise of mater ialist values by refusing corporate employment and the availability of mass-produced consumer goods. They interpreted middle-class life as a threat to the individual male spirit. Holly wood and menÂ’s magazines, like Playboy, celebrated the BeatsÂ’ Â“supposed personal and sexual freedom as representative of longstanding American ideals of manhoodÂ” (50). Ge nerally viewing women as sexual objects, the Beats Â“nurtured a defiant masculine subcultur e founded on male comradeship and dedicated to a kind of personal freedom defined by sexual license, casual drug and alcohol use, and literary experimentationÂ” ( 50). For the Beats, male bonding was required for the adventures that would lead to spiritual fulfillment. However, this bonding incurred fears of homosexuality and gang viol ence, making the Beats a focal point for mainstream anxieties. Playboy, in particular, promoted the BeatsÂ’ heterosexual indulgence, while ignoring their more transgres sive tendencies. Setting Up the Foil Immediately after the success of On the Road, menÂ’s magazines promoted the Beats movement by Â“featuring the Beats as audience draws in their circul ation and status warsÂ” (Lee 190). Many magazines engaged in a publishing battle, promoting the B eatsÂ’ literature to a mainstream audience. Playboy editor, Ray Russell actually purchased John H. KerouacÂ’s Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” from Sterling Lord sometime in 1957,
56 even though Russell, enjoyed the piece, he did not push publication until Kerouac Â“hit it bigÂ” after On the Road (Weyr 47). Life magazine covered the Beats after GinsbergÂ’s 1957 trial, and Esquire commissioned John Clellon Holmes for Â“The Philosophy of the Beat GenerationÂ” in February 1958. In Paul OÂ’NeilÂ’s Â“The Only Rebellion Around,Â” Life observed that the Beats were Â“against virtually every aspect of current American society: Mom, Dad, Politics, Marriage, the Savings Bank, Organized ReligionÂ…to say nothing of the Automatic Dishwasher, the Cellophane-wrapped Soda Crackers, the SpiltLevel House and theÂ…H-BombÂ” (qtd. in Ehrenreich 53). In 1958, Holiday purchased KerouacÂ’s travel pieces for $2,000 an article. In 1958, Esquire added to its status by purchasing works from Kerouac for its March and May issues. This publishing battle resulted in cultural exposs that focused more on lifestyle than literary accomplishments. A year later, Playboy trumped Esquire by publishing KerouacÂ’s more serious Â“The Origins of the Beat GenerationÂ” and printing Â“B efore the RoadÂ” in its December 1959 issue. Life followed with the photo-essay Â“Squaresville U.S.A. vs. BeatnikÂ” in 1959 and Â“added its middlebrow weightÂ” to the magazine obsession with a Â“disapprovingÂ” story (Lee 190). Ironically, even these negative representations of the Beats furthered promotion of the Â“beatnik lifestyleÂ” (190) Holiday published KerouacÂ’s Â“The Roaming BeatniksÂ” in October of 1959. Newsweek got in on the action, publishing Â“Every Man a Beatnik?Â” and Â“Ministers for the BeatniksÂ” i n June. In 1960, Kerouac refused HolidayÂ’s $1,200 offer to write a piece on Canada but published Â“Tangier to LondonÂ—A Beatnik PilgrimageÂ” in February and Â“The Vanishing American HoboÂ” in March. Other menÂ’s entertainment magazines, such as Swank, Pageant, and Nugget, included Beat prose in the early 1960s; for instance, Swank included Â“Dreamed
57 in My SleepÂ” in its March 1961 issues. Escapade, a slick glossy that competed primarily with Playboy commissioned Kerouac for his Â“The Last WordÂ” bi-monthly column between 1959 and 1961. NewsweekÂ’s 1963 review of KerouacÂ’s Vision of Gerard labeled him as a Â“tin-eared Canuck,Â” but Holiday ignored the slander and published Â“On the Road with MotherÂ” in May 1965 (Maher 385). Playboy seemed to have the last word when it published KerouacÂ’s Â“Good BlondeÂ” in 1965. Even when the magazines negatively depicted the Beats, their lifestyle was spread over expensive lay outs in AmericaÂ’s largest circulating magazines (Ehrenreich 65). Focusing on the BeatsÂ’ lifestyle, rather than their literary accomplishments, allowed each magazine to expl oit the movement for particular capitalistic agendas. PlayboyÂ’s exploitation of the Beats, especially Kerouac, often resulted in turbulent relationships between authors and editors. Playboy did not hide its ambivalence for Kerouac and the Beats; in the late 1950s and early 60s editors followed every Beat selection with a negative review or satirical articles. The first hint of these mixed feelings appears in the November 1957 Â“After HoursÂ” Book Review of On the Road They describe KerouacÂ’s novel as a Â“far-out tale of a cross-country romp by two articulate members of the Â‘beat generationÂ’Â” (17). Seemingly proud of the cha ractersÂ’ lifestyle of Â“hitchhiking, stealing, loving, digging cool jazz and yakking,Â” editors state that they Â“live life furiouslyÂ” (17). As in Norman MailerÂ’s Â“White Ne gro,Â” the hipster lifestyle is revered because there is Â“much drink, all kinds of dopes, there are poet s, jazzmen, whores and plenty of sexÂ” (17). The last line of the review foreshadows the tumultuous relationship between so-called hipster and sophisticated playboy: Â“Nevertheless, Road is a disturbing book, a sharpieÂ’s travelog full of literary
58 Weltschmerz, jazz slanguage (sic) and the frenetic doings of a bunch of sensitive, patheticÂ—but interestingÂ—catsÂ” (18). By using Â“ Weltschmerz,Â” a word coined by Jean Paul to describe romantic writersÂ’ pessimistic worldview, editors illustr ate the connection they see between the Beats and the romantic authors. Editors depict the Beats as an empathetic group saddened by the realities of Cold War America, but they were too affected by post-World War II traumas, causing editors to label them Â“pathetic.Â” Beats may pursue the same acquisitions of a playboyÂ—jazz, women, and quality literat ureÂ—but because they ruminate on suffering, they are little more than Â“interes tingÂ—catsÂ” (18). The success of On the Road, however, encouraged editors to publish KerouacÂ’s Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” for the January 1958 issue. Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” is a complex vignette, which includes the characteristics that would later make up KerouacÂ’s Â“Legend of Duluoz.Â” The s hort sketch is set in a post-war Des Moines diner and contains typical characteristics of KerouacÂ’s literary style: a young, seeking narrator; an older, wiser vagrant; fir st person narration; romanticized Others; and the pull of the road. The simple plot consists of a young narrator, Slim, serving an old African American hobo from the Southern swamps. In exchange for a meal, the hobo sings the blues. In his first song, he sings about trave lling north, to Montana, in search of his father. Most of KerouacÂ’s characters in his oeuvre search for their fathers, and Montana holds particular importance for Kerouac because it Â“symbolizes both the origin of the Missouri River and the land of the macho fatherÂ” (Jones 247). To characterize the hobo, Kerouac uses a regional dialect: Â“He pronounced his words so darkly I had to ask him what they meant: Â‘nine-tunny-naÂ’ was nineteen twenty nine, Â‘polan-mayÂ’ was Portland, MaineÂ” (71). The adjective Â“darklyÂ” refers both
59 to the hoboÂ’s dark skin and his swamp homeland. But when Slim claims that Â“[p]rint canÂ’t read like he sounded, so mournful, hoarse, and swampy-like,Â” Kerouac implies tha t this poor African American needs a white translator; what the hobo has experienc ed cannot be known or expressed in print. Kerouac idealizes the hoboÂ’s dialect: Slim assumes he has the earthly knowledge of a Â“witch-doctor,Â” and knows they will me et Â‘at least once moreÂ” on the road (71). What seems like a Â“merely unusual interlude during down-time in a small city dinerÂ” is actually a prophetic meeting for the young narrator (Jones 250). Before the counterman heads to the rail yard, he warns that Slim is a Â“river log ainÂ’t rollingÂ” because he has become Â“CAUGHT in a snag where the witch doc tor lie down with the snakeÂ” (71). Slim knows of the logs that come down from Montana: Â“Odyssiac logs, stately wanderers, moving slowly with satisfaction and e ternity down wide night shores out to seaÂ” (71). The logs represent those Cold War wanderers that refuse to partake in mainstream culture. And even though Slim does not fully understa nd the hoboÂ’s allegory, he follows his lead, packs his bags, and hops a freight in search of a father figure. KerouacÂ’s style in Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” resembles the experim ental style found in On the Road, but it was most likely written a decade before (Jones 248) As opposed to On the Road, the composition of Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” is much more rough and includes random breaks in dialogue and the lack of transitions. In PlayboyÂ’s Â“Playbill,Â” editors advertise the text as Â“every bit as beautifully exec uted as his praise-garnering novelÂ” (2). But readers were not as equally impressed wi th KerouacÂ’s first Playboy publication. Always scrupulous with selecting the amount and quality of the responses that would be published in Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” responses, editors printed two
60 letters about this story in April 1958: one praising Kerouac as the Â“most refres hing young writer to grace [ PlayboyÂ’s ] pagesÂ” and one begging Kerouac to do more travelling and Â“less writingÂ” (5). These divided letters represent the ambivalent feeling s Playboy itself had towards KerouacÂ’s literary style. Editors enjoy including his work because of his fame, but they never praise KerouacÂ’s style or the characters he create d. KerouacÂ’s characters refuse to participate in the rising, domesticated, m iddleclass. The hero of this sketch, the Â“best bum of all the bumsÂ…walked the American nig ht just as he wasÂ” wearing only burlap pants and a greasy apron (57). He needs nothing el se to survive, and, without the desire for mass-produced products, he seems out of place in the sea of advertisements Playboy began printing as early as 1955. Because PlayboyÂ’s audience could afford the $0.50 cover price in 1958, it could hardly associate with KerouacÂ’s and his charactersÂ’ poverty level. The unnamed counterman only has Â“one lead nickel for coffee,Â” and Slim does not have enough money to leave Des Moines (57). KerouacÂ’s glorified depiction of poverty, as well as African American suf fering, allows his white narrator to reflect on his plight while Â“deflecting the difficultie sÂ” of the marginalized other (Holten 275). Slim states that the hobo represents all those postwar victims, those that Â“possessedÂ… a suffering that was seamed into the flesh, face and neckÂ” (57). Playboy editors most likely did not want their readers to experience this kind of suffering. KerouacÂ’s idyllic depiction of the African American counterman in Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” parallels PlayboyÂ’s depiction of the victimized, white male. This early illustration of a hobo reflects KerouacÂ’s adoration of what he calls t he Â“fellaheenÂ” peoples of the world. Kerouac uses Â“fellaheenÂ” to describe his f eelings of
61 solidarity with peasants, people of color, and people living at or below the poverty line KerouacÂ’s fellaheen work the earth with their hands or wander in search of enlightenment. Kerouac, through his white characters, patronizingly Â“flatter [s]Â” these fellaheen with Â“suggestions that their lives are idyllic and charmed, free of White worry, white responsibility, White inhibitionsÂ” (Richardson 225). In KerouacÂ’s narratives his fellaheen are actually Â“freerÂ” than white, middle-class Americans Norman Mailer in the Â“The White NegroÂ” and Existential Errands posits similar claims, but usually with an intent to outrage and always with a hint of irony. For instance, in Existential Errands, Mailer Â“wickedlyÂ” claims that African Americans are Â“suffici ently fortunate to be alienated from the benefits of American civilizationÂ” (Richardson 230; Mailer Existential 270). In KerouacÂ’s Â“weird Â…revival of the plantation tale,Â” the Â“white character s describe themselves as repressed even as they oppress othersÂ” (Richardson 226). Like Kerouac and Mailer, Playboy uses cultural discourse, such as Philip WylieÂ’s Â“Womanization of America,Â” to depict persecuted males. KerouacÂ’s idealization of the poor, the negro, or the hipster does not prove that his white characters actually know poverty. Kerouac, and his wandering heroes, alw ays have a financial sponsorÂ—an aunt, a mother, or a friend who willingly sends money. The hobo in Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” or the Â“old Negro cotton pickersÂ” in On the Road do not have the same luxury. Appalled at KerouacÂ’s emulation of the poor, James Baldwin claims that any reference to happy American Negroes in the 1950s is Â“a bsolute nonsense, and offensive nonsense at thatÂ” ( Nobody 231). In Nobody Knows My Name Baldwin dares Kerouac to declare how African Americans are better off than t heir white counterparts Â“from the stage of HarlemÂ’s Apollo TheaterÂ” (231). This Â“abomina bleÂ”
62 culture of Â“racismÂ” from privileged, white males mirrors mid-cent ury arguments about the feminization of America (Richardson 226). The rise of the companionate nucle ar family, the entrance of women into workforce, and the praise of the domesticated mal e reinforced the trope of the mid-century masculinity crisis. But men, especia lly white, heterosexual men, were still afforded the freedoms denied to African Amer icans and women. To appease its white, heterosexual audience, Playboy often reiterated the need for men to reclaim domesticated and public realms. Throughout the Cold War, Playboy promoted its virile masculinity model; charging into the battle of the sexes, Playboy claimed that men were in need of remasculinization because women had come to dominate Â“all domains: culture, style, consumption, sex, and marriageÂ” (Gilbert 210). According to Playboy columnists like Philip Wylie, this Â“she-tyranny,Â” had Â“created an emasculated majority.Â” Playboy even created a symposium on the Cold War masculinity malaise; in 1962, Playboy gathered Norman Mailer, Herbert Mayes, Alexander King, Edward Bernays, Ernst Dichter, Ashley Montagu, Theodor Reik, and Mort Sahl for the Â“Womanization of America Panel.Â” Comparing KerouacÂ’s Â“freeÂ” fella heen with dominating women suggests how both KerouacÂ’s fiction and PlayboyÂ’s ethos simultaneously create and reveal American cultural fictions; the magaz ine could selectively use KerouacÂ’s Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” to show how some Americans are not bound by anything, even a woman. Because PlayboyÂ’s grand narrative relies on reminding men of their virility, editors need to reproduce cultural myths regarding the victimization of white men. The mixed reader reviews of Â“The Rumbling, Rambling BluesÂ” encouraged editors to publish Â“The Beat MystiqueÂ” the following month. A tri-part dissection of t he
63 Beats, Â“The Beat MystiqueÂ” was written by Herbert Gold, Sam Boal, and N oel Clad. Gold degrades all that is Beat, while Boal and Clad satirizes the Beat lif estyle. Applying Betty FreidanÂ’s familiar title, The Feminine Mystique, to its report on the Beats allows Playboy editors to demean feminist movements, feminize the Beats, and remind possible female readers that they are not the primary audience. In a six page rant, Gol d accuses the Beats of being addicted to heroin and embracing far-out religions in a fever of despair (86). They do not even deserve to invoke their literary forefathersÂ—Rimbaud, Vil lon, and GenetÂ—because unlike the Â“American literary hipster,Â” Rimbaud, Villon, and Gene t were true outcasts: Â“they did not pick themselves up by the seat of their own pants a nd toss themselves out. They were driven by class difference and economic press ureÂ” (85). According to Gold, the BeatsÂ’ Â“soul, sense of meaning, individual dignityÂ… has been excisedÂ”; as hipsters, they were the Â“victim[s] of the most hopeless condit ion of slaveryÂ—the slave who does not know he is a slave and is proud of his slavery, calling it Â‘freedomÂ’Â” (86, 87). Viewing Beats and hipsters as nihilists joining an empt y fad, Gold claims the Beats become asexual, Â“a sexual zeroÂ” (84). Because of their dr ug induced state and the desperate need to be cool, Gold invalidates the main connection between the Beats and the playboy: sexual pleasure. To offset the demeaning language i n Â“The Beat Mystique,Â” the Â“PlaybillÂ” and editors praise the Beats as a Â“national phenom enon which knows no barriers of ageÂ—or economic or social statusÂ” in their in-house introduction (20). The Â“PlaybillÂ” even mimics KerouacÂ’s rambling, alliterative, long lines: Â“backwards roll the sentences till reels the mind which dips into the deep-freez e of coolsville and comes up with a penetrating and peppy triple-decker reportÂ” (3) Yet descriptions like Â“off-beat,Â” Â“infiltrates,Â” and Â“angry, roving youngster s,Â” belie editorsÂ’
64 true feelings. The subtitle is less than subtle: Â“aspects of the new nihilis mÂ—frozen faced, far out, devoid of normal meaningÂ” (20). Instead of condemning the Beats in their introduction, editors allow Herbert Gold to humiliate them. Much of what Gold says about the Beats is true; they used drugs, got kicks out of stealing cars, and rejected unnecessary consumption. Even though Kerouac claimed, on television spots and in other interviews, that the Beats are Â“into everythingÂ” from Â“Billy Graham, the Big Ten, rock and roll, Zen, apple pie, EisenhowerÂ—we dig it all,Â” Gold depicts them as completely Â“tuned out.Â” Gold focuses his rant on Kerouac because he felt that he was Â“just a jock,Â” Â“anti-Semitic,Â” and Â“a creep from the beginningÂ” (Be eber). In Â“The Beat MystiqueÂ” Gold fails to mention his long-time friendship with A llen Ginsberg or how he often patronized the same Greenwich coffee shops as the Beats. It was not until the 1970s that Gold admitted that he Â“was pretty hard on themÂ” in his Playboy sketch (Weyr 48). His humiliating chronicle was most likely requested by Playboy editors; Spectorsky often asked regular contributors to write real Â“blast -off..bang-up, furiousÂ” non-fiction pieces in order to sell more issues (Gilbert 211). A Playboy contributor since 1954, Gold debased the Beats so that Playboy editors did not have to. With GoldÂ’s article, Playboy editors could demean the movement without being responsible for the attack. Editors did not want to directly humiliate KerouacÂ—ra ther they wanted to present themselves as identifying with the BeatÂ’s rebellio us traits, while indirectly critiquing their rejection of conspicuous consumption. In Â“After HoursÂ” reviews, Playboy editors reveal that they wanted Kerouac to contribute to the magazine for his literary fame, not his lifestyle. In the August 1958 Â“After HoursÂ” Book Review of Gene Feldman's and Max Gartenberg's The Beat
65 Generation and the Angry Young Men, Kerouac and the Beats are deemed Â“heroes of post-war fictionÂ” (10). This anthology included works from Beat authors as well a s commentary by literary or cultural critics. Playboy editors claim that they are Â“disappointedÂ” that their own Â“The Beat MystiqueÂ” did not make it into the anthologized pages (10). They assume Feldman and Gartenberg excluded the Playboy article because it Â“put the finger on the nihilist anti-social anti-creative elements in the beat mystique,Â” which subverts the movementÂ’s Â“generally adulatory premiseÂ” (10). Regar dless of their disappointment, Playboy still endorses the Â“bloody cool collectionÂ” because Feldman and Gartenberg have introduced the Beats as Â“reacting to a world they never madeÂ—the latter in a search for sensation, a 'sordid dance of violence and pain,' the former by strangl ing their 'betters' with their old school tiesÂ” (10). From editorial reaction to F eldmanÂ’s and GartenbergÂ’s anthology, it is clear that editors simply wanted Playboy to be associated with the movement for its popular status, rather than its literature. As long as Kerouac remained in the literary spotlight, he provided Playboy with more material to boost its cultural currency. Editors continued to use Kerouac as a foil to their Upbeat Generation by flip-flopping between their appreciation for, and disda in of, the author. For instance, after publishing a negative review of The Dharma Bums in its October 1959 issue, editors champion Kerouac once again by publishing Â“Before the RoadÂ” in December 1959. KerouacÂ’s 33-page manuscript detailed Neal CassadyÂ’s Denver poolroom days during World War II. Spanning 17 magazine pages, Â“Before the RoadÂ” discusses what the Beat had been in a time before the fame and the disil lusionment that followed. This portion of Visions of Cody is often hailed as KerouacÂ’s Â“modernist masterpieceÂ…for its sheer linguistic boldness and exuberanceÂ” (Amburn 172). When
66 Kerouac could not get his seminal work published with Viking Press, Playboy snapped up this excerpt. Escapade, Transatlantic Review, Oui, New Directions and The Moderns each paid for other excerpts from Visions but Playboy was the first to publish. In the typescript, Kerouac made over 200 corrections and a Playboy editor made additional punctuation and spelling corrections (ChristieÂ’s). The typescript and galle ys show how Kerouac Â“fashioned his most ebulliently lusty style as if intending to explore the full resources of CassadyÂ’s gusto and enthusiasm for livingÂ” (Tytell 178). In Naked Angels, John Tytell claims that this text was Â“written with amazing inventiveness stylistic freedom, and originalityÂ” and proves to be Kerouac Â“at his bestÂ” (Tytell 178). Even if Playboy editors did not agree with the critical acclaim, they did want to be the first magazine to catalogue this American popular culture event. During 1959, Playboy included the Beats or representations of the Beats in more than half of its issues. In June, they commissioned Kerouac for Â“The Origins of the B eat Generation,Â” a revision of a speech he gave at Hunter College. The in-house editorial introduction praises him for Â“sounding depths hitherto not plumbed, dispelling widespread misconceptions, debunkingÂ…phonies ..to reaffirm his faith in the basic principles of true BeatÂ” (31). Editors go so far as to state that it is their Â“pl easure and privilege to publish this statement hereÂ” (31). Â“The OriginsÂ” begs readers t o take the BeatsÂ’ literary accomplishments seriously. In the article, Kerouac c laims the movement is an American one, as it is rooted in American music, language, and popular cultur e. In the next issue, editors publish three new Beat poems: KerouacÂ’s Â“To Harpo Marx ,Â” GinsbergÂ’s Â“To Lindsay,Â” and Gregory CorsoÂ’s Â“Made by HandÂ” (44-5). The t wo-page spread, containing photos of poetry readings in coffee houses, helps to introduce JulyÂ’s
67 Â“Beat Playmate,Â” Yvette Vickers. Vickers poses nude like every other Pl aymate, and editors stress that she is a typical woman from the Beat generation. With Jim MorandÂ’s Â“Coffee Houses of AmericaÂ” and Â“The Beat Playmate, Â” Playboy had once again used the Beats as puppets. The men displayed in MorandÂ’s photo-spread are better dressed than most authentic Beats. Even the Â“Beat PlaymateÂ” appears better off financially than most women associated with the Beat Ge neration. and her Hollywood aspirations make her far from Â“representative of the girls who inha bit the beat coffee housesÂ” (47). According to her brief bio, what defines her as a Beat is that she has Â“strong opinions,Â” love for poetry and classical music, and a reckless nature that encourages to jag race cars in the desert for kicks. The editorsÂ’ word choice r eveals that they do not mind this kind of Beat because even if she is Â“more than a bit of a rebel,Â” she Â“frown[s] prettily on conformityÂ” (47). Her full-color spread proves exactly what kind of Beat Playboy editors appreciateÂ—half naked, Yvette is surrounded by an open book of verse, a bottle of wine, mismatched half-full wine glasses, an overflowing ashtray, and vinyl. With her hand on the record player and bright red lipstick on her face, she is an audience-appropriate representation of the Beat Generation. Reader response proves that editors had struck the proper balanceÂ—more focus on the nude, Beat model than on the Beat poetry. The October 1959 Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” contains seventeen letters about its Beat coverage. Eight of those letters ar e short praises for Yvette that include beatnik word play; for example, J. Calder Joseph of Orlando, FL, writes that the Â“poetry was tops and the Playmate a real sweetnik Â” (8). Only one letter condemns editors for their Â“pretty corny publicity gimmickÂ” (8). Other lett ers question why editors Â“are giving such a large emphasis to the beatnik ideologyÂ” or printi ng their
68 poetry (11). One lengthy letter complains of all the Beat attention and sugge sts that there is no such thing as the Beat Generation, Â“only a scattering of goofballsÂ…uttering animal whimpers of protestÂ…while belting themselves silly with drinkÂ” (12). This l etter warns of the high rates of juvenile delinquency and compares Beat stylistics to Â“t he hysterical yip of a frustrated virgin who has been unexpectedly goosedÂ” (12). Four letters l abel the poetry Â“The Beat SoundÂ” as Â“pure tripe,Â” Â“utter drivel,Â” and Â“lousyÂ” (11). Only one letter praises Playboy for giving the Beats a chance to be read so that the general public can make its own conclusions. While Playboy might have offered the general public a chance to read the Beats, it most definitely had already come to its own conclusionÂ—t he Beats were good for business. Any attention, even if it is negative, is good attention. Playboy editorsÂ’ negative discussions and reviews of Kerouac must have made some readers wonder why his contributions continued to appear in the magazine. For instance, in March 1958 editors published Scott MartinÂ’s Â“Hickory, Dickory, Kerouac,Â” a satire about mice on the go. In November of that year, they commissioned satir ist John D. Keefauver to write an Â“appreciative parodyÂ” that echoes Lawrence Fer linghettiÂ’s poetry. And four years later, in the same September Â“After HoursÂ” Book Revie w that praises James BaldwinÂ’s Another Country, editors reviewed KerouacÂ’s Big Sur. The basis of the reviewÂ—that Big Sur is a rehash of On the RoadÂ— is fundamentally correct; KerouacÂ’s work mainly functioned as extended autobiographies. Besides the autobiographical nature of the novel, editors take issue with his experimental sty le; Kerouac relied heavily on dashes to separate time lapses and thoughts in the novel. PlayboyÂ’s obvious prejudices against KerouacÂ’s style forced them to heavily edit his typed manuscripts. For example, Â“The Beat GenerationÂ” manuscript contained tw o
69 poems that editors refused to publish: Â“Harpo, IÂ’ll Always Love YouÂ” and Â“ LoveÂ’s multitudinous boneyard.Â” (Although Â“HarpoÂ” was later published in Â“Beat Sound.Â”) Editorial sheets advise to Â“allow Kerouac a measure of freedom in punc. Etc, but put in those apostrophesÂ…Â” (ChristieÂ’s). Editorial markings and a number of penciled de letions appear on the typed manuscripts for each of KerouacÂ’s selections. Editorial ma rks reveal that editors were particularly perturbed by KerouacÂ’s habit of leaving the gs off of his gerunds. In a review of Vision of Cody, editors discuss KerouacÂ’s Â“stylistic excessesÂ”: Â“his metaphors stumble over each other in various stages of disarrayÂ”; his Â“se nsitivity slips into sentimentalityÂ”; and he has a Â“patchwork philosophyÂ” (4). And yet, edi tors continued to ask him for contributions over the next decade. A mere three years afte r the negative Visions of Cody review, Playboy commissioned Kerouac to write Â“Good Blonde.Â” And after the Beat movement had waned, Playboy published HolmesÂ’ moving obituary of Kerouac in February 1973. This strange move to memorialize Kerouac after years of debasing him reinforces PlayboyÂ’s central concernÂ—cultural currency. Playboy needed to include KerouacÂ’s works because they stressed the popular Beat life style. Unlike the restrictions placed on him by Playboy Escapade encouraged Kerouac to write about anything that moved him. A direct Playboy competitor Escapade featured Nelson Algren and Ray Bradbury, as well as articles on Hemingway and Saling er (Birmingham). In his Kerouac biography, Tom Clark claims that Escapade was one of the few outlets that Â“had no prejudiceÂ” against Kerouac, Â“his lifestyle, o r his writing styleÂ” (Clark xii). KerouacÂ’s Â“Last WordÂ” columns have a Â“preoccupation with Â‘real lif eÂ’ Â–Â‘real things and real peopleÂ’Â” (Clark xii). In them, Kerouac writes on jazz the literary scene, Zen Buddhism, baseball, history, and politics. Unlike the work he offered
70 Playboy, these columns did not Â“chronicle the hot, racy, underground cultureÂ” or the Â“sexually hipÂ” (Birmingham). Rather, they reveal the Â“nostalgic and conse rvative side of Kerouac that fully emerged in the 1960sÂ” (Birmingham). For instance, in an astute column on the literary scene, Kerouac explains why he refuses to use the Â“conventiona l English sentenceÂ” in his prose. He claims that Â“shameÂ” keeps artists from composing a Â“trueÂ” sentence ( Good 145). He also suggests that the Â“bestÂ” of American Literature Â“has not been published yetÂ” because critics and editors have Â“been engaged in a campai gn of systematic rejection of everything except the most systematic manus criptsÂ” (Kerouac, Good 147). In these non-fiction columns, Kerouac proves that he can, when he chooses to, abide by the conventions of standard American English. His call for artists to create Â“unabashed languageÂ” suggests that he does not want the political climate to conta in authors. Never organized fully or driven enough for political activism, the Beats championed personal and spiritual liberation rather than a social revolution. But in his seventh Â“Last WordÂ” column, Kerouac offers political commentary on the Cold War climate. He condemns the American free press for bending to the times and Â“as suming that the Â‘the newsÂ’ has got to be badÂ” for anyone to follow it ( Good 161, 162). Kerouac reminds readers that if he defends artists or Nikita Khrushchev, he should not be brande d a Communist. Most likely Kerouac would not have been able to discuss the political climate, or Â“speak for things,Â” in his Playboy contributions (Creeley xii). PlayboyÂ’s manipulative presentation, liberal editing, and undermining reviews constrained Kerouac to writing strictly about the Beats so that it could continue to use him as a foil. The relationship between Playboy and the Beats signifies how aggressively the empire fulfilled its capitalistic agenda. By using Kerouac as a foil, t he magazine serves
71 more than one audienceÂ—readers that enjoyed KerouacÂ’s works are genuinely please d by his inclusion in the magazine and those that are not can take pleasure from editori al content like GoldÂ’s Â“The Beat Mystique.Â” In Reaching for Paradise, Thomas Weyr documents how the magazineÂ’s ambivalent perspective on the Beats, and Kerouac specifically, allowed readers to enter the ongoing cultural discourse sur rounding the Beats and nonconformity in general. Playboy could also go Â“on record as having displayed and confronted the movementÂ” (Weyr 49). It competed with other menÂ’s magazines cover ing the Beats and offered a more in-depth, cultural analysis than The New York Times and Newsweek ever could. KerouacÂ’s exposure also forced the magazine to reconsider its playboy ethic. Russell remembers that Â“we liked the sort of freedom they espouse d,Â” and Â“ we were in favor of any kind of sexual liberation, as long as it was heterosexua l libÂ…But we also felt that there was a lot in it counter to what we promotedÂ” (qtd. in W eyr 49). Russell reiterates how the Beats, with their Â“sandaled, dirty feet,Â” and t heir Â“antiestablishment attitudeÂ” did not mesh well with PlayboyÂ’s objective. Russell states: Â“We were telling people how to make out, not just with girls, but in business and in their jobsÂ” (qtd. in Weyr 49). Hefner agrees that, as Â“an interesting phenomenon,Â” the B eats did not fit the magazineÂ’s ethos (qtd. in Weyr 49). Hefner even admits in an intervie w that editors were Â“apt to give them a shot one time and a compliment at anotherÂ” ( qtd. in Weyr 49). What Weyr fails to mention in his chronicle of this relationship is t hat Kerouac, accordingly to his letters, was an unsuspecting foil. Working-for-hire at the height of his career, Kerouac willingly wrote for Playboy Because Playboy paid Kerouac so handsomely for his work, between $500 and $2,000 per piece, he never questioned the magazineÂ’s quality as a publishing venue. He even
72 persuaded other members of the Beat generation to submit their work to Playboy In a 1962 letter to Holmes, Kerouac dismisses Esquire as Â“bunch of arty faggotsÂ” for rejecting HolmesÂ’ excerpts (Charters, Selected Letters Vol I 337). Kerouac tells Holmes to have his work Â“sent directly to Thomas PayneÂ” at Playboy because he is Â“[his] buddyÂ” (Charters, SL Vol I, 337). Kerouac writes that Â“Spectorsky has the final say but he was the one, remember, who published my Â‘Out of the PoolhallÂ’ to perfection without one typo errorÂ” (Charters, SL Vol I 337-8). In January 1962, editors apparently informed Kerouac that Playboy wanted to devote a Â“whole editionÂ” to one of his novels, similar to LifeÂ’s entire Ernest Hemingway Old Man and the Sea issue (Charters, SL Vol I 322). But in all likelihood, Playboy had no intention of devoting an entire issue to the Beat because of its ambivalent attitude toward the Beats and its dislike of KerouacÂ’s pros e. PlayboyÂ’s choice to simultaneously solicit Kerouac for his work and to share its prejudices suggests that Playboy selectively borrowed from popular 1950s figures to create its model of masculinity. Coupled with his fame in literary circles Playboy seemed to rely on KerouacÂ’s good looks. According to Jed Birmingham, a William Burroughs scholar, Kerouac looked Â“like James Dean and Marlon Brando [and] could writeÂ” (Birmingham). Salvador Dali went farther and pronounced Kerouac as Â“mor e beautiful than Marlon BrandoÂ” (Douglas ii). His good looks could have propelled Playboy to publish his photographs and his prose. Editors used him the same way they used Yvette Vickers, as a Â“sweetnik.Â” To further BirminghamÂ’s claim, Playboy exploited Kerouac looks and his supposed heterosexuality. Interested first and foremost in fa ade, Playboy needed a good-looking, straight member of the Beat Generation as a foil to its grand narrative. Editors could not have published works by Ginsberg or Burroughs
73 because of their blatant homosexualityÂ—even though they Â“cultivated a homosexua l identity that was defiant, rebellious, and masculineÂ” (Carroll 5). The Cold War Â’s Lavender Scare and consumer capitalism encouraged Playboy to simultaneously use and abuse Kerouac. Â“Good BlondeÂ” as a Cold War Text Playboy printed Â“Good BlondeÂ” in a tour-de-force issue including the renowned interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stories by Vladimir Nabokov, P.G Wodehouse, Ray Bradbury, and Harold Pinter, and satire by Woody Allen and Shel Silverstein. The interview gave Dr. King a forum to discuss his philosophy of nonviolence and Â“explain the reality of African American despair that had bec ome manifest in the riots of the previous summerÂ” (Fraterrigo 148). Other articles in the December 1965 issue present a slice of American Cold War culture. J. Paul G etty writes of Â“The Psychology of Personnel ManagementÂ”; Wodehouse comments on the contemporary nuclear crisis in Â“Bingo Bans the BombÂ”; and Sir Julian Huxley wa rns that the population growth will overwhelm physical resources and global institutions (Watts 194). DecemberÂ’s Â“Playboy PhilosophyÂ” includes a discussion of religion and Reverend Harvey CoxÂ’s praise of the magazine. All of this is Â“sober content for a maga zine that once promised no interest in the worldÂ’s problemsÂ” (Fraterrigo 148). But, of course, Playboy is very interested in the worldÂ’s problems and its cultural occurrences. Embedded within this serious content is KerouacÂ’s Â“Good Blonde.Â” The story describes an actual encounter Kerouac experienced while hitchhiking from M exico City to California in September 1955. Kerouac was picked up by a young, blond female in a 1955 Mercury Montclair. The woman was returning to San Francisco after visiting her
74 family in Texas; she stopped to pick up Kerouac on U.S. 101 outside of Santa Barbara wearing only a strapless, white bathing suit. Kerouac wrote: Â“I was bloody w ell afraid to look at her, the curl of her milk armpits, the flesh of her cream legs, the cream, le gs, curls, milk, wow did I love that, not looking, but gigglingÂ” (Charters, SL Vol I, 522). To make the trip without stopping, Kerouac shared with her his ample supply of Mexican Benzedrine. They talked while she pushed her Mercury to speeds over a hundred. She told Kerouac how Â“everyone in Texas was getting stonedÂ” and Â“even tobacco-che wing farmers were beginning to cultivate Â‘loco weedÂ’ in their yardsÂ” (Amburn 220) According to a letter Kerouac wrote to Holmes, she was Â“the sweetest litt le perfect everything you knowÂ” (Charters, SL Vol I, 522). The blond dropped him off at the South San Francisco rail yards, exchanging empty promises to meet again. This chance encounter impressed Kerouac, and he used the incident in his novel, The Dharma Bums, before expanding it into a short story. When Kerouac described the Â“good blondeÂ” in a letter to Holmes, he declared that Â“the peace and happiness the Beat s had forecast in 1948 was coming true; President Eisenhower was dismantling the military-industrial complex, and war would soon be a thing of the pastÂ” (Amburn 220). Because Kerouac obviously thought this experience was a good omen, he strategica lly used it in his fictionÂ—both as a parenthetical aside and as a short story. As a parenthetical aside, Kerouac uses the ride to get one of his main characters to t he Six Gallery reading of Howl, the most pivotal event of the Beat Generation. The expanded version of this encounter marks one of KerouacÂ’s full immersions in the short story ge nre. Like the rest of the Beats, Kerouac relied on the novel and poetry for self-expr ession. His
75 other published short fiction, categorized as short stories, are really just exc erpts from longer works. Â“Good BlondeÂ” is a simply an extended version of a parenthetical snippet from The Dharma Bums. Written in response to Malcolm CowleyÂ’s 1957 request for an On the Road sequel The Dharma Bums was Â“a real American book and [had] an optimistic American ring of the woods in itÂ” (qtd. in Theado 152). As frontiersmen, the main characters reveal their rootlessness and offer readers a glimpse int o 1950s San Francisco Bay cultureÂ—from the growing Buddhist following to the nightlife on the bay. Finished in ten marathon caffeine induced sessions, The Dharma Bums contains barely any of KerouacÂ’s experimental prose; it is told linearly, contains identifiable c haracters, and maintains a controlled style. After reading it, New York Times Book Review columnist J. Donald Adams revised his original opinion of Kerouac as a hack stylist: Â“Offhand I would say that when Kerouac sets his mind to it he can describe the world of physic al experience better than anyone since Hemingway. When he writes unaffecte dly and unselfconsciously, but with control, he writes very well indeedÂ” (qtd. in Theado 153). With Â“Good Blonde,Â” Kerouac returns to his Â“preferred exploratory style,Â” defyi ng PlayboyÂ’s desire for a more contained style (Jones 140). Poised between an introduction to Buddhism and simply another journey across America, The Dharma Bums includes a fitting Cold War narratorÂ—one initially full of post-war hope. Told in the past tense, the novel opens with the narrator, Ray, hopping freights outside of Los Angeles. Ray shares his necessities (wine, a lit tle bread, Mexico City cheese, and some candy) with an old bum who Â“spoke from far away inside a litt le meek voice-box afraid or unwilling to assert himselfÂ” (281). Originally pleas ed with his
76 charity, Ray eerily foreshadows the changes in his mentality and age. He becomes very critical of his post-war devotions. Ray tells readers that he has now grown old and Â“ a little hypocritical about [his] lip-service and a little tired and cynical Â” (282). The elongated ellipses, in the original manuscript, suggest RayÂ’s drastic demise in m entality. Immediately after the war, Ray Â“really believed in the reality of c harity and kindness and humility and zeal and neutral tranquility and wisdom and ecstasyÂ” (282). The majori ty of the plot details his optimistic tale, but it is told from a distant, unenthusiastic na rrator. This narrative technique allows Kerouac to frame RayÂ’s Â“long, post-adolesce ntÂ” journey as a spiritual journey of Â“personal and national dimensionsÂ” (Richardson 219). RayÂ’s personal journey has national dimensions because it exposes mid-century tensionsÂ—a tragically-optimistic narrator wanders through a Â“hopeful, doomed decadeÂ” (Ric hardson 220). With Ray, and his other narrators, Kerouac critiques the utopian and dystopian aspects of the Cold War culture. RayÂ’s waning sense of happiness represents the tragic optimism of 1950s Cold War American culture. From the constant crisscrossing of America, Ker ouacÂ’s characters show an America that is Â“promise and piety on the one hand, wickedness and fraud on the otherÂ” (Richardson 219). Mark Richardson connects KerouacÂ’s tragically optimis tic works to a Â“Young Goodman Brown sort of storyÂ” (219). Richardson argues that On the Road invokes both dystopian and utopian possibilities: Â“tumbledown holy AmericaÂ” ( On the Road 251). Kerouac explores the seediness and grace of American Cold War culture This tension can be easily transferred to Â“Good Blonde.Â” For instance, while wait ing about a half hour to hitch a ride, the narratorÂ’s anger becomes palpable: Â“I got madder and madder and finally I was swearing to myself Â‘I will never hitchhike a gain, itÂ’s getting
77 worse and worse every goddamn yearÂ” (146). A few breathless sentences lat er, Â“at the moment when [he] was the maddest, and was standing there, thumb out, completely infuriated and so much so thatÂ…[his] eyes were slitted, [his] teeth clenched,Â” a ca r pulls over. The following sentences are stripped down and direct: Â“I couldnÂ’t believe it I figured she wanted road information. I picked up my pack and ranÂ” (146). The change in sentence structure signifies the narratorÂ’s shifting moods. Similar to R ay, the narrator of Â“Good BlondeÂ” seems to be torn between believing in the Â“hearthsideÂ” American ide als and recognizing Cold War tragedies. Kerouac composed his characters during cultural upheavals like the American National Security State, the Civil Rights Movement, the Organizational Ma n, suburban sprawl, and red-lining. Defense spending quadrupled; 1950 witnessed the beginning the Korean Conflict, the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War. Th e United States detonated the first hydrogen bomb in Eniwetok Atoll in 1952. Fear and hysteria escal ated with the RosenbergÂ’s trial and execution. In Â“Mad Beast,Â” Jean-Paul Sartr e describes the palpable fear of the Cold War: Â“In killing the Rosenbergs, you simply tried to stop scientific progress by a human sacrifice. Magic, witch hunts, autos-dafe, sacrifices: we've reached that point. Your country is sick with fear. You're afraid of every thing: the Russians, the Chinese, the Europeans. You're afraid of each other. You're afrai d of the shadow of your own bomb. Ah, what fine allies you make!Â” (210). Sartre laughs at United States officialsÂ’ desire to assume global leadership. He writ es Â“And you would like to lead us! You are leading us to war out of terror, and you'd lose it out of panic at the first bombardmentÂ” (210). His simplified explication reflects the tension be tween
78 dystopia and utopia; the United States wanted to be a hopeful leader and, yet, that hope was often trumped by a culture of fear and containment. KerouacÂ’s characters often refer to Cold War culture. For instance, Ray w ants Â“the whole worldÂ” to be as Â“dead seriousÂ” about food as Japhy rather than concerning itself with Â“silly rockets and machines and explosives using everybodyÂ’s f ood money to blow their heads off anywayÂ” (Kerouac, Dharma, 217). Ray wishes to escape the Â“regular hellÂ” of Los Angeles because it is an Â“industrial jungleÂ” (137, 117). He bemoans the sad pattern of conformity as people experience a uniform response to televisi on programs and describes the mass of young men dressed in gray suits scurrying to thei r office jobs (39, 131). Dean and Sal, in On the Road, pass by Washington D.C. on President TrumanÂ’s inauguration day; they remark on the Â“great displays of war might lined up along Pennsylvania AvenueÂ…There were B-29s, PT boats, artillery, all kinds of war material that looked murderous in the snowy grassÂ” (Kerouac 112). They comment on the Â“Victorian police forceÂ” involved in Â“psychological warfare;Â” the police force Â“peers out of musty windows and inquires about everythingÂ” (113). Old Bull Lee rants about predatory Â“bureaucraciesÂ” and the Â“big grabÂ” between Washington and Moscow (221). Throughout his works, KerouacÂ’s characters ask the essential Cold War questionsÂ—Â“Who are Americans? Are we the chosen or the damned?Â” (Richardson 221). The narrator of the Â“Good BlondeÂ” questions American cultural illusions regardi ng conformity, counter-culture, and models of masculinity. The answer to these questi ons is usually a Â“peculiar optimismÂ” that Â“always has a haggard air of defeat abou t itÂ” (221). KerouacÂ’s narrators subsist on apple pie and ice cream, consistently go west and Â“digÂ” everything. Readers are left to Â“infer thatÂ…to live in faith and goodwill is a lso to labor
79 under a fortunate illusionÂ—under the dominating power of belief; to be digging everything is somehow willingly to be subject to a conÂ” (222). With his works, Keroua c catches the momentÂ’s optimism, while playing down its darker side. Beyond the tragic optimism, The Dharma Bums and Â“Good BlondeÂ” explore why Cold War America became fascinated with Buddhism. While Americans Â“had been producing and consuming Asia symbolically for the previous century and a half,Â” American Buddhism coalesced as a religion during the early Cold War (Klein 4) Interest in eastern religions in the United States had been increasing since the 1940s (Doug las xi). After World War II, and most likely in part because of the war, America ns looked East: journalists documented the atom bomb, playwrights brought Okinawa onto Broadway, political observers traced historical roots, restaurants surrounded patrons in Pol ynesian chic, and lecturers, like Alan Watts, popularized Zen Buddhism (Klein 2-4). D.T. Suzuki lectured on Buddhism at Columbia during the 1950s and Buddhism continued to grow (Douglas xi). The heightened focus on Buddhism revealed the crisis of belief t hat marred a post-war era, one that could concurrently embrace Playboy and evangelism. Ann Charters notes that, in July 1958, Time stated that Â“Zen Buddhism is growing more chic by the moment,Â” and even Mademoiselle intelligently covered the movement. Rod PhillipsÂ’ scholarship on nature in Beat literature suggests that Buddhism offe red the Beats a way to transcend Cold War American culture; culturally, mainstream A merica was Â“routinelyÂ” offered two choicesÂ—Â“Soviet-style communism or American capi talism, democracy and all that went with itÂ” (Douglas 23). Calvin Steinmetz explained that Â“Buddhism is interesting to some of the best minds in the West because it is diffe rent enough from westernized religions that the contrast is strikingÂ” (qtd. in Masa tsugu 447).
80 Like it did for Hinduism, Buddhism offered a middle path for some AmericansÂ—most notably for the Beats, who Â“envisioned Buddhist teaching and practice as an alterna tive path toward meaning, peace, and spirituality in an increasingly material istic and unstable Cold War worldÂ” (Masatsugu 428). The Beats, like other San Francisco Bay c onverts, were Â“haunted by the unparalleled destruction of World War II and the increa sing prospect of nuclear warÂ” (Masatsugu 439). The Beats envisioned a future ful l of Â“monk figures who rejected Cold War materialism and likened cycles of production and consumption to the samsara (the Buddhist view of the endless cycle of birth and death)Â” (Masatsugu 441). In their rejection of materialism, the Beats had come to reco gnize one of BuddhismÂ’s four noble truths: that all life is suffering. The BeatsÂ’ search for comfort in religion is similar to PlayboyÂ’s search for Â“a few laughs and a little diversion from the anxieties of the Atomic AgeÂ” (3, Dec .1953). The Beats, like the Transcendentalists before them, looked to eastern religions and mythologies. Douglas posits that KerouacÂ’s Â“turn EastÂ” is due to rereading T horeauÂ’s Walden. The Transcendentalists movement, like the Beats, marked Â“a crisis and a renewal of beliefÂ” (Douglas 19). John Tytell claims that the Transcendental ists encouraged KerouacÂ’s Â“aggressive idealism, hisÂ…distrust of machines and industry his desire to return to the origins of manÂ’s relations to the landÂ” (4). Like the Be ats, the Transcendentalists Â“felt betrayed by the organized, productive society of the ir day and said NO to the prevailing mores in the name of an individualistic search for myst ical unityÂ” (Gelpi 60). The shared sense of betrayal encouraged the Beats to define themselves Â“against domesticity and consumerismÂ” and align themselves with Â“ racialized figures at the margins of white, heterosexual, middle-class America for inspirationÂ”
81 (Masatsugu 439). The role of the exoticized Oriental played into the BeatsÂ’ c onstruction of an alternative vision. When Kerouac crafts a vision of Buddhism as an Oriental alternative to white middle-class culture, he critiques Cold War cultural anxieties regarding the Other. Kerouac continues this problematic embrace of the Other in Â“Good Blonde.Â” Unlike The Dharma Bums or On the Road Â“Good BlondeÂ” does not begin with the narrator noting that the good times are already over. Rather, the narrator introduces an old Greek who reminds him of his east-coast uncle, and the work presents a dialogue that is full of possibility. After the first descriptive paragraph characterizing the old Greek as a father, or uncle figure, Kerouac immediately begins a dialogue without specific refer ents: Â“What do you think? You think all this is a dream?Â” Â“What?Â” Â“Life.Â” Â“Here? Now? What you mean a dream, weÂ’re awake, we talk, we see, we got eyes for to see the sea and the sand and the sky, if you dream you no see it.Â” Â“How we know weÂ’re not dreaming?Â” Â“Look my eyes are open ainÂ’t they?Â” He watched me as I washed my dishes and put things away. (145) As a point of departure, the conversations between the old Greek and the narrator parall el The Dharma Bums use of Buddhism In Â“Good Blonde,Â” KerouacÂ’s narrator asks specific questions regarding the illusion of life and references mediation practices t hat include washing dishes. He seems to want to share basic principles of Buddhism with the older character, without alienating him. Kerouac even makes the narrator sound equal ly
82 foreign as the old Greek. By removing the auxiliary Â“doÂ” in the question Â“How we know?Â”, Kerouac aligns his narrator with his non-native old Greek. Directly afte r the old Greek watches the narrator put his dishes away, the narrator states Â“IÂ’m going to try to hitchhike to San Francisco or catch a freight, I donÂ’t wanta wait till tonightÂ” (145). By not including any prologue or reference to his travels, readers can only infer that the old Greek was aware of the narratorÂ’s plans. The old Greek responds with Â“You mens always in a hurry, hey, he he he heÂ…laugh[ing] just like Old Uncle NickÂ” (146). Using the old Greek, Kerouac hints at the BeatsÂ’ restlessness toward the oppressive middl e-class life. As opposed to Uncle Nick, who resembles the gray-suited organization man and participates in political discourse, the old Greek becomes a nostalgic reminder of a different America: Â“In his green gray eyes which were just like the green gray sea I saw the yawning eternity not only of Greece but of America and myselfÂ” (146). Dis regarding fears associated with the containment culture, Kerouac posits the old Greek Â“w andering on the mystical margin mentioned by Whitman where the sea kisses the sand in the endless sigh kiss of timeÂ” (146). The old GreekÂ’s direction Â“in the voidÂ” seems Â“ sadderÂ” than the narratorÂ’s, but the narrator Â“knew that in reality [his] own directionÂ…w as no higher and no lower than his own humble and unsayable stateÂ” (146). Deploying Buddhist allusions in the Â“Good BlondÂ” allows Kerouac to share his crisis of renewal a nd faith with Playboy readers. This strange interaction between these two male characters at first appea rs to be the beginning of a framed narrative, but, because Kerouac never returns to the old Gre ek, it could express Cold War cultureÂ’s focus on masculinity. The old GreekÂ’s sig nificance to the short story can be likened to the male interaction in all of KerouacÂ’s works.
83 KerouacÂ’s male characters and the Beats represent an example of Eve Kosofsky SedgwickÂ’s Â“homosocial desire.Â” For instance, in The Dharma Bums, KerouacÂ’s characters were Â“guysÂ” who lived on a mountaintop talking about how they would lead a Â“great world revolutionÂ” (430). As a brotherhood, they excluded women as spiritual equals, colleagues, or intellectuals. They bonded over Â“heavy drinking, hard living fast cars, sports and sexual excessÂ” (Davidson 16). The absence of women in RayÂ’s clique represents just one of the numerous homosocial communities formed during the Cold War. In Imperial Brotherhood, Robert Dean lists the ways United States leaders were shaped into a hyper-masculine fraternity: boarding schools, ivy league universit ies, secret fraternities, social men's clubs, and voluntary military service, which off ered a "martial masculine virtue ... inseparable from masculine civic and political virtue" (38). Dean's controlling image of Cold War warriors, the imperial brotherhood, reveals that U nited States leaders were obsessed with virile masculinity and relied on hypermasculine attitudes to create foreign and domestic policy. Distancing themselves from homosexuality (which equated to weakness), men in these fraternities promoted a toughness that shaped Cold War policy. As a result, Cold War politics elevated Â“ menÂ’s menÂ” from homosocial communities, while damning intellectuals as poor leaders. De an proves how difficult it was for individuals to contradict reigning models of masculini ty (12). The reigning model for the characters in The Dharma Bums is Japhy Ryder, as a Northwest woodsman, mountain climber, and Oriental scholar. Practicing the si mplicity of Buddhism, Japhy nonchalantly attracts womenÂ—inviting women over for clothes-optional meditation sessions. Throughout the novel, Ray frantically tries to conf orm to JaphyÂ’s model of masculinity. Ray mimics most of JaphyÂ’s characteris tics, especially his
84 denial of materialism. Ray follows him up the High Sierras to climb the Matte rhorn and agrees to be a fire lookout for the United States Forest Service on Desolatio n Peak, a job he takes only to impress Japhy. And while he participates in the constant party ing, Ray can never match JaphyÂ’s sexual promiscuity. The characters in KerouacÂ’s texts were mirror images of the artist s of the Beat Generation; they created a homosocial community dependent on its Â“differentiati on from (1) society, (2) marriage, and (3) (Â‘perfumÂ’dÂ’) womenÂ” (Davidson 14). John Clel lon Holmes first labeled the Beats as a Â“boy gangÂ” in a 1954 letter to Allen Ginsberg (Davidson 13). Holmes wrote Â“the social organization which is most true of itself to the artist is the boy gangÂ” (qtd. in Davidson 13). Kerouac, like Holmes, believed wholeheartedly in the Â“pervasiveÂ” homosocial bonds. These bonds can be seen throughout KerouacÂ’s works and in his life. And unlike Ginsberg or Burroughs, whose works contain homosocial bonds which lead to explicit homosexual acts, KerouacÂ’s depiction of homosocial bonds do not alienate the Cold War audience because they are contained within a heterosexual realm (Harris 185). These homosocial bonds relat e to Cold War politics because they debunk notions of homosexuality and celebrate a shar ed masculinity. For instance, Kerouac uses the Â“symmetry of divorce and marr iageÂ” to frame the homosocial bond between Dean and Sal in On the Road (Harris 185) This heterosexual frame negates suspicions of homosexuality in the text. In his persona l life, KerouacÂ’s homosexual relationships are framed by heterosexual marriages and relationships. Kerouac and his characters ignore the mainstream impulse to marry and functi on on the sliding scale of sexuality. By 1955, Kerouac had two failed marriages and the
85 narrator of Â“Good BlondeÂ” reflects the authorÂ’s rejection of marriage: Â“Be en married twice and IÂ’ve had itÂ” (Turner 149). Barbara Ehrenreich claims that Beats, a nd their imitators the beatniks, rejected the Â“pact that the family wage syst em rested onÂ”; they refused to financially support women via marriage (53). This refusal supports t he fact that the Beats were Â“deeply, if intermittently, attachedÂ” only to each other (Ehrenreich 53). The responsibility and commitment of the monogamous life was Â“just uninterest ing compared to the ecstatic possibilities of male adventureÂ” (Ehrenreich 54). P ersonally, KerouacÂ’s male adventures and strong homosocial bonds often lead to homosexual encounters; these included merchant marines, Beat members, and Gore Vidal, who claimed that he and Kerouac Â“both thoughtÂ…that we owed it to literary history to coupl eÂ” (Solomons). Congruous to Alfred KinseyÂ’s findings on sexuality, biographer Ellis Amburn argues that "rigid divisions such as hetero-, bi-, and homosexuality do not fit reality, certainly not Kerouac's, and should not be used to label him. Though everyone seems to have a genetic inclination in one direction or the other, it is dangerous to use s ex to define anyone" (32). Although other Beat scholars disregard some of AmburnÂ’s biographical findings, KerouacÂ’s sexual experimentation has been noted by Gerry Nicosia and Ann Charters. Kerouac and other members of the Beats were subjects for some of KinseyÂ’s interviews, and his subsequent findings regarding the sexuality conti nuum enthralled Cold War America. KinseyÂ’s findings deconstructed dominant perc eptions of sexuality and critiqued popular conceptions of marriage as the moral union betwee n men and women. KerouacÂ’s allusions to KinseyÂ’s definitions of sexuality help to demonstrate the Cold WarÂ’s reconstitution of space. The survey of male and female sexual beha vior
86 illustrates that Â“mapping could yield a radical critique of societyÂ” (K ozlovsky 204). Besides KinseyÂ’s mapping of sexuality, Senator Joseph McCarthy constantly mapped the spread of communism within the United States. His maps were a Â“rhetorical de vice for exaggerating the threat of communism,Â” and they created a Â“powerful analogy between the nation and bodyÂ” (202-3). McCarthyÂ’s mapping of the Communist threat allowed him to equate sexual deviants with political subversion. He used the maps in an attempt to Â“homogenize and normalize American society and to impose the ideology of containment and exclusion from without as well as withinÂ” (206). Redefining the boundaries between public and private, McCarthyÂ’s mapping encouraged the Beats to employ mapping as a form of resistance. In KerouacÂ’s works, especially On the Road, he maps the North American continent by reporting his cross country road trips. In Â“ Good Blonde,Â” the north-west destination traces the California coast and exposes Â“ the concrete historical space as it was forged by the systematic transformation of American politics, economy, demography, and technology, which began with RooseveltÂ’s New Deal and climaxed in the early Cold War eraÂ” (194). The Cold WarÂ’s new highway syst em encouraged KerouacÂ’s cross-country moves and changed his notions of space. Â“Good BlondeÂ’sÂ” Model of Masculinity Â“Good BlondeÂ’sÂ” model of masculinity illustrates Cold War tendencies regar ding the redefinition of space and sexuality. KerouacÂ’s sexual conquests, the BeatsÂ’ r esistance to the domesticated male, and their redefinition of space supports PlayboyÂ’s model of masculinity. However, Â“Good BlondeÂ” undermines PlayboyÂ’s grand narrative because of the narratorÂ’s rejection of conspicuous consumption. The narrator tells the Â“Good BlondeÂ” that he Â“doesnÂ’t want anythingÂ…I think life is suffering, a sufferin g dream, and
87 all I wanta do is rest and be kind somewhere, preferably in the woods, under a tree, live in a shackÂ” (149). Barry Miles states that Kerouac showed that Â“conspicuous consumerism, the giant cars, split-level homes and suburban conformism of the fifti es were not the way to happinessÂ” (xviii). He proposed an alternative lifestyle t o American conformity and Â“preached personal freedomÂ” (xv). The narrator shares his alte rnative plan to Â“grab his pack and a monthÂ’s essential groceriesÂ” and Â“go to the riverbottom a nd build a little shelter with twigs and stuff and a tarpaulin or a poncho and lay up and do nothing for a monthÂ” (Kerouac 151). The narrator obviously does not want to participate in the growing capitalistic economy that Playboy consistently promotes. Manipulating the Beats and KerouacÂ’s exposure over the past decades, Playboy editors had most likely prepared readers for this variance. But more subtle discrepancies, such as the na rratorÂ’s ambiguous heterosexuality, reaffirm that PlayboyÂ’s publication of Â“Good BlondeÂ” presents readers with a variant model of masculinity. Â“Good BlondeÂ’sÂ” plot and characterization make it an even more unlikely choice for a Playboy audience. For instance, while The Dharma Bums depicts free love and unbridled sex, Â“Good BlondeÂ” leaves the narrator questioning how the female character might react to s exual advances. Model of Masculinity: Space KerouacÂ’s study of America critiques Cold War cultural changes, such as urban to rural and the redefinition of domesticity. In The Culture of Spontaneity, Daniel Belgrad remarks that, by nature, Kerouac was more of an observer than a confident outsider ; Kerouac applied his constant observations to chronicling the changing American landscape (209). In an April 1947 letter to Hal Chase, Kerouac shares his lite rary aims to map America: Â“I have begun a huge study of the face of America itself, ac quiring maps
88 (roadmaps) of every state in the USA, and before long not a river or a mountain peak or bay or town or city will escape my attentionÂ” (Charters, SL Vol. I, 107). Post-war space was simultaneously decentralized via technology and concentrated by production, management, and government agencies. The Beats exploited the Â“centrifugal and centripetal tendenciesÂ” of Cold War space Â“for their strategies of re sistance and escapeÂ” (Kozlovsky 197). According to architect Roy Kozlovsky, the BeatsÂ’ writing method helped to Â“carve out of the concrete space of America an alternative, fictional space that would redefine the relationship between space, society, and powerÂ” (194). Using his (then) innovative literary technique of spontaneous prose, Kerouac Â“transforms l iterature into a spatial practiceÂ” (192). In Â“Good Blonde,Â” the spontaneous prose leads readers on a journey of the West Coast, with both characters headed to San Francisco. KerouacÂ’s westward movement is a frantic attempt to retrace the meanin g of the American dream, escape the confines of post-war modernity, and rediscover the final frontier. Leslie Fiedler argues that the western direction is the Â“sym bolic escape of the male from the domain of the house and its effeminate cultureÂ” (qtd. in Kozlovsky 198). Â“Good BlondeÂ’sÂ” west coast destination reflects the BeatsÂ’ desire to esca pe from the Cold War socioeconomic conditions Â“that subordinated the person to a world of consumer objectÂ” (Johnson 107). Ironically, the escape from post-war consumption and production is always done in a carÂ—an emblem of American Â“progress.Â” And the good bl onde is not travelling around in a stolen jalopy; rather, her cinnamon colored Lincoln is bra nd new, and the narrator, amazed by the driver, covets her ride. Right before the narrator hit ches a ride from the blonde, he hears a broadcast of a Michigan football game and looks back to see all the Â“golden wheatfields of American Football Time stretchin g out clear back to the
89 East coastÂ” (Kerouac 146). The football game, as well as a later baseb all allusion, reference the realm of male sports, a space designated for masculine activi ties far from the domain of the house. Broadcast technology and the new highway system allowed the narrator to travel to the other coast. Coming from the South, headed up the West Coast Kerouac insists on providing the names of each city the characters pass through, Â“as if to allow the reader to follow [their] exact routeÂ” (Kozlovsky 195). Their mobil ity represents how post-war economy displaced millions of Americans and changed settlement and migration patterns: the blondeÂ’s move from Texas to California r epresents the opening of the Sunbelt. The speed at which they travel up the coast also suggests the accelerated experiences of the Cold War and suggests how the car Â“democrat ized access to the experience of speed by allowing individualized control of speedingÂ” (Kozlovs ky 200). Even though class and race restraints denied some access to owning or driving an automobile, the car represented the capitalistic identification with the indivi dual, as opposed to the collective. KerouacÂ’s use of north-west journey challenges Cold Wa r notions of containment and highlights the movement of marginalized figures. The narrator in Â“Good BlondeÂ” travels by car from a serene beach scene to an urban center, unlike the characters in The Dharma Bums, who escape from the city toward nature. This move parallels PlayboyÂ’s celebration of the city and critiques postwar population declines in American cities. Drawn to the urban experience, the narr ator finds refuge in the Â“Cameo Hotel on the corner of Harrison and Third, where for seve ntyfive cents a night you could always get a clean roomÂ…and quiet sleepÂ” (154). His celebration of the cheap, urban hotel proves his disregard for a suburban homestead. The mass homeownership sponsored by the G.I. Bill promoted the home as a safe space, Â“the
90 moral and economic ideal of the Cold War eraÂ” (Kozlovsky 210). William Levitt went so far as to say that Â“[n]o man who owns his own house and lot can be a CommunistÂ” (qtd. in Kozlovsky 210). Therefore, being a vagabond was a sign of the narratorÂ’s devia nce. Transferring the intimacy relegated to a suburban home to the space of a car w as another way Kerouac challenged domestication. When the narrator and the blonde begin Â“t alking like two kids and completely unself-conscious,Â” the car becomes alternative to t he intimate space of a home (Kerouac 150). KerouacÂ’s narrator uses the car to e scape to the city, but Kerouac makes it clear that his narrator could never afford to purchase s uch an expensive commodity. The narratorÂ’s journey, and KerouacÂ’s meticulous mapping of it, corresponds with Fredric JamesonÂ’s assertions regarding the 1950s shift from the modernist para meters of time and history to the postmodernist parameters of surface and space (214). Da ily life, psychic experience, and languages are Â“today dominated by categories of s pace rather than by categories of timeÂ” (qtd. in Kozlovsky 214). Critical of the changing spatialization of cultural production, Jameson argues that suppressing the histor ical, in favor of the spatial, is symptomatic of late capitalism. Kozlovsky argues t hat Beat literatureÂ’s spatializaiton of literature serves a critical, politi cal agenda, even if the Beats have traditionally been viewed as apolitical. He uses the shifting definition of poli tical, and the BeatsÂ’ insistence on testing state imposed boundaries, to make this argum ent. Cold War struggles occurred in the realm of individual rights, with a modern state working to homogenize and normalize its heterogeneous populations into one rational economical system. Because Beat literature worked to expose spatial boundarie s, it shows how Cold War redefinitions of space manifested themselves in popular culture
91 KerouacÂ’s texts often contain confusing, or diluted, messages regarding space, consumption and sexuality. Model of Masculinity: Sexuality Most of KerouacÂ’s works center on his male characters, exposing Â“his own troubled masculinity, homosexual impulses and allÂ” (Douglas 27). Readers are ofte n Â“invited to understand a fear, a belittling of womenÂ” that Kerouac does not entirel y condone or examine (Douglas 26). The Â“Good BlondeÂ” does not contain a cast of male characters; rather, the male narrator mainly interacts with a female. This slight variance to KerouacÂ’s traditional narrative parallels how the Â“Good BlondeÂ” presents Playboy readers with an alternative model of masculinity. The BeatsÂ’ model of masculinity pivots on homosocial bonds. KerouacÂ’s narrators and characters are traditionally men joining together to see k some sort of stability in the tumult of the post-war society. Male friends become Â“substitut es for both brother and fatherÂ” (Jones 244). Michael Davidson refers to these bonds as Â“compulsory homosociality,Â” joining feminist and queer theory to analyze Cold War literar y Â“boy gangs.Â” DavidsonÂ’s fused label exposes heterosexuality as the standard fo r evaluating gender difference. It also highlights the political implications of margi nalizing others based on sexuality: in Cold War America Â“certain types of homosocial bonding ( board room politics, corporate networking, locker room badinage) are essential to t he perpetuation of capitalist hegemonyÂ” (Davidson 28). The splicing of Adrienne Ri chÂ’s Â“Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian ExperienceÂ” with Eve Kosofsky Sedgw ickÂ’s Between Men connects homoand heterosexual group dynamics and illustrates the lively 1950s debate regarding sexuality. The Â“inquisitorialÂ” Cold War climate li nked political
92 and sexual deviance, often reinforcing a sense of alliance between homosocial g roups (31). Compulsory homosociality could be extended to other male groups besides the Beats that rejected Â“vestiges of female authority:Â” urban bachelors, motorcycle renegades, Hollywood cowboys, rock stars, jazz musicians, Black Mountain poets, or even Robert DeanÂ’s imperial brotherhood (31). Traditionally misogynistic, thes e new Â“masculine identities within the popular imaginationÂ” offered alternatives to the reigning domesticated model of masculinity (31). The homosocial bonds in Beat literature reinforced same-sex bonding that helped to define Cold War masculinity. Compulsory homosociality can best be recognized in KerouacÂ’s male narrators. In his 1961 Â“Jack Kerouac and the Beats,Â” W. M. Frohock observes a homosocial pattern in each of KerouacÂ’s novels; there is a Â“first person narrator who controls the poi nt of view and is at the center of the important events; and then there is a second character towa rd whom the narrator takes a peculiarly respectful attitudeÂ” (146). This male relationship pattern originated in novels as old as Don Quixote and Â“lies at the heart of Amer ican male mythologyÂ” (Jones 241). Applying FrohockÂ’s narrative observations to KerouacÂ’s characterization of the American male, Jones argues that the repetition of this fraternal love made Kerouac a cultural icon. Â“Obvious to any man who looks honestly at his own life or the lives of the men around,Â” this fraternal relationship Â“is replicated on every level, from the personal to the familialÂ” (242). Thus, male readers can find Ker ouacÂ’s characters accessible and Â“at an acceptable distanceÂ—the rarefied pas sion of universal male homosexual loveÂ” (242). While Jones is able to analyze how this homosocial bond functions in KerouacÂ’s major works and his shorter pieces, like Â“The Rumbling, Rambling Blues,Â” he fails to note the effects of this patternÂ’s absence.
93 In the Â“Good Blonde,Â” the old Greek could be conceived as a father figure with whom the narrator shares his thoughts; yet, rather than a lead male character, Â“G ood BlondeÂ” presents readers with a predominant female character whom the narrat or respects. The good blonde is patient, reflective, and seems so much more in the know. When the narrator gets anxious looking for his supply of Benzedrine, he begins to panic. She calmly responds with short declarative sentences that do not end with exclamat ions points: Â“Take your timeÂ” (Kerouac 147). When discussing the difference betwe en her rural upbringing and her Â“new life now modeling and acting in cities,Â” she wonders if her past was more satisfying (146). She is very well versed in city life; she ha d been to New York, laughs at the narratorÂ’s naivet about bar dcor, and shares tips about jazz hotspo ts. She has taken all the same drugs as the narrator and knows similar musical t rends. She even has a theme song, a little bop arrangement that a jazz band plays wheneve r she walks into the local bar. Her ability to drive also earns her respect. She had dr iven the car from Texas to California by herself, and, by the time she picked up the narr ator, she Â“had the heap jet gone up the road and went up to sixty and kept it there hard and clean on the line, driving like a good man driverÂ” (147). When the car begins to run out of gas, miles outside of Salinas, she swerves the Â“car from side to side in a graceful danceÂ” (147). The narrator immediately questions her actions, and she informs him that by splashing what gas is left into the carburetor, the car can travel for a few more miles. At these moments in the story, the narrator Â“lovesÂ” the good blonde: Â“Ah well and what a strong sweet angel to spend the rest of your life withÂ” (152). The good blondeÂ’s stre ngth and stereotypical masculine qualities make her a suitable road companion. She even has the same frantic energy as Dean Moriarty: Â“talking a blue streak,Â” drivi ng all night, and
94 pushing the car to beyond its limits (148). These qualities justify KerouacÂ’ s choice of a female for a lead character, but they are also constantly undermined by a strange heterosexual tension. The narratorÂ’s sexual tension undermines traditional gender roles and makes the blonde the dominating figure in the story. The tension begins as soon as the good blonde pulls over to pick up the narrator. The narrator Â“keeps wonderingÂ” why the good blonde picked him up; in parenthetical asides, the narrator questions her motives and his luck (145). When she tells him she is going all the way to San Francisco, the narrator Â’s response shows the tension: Â“Â‘Wow, great.Â’ (To myself: who will ever believe I got a ride like this from a beautiful chick like that practically naked in a bathingsuit, wow what does she expect me to do next?)Â” (147). The parenthetical aside is just one of Kerouac Â’s literary techniques that expose his characterÂ’s sexual tension. Â“Unable to pr esent homosexuality clearly, unable to settle into heterosexuality cleanly,Â” C atharine Stimpson argues that Kerouac devised Â“several narrative and rhetorical belts with w hich to buckle his discomfortsÂ” (173). When the narrator finally asks the blonde why she picked up a Â“guy like [him],Â” she repeats, Â“Well I told you I needed someone to help m e drive to the City and I figured you could drive, you looked like it anywayÂ…Â” (147). KerouacÂ’s use of ellipses undercuts the blondeÂ’s logical answer, as if she had really had other i ntentions when she saw him hitchhiking. KerouacÂ’s first person narrative stance often objectifies the good blonde as a sexual being, which only increases the tension between the characters. The narra tor wants her to want him. For instance, he is amazed at the Â“way she looked straight ahe ad and drove with no expression and sending no mincing gestures [his] way or even
95 telepathies of mincingnessÂ” (146). Although, his amazement is rooted in a highly ambiguous heterosexuality; he admits that in his Â“scheming mindÂ” he wants her to Â“secretlyÂ” be a sex fiend, pull over and force him to Â“make itÂ” but his bashfulness, and her grave nature, prevents him from acting on his Â“really insulting propositionÂ” ( 148). Immediately after sharing this thought with the reader, the narrator cal ls the blonde a Â“young ladyÂ” and admits he was Â“afraid to turn and look at herÂ” (148). A Â“young lady Â” differs greatly from the other things the narrator calls her: Good Blonde, Pret ty, Cleopatra, Angel, doll, or cold and boring. Simply because she is a female, the narr ator cannot resolve his respect with his yearning. KerouacÂ’s portrayal of gender roles in Â“Good BlondeÂ” conflicts with the Beat s and PlayboyÂ’s always, dominate male role. Analogous to the Playmate, the Â“beat chickÂ” existed for play only. Both female characterizations are Â“neither good, nor wicked, only invitingÂ” (Lee 190). The airbrushed centerfold and the Beat chick present safe par tners for heterosexual men living in Cold War America; Playboy editors and Beats depict females as Â“attractive, young, sexually available, and above all sile ntÂ” (Lee 189). In The Beat Generation Writers, A. Robert Lee wants critics to read that characterization of females as Â“silentÂ” as Â“dumbÂ”; he claims the silent female will not ask for marriage, apply guilt, demand financial transaction, or Â“tell their side of the storyÂ” (Lee 189). WalterÂ’s wife in On the Road epitomizes a model female: unnamed, she is the Â“sweetest woman in the worldÂ…she never asked Walter where heÂ’d been, what time it was, nothingÂ…She never said a wordÂ” (Kerouac On the Road 192). Far from silent, the good blonde never stops talking. She even questions the narrator about the futility of his
96 travels. By questioning his lifestyle, the blonde undercuts the narratorÂ’s author ity and forces the narrator to second guess his sexual desires. The narratorÂ’s ambiguous sexuality is displayed by his adolescent react ions to the woman. When the narrator first comments on her looks, she Â“turn[s] and look[s] at [him] with bland frank green eyesÂ” and asks, Â“What do you mean?Â” (Kerouac Â“Good BlondeÂ” 149). The narrator wants to tell her that she should Â“get thee to a nunneryÂ” because she is too pretty, too gone, and not yet married (149). But once again, the narrator is too ashamed to share his thoughts. The blonde breaks the silence by asking if he has chan ge so she can call her Â“manÂ” (149). To contain the blondeÂ’s strength, Kerouac character izes her as someoneÂ’s girlfriend and on the verge of getting married. He also has his nar rator oscillate between representing her as a mother figure and a whore. There i s a moment on the 400 mile drive in which the narrator Â“felt the urgeÂ” to Â“just lay [his] head in her l apÂ” while she drives (150). The level of comfort the narrator feels quickly rev erts to questioning why she picked him up and Â“what she really secretly thought of [him]Â” (150) And when the blonde rejects the narratorÂ’s choice of living down by the river, he react s by claiming he Â“definitely didnÂ’t like herÂ…because in her secret bedroom she proba bly yawned a lot and didnÂ’t know what to do with herself and to compensate for that had a lot of boyfriends who bought her expensive presents (just because she was beautiful, whic h compensated not for her inside unbeautiful feeling), and going to restaurants and bars and jazz clubs and yooking it up because there was nothing else insideÂ” (151). This chi ldish rant, which is only shared with the reader, slips into empty, abusive threats. Then, whe n the blonde surprises the narrator with in-depth conversation regarding the city, h e reverts
97 back to wanting to have intercourse with her. His schizophrenic feelings for the bl onde, expressed four different times in a relatively short story, reflect his indi stinct sexuality. Â“Good BlondeÂ” presents a heterosexual model of masculinity, but because of the good blondeÂ’s stereotypical masculine qualities, and the narratorÂ’s reaction to those qualities, it is an ambiguous heterosexual model. Most of PlayboyÂ’s and KerouacÂ’s female characters are Â“all too often marginalized, mere sexual objec ts preferably dumb and willingÂ” (Mayer). The good blonde has all the physical attributes of a Playboy bunny, but she is far from dumb and hardly a willing next-door girl. Retelling his fantastical ride with a Â“blonde bombshellÂ” seems to perfectly fit the Playboy narrative regarding the mystery and excitement of the girl next door. But she is so very di fferent. Are Playboy readers too blinded by the blondeÂ’s attire, or lack of one, to notice her command of the wheel, conversation, and situation? Catharine Stimpson suggests that KerouacÂ’s Â“burnished traditional portraits of femininityÂ…offer an alternat ive to the homosexuality that male friendship both contained and constrainedÂ” (375). The blondeÂ’s complexity overwhelms the narrator, and he has to return to the Zen Buddhist theme tha t began the work: Â“Ah hell itÂ’s all a dream including beautyÂ” (Kerouac Â“Good BlondeÂ” 150). From the narratorÂ’s perspective, she doesnÂ’t want to sleep with him because Â“ life is nothing but a short vague dream encompassed round by flesh and tears, and the ways of men are the ways of deathÂ…the ways of beautiful women such as those pictured in this magazine are eventually the ways of old ageÂ” (152). KerouacÂ’s varying depic tion of the blonde as a desired, but unattainable, sex object, maternal presence with whorish qualities, or equal intellectual presents Playboy readers with an inversion of the Playboy centerfold. The good blonde represents all the fears regarding the feminiza tion of
98 America, but by writing her, Kerouac contains her and by publishing Kerouac, Playboy owns her. Conclusion During the Cold War, Playboy featured authors, like Jack Kerouac, who responded to redefinitions of space and sexuality. In Â“Good Blonde,Â” KerouacÂ’s narra tor is hardly the virile playboyÂ—he ends up alone in the Cameo Hotel. His 75 cent hotel room also rejects PlayboyÂ’s focus on conscious, conspicuous consumption. The narrator regrets the Â“too new, too fancyÂ” electric train and wants to live by a river without earthly possessions (Kerouac Â“Good BlondeÂ” 154). But his search for something to believe in during the post-war crisis is also experienced by playboysÂ—only the Beats bega n their search with ridding themselves of possessions, and the playboys bought new gadgets. The fundamental difference between PlayboyÂ’s and the BeatsÂ’ vision of happinessÂ— consumptionÂ—forced editors to use Kerouac as a foil. The magazine and the author possessed the same rebellious, sexual qualities, except for the desire to partic ipate in Cold War capitalism. Thus, Kerouac presents a model of masculinity that can sim ultaneously serve and undermine the grand narratives presented in PlayboyÂ’s editorial content.
99 CHAPTER 3Â—SOPHISTICATED SPENDING BY VLADIMIR NABOKOV Vladimir Nabokov is a representative Playboy author due to his popularity and multiple contributions. NabokovÂ’s open admiration for American-style capitalism, his cele bration of middle-class individualism, and his exploitation of Cold War sexual politics m ade him an obvious spokesperson for Playboy NabokovÂ’s Lolita best represents his admiration for America because it is a record of Cold War America; Leslie Fiedler claimed that Â“[n]owhere in our recent literature is there so dedicated and acute picture of our landscape, topographical and moral, as in LolitaÂ… Lolita herself is AmericaÂ” (335). NabokovÂ’s formidable literary output, lecture appearances, and thirty-plus intervi ews helped to create the persona of an elitist, strongly opinionated aristocrat. Whi le Jack Kerouac was pressured to produce works equally sensational as On the Road Nabokov did not have to compose new works or try to maintain the admiration of the literary critical community after the United States publication of Lolita (Johnson Â“NabokovÂ” 141). Nabokov used his thirty-year reservoir of Russian and French literature to kee p his name in the public eye, even while settling down abroad in Switzerland, where he wrote Lolita Nabokov dominated the 1960s literary scene, which is why Playboy editors persistently pursued him. As a magazine that Â“moved in the wake of the culture and followed it greedily,Â” Playboy needed to have Nabokov in its pagesÂ—especially because he was considered a serious, high-brow writer (Fogarty 7). To maintain i ts cultural currency and enhance its level of sophistication, Playboy editors diligently worked to get Nabokov to contribute to the magazine.
100 Even though NabokovÂ’s sophisticated persona matched PlayboyÂ’s aspirations for serious content, his literary contributions provide Playboy readers with a slightly different model of masculinity than the magazineÂ’s traditional editorial content. His lite rature supports PlayboyÂ’s model of affluence, as well as its call for men to take charge of the domestic sphere. His migr status gives his literature an exotic, foreig n aspect that differs from the editorial content geared toward white, mid-western, Christ ian males. While NabokovÂ’s ethnicity could potentially ostracize him from American popular culture, his support for Cold War containment policy and the Vietnam War converte d his migr status into an allowable exoticism. As Chelsea Bauch claims in her Huffington Post report on PlayboyÂ’s scandalous fiction, the Â“menÂ’s magazine is far more varied when it comes to its featured fictionÂ” than its consistent set of criteria for Pla ymates. Whereas most of PlayboyÂ’s editorial content maintains a strict heterosexual content, NabokovÂ’s literature presents a spectrum of sexuality. Getting NabokovÂ’s Attention In its January 2009 issue, Playboy ranked Vladimir Nabokov twenty-second in its list of Â“The 55 Most Important People in Sex.Â” Alfred Kinsey topped the list, but NabokovÂ’s high ranking indicates editors assume that, like Hefner, Madonna, Howard Stern, and Marilyn Monroe, Nabokov affected the way sex was viewed in American culture. Editors sandwiched Nabokov between Catharine MacKinnon, a University of Michigan law professor best known for crafting concepts of sexual harassment, a nd Anita Bryant. While Playboy editors credit MacKinnon for changes to work place demeanor and attribute the galvanization of gay rights to BryantÂ’s wild accusations, edit ors make no special reference to Nabokov and simply quote his 1964 Playboy interview: Â“I shall never
101 regret Lolita Â…she was like the composition of a beautiful puzzle. There is a queer, tender charm about that mythical nymphet.Â” This description suggests that Nabokov is on t he list solely for the creation of Lolita. Merely quoting NabokovÂ’s interview, as opposed to listing any credentials, proves that Nabokov and his Lolita maintain their mythi cal charms. Playboy has canonized little Lo. Lee. Ta. in its annals, as literary and cultural critics have canonized her into the annals of the American imagination. The rel ationship between Playboy and Nabokov grew into a relationship marked by mutual affection, and the understanding that this was a profitable relationship for both parties. PlayboyÂ’s September 1958 Â“After HoursÂ” Book Review of Lolita marks PlayboyÂ’s first mention of Nabokov and his greatest contribution to sex. This review mimics the divided critical reception after LolitaÂ’s American releaseÂ—as many literary critics wondered, Â“is Lolita a work of art or just a work of pornography?Â” The Providence JournalÂ’s reviewer thought Â“most readers will probably become boredÂ…or sickened,Â” and Orville Prescott, in The New York Times, deemed Lolita Â“repulsive,Â” Â“disgusting,Â” and Â“highbrow pornography.Â” However, the Playboy Â“After HoursÂ” review does not hint at the bookÂ’s taboo subject; in fact, editors only hint that Putnam has kept Â“intactÂ” the Â“gamy Paris versionÂ” of the novel (21, Sept. 1958). Editors most likely did not need to call attention to LolitaÂ’s pornographic status, which was rejected by educated readers in general, and, surely, Playboy readers would not find the pornographic aspect repulsive. Instead, Playboy editors focus on NabokovÂ’s literary talents. They write that the novel is Â“Brow-creasingÂ” because it is simultaneously a Â“masterpieceÂ” a nd Â“an obscene, pornographic subversive workÂ” (20, Sept. 1958). They mention how the first-person narrative describes Lolita in Â“extensive, pathetic, comic and horrendous detai lÂ” (21, Sept.
102 1958). Editors include NabokovÂ’s mastery of three languages, his positions at Ivy League universities, and his international reputation, aligning Nabokov with sophisticationÂ—one of PlayboyÂ’s favorite qualities. Editors compare NabokovÂ’s literary talents to Â“the richest of Rabelais, Dostoyevsky and SpillaneÂ” (21, Sept. 1958). Comparing Nabokov to Rabelais referenc es the authorsÂ’ linguistic advances, while Humbert could easily be one of Dostoyevs kyÂ’s human psychological case studies, with mental anguishes similar to Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. But the comparison to Mickey Spillane seems less fitting, as Spill aneÂ’s Mike Hammer detective series contains graphic violence and pulp eroticism t hat, at first glance, seems far from NabokovÂ’s novel about an old-world European committing pedophilic acts on a conventional, American teenager. Spillane Â“linked sexual desi re with crime and violenceÂ” and revealed fears that sexual crimes in urban Americ a were a symptom of a diseaseÂ—aberrant sexuality (Sanders 276). Out of the 1950s ten best sellers, six belong to Spillane; on TimeÂ’s 1968 list of the 25 all-time bestsellers, SpillaneÂ’s name appears five different times (Whitfield 34; Â“Books: AlltimeÂ”). Popular s ensibility put the Spillane novels on the bestsellerÂ’s list, proving that Americans delighte d in HammerÂ’s Â“gruesome murders in the name of combating the red menaceÂ” (Courdil eone xiii). Stephen J. Whitfield argues, in The Culture of the Cold War, that Spillane Â“recruited more Americans than any other authorÂ” in McCarthyÂ’s battles against Communists and homosexuals (37). While Lolita may have shared a bestsellerÂ’s list with one of HammerÂ’s adventures, it did not convert anyone to McCarthyÂ’s cause; yet, the Spillane reference suggests that Playboy editors suppose both Spillane and Nabokov exposed shifting cultural values and expanded notions of the taboo, including violence, sexuality,
103 and incest. The Â“After HoursÂ” review reveals Cold War attitudes concerning national feminization and juvenile delinquents. Ignoring the charactersÂ’ sexual acts, editors repeat critical claims that Humbert, not Lolita, is the victim of sexual deviance: Â“Lolita deserves to be seen in all her sugar-plum sweetness, outrageous sportiveness and astonishing schoolgirl lecheryÂ” (21, Sept. 1958). Assigning adjectives like Â“sportiveÂ” a nd Â“lecherousÂ” reinforces Cold War commentary on aggressive females, juvenile delinquency, and teenage consumption. Theodor W. Adorno frequently stereotyped the American female teenager as Â“obnoxious,Â” overindulgent, demanding and a child who Â“behaves toward her father in an incredibly inhuman and cruel mannerÂ” (486, Sanders 279). Lionel Trilling applies this description to Lolita, and Thomas Molnar labels her a Â“spoiled sub-teenager with a foul mouth, a self-offered target for lechersÂ” because she had Â“a nasty little affair with a nasty little thirteen-year-oldÂ” ( 102). When Playboy editors prepare readers for this particular perspective on Lolita, they play i nto the Cold War wariness of the Â“combination of femaleness and aggressivenessÂ” and i gnore the novelÂ’s description of rape, pedophilia, and incest (Sanders 279). Throughout the review, editors blame Lolita for her own victimization. Editors argue that LolitaÂ’s actions, her expression of Â“the myth of contemporary American passion of youthÂ” and her history (Â“the most touching and amusing of the centuryÂ”) make this a novel to Â“buy, borrow, or heistÂ” (21, Sept. 1958). Simultaneously idealizing and degrading Lolita confi rms that Playboy agrees with critics who ignore the novelÂ’s sexual crimes in favor of its high literary value. NabokovÂ’s literary talent and his cultural capital ensured that Playboy editors
104 would find a way to get him into the magazineÂ’s pages. Including Nabokov in its pages would position the magazine within the literary traditions set forth by Esquire; it would evince the search for inventive work that challenged readers. Yet, Playboy editors seem to waver between awe at NabokovÂ’s fame and consternation regarding the seri ousness of his literature. For example, editors immediately use the word nymphet in its pages; they describe Sharon Wallace, a ten-year-old who wrote to Playboy inquiring about Playmate clubs, as a nymphet. In her Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” letter, Wallace Â“thinksÂ” it mi ght be Â“funÂ” to start a Playmate club; she asks about a possible fee for membership cards and Â“a book tellingÂ…how to start your clubÂ” (8, Jan. 1960). Editors, also calling Sharon a Â“swee tie,Â” suggest she wait Â“eight or nine yearsÂ” before joining a Playmate club. A fe w months later, in the July 1960 issue, Shel Silverstien pairs a black and white television snaps hot of a young blond and a much older man with the caption: Â“And this fellow is willing to pay us plenty of money for our story. What do you say, Lolita?Â” (73, July 1960). Nabokov admittedly enjoyed the jokes, and Playboy continued to reinforce his image as a high-brow, elitist artist. For instance, in the December 1960 Â“After Hours ,Â” editors put him in the Â“elite corps of writers who have contributed words to the language,Â” but t hen went on to mock him by suggesting he has overstepped his boundaries as an author (19). The Â“After HoursÂ” update described NabokovÂ’s court hearing to obtain proprietorship over the word Â“nymphetÂ” (19, Dec. 1960). Nabokov was pressing charges against a French film outfit planning to shoot Les Nymphettes because he did not want the word nymphet to enter the public domain. Referencing the court hearing allows editors to posit the Â“itchy questionÂ” of whether or not authors are the proprietors of coined words (19, Dec. 1960). Satirically, editors remind Nabokov that the Â“French film is not calli ng its
105 flickÂ— LolitaÂ” and proceed to call Nabokov Â“possessiveÂ” (19, Dec. 1960). Once again, he is compared to other writers, Â“Cervantes, Capek, Lewis, Porter, Potter, a nd Kerouac,Â” who have also coined their own words that have Â“enriched the worldÂ’s languagesÂ” (19, Dec. 1960). The ambivalent tone of the Â“After HoursÂ” update might be an early indication that NabokovÂ’s literary talents would overwhelm some readers; or, the tone could be a reaction to NabokovÂ’s initial reluctance to publish his fiction with Playboy. Nabokov refused to have any contact with the magazine until 1961. His first contact was a heated response to PlayboyÂ’s publication of Maurice GirodiasÂ’ memoir Â“Pornologist on OlympusÂ” in the April 1961 issue. In his memoir, Girodias reveals his version of the Â“epicÂ” history of LolitaÂ’s publication, which resulted in the Â“some of the best and some of the worstÂ” publishing experiences for the new owner of Olympian Pre ss (68, April 1961). Girodias also includes disparaging comments about Nabokov. Like other publishers in the international literary community, Girodias had not heard of Nabokov and claims that Â“the enthusiastic recommendation of his literary agent se emed to point rather to scholarly pomp than to originalityÂ” (68, April 1961). Girodias prais es the novel, but condemns the author for being snobbish. Their first few exchanges were pleasant and Girodias obtained world English-language rights for the novel. Nabokov wrote Girodias in July 1955 requesting the suppression of possible scandals surrounding his Â“serious book with a serious purposeÂ” (145, April 1961). Because United States Customs did not withhold an English version of the text in 1957, Girodias went forward with his plan to Â“make Lolita famousÂ” by using the novel in international obscenity trials against country-wide bans (145, April 1961). Ignoring NabokovÂ’s initial request, GirodiasÂ’ Â“boosting and hustlingÂ” made international sales very successful ( 146, April
106 1961). Shortly after American publishers contacted Nabokov for publication opportunities, pleasantries between Girodias and the author ceased. Nabokov sent a registered letter stating Â“I declare our contract null and void,Â” a completely illegal and almost childish move (146, April 1961). Girodias goes on to declare that Nabokov has developed a Â“Hugolian statureÂ” and a Â“formidably centrifugal personality Â” (146, April 1961). He repeats PlayboyÂ’s Â“After HoursÂ” update regarding the French film court trial and then describes NabokovÂ’s Â“flamboyant impertinenceÂ” (146, April 1961). Girodias Â’ portrait reinforces NabokovÂ’s growing elitist persona. Playboy wanted to promote Nabokov precisely because he was a pretentious, high-brow author. GirodiasÂ’s description of his first confrontation with Nabokov, and NabokovÂ’s reaction to the publication of this description, depict an incredibly aloof art ist. According to Girodias, the encounter occurred at a French literary occasi on held in the Â“dignified salons of GallimardÂ” (146, April 1961). After exchanging a few complimentary words and forcing grins for the camera, Â“NabokovÂ’s grin under went a subtle changeÂ” and Â“with the easy grace of a dolphin he plunged backwards and sideways, and made his way toward Mrs. NabokovÂ” (147, April 1961). Girodias seemed to have expected something more explosive after their Â“violent epistolary exc hangesÂ” (147, April 1961). Nabokov denied being aware of meeting the Olympian Press owner to his literary agent and complained to Playboy editors for printing the memoir. Playboy published NabokovÂ’s denial in its July 1961 Â“Dear Playboy.Â” In a letter postmarke d from Nice, Nabokov claims the Â“amusing memoirÂ” contains Â“a number of inaccuracie s,Â” especially the Â“bizarre chargeÂ” that he was aware of GirodiasÂ’ presenc e at the Gallimard cocktail party (10). Nabokov reverts to calling himself Â“extremely distrait (as Humbert
107 Humbert would have put it in his affected manner) andÂ…liable not to make out mumbled presentationsÂ” (10). Nabokov suggests that he would have only recognized Girodias i f he was Â“carrying a plate with an authorÂ’s headÂ” (10). Nabokov implies he is the victi m in this relationship, as Girodias was the one obsessed with the financial aspect of Lolita. Nabokov felt further victimized by the fact that Playboy editors did not publish his correspondence sooner. Brian Boyd declares that Â“Nabokov was chary of Playboy Â” for the publication of the memoir and Â“outragedÂ” when Playboy delayed printing his rejoinder to Girodias (464). He was so Â“charyÂ” that he turned down SpectorskyÂ’s offe r to write a piece on Brigette Bardot due to the popularity surrounding Simone de Bea uvoirÂ’s 1960 Brigette Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome. Always aware of international, and particularly French, intellectual critiques, Spectorsky wanted to capita lize on de BeauvoirÂ’s critique of the new ideal for womenÂ—a nymphet; he assumed Nabokov, with his recent celebrity and intimate knowledge of nymphets, would compose an excellent editorial for the magazine. Nabokov refused. He even made his wife, Vera, respond to Spectorsky, as if he could not be bothered with the offer. Vera wrote that, while her husband was Â“flattered by [SpectorskyÂ’s] confidence in his versatility,Â” he has Â“never seen Brigette Bardot either on screen or in life, and that the entire project ha s no interest for himÂ” (Nabokov Selected 335). Vera concluded the letter by sending her husbandÂ’s Â“kindest regards,Â” but editors knew that they would have to find another way to get Nabokov into the magazine. Spectorsky kept a close eye on literary movements, and Hefner insisted on the magazineÂ’s cultural currencyÂ—therefore, they wanted t o be a part of NabokovÂ’s growing popularity. Even though editors might have been wary of the complexities of NabokovÂ’s literature, Playboy needed to publish him if The New Yorker
108 and Newsweek had already done so. Mutual Kicks PlayboyÂ’s 2010 publication of NabokovÂ’s The Original of Laura produced a media frenzy. As described in various outlets, such as The New York Observer the fivethousand word excerpt is only fragments of a novel, dispersed over 138 note cards, which Nabokov wanted destroyed upon his death in 1977. Rather than destroying the fragments, Vera let the novel sit in a Swiss bank vault for three decades. Las t spring, NabokovÂ’s son, Dmitri, wrested it out of the vault and entrusted its sale to Andrew Wyl ie, a notoriously tough literary agent. To obtain serialization rights for Playboy, literary editor Amy Loyd Grace bombarded Wylie with bouquets of orchids. The orchids we re meant to reference NabokovÂ’s Ada which Playboy serialized in 1969, and remind Wylie Â“that Nabokov really liked publishing with Playboy and how devoted Hef is to Nabokov and his legacyÂ” (Grace). "I would get nice notes back from him, but he really wouldn 't give me anything," said Grace; "He said he wasn't sure that Playboy was the place to launch the novel in the United States.Â” Grace persisted because she believes tha t Â“Nabokov loved being published in Playboy and got a kick out of it. Also, he really read it. In his collected and selective letters, even when he wasnÂ’t writing dir ectly to Hef or A.C. Spectorsky and Robbie MacauleyÂ…he is writing to other people and saying, hey did you see the great cartoon in Playboy about Lolita ?Â” (Ciotta). According to Grace, Nabokov knew that Playboy published good fiction, presenting readers with an interesting blend of high and low features. After working at publishing houses, such as The New Yorker Grace liked the challenge of reuniting Playboy with its initial objective to combine the physical with the
109 intellectual. She recalls her undergraduate years at Bowdoin College, whe n she realized that Playboy combined elements that first attracted Â“a manÂ’s eyeÂ” then Â“enrich[ed] his intellectual and spiritual lifeÂ” (Ciotta). To officially secure her job as PlayboyÂ’s literary editor, Grace curated a special feature marking the fiftieth annivers ary of Lolita (Neyfakh). Pursuing The Original of Laura five years later offered Grace the chance to remind people of PlayboyÂ’s Â“literary history because it is easy for people to dismiss [it]Â” (Ciotta). GraceÂ’s advances paid off when The New Yorker refused interest in the fragmented novel, and Playboy received first serial rights. The serialization deal consisted of the highest sum Playboy has ever paid and did not include a preview of the literature. Even so, it was Â“reckoned to be a coupÂ” for Playboy, as it reestablishes its Â“long-held reputation as a publisher of literary works as well as girlie pic turesÂ” (Bremer). GraceÂ’s successful pursuit of NabokovÂ’s last work helped to reestablish Playboy as a publisher of quality fiction. Much of GraceÂ’s argument for pursuing The Original of Laura is trueÂ—Nabokov and Playboy do share a long history, and Nabokov did read the magazine. Also, Hefner forfeiting such a large amount for 5,000 words sans preview does suggest that he is Â“devotedÂ” to Nabokov and his legacy, or at least Hefner is devoted to re-attracting a literary audience. However, GraceÂ’s offhand comment that Â“Nabokov loved being publishedÂ” in the magazine might be a stretch. Rather, NabokovÂ’s collected and selec ted letters reveal that Â“loveÂ” should be downgraded to Â“getting a kick.Â” As noted above, Nabokov refused to appear in the magazine, and it was not until after being pleased wit h the printed version of the 1964 interview that NabokovÂ’s relationship with Playboy grew. In total, he published two complete novellas, a long excerpt from Ada, and four short
110 stories between 1966 and 1976. After NabokovÂ’s death, Playboy published another excerpt from Ada, two more short stories, and, of course, The Original of Laura. To build their relationship, editors continued to focus on NabokovÂ’s literary talents and then tried another avenue to get him to contribute to Playboy The July 1962 Pale Fire Â“After HoursÂ” review predicts that the book, an Â“elaborate literary leg pull,Â” will not have as many readers as Lolita (27, July 1962) Editors insist that Â“Nabokov writes brilliantlyÂ” but claim that Â“his doses of melodrama, satire, fantas y and a highly sophisticated irony produce a concoction that will daunt most readersÂ” (27, July 1962 ). In the Â“After HoursÂ” review of The Gift, editors state that the novel is Â“like Pale Fire a system of mirrors, conundrums, books within booksÂ” (14, July 1963). Exploiting NabokovÂ’s migr status, editors claim his Â“cruel witÂ” is Â“the wit of an exi leÂ—eyes fixed on things with distaste and apprehension, agonized intelligence trying to get on top of lifeÂ” (12, July 1963). But they are much kinder in The Gift review than in their assessment of Pale Fire They actually take the time to explain the protagonist, plot and premise of the novel and praise it as Â“an elegant farewellÂ” to his Russian w ritings (12, July 1963). Editors bestow even more praise in their October 1964 review of The Defense ; they go so far as to claim that Nabokov could Â“if he choseÂ” compose Â“an enthralling story out of the life and times of an artichoke still on the stemÂ” (38, Oc t. 1964). In March of 1963, Playboy sent Alvin Toffler to Montreux for an interview to discuss his literary talents. A young editor from Fortune, Toffler had been in Europe that summer looking for suitable interview subjects, while teaching at the Salzburg S eminar of American Studies (Weyr 152). When they met, Toffler claimed Nabokov was Â“agreeable, but set peculiar ground rulesÂ” (Weyr 153). He refused to be interview ed face-
111 to-face. Instead, Toffler submitted written questions to NabokovÂ’s hotel room a nd waited for his response before sending more questions. The process stretched over ten days a nd took much more time to refine it for Â“the illusion of spontaneityÂ” (Boyd 473). It is the only nonverbal interview Playboy ever published. The unconventional experience reaffirmed NabokovÂ’s haughtiness, but the final product must have pleased Nabokov. The January 1964 interview confirmed Murray FisherÂ’s theory that Â“the interview could be used as a lasso to snare authors unwilling to write directly for the magazineÂ” a nd marked the beginning of NabokovÂ’s long publishing legacy with the magazine (qtd. In Weyr 153). The Â“PlaybillÂ” introduction to NabokovÂ’s interview lists all the reasons why editors desperately sought his presence for the magazine. Editors claim that this Â“first appearanceÂ” reveals Nabokov as he isÂ—Â“the celebrated commentator on manners and morals,Â” Â“highly controversialÂ”, Â“inventor of the nymphetÂ”, Â“worldÂ’s most met iculous and original stylistÂ” and Â“widely readÂ” (2, Jan. 1964). In the introduction to the interview, editors recap LolitaÂ’s fame and use a Jack Kerouac quote to balance the critical fuming and intellectual theories regarding the novel. Disregarding the obsceni ty and the Â“old world seducing the new worldÂ” theories, Kerouac muses that Lolita is nothing more than Â“a classic old love storyÂ” (35, Jan. 1964). In the interview, Toffler quickly moves past Lolita and gets Nabokov to discuss why he lives in Switzerland, whether his art should serve a social purpose, how he composes or translates a work and what he considers his Â“principal failingÂ” (40, Jan. 1964). Nabokov declares his Â“principal fa ilingÂ” to be a lack of spontaneity: Â“inability to express myself properly in any langua ge unless I compose every damned sentence in my bath, in my mind, at my deskÂ” (40, Jan. 1964).
112 The following exchange is quite misleading for those readers unaware of th e nontraditional interview format. Toffler praises Nabokov for Â“doing rather wel l at the moment,Â” and Nabokov retorts with Â“ItÂ’s an illusionÂ” (40, Jan. 1964). And for unassuming readers, it was an illusion. Nabokov painstakingly crafted responses to TofflerÂ’s questions, and the two spent more time creating the illusion of spontaneous speech than composing questions and answers. The illusion is necessary for both the author and the magazine: Nabokov remains sophisticated in so-called spontaneous dialogue, and the magazine finally gets Nabokov in its pages. Playboy wanted to participate in the commerce generated by Nabokov and the controversies surrounding his works. But they also wanted to give readers a glimpse of his style. Readers seemed to enjoy the brilliant dialogue between Toffler and Nabokov; Herbert Gold, one of the most prolific contributors to the magazine, congratulates A lvin Toffler for Â“finally cornering NabokovÂ” and praises Nabokov for always stati ng Â“exactly what he wants to sayÂ” (8, April 1964). Another published Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” letter expresses the authorÂ’s Â“exhilarationÂ” that Â“the author of LolitaÂ” wanted to Â“skip sexÂ” (8, April 1964). The often-quoted interview revealed to Playboy readers that sex is only one of NabokovÂ’s concerns: Nabokov politely demurs TofflerÂ’s request to talk sex becaus e he finds it Â“too tedious for wordsÂ” (36, Jan. 1964). The interview process let the author and editors use each other for mutual gain; Playboy would pay well, and Nabokov would heighten the sensual aspects of his works so that Playboy readers could more easily find what they were searching for. No longer Â“cool toward Playboy ,Â” the interview assured Nabokov that editors would provide him with authorial rights and handsome commission for both The Eye and Despair (Boyd 484).
113 The changes Nabokov makes to the English versions of both The Eye and Despair deserve more attention because they highlight how Nabokov responded to a mid-century American audience. First written for Â“a small audience of Russian migr s who lived in something of a hothouse atmosphere,Â” NabokovÂ’s English inclusions of Â“some rainbow patchesÂ” seem to be prepared with the Playboy audience in mind (Johnson Â“NabokovÂ” 395; qtd. in Boyd 484). Boyd quotes a typical example of these revisions; in the Russian original, The Eye closes with Â“And what do I care if she marries another? She and I have had heart-rendering meetings by night, and her husband shall never find out about these dreams IÂ’ve had of her.Â” The Playboy English version becomes: Â“And what do I care if she marries another? Every other night I dream of her dresses and things on an endle ss clothesline of bliss, in a ceaseless wind of possession, and her husband shall never learn what I do to the silks and fleece of the dancing witchÂ” (qtd. in Boyd 484-485). The attention to VanyaÂ’s garments and implications of masturbation support PlayboyÂ’s model of masculinityÂ—any playboy can possess any playmate in his dreams. In the revi sed description, Smurov reduces Vanya to mere possessions. The clothesline display of VanyaÂ’s expensive undergarments implies expensive tastes more suitable fo r an affluent playboy than a Russian migr. Nabokov also adds details to heighten SmurovÂ’s sensual impressions and adds word-play to stress his disturbed mentality. Jane GraysonÂ’s Nabokov Translated contains comparisons of the Russian and English version that prove Nabokov added sexual references and heightened SmurovÂ’s sexual frustrations in the English version. For example, he alluded to SmurovÂ’s affair with a dentistÂ’s young daughter and chan ges physical details of SmurovÂ’s mistresses. MatildaÂ’s Â“straddles with her strong fat thighsÂ”
114 her Â“hobbyhorseÂ” and the maid is now a Â“creamy-haunched wenchÂ” who places Â“her breast on the sideboardÂ” along with a bowl of fruit. VanyaÂ’s lips now Â“need so badly Â‘t he balm of a butterfly kissÂ’Â” (qtd. in Grayson 86). Other additions, like Roman BogdanvichÂ’s theory that Smurov is a frustrated homosexual, stress the textÂ’s tone of frustra ted sexuality. For example, Nabokov adds Â“I believe I might have consummated a shiver of oneirotic rapture had I been able to hold her a few seconds longerÂ” (qtd. in Grayson 87). Smaller edits, such as changing the smell of English cigarettes from honey to candied prunes, suggest that Nabokov wants to elaborate on SmurovÂ’s characterization. Candied prunes require another stage of processing than the more natural honey. With these s mall edits, Nabokov adds to SmurovÂ’s capitalistic tendencies. Grayson argues that these changes Â“intensify the ironies of the plot and enable the reader to dissociate him self more from SmurovÂ’s point of viewÂ” (88). GraysonÂ’s assessment regarding NabokovÂ’s des ire to Â“widen the critical distance between the reader and the charactersÂ” does not account for the make-up of NabokovÂ’s readers (88). Nabokov made these revisions with the Playboy audience in mind; he is obviously aware of PlayboyÂ’s primary audience and took this opportunity to parody both his iconic status as the author of a dirty book, as well as critique AmericaÂ’s Cold War fears regarding variant sexualities Nabokov kept his Playboy audience in mind while making edits to Despair Poised between desire and reality, NabokovÂ’s The Eye and Despair contain themes regarding the abstract notion of the Other which support the Playboy narrative that the Â“girl next doorÂ” could be anyoneÂ—even a lover. The Eye and Despair both contain firstperson narratives, and treat a mentally unstable protagonist; the English ver sions were prepared at approximately the same timeÂ— The Eye on 19 April 1965 and Despair on 1
115 March 1965. In her analysis of Despair, Grayson is careful to compare both of NabokovÂ’s English translations, the first dating to the 1937 London publication. Grayson claims the second translation is Â“a more sophisticated and extensive elaboration of the two pre-existing versionsÂ” (65). Nabokov Â“tidies upÂ” the logical progression of the narrative and includes Â“other forms of authorial patterningÂ” to better expose H ermannÂ’s delusions (Grayson 65, Connolly 138). For example, in the second English translation Nabokov includes three more references to HermannÂ’s stick, three more referen ces to his car, and multiple allusions to LydiaÂ’s love affair with Ardalion (Grayson 65-66) These additions make the puzzle of HermannÂ’s delusional desires easier to decipher, which suggests that the average Playboy readers need more clues to move through the labyrinth of NabokovÂ’s narratives. Playboy readers would have also enjoyed NabokovÂ’s heightened depictions of violence and sexual obsessions. Nabokov adds five references to madness and violent death, includes grotesque humor when Hermann reunites with his brother, and increases the suspense surrounding HermannÂ’s nightmare (Grayson 69-71). Nabokov better illustrates HermannÂ’s sexual obsessions with a Â“two-page descriptionÂ” of i ntercourse and Â“the dissociation he experiences during the sexual actÂ” (77). But Nabokov also include s smaller sexual references, such as adding a sausage to FelixÂ’s pack and descr ibing HermannÂ’s premarital brothel experience in a more comic way. Compare the Playboy version: At sixteen, while still at school, I began to visit more regularly than before a pleasantly informal bawdy house; after sampling all seven girls, I concentrated my affection on roly-poly Polymnia with whom I used to drink lots of foamy beer at a wet table in a orchardÂ—I simply adore orchards.
116 with the 1937 version: Â“When still at school, in the last form but one, I became a fairly regular visitor at a bawdy house; used to drink beer thereÂ” (qtd. in Grayson 77). Including adjectives such as Â“foamyÂ” and Â“wetÂ” moves HermannÂ’s flat announce ment of beer drinking to a heightened sensual experience. Besides expanding on HermannÂ’ s Â“samplingÂ” of women at the brothel, Nabokov focuses on one female character, and even names her. These additions are similar to the stories Playboy editors create about their monthly playmate. These conscious revisions can be assigned to the cultural climate which introduced less censorship and more attention to sexuality. For example, Grayson re veals translation embellishments to LydiaÂ’s naked body (Â“fat thighs so tightly pre ssed together she could hardly standÂ”), as well as homosexual innuendos. The trend of NabokovÂ’s translations moves toward more curvaceous females: Â“roly-poly PolymniaÂ” and MatildaÂ’s and LydiaÂ’s thick or fat thighs. In his foreword to the 1965 edition of Despair, Nabokov claims that many of these revisions were already written in the 1930s and we re Â“omitted in more timid timesÂ” (Nabokov Despair xi). Readers can infer from this forward that Nabokov Â“consciously curtailed erotic contentÂ…in deference to the pressures of public opinion and the tastes of his potential readersÂ” (79). In other prefatory notes, Nabokov describes accounts of editors censoring his works: Sovremennyya Zapiski marked PrinceÂ’s homosexual practices with suspension points and the Russian version of A Dashing Fellow was rejected as Â“improper and brutalÂ” (qtd. in Grayson). ( Playboy went on to publish A Dashing Fellow in 1971, in all of its improper brutality.) Though some government restrictions were placed on Nabokov, so much self
117 censorship is suspect: 1) the Â“migr literary scene could hardly be descri bed as prudishÂ”; 2) NabokovÂ’s early Russian writings are hardly free of sexual details; a nd 3) few critics questioned NabokovÂ’s moral integrity (79-81). Rather, Â“in the wake of Lolita,Â” Nabokov deliberately fostered his public image of the so-called Â‘pornographicÂ’ wr iter and stepped up the Â“erotic content of his novels not to ape pornography, but to parody it, and to parody the image of himself as a pornographic writerÂ” (81, 116). Grayson contends tha t NabokovÂ’s sensitivity to criticism encouraged him to react by parodying the image himself as a pornographic writer. Playboy would prove to be the perfect venue for that reaction because of its obvious pornographic affiliations. The sexual content in NabokovÂ’s works does grow exponentially after Lolita; Pale Fire deals primarily with the Cold WarÂ’s containment of homosexuals, and Ada contains multiple erotic themes besides incest. And because his major works af ter Lolita were not written for the casual reader or for the monetary reward of the bests ellers list, it is possible that Nabokov was parodying his pornographic status. However, the degree of attention paid to sexuality in American Cold War culture must have also played a factor in NabokovÂ’s revisions. Saunders argues that, by the 1960s, the Â“war over Â‘sex in the novelÂ’ was in full swingÂ” (259). In The First Sexual Revolution Kevin White claims that, after 1880, American citizens were experiencing a break-down of Victor ian morals leading editor William Marion Moody to declare that 1910 was Â“Sex OÂ’Clock in AmericaÂ” (qtd. in White 13). After World War I, fears regarding the dr astic changes in attitude toward sexuality increased public discourse, as well as Â“sexual be havior in printÂ” (Saunders 259). World War IIÂ’s northern migration for Washington employment ca used "horror stories" of housing shortages and more "opportunities for sexual encounters"
118 (Johnson Lavender 52). A burgeoning homosexual literature proves the widening of sexual expression. But, during the early Cold War, Americans simultaneousl y feared sexual deviants and gave the sex industry millions in yearly profit (DÂ’Emili o and Freedman 279-80). With his Playboy connection, Nabokov would capitalize on American Cold War sexual discourse. PlayboyÂ’s willingness to pay for contributions from the iconic pornographic writer made Nabokov revise his contributions with the Playboy audience in mind. What Grayson, Appel, Andrew Field, Julian Connolly, and Carl Proffer do not allude to during discussion of NabokovÂ’s translations of The Eye, Despair, and A Dashing Fellow is PlayboyÂ’s monetary inducement for these revisions. I argue that Playboy gave Nabokov $8,000 to serialize The Eye over three issues, and editors offered him a $1,000 bonus, in hopes that he would make extensive revisions to the galley proofs (Boyd 481, 484). The Eye Â“exhibits many of the same featuresÂ” as Despair, just on a Â“smaller scale,Â” proving that Nabokov reworked these texts for PlayboyÂ’s American audience (Grayson 89). Playboy editors did not offer Nabokov the same $1,000 incentive to revise Despair, but they did bestow upon him the annual Â“Best FictionÂ” award for 1966Â—which included a cash prize of $1,000. In the January 1967 Â“Playbill,Â” editors call Despair an Â“elegantly wroughtÂ” tale of Â“narcissistic double identity,Â” at once Â“brilliantly wit ty and profoundÂ” (3, Jan. 1967). Nabokov wrote to Hefner, expressing Â“how very much touchedÂ” he was by the award (Nabokov Selected 399). Nabokov states that this is Â“the first time that any magazineÂ—or in fact any kind of publicationÂ—has awarded [him] a prizeÂ” (Nabokov Selected 399). He closes the letter exclaiming that Playboy Â“can be always depended upon to provide brilliant surprisesÂ” (Nabokov Selected 399). In this letter, Nabokov
119 admits that he received a bonus, of an undisclosed amount, before receiving the prize. That admittance means that Playboy paid him additional amounts, which would make the total payment for Despair over $10,000. The magazineÂ’s hefty commission funds need to be considered a factor in, and for, NabokovÂ’s revisions of his Russian short fiction. Editors were so pleased with NabokovÂ’s admiration of Playboy that they published the second paragraph of this letter in the May 1967 issue. They also published Nat HentoffÂ’s gracious note in response to winning the 1966 Â“Best Non-FictionÂ” prize for his Â“The Cold Society.Â” HentoffÂ’s letter offers insight into how much Playboy editors revere its literary content: Â“Not only in generosity in financial terms which manifests itself in the fact that as the magazineÂ’s circulation and revenues have grown, so have its rates to writers; but more importantly, [HentoffÂ’s] appreciation is for the fr eedom [he has] experienced at PlayboyÂ” (16, May 1967). Thus, PlayboyÂ’s growing subscription audience, its ability to financially compensate for quality literature, and i ts willingness to provide authors with the freedom to express their opinions encouraged Nabokov to continue to publish with the magazine. Playboy provided him with the chance to heighten his erotic content and parody his both his pornographic image and his audienceÂ’s attraction to his work, all the while enjoying the fact that the ave rage Playboy audience does not include his ideal, active reader. The strange dearth of reader response to NabokovÂ’s serialized novellas supports notions that NabokovÂ’s literature might be too complex for most Playboy readers. For Nabokov, the author often Â“clashes with readerdom because he is his ideal reader and those other readers are so very often mere lip-moving ghosts and amnesiacsÂ” ( Nabokov Strong 183). The average Playboy reader was most likely looking for the sexual content,
120 while being a Â“mere lip-moving ghost.Â” The amount of space allotted to NabokovÂ’s fiction does not correspond with the amount of published Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” lettersÂ—the 54 pages of both works serialized over two years only elicited two letters. While bot h published letters praise the texts, the majority of readers did not write in to com ment on the works or editors decided not to publish the responses. The amount of dialogue spurred by other fiction contributions dwarfs the two letters regarding NabokovÂ’s works. For example, editors published over 23 responses to KerouacÂ’s contributions and the amount of Â“Dear PlayboyÂ” letters concerning Ian FlemingÂ’s Bond series or stories by Herbert Gold and Ray Russell are too great to count. The only response to the serialization of NabokovÂ’s The Eye was that it should not have been broken into parts; Josef Schwann of New York wrote that Â“[p]art one of The Eye transported [him] to another world, a world of troubled dreams that vie with reality,Â” and, when he arrive d at the Â“unworthy cliff-hanger trick,Â” he was thoroughly disturbed (12, April 1965). Edit ors responded that they did not want to Â“mutilateÂ” the text by condensation or excerpting In March 1966, Vernon WilliamsÂ’ letter also praises Playboy for printing Despair and helps to explain the lack of reader response. Williams claims that the first insta llment of Despair Â“gives promise that this novel will be the closest book of his to the incomparable and wicked Lolita Â” (8, April 1965). Thus, the majority of Playboy readers are searching for more of the controversial sexual content found in Lolita content that they will be hard-pressed to find in the original versions of his Russian works. So why would Nabokov want to publish his works for less than ideal readers and why would editors publish works beyond their readersÂ’ scope of intellect? In his Lectures on Literature, Nabokov was very specific about his ideal reader: Â“The good reader is one
121 who has imagination, memory, a dictionary, and some artistic sense Â– which sense I propose to develop in myself and in others whenever I have the chance.Â” With such high circulation numbers, Playboy might have been the perfect venue for Nabokov to help develop that artistic sense in a few of the millions of readers. And editors devot ed so much space to Nabokov because he represents the high expectations Playboy editors placed on their readership. For example, in the first survey of PlayboyÂ’s readers, conducted by the Â“independent market research organizationÂ” Gould, Gleiss and Benn, Inc., researchers claimed that Â“over 70% of Playboy readers have attended collegeÂ” and the Â“great majority of Playboy readers are business and professional menÂ… Playboy has a greater percentage of college men in its audience than any other national magazi neÂ” (36, September 1955). But upon closer inspection of survey results, less than 30% of readers had obtained a college degree and the remaining 40% had only attended college at some point. Editors greatly wanted to claim college-educated, business, or professional readers, in order to promote PlayboyÂ’s model of masculinity as educated, white, heterosexual, and financially sound. Therefore, the same way Nabokov uses Playboy as a venue to parody his image, Playboy uses Nabokov. He becomes the serious author editors (specifically Spectorsky) need to balance out lighter materia l published in the magazine. PlayboyÂ’s intricate balance of challenging works with ribald classics and nude pictorials makes Nabokov a fitting spokesperson for the magazine. Robert Fogarty argues, in Â“Current Fiction on the Up Bounce,Â” that Playboy was Â“slow to publish serious fictionÂ” and did not include provocative or challenging works (227). Aware of reader sÂ’ capacities, editors have been known to turn down works deemed to challenging for their
122 audience base. For instance, Spectorsky refused to publish NabokovÂ’s Solus Rex in the early 1970s because of its intricate plot. Editors also tried to persuade Nabokov to dum bdown his works by Â“making new stories using the elementsÂ” of his submitted work (Nabokov Selected 415). He, of course, responded to these suggestions with a typical tongue-in-cheek comment: Â“Your suggestionÂ…is amusing, but completely unacceptableÂ” (415). But NabokovÂ’s presence in the magazine and AdaÂ’s publication discredits FogartyÂ’s claims in some regards. Even though editors carefully select ed which chapters to publishÂ—five, six, nine, fifteen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, and twenty-fiveÂ—the t ext is still challenging. MacauleyÂ’s Ada selection does not include the fixation with time, LucrettaÂ’s suicide or any of NabokovÂ’s theories on family or history. But the e xcerptÂ’s plot, characterization, and style still present a challenge next to Boccaccio Â’s commentaries on sex, the stories of the jazz underworld, or the science fiction. Andr ew Field, author of Nabokov: His Life in Art, agrees that NabokovÂ’s prose presents a challenge to Playboy readers. However, he also insists that printing Ada Â“presupposed the interest and existence of a highly sophisticated readership in matters m ore than mammillaryÂ” (12, July 1969). After the Ada excerpt, Field revises his previous condemnation of Playboy as Â“a randy magazine with occasional lapses in good tasteÂ” to declare the magazine Â“a dandy magazine with frequent leaps into fine tasteÂ” (12, July 1969). In support of his observations about the magazineÂ’s Â“frequents leaps into fine taste,Â” one needs to simply glance at the contents of the April 1969 issue, in which Ada is published. Editors included content such as Allen GinsbergÂ’s interview, Richard MathesonÂ’s Â“PreyÂ” and articles concerning Â“The Toys and Games of Wa r and Peace.Â” And, in true Playboy fashion, editors balance that with the ribald classic Â“The Fixer,Â”
123 Reginald PottertonÂ’s Â“I Cut out Her Heart and Stomped on It,Â” humor pieces, such as Jean ShepherdÂ’s Â“The Grandstand Passion Play,Â” travel, food, and fashion content, as well as the multiple pictorials. This balance is best paraphrased in a response to CongressmanÂ’s William G. Bray plea that Playboy ignore printing serious or political editorial content and stick to the Â“pictures and cartoons andÂ…interesting bits of humorÂ” needed Â“in these tense and troubled timesÂ” (12, Oct. 1966). Pleased that the congressman reads the magazine, editors Â“think the publicationÂ’s popularity is directl y related to the balance it provides between thought-provoking articles on serious theme s and its lighter pictorial, satirical and service featuresÂ” (12, Oct. 1966). The refore, unlike Kerouac who Playboy used as a foil, Playboy uses Nabokov as a serious author, who happens to deal with sexual themes. The author and the empire profited from the relationship. A Suitable Climate in Cold War America NabokovÂ’s profitable relationship with Playboy reflects how welcoming the American Cold War climate was to both the magazine and NabokovÂ’s works. As discussed prevsiously, Playboy owes much of its successful launch to Cold War redefinitions of space and sexuality. In a similar vein, NabokovÂ’s popularity in A merica can be attributed to Cold War culture; or, Nabokov exploited Cold War cultural changes for his benefit. Either way, the Cold War proves to be a suitable climate for the reception of NabokovÂ’s works. Most Nabokov scholars shy away from politicizing Nabokov because of his self-described apolitical status. Denying claims to eit her the Bolshevist Reds or monarchist Whites, Nabokov describes himself Â“as a child of democratic liberalismÂ” (Nabokov Strong 22). In Strong Opinions, he claims he cannot tell a
124 Democrat from a Republican. NabokovÂ’s only stated political conditions are Â“no torture no executionsÂ” and no Â“regimentation of thought, governmental censorship, racial or religious persecutionÂ” (Nabokov Strong 34, 48). Regardless of NabokovÂ’s consistent statements regarding his apolitical status and critics shying away f rom political readings of NabokovÂ’s texts, it is possible to situate his works within the political clima te of the Cold War. NabokovÂ’s themes of containment, sign-economy and collapsed identities echo Cold War concernsÂ—even his syntactical use of the personal pronoun reflects the rising focus on the individual. In the midst of Cold War containment policies, NabokovÂ’s Russian status would normally provoke audience hesitation or critical censorship. He should share Humbert Â’s anxieties about being a Â“brand-new AmericanÂ” from Â“sweet, mellow, rotting EuropeÂ” (105, 280). But Nabokov was far from a shabby migr and is not treated Â“like one of those suspicious foreignersÂ…whose citizenship and nationality is dubiousÂ” (Petitte 85). Rather, Nabokov was very outspoken about his allegiance to United States policy and collaborated with the CIA and FBI. In this paradigm of foreigner and intellect ual, Nabobov is Â“beyond reproachÂ” (Kova evi Â’s 24). Outspoken against the Communist take-over in Russia, Nabokov could not be Â“vilified;Â” his self-portrayal as a modern, democratic liberal negated labels of Â“outdated monarchistÂ” (Kova evi Â’s 24). Therefore, Nabokov Â“occupies the place of AmericaÂ’s imaginary desire for Russian (Eas tern European) elites that are rational, in step with the Â‘progressÂ’ in the world, a nd reliable as Western alliesÂ” (Kova evi Â’s 25). In Strong Opinions, Nabokov admits that he Â“deplores the attitude of foolish or dishonest people who ridiculously equate Stalin with McCarthyÂ…and the ruthless imperialism of the USSR with the earnest and unselfi sh
125 assistance extended by the USA to nations in distressÂ” (50). NabokovÂ’s strong opinions regarding communism make him a welcomed exile. Playboy also has strong opinions regarding American policies. Even though editors refrained from straying from PlayboyÂ’s entertainment focus, they still argued that the magazine could be used as a weapon in the war against communism. Hefner claimed Playboy was a way to discover national dissenters. Because the single bachelor technically defied traditional social institutions, he could be branded as a homosex ual or a sexual deviant. But if the single bachelor was interested in gazing at nude f emales, he was not a homosexual. And since illogical rationale linked homosexuals with Communists, the Playboy reader was not a Communist because of his heterosexuality. Strategically placing his magazine within the Cold War homophobic climate, H efner argued that Â“a picture of a beautiful woman is something that fellows of any a ge ought to be able to enjoy. If he doesn't, then that's the kid to watch out forÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 41). Hefner, like Nabokov, also championed the universal rights of the individual and tried to deny political labels. But, PlayboyÂ’s championing of conspicuous consumption and NabokovÂ’s praise of Cold War strategies suggests that a political reading can be applied to both. Nabokov distanced himself from Russia and pledged his allegiance to America. Far from the 1960s cultural upheavals, in an old-fashioned Edwardian luxury hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, Nabokov declared himself Â“as American as April in Ari zonaÂ” (Nabokov Strong 98). In Bend Sinister, NabokovÂ’s first novel Â“composed in his adopted country,Â” he Â“saluted AmericaÂ’s most exuberantly patriotic poet with a st range new adjective: Â‘waltwhitmanesqueÂ’Â” (Sweeney 65). NabokovÂ’s decision to never wri te in
126 Russian again after The Gift serves to further distance him from his exiled homeland. His dual labelsÂ—Russian migr and American novelistÂ—allow him to be concurrently Othered and acceptably exotic. His autobiographical text, Speak Memory, Â“hinges on precisely this dynamic of exile and its ambivalenceÂ” (Straumann 9). NataÂša Kova evi Â’s second chapter, in Narrating post/communism: colonial discourse and EuropeÂ’s borderline civilization, claims that Â“his political and cultural Othering of Communist regimes aligns him with Western liberal discourses, while his Russianness makes himÂ…Â‘differentÂ’ to American audiencesÂ” (6). Timofey Pnin, Â“perhaps the char acter that Nabokov most admiredÂ”, exemplifies this trait (Krushcheva 67). In Pnin, Nabokov tells the tale of an awkward Russian migr teaching Russian studies at an upstate unive rsity. Like Nabokov, PninÂ’s Â“socially, awkward Russian waysÂ” are surprisingly welc omed. Pnin has the Â“useless and impractical knowledge of a Russian intellectualÂ” and can Â“perform a number of other tame tricks that Russians have up their sleevesÂ” (Krus hcheva 59). PlayboyÂ’s pursuit of the popular Russian migr reinforces how suitable his exiled status had become; as discussed earlier, editors praise the Â“cruel witÂ” Nabo kov gained from his exile. NabokovÂ’s texts contain tropes of American capitalism. NabokovÂ’s texts and Playboy can be studied as products of capitalism; Frederic Jameson dates the new moment of capitalism to the United StatesÂ’ post-war boom, right as Nabokov began to Â“invent his AmericaÂ” for Lolita and Hefner launched his first issue. For instance, Lolita is set within the context of consumer society and reflects results of the s ign-economy, in which Â“advertising has operated to colonize the social world and materialize de sireÂ” (Odih 113). What Pamela Odih calls Â“sign economyÂ” can be witnessed in the
127 advertisements that bombard Lolita and Humbert on their cross-country drive: Â“If a roadside sign said: VISIT OUR GIFT SHOPÂ—we had to visit it, had to buyÂ…Â” (Nabokov Lolita 136). Lolita constructs her identity according to the images advertising and popula r culture provide for her. Humbert describes her as the Â“ideal consumer,Â” Â“to whom the ads were dedicatedÂ” (136). Charlotte HazeÂ’s behavior is Â“determined entirely b y homemaking guides, Hollywood films, movie magazines, advertisements, psychoana lytic clichs and such deadly conventionalities as book clubs or bridge clubsÂ” (Brand 15). LolitaÂ’s villain, Humbert, can Â“resist the influence of these new and powerful forms of coercionÂ” (Brand 14). In resisting the sign system of the capitalistic ec onomy, Humbert also misses all the signs that would reveal his double. LolitaÂ’s savvy sign readi ng allows her to read the maps and routes, in order to meet up with Quilty. As a foreigner, Humbert has nothing but Â“contemptÂ” for the sign systems, and his critique offers insight into the post-war American economic system (Brand 15). Pnin also offers insight into how Nabokov constructs and critiques American culture. Unlike Humbert, NabokovÂ’s foreign narrator, Timofey, cannot resist the advertisements or the efficiency of American capitalism. Even though Pnin confe sses to Joan that he cannot understand Â“what is advertisement and what is not advertisement,Â” he always Â“carefullyÂ” scans them (Nabokov Pnin 60; 75). At this point in American capitalism, much of print media was an advertisement. Besides advertiseme nts, Pnin is also awed by efficiency, an aspect of capitalism that free market advoc ates champion and Playboy continuously praises in its advertisements for new technology. Intrigued by JoanÂ’s washing machine, Pnin disregards being forbidden to come near it and feeds everything he can to the new machine: Â“Casting aside all decorum and caution, he w ould
128 feed it anything that happened to be at hand, his handkerchief, kitchen towels, a heap of shorts and shirts smuggled down from his room, just for the joy of watching through that porthole what looked like an endless tumble of dolphins with the staggersÂ” (40). PninÂ’s willful exchange of his perfectly healthy teeth for dentures proves his obs ession with American capitalism. Ten days after the extraction, Pnin enjoys his de ntures, Â“the new gadget,Â” so much so that he declares them a Â“revelationÂ”: Â“a sunrise, it was a first mouthful of efficient, alabastrine, humane AmericaÂ” (38). Pnin even tries to persua de a colleague to have all of his teeth removed because then he Â“will be a reformed ma n like [Pnin]Â” (39). Thus, through the eyes of his European narrators, Nabokov confronts complex aspects of AmericaÂ’s Cold War consumer culture. NabokovÂ’s capitalis tic commentary ironizes consumer culture. Nabokov incorporates many American Cold War tropes, such as the expansion to new frontiers. Similarly, Hugh HefnerÂ’s Playboy launch and its Â“daring trailblazing on the sexual frontÂ” changed the way Americans viewed pornography during the Cold W ar (Watts 297). In his 1964 Playboy interview, Nabokov confesses that Lolita was the most difficult text to compose because he Â“did not know AmericaÂ” and, therefore, had to invent it (38). Many of NabokovÂ’s inventions incorporate American mythology. For instance, the last scene of Pnin has Timofey Â“lighting out of the territory,Â” representing the American moves toward the final frontier. PninÂ’s Â“lighting outÂ” reflects Na bokovÂ’s artificial construction of America: Â“I have invented in America my Ame rica and just as fantastic as any inventorÂ’s AmericaÂ” (Boyd American Years 375). In her analysis of EastEuropean immigrant narratives, Magdalena J. Zaborowska claims PninÂ’s move is Â“ve ry American, if not AmericanizedÂ” (263). After much heartache, Pnin pushes out to
129 discover what else America can offer. His move also signifies the third phase of American empire-building, reflecting the United StatesÂ’ expansion of new territory ( Nugent 309). Historian Walter T. K. Nugent suggests that the Cold WarÂ’s Â“[c]ontainment -asimperialism took the United States into space and into the disastrous Vietnam intervention in the 1960s, clothed in the Â‘classic idiom of the frontierÂ’Â—KennedyÂ’s Â‘New Frontier,Â’ space as the Â‘the final frontierÂ’ (312). PninÂ’s move, though, is not a heroic conquest of any frontier; as he Â“drive[s] off into the proverbial sunset,Â” he is a l oser, having been Â“oustedÂ” by the more virile, manipulating SirinÂ—his Russian counterpart NabokovÂ’s inclusion of counterparts, or doppelgangers, in his works also reflects Cold War fears of espionage and secret agents. Of course, the double motif appears in NabokovÂ’s early fiction, and the history of the traditional double in literature is long. But Nabokov continues, and even heightens, this motif in his Cold War texts. For instance, written precisely at the exhaustion of the double theme in modern literature, NabokovÂ’ s Pale Fire features a monumental doubling, or even tripling, of character (Appel, Annotated Lolita x). The doppelganger motif is just piece of the puzzle of NabokovÂ’s works; Nabokov professed that he had Â“no special purpose, no moral messageÂ” or any Â“general ideas to exploitÂ” but he did like Â“composing riddlesÂ” and Â“finding elegant solutions to those riddlesÂ” he, himself, composed ( The Listener 857). When situated within Cold War fears of the Communist enemy, this literary element ref lects fears of the unknown double, fears regarding the concept of individuality. Communists could invade their inner circle at any time unbeknownst to Americans. According to Douglas FieldÂ’s American Cold War Culture, the turning point in American Cold War politics was the Â“growing awareness of communismÂ’s ability to seduce and infiltrate disparat e countriesÂ”
130 (3). The fear of infiltration sparked numerous cultural artifacts, like Mickey SpillaneÂ’s detective novels and even Mad MagazineÂ’s Â“Spy on SpyÂ”. The real event of the RosenbergÂ’s supposed espionage found its way into American authorsÂ’ works; David Caute calls it Â“the midsummerÂ’s night of post-war anti-Communist, anti-Sovi et hysteriaÂ” (62). For instance, their 1953 execution haunts Sylvia PlathÂ’s The Bell Jar. In his Â“Cold War Correspondents: Ginsberg, Kerouac, Cassidy, and the Political Economy of B eat Letters,Â” Oliver Harris traces Allen GinsbergÂ’s telegram to Neal C assidy recording the event as Â“a key documentÂ” in the intersection of the Â“paranoid style of American poli ticsÂ” (170). Political paranoia in the United States encouraged government official s to wage domestic war on possible enemies within its borders. One of NabokovÂ’s favorite games to play with his reader is hiding Â“enemies withinÂ” his text. This technique seems to Â“parody the typical mystery or su spense storyÂ” (Davidson Â“ImagesÂ”). In PlayboyÂ’s publication of Despair, Hermann devises the perfect crime to kill his double, and Playboy readers would feel comfortable with the motif because they had encountered it in other works. In both his English and Russian versions, Nabokov clearly presents HermannÂ’s crime as Â“devoid of any pragmat ic purposeÂ” (Davydov). (HermannÂ’s so-called Â“perfect crimeÂ” resembles the charges Senator McCarthy placed on hundreds of state officials.) In Ada, Nabokov combines the double motif with the incestuous account of VanÂ’s and AdaÂ’s love affair: Â“AdaÂ’s Â‘ right instep and the back of her left handÂ’ bear the same Â‘indelible and sacred birthmarkÂ’ that marks VanÂ’s right hand and left footÂ” (Hayles 34). AdaÂ’s nose is VanÂ’s in m iniature, and they have the same molar on opposite sides of their mouths filled with gold, which suggests that Nabokov wanted to make Ada and Van mirror images of each other.
131 The sexual relationship between the counterpart, or doubled characters, reveals Cold War homosexual fears, best depicted by David K. JohnsonÂ’s Lavender Scare. Johnson reminds readers that historical and cultural literature about the Â“McCar thy era focuses on the hunt for Communist and headline-grabbing cases such as those of Alger HissÂ” (3). But the typist of the Â“Pumpkin PapersÂ” and the RosenbergsÂ’ were anoma lies in AmericaÂ’s hunt for enemies within its domestic borders; the majority of thos e fired or accused as security risks in the Cold War were homosexualsÂ—not spies. Johns on reveals the contradiction between congressional fears of a powerful, threatening homosexua l ring in the State Department and the notion that homosexuals can be targeted as blackmail victims because of their weak will. The ridiculous hunt for homosexuals played out by the HUAC committee and government officials resembles NabokovÂ’s dizzying ma ze of doubles; Nabokov critiques Â“reading homosexuals as political threats on par with CommunistsÂ” throughout Pale Fire (Belletto 756). As Charles Kinbote desperately looks for clues to Zembla in John ShadesÂ’ poem, careful readers can decipher the doppelgangers and note that Kinbote serves as both sexual subversive and Cold War warrior. NabokovÂ’s criticism of American sign economy and Â“the sociopolitical implications of a pop-Freudian understanding of homosexualityÂ” reveal his debasing of an uncritical populace and his championing of the individualÂ—a feeling shared by Playboy and its ethos based on the individual (Belletto 760). In Strong Opinions Nabokov reminds readers that he doesnÂ’t Â“give a damn for the group, the community, the massesÂ” (33). Born into an aristocratic, politically powerful family that e mployed more than fifty servants, NabokovÂ’s life of luxury was Â“cut shortÂ” by the revolution, and he
132 was forced first into European exile by the Bolsheviks and then to American exil e by the Nazis (White, Khrushcheva 3). His father was assassinated, and his homosexual brother was murdered in a concentration camp; T. J. White argues that these events Â“not only displacedÂ” Nabokov but they might Â“be the reason for his individualism.Â” His ardent respect for the individual and disdain for totalitarian governments can even be rec ognized in his syntax. His Russian writings are Â“saturated with echoes of French and E nglish,Â” and his sentence structure has always been very Latinate, making him very e asy to translate on a syntactical level (Scammell). Though Nabokov grew up in an aff luent Russian household, he called himself Â“an English childÂ” (Nabokov Strong Opinions 81). NabokovÂ’s wrestling between his Western and Russian identification often fi nds its way into his works. NabokovÂ’s sentence structure, with a heavy emphasis on the English Â“I,Â” reflects AmericaÂ’s Cold War stress on the individual. In English, Â“IÂ” Â“shamelesslyÂ” s tarts most sentences, and it never Â“renounce[s] [its] exclusiveness in favor of gener al accordÂ” (Khrushcheva 13). In Imaging Nabokov Nina KhrushchevaÂ’s states that Nabokov Â“loved the prim and proper Â‘IÂ’ whichÂ—unlike the tiny, derided Russian yaÂ— is anything but the last letter of the alphabet (13-4). The Â“IÂ” allows Nabokov to avoid awkward Russi an constructions such as Â“itÂ’s fearful to me,Â” making the doer an active subject, as opposed to Â“an object of actionÂ” (Khrushscheva 14). Khrushscheva admits that Nabokov taught her Â“how to be a single Â“IÂ” instead of a member of the many Â“weÂ” in that vast, undifferentiated, traditional Russian collective of the peasant commune, the prol etarian mass, the Soviet peopleÂ” (4). Refusing to add to the stock characters already pres ent in Russian literature, Nabokov Â“sought to liberate the thinking Â‘IÂ’Â” (5). The emphasis on t he
133 individual, as opposed to the collective good, mirrors Cold War emphasis on those individuals who made up the growing middle-class. The privileges that came with be ing a member of the middle class can, according to William H. Whyte, render i ndividuals more susceptible to the pressures of conformityÂ—something neither Nabokov nor Hef ner would have championed (unless it included purchasing more goods). The Â“paradoxicalÂ” rise of high-brow art blending with popular culture during the Cold War proves why Playboy wanted to be associated with NabokovÂ’s Â“seriousÂ” or sophisticated status. Andrew Hoberek argues that the boundary between high and middlebrow culture is difficult to demarcate, despite a post-war intellectua ls' obsession with doing so. Nabokov, like Saul Bellow and Flannery O'Connor, is Â“an obvious candidate for representatives of fifties fictional high cultureÂ” because he ha d a household name and was Â“published in middlebrow venuesÂ” (Hoberek 397n8). Nabokov was, and still is, revered by literary critics, regardless of the sexually e xplicit content of his work. For instance, LolitaÂ’s Â“seriousÂ” writing made it much more elusive for critics to deem obscene. Unlike the more over language in Lady ChatterlyÂ’s Lover Lolita Â“intermingled decorum and devianceÂ” (Giles 58). In LolitaÂ’s afterword, Nabokov praised the blend of Â“deliberate lewdnessÂ…with flashes of comedyÂ” associated with the French Enlightenment, Playboy editors included prominent cultural figures and elite literature in order to achieve this particular blend. The blend of high and low culture allowed Playboy editors to dismiss charges of commercialized pornography, which Nabokov also denied. Nabokov claimed modern pornography was a Â“commercialized and entirely predictable operation, stylistically limited to Â‘the copulation of clichsÂ’Â” (qtd. in Giles 58) The paradoxical rise of high-brow culture during the Cold War led to the growth of Amer ican
134 Studies and the rise of New Criticism. While literary critics, such as Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson, Alfred Kazin, Iriving Howe, and Allen Tate, debated over definit ions of the novel and analyzed NabokovÂ’s novels, Playboy readers could read NabokovÂ’s fiction and participate in critical speculations. As a Â“seriousÂ” author, the Cold War provided Nabokov with the chance to indulge his Â“fascination with American vulgarianismÂ” (Be llVillada 165). The Cold War also allowed Nabokov to explore Â“meshes of sexual and military affairsÂ” (Petitte 81). As detailed by Adam PetitteÂ’s The Literary Cold War, NabokovÂ’s Humbert participates in the military explorations of the Arctic DEW Line for uranium. HumbertÂ’s complicity in the Â“mechanics and economy of wartime and Cold War secreciesÂ…match his own secret sexual projectÂ” to acquire nymphettes (82) Connecting Dolores Haze to the United StatesÂ’ search for nuclear materials, radiati on, and bombs reinforces the relationship between Nabokov and the Cold War. Petitte argues that Â“[s]olipizing Lolita is identical to solipsizing Cold War AmericaÂ—both g irl and state are under threat,Â” and Â“HumbertÂ…is a criminal psychiatrist, exploiting and exposing t he nuclear symptoms of Cold War sexualityÂ” (97). With Lolita and his other Cold War texts, Nabokov exploits post-war policies, such as the redefinitions of domestic space and t he creation of a masculinity model that stresses the affluence of PlayboyÂ’s post-war narrative. AdaÂ’s Model of Masculinity NabokovÂ’s Playboy contributions create an exotic model of masculinity, which values sophistication, virility, and sliding scale of sexuality. His dense pros e contains old-world narrators and multiple literary allusions. According to BoydÂ’ s Russian Years,
135 NabokovÂ’s father passed down a Â“strict sense of manliness and personal honorÂ” (97). In The Gift Nabokov writes that the protagonist, Fyodor loves his fatherÂ’s Â“live masculinity,Â” and Boyd supplants this characterÂ’s adoration on to the author. A quic k survey of NabokovÂ’s texts reveals that virility is a highly desirable trait; for instance, in PlayboyÂ’s December 1971 Â“The Dashing Fellow,Â” NabokovÂ’s narrator cannot concentrate on any business, until he takes care of his Â“romantic interestsÂ” (121, Dec. 1971). One of NabokovÂ’s most vulgar narrators, Konstantin Â“longs to tangle with a graceful gol d-bright little devil in a fantastically lit hotel room!Â” (122, Dec. 1971). His wife i s Â“not overbrightÂ” and Â“therefore, not jealousÂ” of his sexual encounters on trains and in foreign cities (122, Dec. 1971). His multiple affairs are judged based on the financial cost of each tryst. Besides his meticulous focus on adding up the dollar and cents of each sexua l encounter, KonstantinÂ’s unquenchable virility fits very well into the Playboy ethos. NabokovÂ’s Â“live masculinityÂ” supports Playboy's call for consumption and explores how male characters should reclaim domestic spaces. But like KerouacÂ’s model of masculinity, Nabokov's contributions do not always depict a clear heterosexuality and they can undermine aspects of PlayboyÂ’s white, American narrative because of their tendency to be told from an exileÂ’s perspective. Model of Masculinity: Space Continuing the tradition of Russian writers, like Lev Tolstoi and Ivan Turgenev, Nabokov thoroughly maps his narrative space. Unlike twentieth-century Russian wr iters or authors like Dostoyevsky, Nabokov renders his narrative space by carefully mapping it like a cartographer (Shrayer 641). His earlier Russian works contained explici t descriptions of narrative space, but his later fiction, especially his Cold Wa r texts employ
136 specific literary devices that map space and time. Nabokov often disregards t he boundaries between appropriate and inappropriate critical discourse; his narrati ves blur genre boundaries. In Â“Mapping Narrative Space in NabokovÂ’s Short Fictions,Â” Maxi m D. Shrayer argues that NabokovÂ’s works Â“attribute enormous significance to repr esenting the space where a given narrative unravels and where characters interactÂ” (641). Stephen Hardwick Blackwell argues that NabokovÂ’s later fiction challenges read ers to recognize the Â“chilling parallels between the overconfidence of scientific progres s and the dogmatic certainty of the Soviet regimeÂ” (ix). Marina Grishakova connects NabokovÂ’s handl ing of space with contemporary philosophical models, thus situating NabokovÂ’s artistic and scientific endeavors into the cultural framework of the Cold War. Scientific metaphysical, and ethical theories often permeate NabokovÂ’s Cold War texts. PlayboyÂ’s 1969 excerpts from Ada highlight mid-century concerns of domestic space and the blurring of geographical and time boundaries. Slightly joking, Nabokov declared his novel Ada Â“a book of geniusÂ—the pearl of American literatureÂ”; but the novel has divided scholars, provoking intense distaste and praise (Boyd Ada 3). AdaÂ’s first sentence is an Â“eversionÂ” of TolstoyÂ’s first sentence in Anna Karenin : "the opening sentence of Anna Karenin ...is turned inside out" (Nabokov Strong 285). Anna Karenin begins with Â“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,Â” and Ada with Â“All happy families are more or less dissimilar, all unhappy ones a re more or less alike.Â” Throughout the novel, Nabokov inverts time, the planet Earth, and sexual gender: Â“Time is turned inside out, so that much of the present becomes the pastÂ” (Swanson). Nabokov anachronistically confuses the centuries and transposes the eas tern and western hemispheres. The confusion could relate to Cold War fears regar ding the
137 Iron Curtain. But PlayboyÂ’s excerpt does not expose most of these inversions or the philosophical material that divided scholars, such as VanÂ’s long philosophical dia tribe, The Texture of Time which describes his attempt to control time. Rather, Playboy editors provided readers with less difficult material, due to concerns that it might be bey ond their readersÂ’ intellectual abilities. Playboy excerpts recount VanÂ’s youth at his uncleÂ’s opulent country mansion, Arcadian Ardis Hall. The excerptÂ’s opening contains a lengthy exposition of VanÂ’s first journey t o Ardis Hall; in the early afternoon, Van enters the Â“sunny peace of the little rural s tation whence a winding road led to Ardis HallÂ” (94, April 1969). A Â“chance crease in th e texture of timeÂ” presents Van with a hackney coach to complete his journey (94, April 1969). Nabokov thoroughly describes the half-hour jog Â“through the pinewoods and over rocky ravinesÂ” and uses Â“sun flecks and lacy shadowsÂ” skimming over VanÂ’s legs to show the progression of time (94, April 1969). Nabokov includes names of places and details that situate Van in a familiar, albeit foreign, setting. For instance, the firs t paragraph contains references to recognizable pinewoods, animals, flora, and people. But the Â“dreamy hamletÂ” he passes through has an exotic nameÂ—TorlyankaÂ—and contains izbas and ruinous black castles (94, April 1969). NabokovÂ’s reference to a Â“half-Russian vil lageÂ” only slightly reassures readers that this narrative space is a realis tic representation (94). With every description of the setting, Nabokov manages to include Â“knowledge of our real world but undermine[s] it at every lineÂ” (Boyd 3). As Van arrives at Ar dis Hall, the three-story romantic mansion Â“built of pale brick and purplish stone,Â” the estate looms realistic, like John UpdikeÂ’s suburbia (94, April 1969). And then Nabokov jars readers out of this realism: Â“the mansion sat on a rise overlooking an abstract meadow with tw o
138 tiny people in cocked hats conversing not far from a stylized cowÂ” (97, April 1969 ). The painterly flourishes, like Â“abstractÂ” and Â“stylized,Â” reinforce that thi s setting has been carefully mapped on a canvas. Ardis Hall somehow sits above the abstractions. VanÂ’ s memories interrupt the forward motion of the narrative, and the setting of Ardis H all emerges as the most stable literary element. Nabokov uses a tour of the hall as the first interaction between Ada and Van, and this tour foreshadows their incestuous affair. During their first tea, Marina tells her nephew/son about the libraryÂ’s view and explains that Ada will show him Â“all the room s in the houseÂ” (98, April 1969). The tour has no discernible pattern and takes up three pages of PlayboyÂ’s May issue. For days, Ada leads Van up and down the stairs, exposing all Â“those nooksÂ” in which Â“they were to make love so soonÂ” (100, April 1969). She takes him through semi-secret staircases, multiple bathrooms, servant chambe rs, drawing rooms, and the attic. But the first stop on the tour, Ardis HallÂ’s library, later becom es the space in which Van and Ada consummate their adolescent affair. Ardis HallÂ’ s library was its Â“pride,Â” even if it was not often entered. It contained Â“collected works of uncol lected authorsÂ”, Â“tall bookcases and short cabinetsÂ”, Â“dark pictures and pale bustsÂ”, Â“ten cha irs of carved walnut and two noble tables inlaid with ebonyÂ” (98, April 1969). After li sting off the roomÂ’s contents, Nabokov describes the libraryÂ’s divan and a pair of candlestic ks, Â“mere phantoms of metal and tallowÂ” (98, April 1969). The divan, or day bed Â“cover ed in black velvet, with two yellow cushions, was placed in a recess, below a plate-g lass window that offered a generous view of the banal park and man-made lakeÂ” (98, April 1969). Later in the summer, Van and Ada have sex on the divan, while the rest of the household tries to save the burning barn across the reservoir.
139 The setting of their clumsy, passionate tryst echoes two of PlayboyÂ’s main themes: masculine reclamation of domestic space and sexual stimulation as a matte r of the mind, not the body. Hefner declared that the Â“whole idea behind Playboy was to put the two parts back together againÂ—mind and bodyÂ—that have been in conflict so long in our societyÂ” (qtd. in Weyr 11). During VanÂ’s and AdaÂ’s sexual experience i n the library, Ada constantly asks questions regarding his anatomy. Slithering away from V anÂ’s caresses, Ada Â“wannaskÂ” why Van Â“gets so fat and hard there when youÂ—Â” (250, April 1969). Her childish dialect and insistent curiosity remind readers that she is a just a chi ld during this encounter. When she sees VanÂ’s erection, her Â“tone of voice change[s] immedia tely,Â” and she becomes sympathetic, imploring whether or not Â“it hurtsÂ” because Â“itÂ’s all s kinned and rawÂ” (250, April 1969). Van explains to her that touching it will make it feel bet ter and begins to trace the Â“relief mapÂ” of his penis: Â“Her index traced the blue Nil e down into its jungle and traveled up againÂ” (250, April 1969). Completely ignorant of the mal e sexual organ, Ada compares his penis to things she understandsÂ—maps and flowers. The library setting provides Ada with a fitting backdrop to learn about sex. Joe Andrew Â’s study of modern Russian literature discusses how the library setting was once used as a motif Russian literature: Â“A young womanÂ’s simultaneous entre into knowledge and sexuality by means of stealing books from an older man, or library, was a common motif in Russian literatureÂ” (41n31). Ada does not need to steal any books during her Â“simultaneous entreÂ” because both sexual partners are virgins. NabokovÂ’s twist on t his Russian motif can be attributed to his charactersÂ’ age and the love that they shar e. Nabokov creates the space of the library to Â“unravel his narrativeÂ” and allow his characters to sexually interact.
140 Model of Masculinity: Sexuality As in Lolita, Pale Fire, and most of NabokovÂ’s works, sexual relationships are complicated by social taboos. His Playboy contributions are no different. In both The Eye and Despair, Nabokov alludes to charactersÂ’ homosexuality. The narrator in Â“The Dashing FellowÂ” (1971) engages in multiple adulterous affairs. Nabokov exposes readers to middle-aged pedophilia in Â“A Nursery TaleÂ” (1974), and, in Â“The Admiralty SpireÂ” (1975), Nabokov makes readers question why authors turn love affairs into novels. In Â“The DoorbellÂ” (1976), Playboy readers are misled to believe that Nikolay GalatovÂ’s search for his mother is a quest to rekindle a love affair. While PlayboyÂ’s Ada excerpt exhibits a clear heterosexual relationship, the incest factor undermines PlayboyÂ’s model of masculinity as boy-meets-neighbor/officemate. These instances of s exual deviance represent NabokovÂ’s model of masculinity. On a superficial level, blurring the lines that separate normal sexual behavior from deviant behavior supports PlayboyÂ’s deviance from Cold War culture. However, Playboy really only deviated from mainstream cultureÂ’s emphasis on the nuclear familyÂ—not heterosexuality. As Barbara Ehrenreich has stated, PlayboyÂ’s deviance was not the Â“voice of sexual revolutionÂ…but of male rebellionÂ” (51). Its didactic editorial content reclaimed domestic space for masculine pleasure and presented a cri tique of marriage, a strategy for remasculinization, and a spirit of acquisition bes t represented in its call for conspicuous consumption (50). PlayboyÂ’s deviance was focused on the escape from Â“the bondage of breadwinningÂ”Â—not on deviant sexuality or sexual behavior. In fact, there is nothing really deviant, or even erotic, about PlayboyÂ’s sexuality. Playmates and bunnies are usually replicas of each other; most are blonde with 35-23-35
141 measurements. According to PlayboyÂ’s own statistics, the average Pla ymate is 22 years old, 5Â’ 6Â’Â’ and 115 pounds. Since the 1960s, Playmates have gained about a pound and almost two inches. The average bust size has dropped about an inch, waist size has increased an inch and hip size has remained about the same (Â“Playmate FAQÂ”). T hese statistics prove that Hefner has always been Â“puritanicalÂ” about his Playm ateÂ’s image and their semblance of innocence. TimeÂ’s 1967 review of Playboy argues that its depiction of sex is more akin to Â“a Midwestern MethodistÂ’s vision of sin,Â” whereas NabokovÂ’s Playboy contributions include references to homosexuality, pedophilia, and incestÂ—much more highly contested versions of sex. NabokovÂ’s works reflect Alfred KinseyÂ’s controversial scientific surveys of American sexuality and expose cultural fears of a sliding scale of sexua lity. For instance, AdaÂ’s depiction of incest explores the Â“volatility of subjective, social constructs of Â‘devianceÂ’ and Â‘normalityÂ’Â” (Goldman 88). In Â“Â‘KnowingÂ’ Lolita: Sexual Devia nce and Normality in NabokovÂ’s Lolita ,Â” Eric Goldman argues that Nabokov Â“utilizes the sexology that was so controversial in the 1950sÂ” to present alternative interpreta tions of his charactersÂ’ sexuality (88). For Goldman, Lolita should not be characterized as a femme fatale or special nymph with a heightened sensuality; she should be view ed as an Â“ordinary, juvenile girl whose Â‘normalÂ’ sexual development is warped by a mani acal, myth-making pedophileÂ” (88). In order to create Lolita as an Â“ordinaryÂ” Ame rican girl, Nabokov completed hours of field research: attended primary schools, rode school busses to eavesdrop on conversations, scoured popular magazines for phrases, and read psychological studies on development. Through LolitaÂ’s characterization, Nabokov rendered a devastating commentary on American adolescents. Rachel Devl in states, in
142 her study of the post-war father-daughter relationship, that LolitaÂ’s personality Â“sets the stage for a certain kind of adult masculinity,Â” and Humbert represents the Â“ki nd of masculine personality that was often produced through a relationship with a teenage daughterÂ” (Devlin Relative Intimacy 159). DevlinÂ’s thorough study of AmericaÂ’s postwar record of father-daughter incest suggests that NabokovÂ’s story of sexual deviance Â“played a role in creating and sustaining important ideas about gender, family, pa ternal power and the sexual orderÂ” (Devlin Â“Acting OutÂ”). GoldmanÂ’s and DevlinÂ’s theorie s can be extrapolated to VanÂ’s and AdaÂ’s adolescent incest and applied to NabokovÂ’s model of masculinity. AdaÂ’s innocence might reflect the manipulated image of a centerfoldÂ’s innocenc e, but her incestuous relationship with Van undermines PlayboyÂ’s promotion of consenting, adult heterosexuality. Incest, in KinseyÂ’s reports and Kirson S. WeinbergÂ’s 1955 sociological text, is defined as Â“lying with a near relative.Â” But the data pr esented in these texts mainly deals with incestuous contacts between post-puberty fa mily members. Critiques of KinseyÂ’s work on incest involve his claim that incest between adults and consenting children can prove to be a satisfying experience. KinseyÂ’s study of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male contains passing references to incestuous contacts between pre-adolescent children and Kinsey does acknowledge that Â“at least some children experience sexual interest and pleasure during these contactsÂ” (Bancrof t m). In his section Â“Pre-Adolescent Sexual Development,Â” Kinsey reports that Â“14% of all the femalesÂ…recalled that they had reached orgasm either in masturbation or in t heir sexual contacts with other children or older personsÂ” (105). Clearly KinseyÂ’s reports, how ever compromised they might have been, warn against viewing children as asexual, a w arning
143 that Nabokov exploits. Unlike Humbert, who was unable to consummate his romance with Annabel, Van and Ada consummate their romance during adolescence and continue their sexual relationship for the remainder of their adult lives. The knowledge that Van and Ada share a healthy adult relationship undercuts assumptions that their adoles cent deviance should have wrecked havoc on their mental stability. In this sense, PlayboyÂ’s excerpts of AdaÂ— like KinseyÂ’s reportsÂ—challenged notions of sexual deviance, notions that shocked Americans into reconsidering definition of Â“normalÂ” sexual behavior. Ironically, PlayboyÂ’s inclusions of NabokovÂ’s contributions, all of which present some sort of sexual deviance, end up undermining PlayboyÂ’s very clear model of heterosexual behavior. Conclusion NabokovÂ’s Playboy contributions offer readers a slightly different model of masculinity than the coherent narrative presented by PlayboyÂ’s editorial content. NabokovÂ’s characters participate in Â“deviantÂ” sexual behaviors, ranging from incest to homosexuality. However, his depiction of domestic space in Ada reinforces HefnerÂ’s wish for men to reclaim the indoors. Like Playboy, Nabokov benefitted from the Cold War cultureÂ’s emphasis on conspicuous consumption and the blend of high and low brow art. An Olympian Press author, along with Beckett and Burroughs, NabokovÂ’s works fi rst shocked the post-war generation because of their sophisticated construction and vul gar subject matter; PlayboyÂ’s didactic program for post-war males pairs serious social commentary with nude pictorials. The relationship between the author and the empir e suggests that both used each other for mutual gainÂ—a relationship that NabokovÂ’s son, Dmitri, profits from decades after his fatherÂ’s death.
144 CHAPTER 4Â—BRICK BY BRICK: JAMES BALDWIN IN PLAYBOY As an African American, homosexual writer, James BaldwinÂ’s Playboy contributions seem out of place in the magazineÂ’s didactic program for white, heterosexual, male members of the rising middle-class. But Playboy has always adhered to an ethos of racial equality, even if it is dedicated to the dissemination of normative sexuality. PlayboyÂ’s push for civil rights can be evidenced in its liberal activism during the 1960s; aligne d with broad political movements, Playboy championed individual rights, especially economic freedom. According to Steven Watts, in Hugh Hefner and the American Dream Playboy promoted a particular activism, one that sought ways to break down barriers Â“to provide greater, freer accessÂ” to the socioeconomic syste m (193). To promote that brand of socioeconomic equality, different kinds of editorial content began to appear in the 1960s, and Hefner hired new editors, like Sheldon Wax, Murray Fisher, and Nat Lehrman, to influence the political bent of the magazineÂ—no longer would Playboy pretend to remain strictly in the entertainment realm. Lehrman claims tha t, during the early sixties, Â“We were doing very interesting things, particularly in t he sexual area and in the civil liberties and civil rights areaÂ” (qtd. in Watts 194). Watts sugges ts that the Â“most striking aspect of PlayboyÂ’s heightened social awarenessÂ” was in the realm of race relations (qtd. in Watts 194). Concurrently, Baldwin was Â“desperatelyÂ” seeking t o Â“define his identity as an American Negro writer and as a spokesman for his peopl eÂ” (Jones 107). Unsure of what kind of role he could play in the Civil Rights Movements or how to confront the political shift toward Black Nationalism, Baldwin increasing ly
145 adopted the stance of the Â“representative race manÂ” (McBride 10). Having e xiled himself to Paris, Baldwin was, at first, not convinced he should be actively involved in the movement; but, after a second visit to the South in 1960, Baldwin became a member of Congress of Racial Equality and Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee (F ield 460). He ceased Â“polishing [his] fingernailsÂ” in France and realized that he Â“di d have a role to playÂ” (qtd. in Field 460). His role as a writer, with an international audience and a reporter was unique because Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Ralph Ellis on did not publish significant texts during this time. Biographer James Campbell argue s that BaldwinÂ’s Â“value to the [civil rights] movement was mainly symbolic,Â” bec ause he was neither a rank-and-file member nor part of the leadership (Campbell Talking 175). Due to his symbolic role, Playboy used Baldwin, and his international fame, to present its liberal stance on racism. Always short of money, Baldwin offered essays and articles to numerous magazines. He published in small, literary magazines, like the Paris-based Zero, The Nation, The New Leader, Partisan Review or the Commentary, as well as larger more commercial magazines, such as Esquire, Harper, Encounter, Time or Mademoiselle. When The New Yorker published BaldwinÂ’s twenty-thousand-word Â“Letter from a Region in My MindÂ” on 17 November 1962, sales soared, and Baldwin became Â“the talk of the townÂ” (Leeming 145). After Time magazine featured Baldwin on its cover, his fame spread to an even wider audience. David Leeming claims that some of BaldwinÂ’s cri tics and friends resented BaldwinÂ’s relationship with the larger magazines; s ome Â“complainedÂ” when he sold Â“serious articles to Playboy and Mademoiselle Â” (145). Detractors complained because his work was placed Â“among the elitist ads for expensive
146 cars and clothesÂ” (145). BaldwinÂ’s response to these criticisms was that hi s audience was the Â“Â‘publicans and tax-collectorsÂ’ as well as the righteousÂ” (145). Expanding his audience base by publishing in small and large magazines afforded Baldwin the cha nce to expand his role as an artist and as a spokesperson. It also afforded the magazines, especially Playboy, the opportunity to cash in on BaldwinÂ’s fame. Playboy relied on BaldwinÂ’s authority to explain the magazineÂ’s stance on race as soon as he became a household name; but the whole of his Playboy contributions reveal a strikingly complex nexus of race and sexuality. Because BaldwinÂ’s open homosex uality obviously contradicted its celebration of heterosexuality, Playboy never acknowledged BaldwinÂ’s publically known homosexuality, until the end of the Cold War when it published Â“Freaks and the American Ideal of Manhood.Â” While many young authors and leaders of civil rights movements publically condemned BaldwinÂ’s sexual ide ntity, Playboy simply ignored it. Baldwin was also taciturn on the subject of his homosexuality in his non-fiction texts and always dealt with the questions of race, before se x. His move away from writing about his sexuality during the Cold War encouraged Playboy to keep publishing his non-fiction contributions. Only later in his career does Baldwin direc tly address his homosexuality in non-fiction, but from the beginning of his literary care er, his fiction contained homosexual characters. BaldwinÂ’s texts illuminate the socia l construction of both race and sexuality. For instance, two of BaldwinÂ’s Playboy contributions analyze the constructed nature of both race and sexuality: his short st ory, Â“The Man ChildÂ” (1966), and his essay, Â“Freaks and the American Ideal of ManhoodÂ” (1985). In Â“The Man Child,Â” Baldwin employs white, heterosexual characters to deconstruct the mid-century masculinity ideal. Many characteristics of this ideal
147 masculinity are upheld through PlayboyÂ’s editorial content; for instance, Playboy celebrates heterosexuality, capitalism, and patriarchal hegemony in its pictorials, advertisements, and articles, such as Philip WylieÂ’s Â“The Womanization of America.Â” Part of the ideal masculinity that Baldwin scrutinizes is the Â“consumer ethics unde rpinning post-war prosperity and endorsed by Playboy Â” (Fraterrigo 148). By critiquing PlayboyÂ’s conspicuous consumption and presenting characters with homosexual tendencies, BaldwinÂ’s fictional selection undermines much of PlayboyÂ’s grand narrative. Using Race, Not Sexuality From its inception, PlayboyÂ’s grand narrative suggested that any male, regardless of race, could enjoy the playboy lifestyle. Hugh Hefner also claims that Playboy was always Â“colorblind.Â” Distraught with previous workplace discrimination, Hefner integ rated the Playboy staff and refused to ask for racial identification on the application for a Playbo y Club Â“key.Â” Any male with twenty-five dollars to spare on a one-time fee f or a Playboy Club Â“keyÂ” could always gain access to the empires many night clubs. In 1962, civi l rights groups awarded Hefner the Â“Brotherhood AwardÂ” and the Â“Good American AwardÂ” for his commitment to Â“the fundamental right of equality of opportunity in employme nt without regard to color, creed, sex, or national originÂ” (qtd. in Watts 195). However, most African Americans were denied a lifestyle of luxury in post-wa r culture. John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony, understood the discrepancy between race and affluence as a notion of citizenship: Â“to be American was to be a consumer, and vice versaÂ” (qtd. in Fraterrigo 139). Pervasive discrimination excluded African Americans fr om earning expendable incomes, and mass media often ignored African Americans during adver tising campaigns. As a media outlet, Playboy did not address an African American audience or
148 include images of Africans in its pages until the 1960s, because during the 1950s it Â“assumed a white middle-class audience and represented a world of white affl uenceÂ” (Fraterrigo 138). In 1961, comic Dick Gregory performed at the Chicago Play boy Club, the first African American performance in a mainstream club. HefnerÂ’ s 1960s late-night television shows, PlayboyÂ’s Penthouse and Playboy after Dark, presented a racially integrated crowd and hired black entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., and Ray Charles to perform and socialize with white guests. Editors r an Alex HaleyÂ’s Miles Davis and Malcolm X interviews in September 1962 and May 1963, respectively. The January 1965 issue included an interview with Dr. Martin Lut her King, Jr., and Jennifer Jackson graced the March 1965 centerfold as the first African American Playmate. In the context of post-war society, these contributions can be comme nded. Brigitte BermanÂ’s recent documentary, Hugh Hefner, Playboy, Activist and Rebel, praises Hefner as a civil rights pioneer, and journalist Mike Wallace states in BermanÂ’s documentary that "Hefner helped build the audience for a different attitude about civil rights." Most Playboy readers appear prepared for this Â“different attitude,Â” but some stressed that they did not want to mix their entertainment with serious civil ri ghts concerns. The primarily affluent, white audience and HefnerÂ’s goal for racial equality reveals PlayboyÂ’s complicated participation in the Civil Rights Movement. Playboy often relied on James Baldwin to promote its views on racial equality. For example, PlayboyÂ’s first full report on the plight of African Americans in the post-war era was Â“Through the Racial Looking GlassÂ” (July 1962), by Nat Hentoff. Playboy commissioned Hentoff, instead of Baldwin, for this report because Hentoff represe nted a larger, albeit Â“less affluent, less certifiably liberal, and surely less educated,Â” audience
149 than Baldwin (Wyer 132). Importantly, though, Hentoff quotes Baldwin and relies on him for insights regarding the African American community, insights Hent off would be unable to posit because he was white. Hentoff uses Baldwin for his authority on various subjectsÂ—a tactic Playboy editors quickly adopted. In Â“Through the Racial Looking Glass,Â” Baldwin explains reasons for the growing Muslim population, as well as the underlying cause for stereotypes, such as the African American inabili ty to swim. In the article, Baldwin calls for African Americans to recognize how the maj ority culture systematically enslaves the minority. According to Hentoff, Baldwin Â’s declaration for emancipation from controlling images is Â“the one organic change which now appli ed to nearly all Negro adultsÂ—including the vast majority of the unorganizedÂ” (66, July 1962) White Americans created, and then promoted, a particular eroticized, debased i mage of Africans American: Â“The American Negro can no longer be, nor will ever be again, controlled by white AmericaÂ’s image of himÂ” (66, July 1962). Baldwin also poi nts out the Â“awkward insightÂ” that most African Americans have Â“allowedÂ” whites to impose on them Â“their own self-image,Â” even though they had Â“superior knowledge of the battlegroundÂ” (66, July 1962). To support this claim, Hentoff cites another African American artist, playwright Lorraine Hansberry. She reminds reader s that the African American maid has observed so much from Â“washing everybodyÂ’s underwear for 300 years. We know when youÂ’re not cleanÂ” (66, July 1962). Regardless of that superior knowledge, Dick Gregory, like Baldwin, is Â“so goddamn sick and tired of a white man telling us about usÂ” (66, July 1962). Baldwin tells Playboy readers how white AmericansÂ’ image of African Americans makes them ashamed Â“to have Â‘na ppyÂ’ hairÂ” or Â“ashyÂ” skin: Â“One was always being mercilessly scrubbed and polished, as in the hope
150 that stain could thus be washed awayÂ” (66, July 1962). These cultural insights allowe d Playboy to participate in the civil rights discourse by explaining the damaging eff ects of images to white readers. After HentoffÂ’s article Playboy increased its reliance on Baldwin, as well as its civil rights content. In the October 1962 issue, editors published fifteen Â“Dear P layboyÂ” letters responding to HentoffÂ’s article. Only two of those letters include n egative comments; the first criticizes Playboy for not hiring an African American to write the magazineÂ’s first Â“perceptive reportÂ” on the race, and the second wants Playboy to publish the SouthÂ’s views on desegregation. Editors print lengthy responses to these letters solidifying their front for racial equality. For instance, in response to C. S ummer StoneÂ’s objection to HentoffÂ’s race, editors introduce the reader to a future Playboy author, James Baldwin, Â“one of [StoneÂ’s] nomineesÂ…who, incidentally is author of an upcoming Playboy articleÂ” (7, Oct. 1962). Editors then go on the Â“recordÂ” and declare the magazineÂ’s colorblind status in Â“hiring staffers, assigning art, photography and writing, purchasing creative workÂ”; they claim that the only Â“criterionÂ—in judgi ng people and their workÂ—has always been and will always be professional excellenceÂ” (7, Oct. 1962). Editors repeat this motto for equality in response to Bill CastleÂ’s desire for Â“equal spaceÂ” to the SouthÂ’s viewpoint: Â“Playboy stands for the individualÂ…We are as much opposed to the bigotry that strikes out at racial and religious groups as we are to the bigots who burn books and attempt to censor and oppose all ideas and ideals that differ from their ownÂ” (14, Oct. 1962). Yet, neither of the editorsÂ’ diatribes compare to James BaldwinÂ’s succinct approval for Hentoff and his articleÂ—Â“If I can go downtownÂ—then Nat ce rtainly can go uptownÂ” (7, Oct. 1962). Writing from Dakar, Senegal, Baldwin writes to Â“D ear
151 PlayboyÂ” that he has long Â“admired NatÂ” and Â“he is one of the people on whom [Baldwin] most depend[s] to help bring these walls of incomprehension downÂ” (7, Oct. 1962). Using BaldwinÂ’s response to HentoffÂ’s article gives Playboy Â’s campaign more authority, because, by the early 1960s, Baldwin had become an eloquent literary spokesperson on equal rights. BaldwinÂ’s first appearance in Playboy, Â“The Uses of Blues,Â” revealed more insight into African American culture for the Playboy audience. William I. Smith claimed that BaldwinÂ’s article Â“movedÂ” him to write his first letter to Playboy because he could better Â“understandÂ” his minority students (8, April 1964). Subtitled soliloquy, Â“ The Uses of Blues,Â” celebrates the blues as a Â“uniquely American art formÂ” and serves as decisive metaphor for the struggle for racial freedom. Because of its solil oquy label, or in spite of it, Baldwin speaks his mind directly to the Playboy audience. He refers to his audience using the second-person pronoun and asks them to consider the myriad of things the blues are aboutÂ—from love to lynching. Baldwin calls the blues the facts of lif e and cites blues singers, such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Leadbelly, F rank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, and Miles Davis. Baldwin also refers to writers, like Horatio Alg er and Henry James. This range of American popular culture figures allows Baldwin to rel ate to PlayboyÂ’s readers. BaldwinÂ’s allusions, syntactical choices, and tone suggest that he envisioned hi s audience to be educated, white males unaware of the realities African Ame ricans faced. For instance, he references European and American historical facts, Sigmund F reud and explains the Â“NegroesÂ…difficult daysÂ” to the reader (131, Jan. 1964). Baldwin begins his essay slowly, by defining his title and the conversation he is engaged with, as if the
152 readers are just being made aware of this particular conversation, which start ed a long time ago. He explains things like the blues on incredibly basic levels, as if he wa s Â“scolding a Sunday school classroomÂ” (Pickney 2). He tells readers about the bl ues Â“because they contain the toughness that manages to make this experience artic ulateÂ”; he lets readers in on the secret, Â“however odd [it] may soundÂ”, that the blues also crea te Â“a kind of joyÂ” because the pain is commonplace (131, Jan. 1964). For Baldwin, the blues can Â“make people learn, mature, and ultimately gain wisdom from suffering, whic h may be seen as the blues connection to the Biblical concept of suffering as a way t o wisdomÂ” (Miller 16). Baldwin assumes Playboy readers are ready and willing to read how the blues relate to the African American fight for rights. In Â“The Uses of the Blues,Â” Baldwin Â“bargainsÂ” that Playboy readers will be willing to learn from his insights. Baldwin hopes that readers will Â“liste n and learn about the experience the blues make Â‘articulateÂ’Â”; he wants readers to understa nd how racism affects everyone, regardless of race (Hardy 52). However, Baldwin critic ally reminds white readers of their responsibility in the racial inequality. For exampl e, he claims white readers have lost their humanity and describes the American psychological l andscape as a festering, guilty wound. Baldwin condemns readers for their guilt and their i nability to survive if, and when, trouble comes. He says that guilt is a Â“peculiar emotionÂ” that coaxes Americans into inactivity; no one wants to Â“actÂ” because then one must be Â“conscious and take great chances and be responsible for the consequencesÂ” (240, Jan. 1964). Playboy readers must have wondered what kind of bargain Baldwin was brokering after reading these condemning, although honest, claims. Baldwin uses such accusatory language because he wishes to probe far deeper
153 than the overt issue of racism. Throughout the essay, Baldwin calls for readers to face reality by asking those Â“very difficult questionsÂ” concerning humanity (241 Jan. 1964). For him, the real Â“Negro problemÂ” is not about Â“injustice, murder, or criminal rac ismÂ”Â— because Â“what has been done to me is irrelevant simply because there is nothing m ore you can do to meÂ” (132, Jan. 1964). The real problem is about the lessons children will learn; the real Â“NegroÂ” fight is about finding a way Â“to make a child who wi ll be despised, not despise himselfÂ” (240, Jan. 1964). Baldwin urges Playboy readers to go beyond empty statistics, which suggest that African Americans are finan cially succeeding: Â“walk away from the TV set, the Cadillac, and go into the chaosÂ” and learn about reality (241, Jan. 1964). Undermining the standards by which middle-class Americans live, Baldwin seems to call for new standards. He wants them to ge t involved with the realities of racism, as opposed to assuming that, as liberals, they are f ree from guilt. Â“You donÂ’t know what the river is like or what the ocean is like,Â” Baldwin says, Â“ by standing on the shoreÂ” (241, Jan. 1964). He criticizes readers for believing in the r eality set forth by John OÂ’HaraÂ’s novels and Life magazine: Â“Nobody lives in that country. That country does not exist and, what is worse, everybody knows itÂ” (241, Jan. 1964). Baldwin complains about those who are building bomb shelters to hide from the atrocities of humanity and exposes the deep divide between the Â“American dreamÂ” and the Â“American NegroÂ’s experience of lifeÂ” (13, Jan. 19642). Through all of these complaints, Baldwin uses the second person, directly calling out the white Playboy readerÂ—Â“ You havenÂ’t [forgotten the guilt]. And that is the problemÂ” (214, Jan. 1964). Guilt seems to have forced white liberals into inaction, exactly when Americ a is simultaneously plagued with a myriad of social issues, such as classism and s exism.
154 These early radical declarations take white liberals to task for failure t o recognize how racism is just one aspect of AmericaÂ’s problems. And yet, throughout Â“The Uses of Blues,Â” Baldwin employs a calm tone that negates associations with other militant activists, such as Eldridge Clea ver or Malcolm X. Baldwin seeks to Â“understand even as he condemnsÂ” (Pickney 2). Through his consistent attacks, Baldwin seems to believe his integrated audience has the potential to be bet ter itself. For example, he constantly champions loving one another and switches to the more encompassing Â“weÂ” when discussing how to be more humane. There is even a sense that he reined in his passionate tirades for the broad Playboy audience. He often halts, mid-thought, to quote a passage or familiar author; for instance, right after h e states that the only way to change the hatred is to Â“ask ourselves very difficult questi ons,Â” he simply begins a new paragraph: Â“I will stop now. But I want to quote two things,Â” and he goes on to compare a passage from Henry James to lyrics from Bessie Smith (241 Jan. 1964). James Campbell states that Baldwin Â“enjoyed the attention of editorsÂ” and steadied his Â“hand behind the furious pen,Â” when writing for national magazines (Â“SorrowÂ”). This appears to be true for Â“The Use of the Blues:Â” Playboy editors required minimal changes to the manuscript and rushed the non-fiction piece to print, most likely because it contained the appropriate mix of alienation and compassion. Playboy published another Baldwin soliloquy less than a year after Â“The Uses of the BluesÂ”; Â“Words of a Native SonÂ” (1964) also begs readers to act. In the byline to Â“Words of a Native Son,Â” Baldwin is labeled as Â“the eminent authorÂ” and the Â“Playbil lÂ” refers to him as Â“the NegroÂ’s most eloquent literary spokesmanÂ” (120, 3). In response to BaldwinÂ’s second Playboy appearance, Morton W. Darby claims that BaldwinÂ’s elegant
155 candor outshined the Â“rest of [ PlayboyÂ’s] fine, fat Christmas packageÂ” (10). Darby calls for other writers to mimic BaldwinÂ’s Â“capacity to get under the surface in looking at himself and his workÂ” (10). In Â“Words,Â” Baldwin reveals the creative process of an artist who wants to tell the Â“terrible damage we are doing to our all our childrenÂ” (241, Dec 1964). He tells Playboy readers that the Â“humanityÂ” of the menaced population is Â“equal to the humanity of anyone else, equal to yours, equal to that of your childÂ” (241, Dec 1964). Employing the second-person pronoun again, Baldwin directly calls out to the white Playboy reader. Equating the dead Harlem boy, Emmett Till, to the child of a Playboy reader allows Baldwin to appeal to the audienceÂ’s emotions: Â“As long as my children face the future that they face, and come to the ruin that they come to, y our children are gravely in danger, tooÂ” (241, Dec. 1964). Demanding that readers asse ss the national nightmare provides the essay with a sense of urgency, similar to the Â“The Us es of the Blues.Â” Baldwin also maintains a similar tone and adopts a Â“spokesperson stanceÂ…[that] invites the audience to actively participateÂ” (Norman 108). He shares the blame and the responsibility for deaths of children like Emmett Till: Â“I know you didnÂ’t do it, and I didnÂ’t do it either, but I am responsible for it, too, for the very same reasonÂ” (241, Dec. 1964). Because Baldwin could strike this rhetorical balance, Playboy was encouraged to continue to rely on him as its Â“faceÂ” of the Civil Rights Movement. This rhetorical balance is exemplified in BaldwinÂ’s Â“Dialog in Black and WhiteÂ” (December 1966), a conversation with Budd Schulberg on how radicals and liberals might form a coalition. Liberals, both black and white, focused on a more superficial freedom for the individual; some liberals tended to ignore the various forces of oppression and viewed racial integration and consumption as markers of freedom.
156 Playboy promoted a very particular political orientation, rather than something more radical. Before being disillusioned by KingÂ’s assassination, Baldwin als o seemed to promote a liberal understanding of racial equality. But in this dialog, he functions more as a liaison between liberals and radicals. A white liberal, Schulberg obtained Na tional Education for the Humanities funding to establish the Watts Writers Workshop, a program for high school dropouts in underprivileged communities following the 1965 Watts riots. While praiseworthy, SchulbergÂ’s work still represented a white liberal a genda because he used funds from the national government to endow a particular kind of a freedomÂ—education. Playboy sought out Â“big namesÂ” like Schulberg to discuss race (Wyer 141). SchulbegÂ’s relationship with Baldwin is one that Â“included fervent agreement and fier ce disagreementÂ” (279, Dec. 1966). Known for his community outreach and being on Â“liberal-interracial side,Â” SchulbergÂ’s dialog with Baldwin centers on t he role white liberals can play in the cause for civil rights. The dialog raises key issue s, such as African AmericanÂ’s rising skepticism toward the role progressive whites can pla y in fight for racial equality. As a white progressive, Schulberg was perturbed by D ick Gregory dismissing his liberal support at the 1964 Democratic Convention. Schulberg turned to Baldwin for explanations regarding the growing hatred of Â“whitey.Â” Playboy spent years promoting its liberal image, and publishing this dialog between Schulberg and Ba ldwin bolsters this image. Throughout this provocative, although fruitless, conversati on, Baldwin Â“refused to concede that blacks had any need of white liberal supportÂ” (Wye r 141). The split between the radicalliberal alliance foreshadows the immi nent changes of the Civil Rights Movement, and this dialog becomes integral primary material regarding this pivotal moment.
157 Baldwin negotiates between the Black Nationalist movements and white libera l concerns, while defending the criticism offered by Black Nationalists. Many leaders of Black Power movements viewed Baldwin as anachronistic. Middle-aged, gay, and associated with KingÂ’s non-violent program, Baldwin had a love-hate relationship w ith movements like the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Cultural critic Cheryl Clark shows how Baldwin did not fit into the political view of the Black Power Movement. The Â“marked resurgence of radical black consciousnessÂ” included the rejecti on of WASP American values, repudiation of homosexuality, and the embrace of nationalist, separatist, Pan Africanist sentiments (qtd. in Field 462). The potent masculinit y of the Black Panther Party contained an intolerant attitude towards weakness; it deni ed leadership opportunities to women, homosexuals, and those who aligned themselves with non-aggression. To be a member, much less a leader, in the movement, one had to be heterosexual, virile, and young. Henry Lois Gates, Jr. notes that as a older homosex ual, and an intellectual who befriended white liberals like Schulberg, Baldwin Â“wa s now a favorite target of for the new cutting edgeÂ” (qtd. in Field 462). According to Gates, Â“Baldwin bashing was almost a rite of initiationÂ” for the younger member s of the more violent civil rights movements (qtd. in Field 466). As leaders, like Eldridge Clea ver, and writers, such as Ishmael Reed, dismissed Baldwin as a Â“bootlickerÂ” kowtow ing to the white liberals, Baldwin never Â“fired backÂ” (Field 466). Rather, in Â“Dialog i n Black and White,Â” Baldwin admits that he Â“can understand the appeal of the black power to young black people who have felt their identity crushed and denied in a world of white powerÂ” (286, Dec. 1966). Deeply disillusioned by the recent assassinations of Dr. Mar tin Luther King, Jr. and bombings of churches, Baldwin seems to have become more committed to
158 radical change. Baldwin previously promoted humanityÂ’s potential for love as major element for the Civil Rights Movement, but, after being disillusioned, Baldwin calls for new tac tics. For example, in response to SchulbergÂ’s questions about which side he is on, separatist or integrationist, Baldwin suggests that he will side with the separatists, if radical alterations are not made to the structure of Â“all our institutions in the direction of a great er freedom, recognizing that the Negro is an integral part of this nation, has also paid for it wi th his blood, and is here to stayÂ” (287, Dec. 1966). Baldwin tells Schulberg that the United States is Â“trapped in a massive moral contradictionÂ…we will perish if we ca nnot resolve itÂ” (287, Dec. 1966). He rails against the conflict in Vietnam as a fight for freedom because freedom Â“is precisely what Americans fear mostÂ” (287, Dec. 1966). Baldw in even reiterates W.E.B. Du BoisÂ’ criticism of Booker T. WashingtonÂ’s educ ation programs: being Â“toilet trained and know[ing] how to use a showerÂ” is not Â“by some miracle of transcendence, able to free millionsÂ” (287, Dec. 1966). Baldwin argues that fede ral progress is not enough because Â“from where [he sits], and from where [his] brothers a re huddling tonight in their black ghettos from Boston to San Diego, we canÂ’t wait for la ws that take so long to pass and then so much longerÂ—it seems foreverÂ—to enforce. WeÂ’re ready now. WeÂ’ve been ready for generationsÂ” (279, Dec. 1966). Like the above respons e on federal progress, Baldwin redefines what Schulberg sees as the African American problem into the white liberal problem; he forces the majority race to review the damage and destruction it causes, converting African Americans from victims to c itizens with waning patience. Through BaldwinÂ’s radicalized rhetoric, he maintains a friendly dialog with
159 Schulberg. In Â“Dialog,Â” BaldwinÂ’s word choice and tone begins to more closely r esemble the persuasive language used by other radicals, such as Bobby Seale. Hinting at the violence on the horizon, Baldwin calmly answers SchulbergÂ’s questions, and they only each interrupt each otherÂ’s retorts seven different times. Baldwin often begins many of his responses with friendly nicknames or Â“baby;Â” for instance, when Schulberg poignantly asks Baldwin Â“which side are you on, Elijah MuhammadÂ’s side or what you call my sloppy liberal-interracial side?Â”, Baldwin replies with Â“Baby donÂ’t lay that on meÂ” (279, Dec. 1966). Using Â“baby,Â” could also be a rhetorical move, evoking the term Â“boyÂ” that a white male would have used when addressing Baldwin. The combination of heightened rhetoric and calm tone makes this a friendly dialog that white Playboy readers can listen in on. Gates claims that Baldwin more Â“carefully craftedÂ” his voi ce in his essays, which Â“came to represent his official voiceÂ…of the public intellectual, J ames BaldwinÂ” (qtd. in Field 466). Extremely sensitive about the younger generation Â’s attacks, Baldwin had to reexamine his place in the Civil Rights Movements. PlayboyÂ’s Â“Dialog in Black and WhiteÂ” presents this voice, a balance between radical reformist, f iery intellectual, and friend of willing whites. Publishing Â“DialogÂ” affords Playboy the chance to build its liberal base and provide its white, liberal readers the logic be hind the more militant Civil Rights Movements. While Playboy continually stressed Baldwin in content regarding racial equality, it never mentions his sexuality. In its December 1962 Â“On the SceneÂ” Baldwin expos, Playboy glosses over the authorÂ’s sexuality. Below a flattering picture of Baldw in are details regarding his self-imposed exile, return to America, and his publica tions to date. Editors suggest that Baldwin creates a Â“dark and desolate novelistic wast elandÂ” in which
160 Â“men and women wallow in suspicious, fear, hate and lust, searching helplessly f or a sanctuaryÂ” because he himself is wallowing (126, Dec. 1962). Yet, they do not fully disclose why he is wallowing. As a gay, black man in post-war America Baldwin felt the urge to flee. In Â“Revisiting Madeleine and Â‘The OutingÂ’: James BaldwinÂ’s Revision of GideÂ’s Sexual Politics,Â” Jerome de Romanet claims that Â“very little at tention has been paidÂ” to the sexual nature of BaldwinÂ’s self-imposed exile (3). Romanet argues t hat BaldwinÂ’s exile was Â“as much concerned with issues of critical and racia l affirmation and identity as with the private aspects of his emerging sense of sexual emancip ationÂ” (4). Playboy editors support RomanetÂ’s claims by mentioning that Baldwin Â“deserted race conscious America for race-tolerant FranceÂ” and being mute on the homosexual persecution that also propelled his self-exile (126). And while BaldwinÂ’s sex uality was public knowledge, editors never mention it in in-house introductions or book reviews. In place of BaldwinÂ’s sexuality, editors consistently remind readers about his bestseller status and cultural fameÂ—by the time he wrote Â“The Uses of the Blues ,Â” The Fire Next Time had been a bestseller for almost a year, and Baldwin was Â“busy shepherding his play, Blues for Mr. Charlie, toward its Broadway openingÂ” (2, March 1965). Editors remind readers of his elevated fame: Â“nearly everyone has come to know the nam es James Baldwin, Dr. Martin Luther King and even Ralph EllisonÂ” (24, March 1965). Besides Playboy multiple magazines devoted many pages to Baldwin. As the mid-sixties approached, Baldwin commanded an incredible amount of public interest. John Stevenson states that, during this time, he Â“lit up the cultural landscape like a bolt fr om the heavensÂ—a prophet of the decadeÂ’s black liberation struggle who became one of the most widely read African-American writers in this countryÂ’s historyÂ” (2). In May 1963,
161 Time featured him on the cover, and Life did a nine-page spread. His interviews were reprinted in magazines as wide-ranging as Encounter, Essence, Opera News, and Transatlantic Review. Coupled with his interviews, Baldwin published four essay collections, two novels, one collection of short stories, and one play during the sixties. PlayboyÂ’s silence regarding BaldwinÂ’s sexuality, in favor of his fame, evidences PlayboyÂ’s reliance on authors who have already gained cultural currency. Playboy also ignores BaldwinÂ’s sexuality during the Civil Rights Movement because it does not want to undermine his authority as its racial spokesman. Simil arly, Time magazine manipulated BaldwinÂ’s public persona so as to not alienate its large, whit e audience. In its 1963 cover spread, Time describes Baldwin as Â“nervous, slight, almost fragile figure filled with frets and fearsÂ” and characterizes him as Â“a sweet, exotic black boy who cries for his mother,Â” in order to suggest that Baldwin Â“is not threatening to it s white readershipÂ” (Field 461). Unlike Time magazine, which alludes to BaldwinÂ’s sexuality by emphasizing his Â“effeminateÂ” manners, Playboy highlights his anger. For instance, in an Â“After HoursÂ” book review of Another Country, Baldwin is described as an author intent on Â“articulatingÂ” the rage of Â“country full of fury and tormentÂ” ( 47, March 1964). Editors even compare Baldwin to the militant LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)Â—besides being Â“angryÂ” men, both were intently discussed and admire d in postwar literary circles (137, Feb 1965). The constant references to his anger, coupled with silence on his sexuality, helps to create the stereotypical image of an ang ry, black manÂ— exactly the image Baldwin warns against in HentoffÂ’s report. Rather than conne cting Baldwin with his sexuality or his homosexual characters, editors depicted Ba ldwin as the fiery intellectual so as to not alienate PlayboyÂ’s heterosexual audience. Ignoring
162 references to BaldwinÂ’s Â“Martin Luther QueenÂ” nickname, Playboy could concurrently continue its crusade for heterosexuality and racial equality. PlayboyÂ’s refusal to mention BaldwinÂ’s sexuality was very much in line with his own insistence that sexuality was a personal matter. Both the magazine and the author assumed that matters of race took precedence over BaldwinÂ’s sexuality; B aldwin and Playboy Â“steer[ed]Â” readers away from his homosexuality and his charactersÂ’ se xuality. Baldwin claimed that his sexuality was Â“very personal, absolutely personal. It was really a matter between [him] and GodÂ” (qtd. in Field 459). Rejecting labels such as homosexual, gay, or bisexual, Baldwin never Â“adopted a publicly homosexual persona or the stance of a gay activist during his lifetimeÂ” (Romanet 4). In an intervi ew with Richard Goldstein, Baldwin states that the word gay Â“has always rubbed [him] t he wrong way. [He] never understood exactly what is meant by itÂ” (13). When Goldstein pr essed Baldwin to categorize his sexuality, he responded with: Â“I didnÂ’t have a word for i t. The only one I had was homosexual and that didnÂ’t quite cover whatever it was I was beginning to feelÂ” (13). Baldwin was also suspicious of the gay movement (Field 458). Donald Gibson claims that his Â“attitude toward homosexuality is decidedly cri ticalÂ” (qtd. in Field 458). These revelations are made more complex by BaldwinÂ’s Â“so f earlessly and tirelesslyÂ” addressing homosexuality in his fiction (Field 458). Romanet divide s BaldwinÂ’s oeuvre into the public realm of his essays and lectures and the private realm of his fiction; the supposed private space of his fiction afforded Baldwin the opportunit y to explore sexuality (8). Douglas Field touches on the irony that Baldwin Â“used the very public forum of the novelÂ” to explore what he considered very private matters (459). Most likely, the novel form offered Baldwin some distance from his audience and
163 partially liberated him from a potentially hostile audience. Jerome de Manet r easonably claims that Baldwin reserved his public voice of racial spokesperson for his essa ys and lectures because they were a direct reflection of his role in the Civil Right s Movements (Field 459). Field takes ManetÂ’s observations further by suggesting that Bal dwinÂ’s audience awareness and sensitivity to criticism of his fictional charac ters kept him from divulging information regarding his private sexualityÂ—he simply did not want to m ake readers uncomfortable with his sexuality because then they might not accept his s tance on racial equality. Applying both ManetÂ’s and FieldÂ’s observation to BaldwinÂ’s c hoice to distance himself from public discussions of sexuality can help to explain why Playboy editors were silent on his sexuality. The magazine needed a non-threatening spokesperson to bolster its stance on racial equality, and, even if readers were aware of BaldwinÂ’s sexuality, silence was in the interest of both the author and the empire Hefner never considered himself homophobic, and he viewed PlayboyÂ’s Â“healthy heterosexualityÂ” as an antidote to the gender confusion plaguing Cold War Am erica (Watts 113). According to Elden SellorsÂ’ memoir, HefnerÂ’s Â“thirst for sex ual experience became so strongÂ…he even had a one-time homosexual encounterÂ” (Watts 59). But for Playboy to fulfill its grand narrative properly, it had to stress heterosexual sex. Promoting a healthier attitude towards sex in Cold War America often forc ed Playboy to keep within certain bounds; for instance, Playboy Â“appealed for a more sympathetic consideration of homosexualityÂ” by taking the Â“more progressive position that a Â‘sicknessÂ’ formulation should be droppedÂ” (Watts 215). However, in the Â“Playboy Philosophy,Â” Hefner still encouraged homosexuals to seek therapeutic help because homosexuality was still Â“deviantÂ” from the norm. It was not until the 1970s that Playboy
164 specifically addressed homosexuality, with a panel of eleven contributors. A nd in the 1980s, with the end of the Cold War in sight, Playboy finally turned its attention to Â“the world of sexual identityÂ—possibly the most important factor in determining the differences in our changing sexual stylesÂ” (126, May 1983). PlayboyÂ’s gradual change to identifying a sexuality that deviates from the norm parallels the societ al focus on identity politics. A few years later, Playboy published BaldwinÂ’s philosophical critique of sexual identity, Â“Freaks and the American Ideal of ManhoodÂ” (January 1985). BaldwinÂ’s non fiction essay is the Â“most explicit statement regarding his sexual comi ng-of-age and his most rigorous histroico-sociological genealogy of the customs and norms surrounding American sexualityÂ” (Lombardo 41). Baldwin does deal with homosexuality in two earlier essays, Â“The Preservation of InnocenceÂ” (1949) and Â“The Male Pr isonÂ” (1954); however, in these essays, he avoids discussion of his own sexuality and claims, in Â“The Male Prison,Â” that author Andre GideÂ’s homosexuality Â“was his own affair whic h he ought to have kept hidden from us, or if he needed to be so explicit, he ought to have managed to be a little more scientificÂ…less illogical, less romanticÂ” (Baldwin 128). The fact that BaldwinÂ’s first non-fictional foray into his homosexuality was pub lished in Playboy suggests that, by the close of the Cold War, both the author and the empire were more comfortable with deviating from their normal patterns. Similar to his earlier Playboy contribution on race, Baldwin deployed specific rhetorical tactics in Â“Freaks and the American Ideal of Manhood.Â” For instance he begins slowly, as he did in Â“The Uses of Blues,Â” by defining androgyny, and he conf lates questioning sexual identity with larger, universal acts of drinking, breaking br ead, or
165 making love (149-150, Jan. 1985). Baldwin very clearly states, Â“The American ideal ... of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American ideal of masculinity. This i dea has created cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, punks and studs, tough guys and softies, butch and faggot, black and whiteÂ” (192, Jan. 1985). To help ground the reader in his logic, Baldwin references ancient and more recent history, as well as Sig mund Freud, Karen Horney, Carl Jung, and Wilhelm Reich. He blends notions of racism with heterosexism, connecting oppressive patriarchal systems (258, Jan. 1985). To avoid alienating his heterosexual audience, Baldwin employs anecdotal evidence, uses Â“ weÂ” throughout the essay, and states that Â“[t]here is nothing more boring, anyway, t han sexual activity as an end to itselfÂ” (260, Jan. 1985). He goes so far as to suggest that Â“a g reat many people who came out of the closet should reconsider,Â” and he questions popular cultural figures like Boy George (260, Jan. 1985). For Baldwin, conceptions of manhood are embedded in social constructions, like race. Baldwin even returns to his adage regarding the sanctity of children; he is deeply concerned that the Amer ican boy will never be allowed to Â“evolve into the complexity of manhoodÂ” (192, Jan. 1985). These rhetorical techniques mimic the ones used for his earlier diatribes on race rel ations. Baldwin was careful to not estrange his audience in both his earlier essays on race and this later essay on sexuality; his overall attack on capitalism and the st ructures of the American middle-class challenge PlayboyÂ’s call for conspicuous consumption. In Â“James BaldwinÂ’s Philosophical Critique of Sexuality,Â” Marc Lombardo argues that B aldwin Â“tailoredÂ” his message in Â“FreaksÂ” for the Playboy audience (41). Lombardo says that Â“instead of telling an audience what they (sic) wanted to hear, Baldwin alw ays seemed to tell them what they (sic) did not want but, rather, needed to hearÂ” (41, emphasis original).
166 Lombardo champions Baldwin for asking Playboy readers to recognize their own androgynous counterpart, as well as the connections between sexual identity, ra cism, and the development of capitalism. According to Tim Libretti, BaldwinÂ’s sexual identity is Â“part of a complex, yet single or unified history, and must be understoodÂ…as shaped historically by the system of racial patriarchal capitalismÂ” (159). C ombining LombardoÂ’s and LibrettiÂ’s observations regarding BaldwinÂ’s Â“Freaks and the Amer ican Ideal of ManhoodÂ” proves that Baldwin ultimately argues that AmericaÂ’s socioecon omic system enslaved its citizens. What both Lombardo and Libretti fail to acknowledge is how t his argument complicates why Playboy published BaldwinÂ’s contributions. BaldwinÂ’s condemnation of capitalism undermines PlayboyÂ’s push to purchase more goods. For instance, in his earlier essays on race, Baldwin condemns the gentrification of cities and refuses to be mollified by statistics claiming African Americans a re better off because they can purchase more goods. In Â“Freaks,Â” he traces the exigencies of sexua lity to the Industrial Revolution, when Â“for the first time in human history, a man was reduced not merely to a thing but to a thing the value of which was determined, absolutely, by that thingÂ’s commercial valueÂ” (192, Jan. 1985). Embedded between advertisements for menswear, technological fare, and liquor, BaldwinÂ’s essays illustrate t he irreducible gap between an AmericanÂ’s lived experience and the societal ideal. Baldwin in the Cold War The intricate relationship between Playboy and Baldwin can best be understood when contextualized within the Cold War. Playboy owes its success to Cold War redefinitions of sexuality and space. Likewise, much of BaldwinÂ’s work Â“illumi natesÂ” the Cold WarÂ’s confining racial and sexual boundaries (Field 90). He can be and shoul d
167 be, considered a Cold War writer. Some scholars, such as Stephen Whitfield, do not associate Baldwin with the Cold War; Whitfield argues, in The Culture of the Cold War, that the Â“trajectoryÂ” of BaldwinÂ’s works Â“was unaffected by Cold War dem andsÂ” (14). But a simple glance at the span of BaldwinÂ’s literary career suggests that his work was directly responding to Cold War concernsÂ—Baldwin was a prolific writer from April 1947, when Randall Jarrell commissioned a review of Maxim Gorki to January 1987, when Playboy published Â“To Crush the Serpent.Â” Other scholars have worked to contextualize BaldwinÂ’s writings within the Cold War; Douglas Field, in Â“ Passing as Cold War Novel: Anxiety and Assimilation in James BaldwinÂ’s GiovanniÂ’s Room, Â” Richard Corber, in Homosexuality in Cold War America, and William Spurlin, in Â“ Go Tell it On the Mountain and Cold War Tropes of National Belonging,Â” make convincing cases for why BaldwinÂ’s works need to be situated within the larger socio-historical c ontext of the mid-century. Baldwin, himself, references his Â“obsession with the McCart hy phenomenaÂ” in Â“No Name on the StreetÂ” (Baldwin Price 466). As the United StatesÂ’ rise to world power was threatened by the strength of the Soviet state, Baldwin and his wor ks represent the Â“twin domestic fears of racial integration and sexual deviance which in turn were quickly linked to Communist activityÂ” (Field 90). Baldwin exiled himself t o Paris Â“at the very momentÂ” when the United States was Â“rifeÂ” with racial anxie ties (Ferguson 234). A witness to the damaging effects of Cold War restraints, Baldwin embar ked on a self-imposed exile on 11 November 1948. A black, homosexual Baldwin was oppressed by the ceaseless racism and sexual discrimination of the Cold War United States space (Ferguson 233). For instance barred from New York City restaurants, Baldwin felt deliberately Â“beatenÂ” down: Â“The whole
168 society has sought to make you nothingÂ” (qtd. in Ferguson 233). Baldwin specificall y condemns the actions of the FBI, who accosted him in 1945 and began his extensive file in 1951. Baldwin concludes that the FBI Â“frightened [him], and they humiliated [him]Â—it was like being spat on, or pissed on, or gang-rapedÂ” (qtd. in Field 90). BaldwinÂ’s FB I file grew to over 1,700 pages and it erroneously categorized him as a supporter of Soviet-style communismÂ—a professed anti-Stalinist, Baldwin had become a Trotsky ite during World War II (Wallace 296, Ferguson 239). Douglas Field claims that Baldwi nÂ’s FBI surveillance in American and in France Â“points to a wider connection between the bureauÂ’s monitoring of racial progress and the ways in which early civil right s achievements were connected to subversive political activityÂ” (Field 91). The mid-fifties Â“witnessed a sharp redrawing of racial boundariesÂ” and a Â“horror of racial a malgamationÂ” that deeply divided the country, forcing people and parties to decide on either segrega tion or desegregation (Field 91). In the post-war, the connection between racial equali ty and political subversion was reinforced. While embattled against communism, the United States government had to project the illusion of progress on civil rights issues, all the while reassurin g Southern Congressmen that it would not uphold federal ruling to desegregate Â“with all delibera te speed.Â” Both Baldwin and Playboy were known for promoting desegregation. Their very relationship complements Arthur DavisÂ’ 1955 predictions that after desegregation Â“ the Negro will move permanently into full participation in American lifeÂ—social economic, political, and literaryÂ” (qtd. in Field 95). But both Playboy and Baldwin knew that full immersion would hardly be speedy. Hefner continued to face obstacles with his Â“colorblindÂ” policy. When the New Orleans Playboy clubs barred Africans Americans
169 from entering, Hefner had to buy back the franchised club in order to regain control. And Baldwin acknowledged that full participation would not be possible unless drastic changes were made to all institutional structures, especially economic one s (Baldwin Â“The UsesÂ” 126). In response to seemingly ridiculously arguments regarding a hu rried integration, Baldwin composed fictional works with all white characters, as well as works that fused black and white cultures. BaldwinÂ’s white cast of characters helps to illustrate the strict maint enance of boundaries that coincided with Cold War containment strategies. Around 1953, Baldwin wrote two works with all white characters, GiovanniÂ’s Room and Â“The Man Child.Â” After publication of GiovanniÂ’s Room scholars and civil rights advocates, like Langston Hughes, Robert Bone, and Richard Wright, criticized Baldwin for disregarding his race while writing GiovanniÂ’s Room. For instance, Hughes claimed that his white characters represented the integration that would Â“RUIN Negro businessÂ—as it apparently threatened to ruin the finest young writer of fiction in the raceÂ” (qtd. in Fiel d 95). In The Negro Novel in America, Bone Â“lambastesÂ” GiovanniÂ’s Room for its Â“bleachedÂ” characters (qtd. in Field 95). More recently, scholars, like Yasmin Degout a nd Dwight McBride, commend Baldwin for creating complex representations of individuals regardless of race. The white characters in GiovanniÂ’s Room and Â“The Man ChildÂ” makes BaldwinÂ’s Â“racial identityÂ…textually ambiguousÂ” (Field 95). Thi s narrative technique can be compared to his Playboy contributions, in which he adopts Â“racially interchangingÂ” pronouns to better connect with his audience (Field 95). From t his stance, Baldwin acts as a Â“witness,Â” exploring the United StatesÂ’ contradictions re garding race relations (Miller 337). For instance, when Baldwin discusses ghettos in Â“Di alog,Â” he
170 critiques government branches for simultaneously subsidizing suburbia via the Servicemen's Readjustment Bill of 1944 and deterring African American hom eownership via redlining. And when Baldwin talks about war, in Â“The Uses of Blues,Â” he quest ions why the same African American soldiers who fought for Â“freedomÂ” in fore ign wars are not afforded certain freedoms at home. In his essays and fiction, especially his Â“racelessÂ” works, Baldwin interchanges pronouns, in order to illuminate the Â“contradictions betwee n the United StatesÂ’ liberal-democratic claims and its practicesÂ” (Fe rguson 256). Hughes Â“bemoansÂ” BaldwinÂ’s fused perspective, suggesting his writing is Â“someho w bastardizedÂ—neither white nor blackÂ” (Field 95-96). However, employing these narrative techniques permits Baldwin to comment on Cold War concerns regarding rac e, as well as other power relationsÂ—namely sexuality. Cold War concerns regarding sexuality are rooted in World War IIÂ’s gro wing, visible homosexual community. As Baldwin began to explore his sexuality in the new institutions of the gay bar, Hugh Hefner was expanding his sexual encounters through experimentation, stag parties, and swinging. Alfred KinseyÂ’s scientific reports provoked post-war redefinitions of sexuality, which both Baldwin and Hefner exploited. During the Cold War, a national discourse that championed the nuclear family, fostered capi talist means of production, and challenged the spread of communism negated the recently emerged homosexual subculture, in favor of a universal-heterosexual culture. T his universal-heterosexual culture ultimately Â“construct[ed] the liberal cit izen-subject of the United States as implicitly masculine and heterosexualÂ” (Ferguson 234). E ven if it did not endorse marriage or the nuclear family, Playboy participated in this masculinity discourse by disseminating strictly heterosexual editorial content. Baldwi n, on the other
171 hand, promoted complex representations of sexuality in his fiction and threatened the national narrative that privileged heterosexual masculinity. BaldwinÂ’s Another Country, for example, contains characters, such as Rufus, who exist on a hetero-homosexua l continuum; Rufus has intimate sexual relationships with both male and female charac ters. Or, consider David, the white, athletic, virile narrator of GiovanniÂ’s Room, whose guilt over his homosexual acts causes him to engage in heterosexual relationships. David disrupts Cold War notions of heterosexual masculinity simply by having the abili ty to Â“passÂ” for straight. As the Lavender Scare unfolded, the homosexual who could pass as straight became associated with threats to the nationÂ’s security. Supposedly homosexuals had the potential to infiltrate straight communities and convert patriots into Comm unists. Like the discriminated against African American, the figure of the homosex ual often equated to the subversive. As a gay, civil rights activist, Baldwin posed a dual thr eat. For instance, in the margins of BaldwinÂ’s FBI civil rights file, Hoover refe rred to his Â“deviantÂ” sexuality by scribbling Â“IsnÂ’t James Baldwin a well-known perver t?Â” (qtd. in Field 90). Hoover (the ultimate voyeur) was suspicious of both BaldwinÂ’s race and sexuality. Arthur SchlesingerÂ’s correlations between the homosexual and subver sive activity reveal larger Cold War concerns of policing the porous boundaries of race a nd sex. Baldwin exploited these boundaries in his fiction by creating complex chara cters that often split Cold War dichotomies of black/white, straight/gay, and American/ subversive. Addressing the hegemonic discourses of masculinity in his fiction and non-fiction, Baldwin reveals that the Cold War crisis of masculinity can be viewed as a crisis of heterosexual, white masculinity. Post-World War II, the United States inve sted in white masculinity through subsidizing education, relocating women to the domestic realm
172 replacing African Americans workers with white veterans, and expanding the Â“greatÂ” middle-class. This subsidized, white masculinity was in crisis Â“almost from its inceptionÂ” (Taylor 73). Responding to pressures of corporate, consumer, and domestic culture, some white men began to Â“feel ambivalent about whitenessÂ” (Taylor 97). As the white working class Â“rejected those aspects of themselves that they believed indi cated their low originsÂ—dirt, physicality, sexuality, labor,Â” racism between whites and bla cks increased (Taylor 72). According to Douglas Taylor, white workers Â“repressed and p rojectedÂ” those unwanted aspects Â“onto the bodies of black men and womenÂ” (Taylor 72). At any other time in United States history, this repression and projection might not have cause d a crisis. But because the Cold War era was increasingly concerned with culti vating an image of freedom and opportunity, the Â“contradictory desire to expel blacks from, a nd incorporate blacks into, the Â‘mainstreamÂ’Â” wreaked havoc on whiteness (Taylor 72). The effects of this havoc have been noted by cultural critics, such as David Riesman, Theodore Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse. One major effect of this crisis was that s ome white men began to view themselves as victims because they lost their place in the societal hierarchy. In Taking it Like a Man, David Savran Â“traces the genealogy of the fantasy of the white male as victimÂ” to the 1950s (4). Playboy r esponded to this sense of crisis by presenting a particular brand of white masculinityÂ—one that was v ictimized by the feminization of America, as well as pressured to conform to organizations and domestication. Playboy adopted the rhetoric of crisis and victimization to appease its mainly white, middle-class target market. According to Â“Meet the Playboy ReaderÂ” advertising
173 campaigns, young, white men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four made up about 75 percent of the magazineÂ’s readership (qtd. in Fraterrigo (68). Baldwin gent ly pushed back against this victimization in his Playboy contributions. In an attempt to move closer to some form of racial reconciliation, Baldwin used narrative tec hniques to renegotiate homosocial relations between black men and white men. But as noted in Â“Dialog,Â” BaldwinÂ’s vision of racial reconciliation does not come easilyÂ— in fact, it contained a sense of rebellion. White men wishing to rebel against Â“de-ethicnicized, classless, hyperrati onal whitenessÂ” turned to alternative models of masculinity (Taylor 73). Playboy offered one available alternative for the white, middle-class male desiring more tha n the utilitarian goals of the nuclear family. The Beat Generation offered yet another. And, for some white males, African Americans represented a viable masculinity beca use of their association with sex and the body (Taylor 73). Savran claims Â“oppressedÂ” white m ales sought refuge in Norman MailerÂ’s hipster. In Â“The White Negro,Â” first publ ished in Dissent in 1957, Mailer suggests that the white masculinity crisis was produced by the threat of assured nuclear annihilation. Emerging from this bleak future was a hi pster: a hybrid, white figure who absorbed the supposedly essential elements of Afric an Americans, such as the Â“libidinal drives of the bodyÂ” and living in, and for, the moment (Taylor 76). Like BaldwinÂ’s use of interchanging pronouns or fused black and white characters, MailerÂ’s hipster is racially united: he is a white male who has Â“been coupledÂ” to an African American Â“by means of a Â‘weddingÂ’ in which Â‘it was the Negr o who brought the cultural dowryÂ’Â” (Savran 50). In his Â“admiration and desire for blackness,Â” Mailer romanticizes African Americans similarly to the ways Ke rouac romanticizes his
174 fellaheen characters (Taylor 76). But rather than praise for the lack of materiality or a connection to the earth, Mailer praises African AmericanÂ’s supposedly aut hentic and primitive sexuality (Mailer 10). Because of a desired coupling with the ero ticized black body, the hipster becomes the most controversial alternative model of masculinity t o emerge mid-century. Clearly a product of the moment, MailerÂ’s white negr o embodies Cold War anxieties by disrupting racial and gendered norms. In Â“The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy,Â” Baldwin responds to MailerÂ’s Â“The White NegroÂ” by illuminating the hipsterÂ’s homoerotic nature and confining ge nder role. Baldwin condemns MailerÂ’s portrait of the African American as hypermas culinized. He suggests that Mailer has stereotyped African Americans as a Â“wal king phallic symbolÂ” (217). Baldwin questions why the African American body has to be eroticized Â“ in order to justify the white manÂ’s own sexual panic?Â” (230). Yet, Baldwin ultimate ly fails to Â“disentangleÂ” himself Â“from the masculinist premisesÂ” he critiques in M ailerÂ’s essay (Taylor 80). For instance, in Â“The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy,Â” Baldwi n deploys two contradictory tropes of masculinity: an endless hall of mirrors and a boxing match. In the endless hall of mirrors, Â“white men desire the imagined emotional wholene ss of blacks, and black men yearn for the wealth and security that white men scornÂ” (Ta ylor 85). In the boxing match metaphor, both white and black men square off, each Â“attempting to affirm his masculinities at the otherÂ’s expenseÂ” (Taylor 80). Besides the common association of Mailer with boxing, the pugilist trope makes readers awar e of performative nature of both gender and race. For instance, Baldwin describes t heir first encounter in France, with each author trapped in their respective roles: To proceed: two lean cats, one white and one black, met in a French living
175 room. I had heard of him, he had heard of me. And here we were, suddenly, circling around each other. We liked each other at once, but each was frightened that the other would pull rank. He could have pulled rank on me because he was white; but I could have pulled rank on him precisely because I was black and knew more about the periphery he so helplessly maligns in Â“The White NegroÂ” than he could ever hope to know. Already, you see, we were trapped in our roles and attitudes: the toughest kid on the block was meeting the toughest kid on the block. (290-91) The intensities needed to fulfill these Â“tough-guyÂ” roles must be tiring. B aldwin claims that continually playing the hyper-masculine role is Â“always extremel y hardÂ—to maintain a kind of watchful, mocking distance between oneself as one appears to be and oneself as one actually isÂ” (290). Besides being tiring, gender performance also limit s the roles one can play. And because Baldwin was so intent on the individual, as opposed to the universal, he does not want to be limited by any restraints. For example, he admits that he envies MailerÂ’s success, youth, and love; he even says that they liked each other, emotions that would not be possible if he always had to play the Â“toughest kid on the blockÂ” role. In his response to Mailer, Baldwin exposes how both popular authors have dealt with confining gender roles that dictate sexuality. The dialog that exists between BaldwinÂ’s Â“The Black BoyÂ” and MailerÂ’s Â“The White NegroÂ” can shed light on BaldwinÂ’s complex relationship with Playboy. Obviously, Mailer cannot stand in for the entirety of PlayboyÂ’s editorial content, but he can stand in for its narrative of both the virile and victimized white male. Like MailerÂ’s Â“The White Negro,Â” the internal logic of the magazine reiterated gender and sexual constructs, playing up the divisions between men and women, homoand heterosexual. BaldwinÂ’s Playboy contributions resisted an uncritical embrace of these gender and
176 sexual constructs. From Â“The Uses of the BluesÂ” to Â“The Man Child,Â” Baldwi n tries to show Playboy readers that everyone, not just white males, is victimized by the limiting experience of these social constructions. Baldwin employs similar techni ques in his response to Mailer as he does in his Playboy contributions. Baldwin approaches Mailer with his concerns regarding his eroticization of the African American the sa me way he presents his concerns about racism to the Playboy readerÂ—carefully. For example, even though the boxing metaphor reinscribes stereotypes of masculinity, he adopts it because it is familiar for his readers. Just like he defines the blues in Â“The Uses of the Blues,Â” Baldwin clearly defines his perspective, Â“as a black boy from the Harlem s treetsÂ” in Â“The Black Boy.Â” Baldwin reassures readers that his reference to Mailer Â“as a middle-class JewÂ” is not a form of anti-Semitism. Rather, Baldwin introduces the issue of et hnicity and class because he is interested in the ways they Â“overlap,Â” in regard to ma sculinity (Taylor 79). He even suggests that he can Â“understandÂ” Mailer because of their similar professions. And, when Baldwin admits he respects Mailer, one might be reminded of his admiration for Nat Hentoff or Bud Schulberg. As the black, gay man gazes back a t the white, straight man with respect or envy, Baldwin Â“reveals American m asculinity to be an endless hall of mirrors with white men desiring the masculinity of black men, and bla ck men desiring the wealth, freedom, and culturally endorsed confidence that come w ith white masculinityÂ” (Taylor 83). This obviously intricate relationship, betwe en a black and white man, is like the complex relationship between Playboy and Baldwin because BaldwinÂ’s contributions are situated within PlayboyÂ’s didactic narrative for its white audience. BaldwinÂ’s non-fiction works on race remind readers that blackness is not an essence to be desired or feared; it is a process, a performance, which occu rs in direct
177 relation to process, and performance, of whiteness. His fictional contributi on with an all white cast of characters offers the Playboy reader yet another model of masculinityÂ—one without clear heterosexual characters. Â“The Man ChildÂ’sÂ” Model of Masculinity Published in PlayboyÂ’s January 1966 issue, BaldwinÂ’s Â“The Man ChildÂ” provides readers with an alternative model of masculinityÂ—one that critiques PlayboyÂ’s economic and heterosexual editorial content. Literary editors also undermined their own a uthority when they published Â“The Man Child.Â” For instance, in the November 1965 issue, editors describe BaldwinÂ’s fiction as Â“abstract and lifelessÂ” in the Â“After HoursÂ” Book Review of Going to Meet the Man Going to the Meet the Man contains BaldwinÂ’s most anthologized short story, Â“Sonny Blues,Â” and PlayboyÂ’s choice for publication, Â“The Man Child.Â” Editors argue that Baldwin is a much better essayist than creative writer. He is at his Â“best when he addresses our society directlyÂ” with his Â“tender angerÂ” and Â“delicate agonyÂ” (27, 26). Apparently his essays can Â“movingly persuadeÂ” readers, but his stories Â“somehow diminishÂ” the truth Â“by imprisoning it within a metaphorÂ” (27). Speculati ng on the reasons for his disappointing collection of short stories, editors suggest that Â“perhapsÂ” Baldwin knows too much pain, too much personal tragedy, to write fiction (27). Editors conclude the review by labeling BaldwinÂ’s stories wooden and shallow only to directly contradict themselves two months later by introducing Â“The Man C hildÂ” as Â“chilling, starkly brooding story of frustration, madness, and murderÂ” in Januar yÂ’s Â“Playbill.Â” Obviously, editors could not deride their own fictional selections, but this direct contradiction reinforces Robert FogartyÂ’s accusations that Playboy Â“always followed on the heels of success rather than breaking any new groundÂ” (228). Baldw in
178 had been in the spotlight for The Fire Next Time and his bitter play, Blues for Mister Charlie Besides supporting FogartyÂ’s claims, publishing Â“The Man ChildÂ” emphasizes Chelsea BauchÂ’s statement that editors allow for more varied material in PlayboyÂ’s fictional selections; in comparison to its consistent criterion for Playmat es, Playboy is Â“far more varied when it comes to its featured fiction.Â” Â“The Man ChildÂ” offers an alternative model of masculinity, another mirror in the hall of masculinities. Â“The Man ChildÂ’sÂ” lack of critical reception reinforces Going to Meet the ManÂ’s poor commercial success, as well as PlayboyÂ’s harsh reviews. Biographer James Campbell states that the entire Dial Press collection of stories was Â“not w ell received,Â” and W.J. Weatherby suggests that critics respectfully reviewed it (qtd. in D eGout 135). Campbell goes so far as to claim that the collection might reflect Â“an actua l decline in the quality of [BaldwinÂ’s] workÂ” (qtd. in DeGout 135). Besides Â“SonnyÂ’s Blues,Â” most of the stories in Going to Meet the Man have received sparse critical attention and Â“none have been more overlooked than Â‘The Man Child.Â’Â” (DeGout 136). John Rees MooreÂ’s 1965 review, Â“An embarrassment of riches: BaldwinÂ’s Going to Meet the Man ,Â” contains a brief paragraph on the story. Moore labels Â“The Man ChildÂ” a Â“made up horror storyÂ” a nd claims that it is Â“unforgettableÂ” because the Â“flow of the feeling among t he four characters is projected with subtlety and skillÂ” (12). Nevertheless, Moore ar gues that Â“too well made well to carry conviction,Â” the story leaves readers with Â“an unple asant sensation of the authorÂ’s self-indulgenceÂ” (12). David Leeming calls Â“The Man ChildÂ” an Â“improbable tale of veiled homosexuality culminated in a childÂ’s murder at the ha nds of his fatherÂ’s best friendÂ” (qtd. in DeGout 136). Yasmin Y. DeGout fills a dearth i n critical analysis and situates the story within BaldwinÂ’s larger gend er study.
179 Â“The Man ChildÂ” contains incredible imagery, strong homoerotic bonds, and brutal treatment of women and children. The plot of the story is simple: a young eight year old, blonde boy dies at the hands of his fatherÂ’s bereaved best friend. Amidst thi s simple plot is incredible imagery which reveals startling dichotomies betwe en the urban/rural, adults/children, poor/wealthy, and men/women. For instance, BaldwinÂ’s point of departure is the sun moving from the city buildings to the country fields: Â“The city is like an experienced whore, night comes and goes in her, she is indifferent t o his approach and is left unchanged at his departureÂ—but for the countryside, it is a different matter. There night watches his opportunity, bids his time, is patient with the si lly, upbraiding sunÂ” (210, Jan. 1966). Besides exposing the differences between the city and the country, this exposition genders the city and the sun as female and the night as m ale. Baldwin applies the same vivid imagery and gender constructs to EricÂ’s fathe r. Striding tall across his many acres, EricÂ’s father is depicted as the Â“idealÂ” American male; Jamie calls him Â“the giant-killer, the hunter, the loverÂ—the real old AdamÂ” (211-212 Jan. 1966). EricÂ’s father Â“symbolizes the white, monied, ruling class,Â” and Jamie is characterized as his war companion, drinking buddy, best friend, and servant (DeGout 136). Importantly, Jamie (the best friend), Eric (the child), and Sophie (a misca rried fetus or stillborn) are the only named characters. Diminishing the identity of EricÂ’ s mother and father forces readers to focus on JamieÂ’s and EricÂ’s actions. EricÂ’s mother Â“had been captured by his fatherÂ” (22, Jan. 1966). Â“The Man ChildÂ’sÂ” narrator claims that s he Â“did not know that she was chained any more than she knew that she lived in terror of the nightÂ” (102, Jan. 1966). The narrator flashes back to when EricÂ’s mother has been Â“sent away,Â” and Â“it was said that she would never, really, be better, that she would never again
180 be as she had beenÂ” (102, Jan. 1966). She seems to only serve the men, cooking, cleaning, and laundering for both her husband and Jamie. The final description of her i s ghostly; pale and full of worry, she paces the yard calling for Eric. Her disembodied calls echo as the night covers the countryside. By the storyÂ’s end, all of the children ar e dead. EricÂ’s mother has either miscarried or birthed dead infants twice, and Eric gets strangled by Jamie. BaldwinÂ’s model of masculinity presents dour outcomes for greedy, white men whose society requires passing wealth from one generation to the nextÂ—both adult male characters end up heirless. In the story, EricÂ’s father explains to him how hi s own children will one day own the land they walk: He paused and stopped; Eric looked up at him. Â“When you get to be a big man, like your poppa, youÂ’re going to have children. And all this going to be theirs.Â” Â“And when they get married?Â” Eric prompted. Â“All this will belong to their children,Â” his father said. Â“Forever?Â” cried Eric. Â“Forever,Â” said his father. (213, Jan. 1966) When Eric asks his father if he will get married and Â“have a little boyÂ” to pas s his land to, EricÂ’s father Â“seemed for a moment both amused and checkedÂ” (213, Jan. 1966). He looks down at Eric Â“with a strange, slow smileÂ” and reassures him by replyin g, Â“Of course you willÂ” (213, Jan. 1966). Therefore, with Â“The Man Child,Â” Baldwin presents a model of masculinity that is Â“linked to broader societal ideologiesÂ” of race, c lass, and gender (DeGout 142). Â“The Man ChildÂ” helps explain how Baldwin contextualized black masculinity in the Â“most volatile decade of the Civil Rights Movement, a decade t hat witnessed the rage of Watts, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Moynihan Report, and t he inception of the Black PanthersÂ” (Shin and Judson 255). By using young, blonde Eric as
181 the storyÂ’s center of consciousness, Baldwin shows how homophobia, classism, and sexism force children into binary oppositions. EricÂ’s death Â“signals an interrupt ion in the ideology that disrupts transcendental maturityÂ” (DeGout 149). Baldwin gives Playboy readers a model of masculinities suggesting a continuum between the homosocial a nd homosexual, and Â“The Man ChildÂ’sÂ” model of masculinity seems especially criti cal of gender (males), race (white), and class (wealthy) constructs. Tru e to most reviews, this facet of the text is heavy handed, while others, like the critique of space an d sexuality, are more complex. Model of Masculinity: Space Besides being more complex than his critique of gender or race, BaldwinÂ’s comment on space is also not as thorough in Â“The Man ChildÂ” as it is in his other works. Most of BaldwinÂ’s fiction uses the city as a setting, and he often employs the city as a spatial metaphor to analyze how the confines of the ghetto force particular inter actions. Consider his works like Â“SonnyÂ’s Blues,Â” Another Country or GiovanniÂ’s Room in which the city setting exposes class discrimination and encourages sexual explora tions. In Â“The Man Child,Â” however, Baldwin replaces the city with a rural setting to crit ique the greedy accumulation of private property. He also contrasts a gendered, confining domest ic space with the great outdoors and a local dive bar, The RaftersÂ—both the great outdoors and the bar are clearly masculine spaces used as a means of escape. BaldwinÂ’s sp atial dichotomies (urban/rural; private/public) reinforce Cold War remediations of pr ivate space that allowed the government to intrude upon, and survey the actions of, subversives. BaldwinÂ’s spatial dichotomies and spaces of escape also reflect PlayboyÂ’s Cold War agenda to redefine masculine space and the search for a safe space for t he
182 urban bachelor. BaldwinÂ’s white, male characters loom over their land. Both men are farmers and sons of farmers. Eric is the only heir for the expansive farmland. When EricÂ’s f ather takes him for a long walk on JamieÂ’s birthday, he points out his expansive land: Â“Â‘You know all the way we walked, from the house?Â’ Eric nodded. Â‘Well,Â’ said his father, Â‘thatÂ’ s all your land.Â’Â” Admiring his property, EricÂ’s father puts pressure on EricÂ’s shoulder, turns him, and shows him the farmÂ’s expanse; wide-eyed, Eric asks his father where the property line ends, and his father boasts that it is too far to walk (213, Jan. 1966). As geographer Nancy Duncan claims, in Â“Sexuality in Public and Private Spaces,Â” t he space of the private farm is Â“subject to various territorializing and deterritoria lizing processes whereby local control is fixed, claimed, challenged, forfeited and privatizedÂ” (129). Walking his son through the farm is a territorializing act; EricÂ’s father fixes his claim on the farm and bequeaths it, even JamieÂ’s former property, to his son. Handing down the farm in this manner leads to EricÂ’s ultimate demise. On the day of his murder, Er ic Â“pretended that he was his fatherÂ” and walked the expanse of his land Â“pleased, knowi ng that everything he saw belonged to himÂ” (214, Jan. 1966). That day, Eric had Â“been many places, he had walked a long way and seen many thingsÂ” on his land (214, Jan. 1966). He Â“passed an apple treeÂ” and wondered if the apples Â“lying on the groundÂ…belonged to him, if he were still walking on his own land or had gone past itÂ” (214, Jan. 1966). When he returned to the farm house at his motherÂ’s beckoning, Jamie leads Eric to the barn and strangles him. As Eric struggles for breath, he whisper s Â“JamieÂ…you can have the land. You can have all the landÂ” (214, Jan. 1966). Jamie responds calmly to EricÂ’s desperate pleas: Â“Jamie spoke, but not to Eric: Â‘I donÂ’t want the
183 landÂ’Â” (214, Jan. 1966). Fearing for his life, Eric adds to his first offer, telling J amie that he can have it all: Â“if you kill my father I can be your little boy and we can have it allÂ” (214, Jan. 1966). But Jamie seems all the more intent on killing Eric after he voices t his option. Jamie gets silent, stops weeping and says directly to Eric: Â“This la ndÂ…will belong to no oneÂ” (214, Jan. 1966). Killing Eric allows Jamie to cease the cycle of privatization, and he drops Eric on the straw, Â“his yellow head useless on his broken neck,Â” and walks out into the night that covering the countryside (214, Jan. 1966). Once murdered, Eric is no longer useful in the cycle of territorializing land and with him di es the patriarchal system of inheritance. Besides rewriting the wealthy, white relationship to private land, Baldw in also critiques the gendering of space and offers his male characters an escape from the domestic realm. Hardly any of the storyÂ’s action takes indoors; even JamieÂ’s birthday is held outside of the farm house. The domestic space of the farmhouse becomes less vit al to the storyÂ’s plot. EricÂ’s mother rules the domestic space, making the farm house a n inhospitable place for the male characters because they are not in charge of this realm. For instance, when EricÂ’s mother was sent away to a either a mental instituti on or a hospital towards the end of her pregnancy, EricÂ’s father Â“rarely went into the f ieldsÂ” or Jamie moved into the farm house (213, Jan. 1966). Eric was thoroughly disturbed by this reversal of gendered space; he found it Â“unnaturalÂ” and Â“frightening to find [his f ather] around the house all day, and Jamie was always there, Jamie and his dogÂ” (213, Jan. 1966). When EricÂ’s mother returns from the hospital, she once again takes charge of the domestic realm, but the strict order of space has been upended. The adult male cha racters seem to escape more often to The Rafters, and Eric wanders off farther t han ever before,
184 pacing his new land. In Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era, Elaine Tyler May claims that some American citizens sought ways to e scape the ultracontained, confining spaces of the Cold War. May states that rural areas Â“offe red the combined appeals of escape from the threat of nuclear attack and a retreat int o a vision of old-fashioned family lifeÂ” (103). Baldwin depicts both Eric and Jamie as escapi ng, when they walk through the countryside. Â“The Man ChildÂ’sÂ” narrator states that Ja mieÂ’s wife left because he constantly strolled the farm with his dog, as opposed to being with he r in their home. For EricÂ’s father and Jamie, the escape to The Rafters mimics th e suburban malesÂ’ escape of confining, domestic spaces. Hefner often admitted that reading Playboy was one way for males to escape Cold War confines; in a 1955 interview, Hefner says that Playboy was Â“an escapist magazineÂ” because it offered Â“an imaginary escape into the world of wine, women and songÂ” ( qtd. in Watts 78). Emily Gold, in Â“Into the Wild: The 1950s Suburban MaleÂ’s Escape Tactic,Â” supports HefnerÂ’s claims that magazines Â“allowed the male reader to be an indi vidual rather than a part of the faceless and domesticated suburban massesÂ” (par. 1). Gold goes on to argue that [f]or men, there was a feeling that the domestic sphere had not only invaded, but even Â“penetratedÂ” the sphere of masculinity, and instead of men being wild, free-loving, travel and experience heavy bachelors, men were traveling to the nearby grocery store, golf course, or job. Men lost their primal selves and became domesticated. Although the veneer of men as masculine was hard fought and still in place according to Stephen Gelber, menÂ’s roles within the community and especially within the home had shifted. (par 1) MenÂ’s magazines and bars, like The Rafters, provided an escape from the daily Â“mundane,Â” as well as Â“from the traumas and identity crises sufferedÂ” by males (Baxley
185 par 1). By providing his male characters with a safe space to escape, Baldwi n censures the gendered divide between public and private spaces. Model of Masculinity: Sexuality BaldwinÂ’s critique of gendered spaces exposes the storyÂ’s focus on the homoeroti c bond between Jamie and EricÂ’s father. For instance, when EricÂ’s mother is sent a way, Jamie quickly takes her place in the farmhouse. Baldwin constantly stresses their homosocial bond. Their bond is one that cannot be broken; the two men were Â“neverÂ…to be dividedÂ” (211, Jan. 1966). Jamie admits that EricÂ’s father is the only reason he returned to the country after his own father lost his land; Jamie had Â“nothingÂ— really Â—to keep [him] here. Just all the things [he] knewÂ—all the thingsÂ— all the thingsÂ—[he] ever cared aboutÂ” (211, Jan. 1966). Because EricÂ’s father is JamieÂ’s only friend, t he italicized text suggests that EricÂ’s father is all Jamie knows, all he cares about. T heir strong bond expresses how the Â“effectÂ” of the Â“construct of manhood in the white male hegemonyÂ” has negative effects on women and children (DeGout 146). Possibly, Jamie murders Eric to assure that their bond can never be broken. When Eric pleads for his life and questions why Jamie hates his father, Jamie tells him that he Â“loves [his] fatherÂ” (214, Jan. 1966). However, there is a Â“homoerotic subtext to the homosocial bond between the two menÂ” (DeGout 136). As Jamie hints at their past experiences together, too damaging to t ell EricÂ’s mother, Baldwin characterizes EricÂ’s father in terms of much broa der sexual preferences. JamieÂ’s and EricÂ’s fatherÂ’s homoerotic bond disrupts Cold War discourses, which discriminated against any sexuality that was not clearly heterosexual. Homosexuality, in particular, is demonized. Bruce A. McConachie argues, in American Theatre in the
186 culture of the Cold War, that Â“post-war psychiatry worked hand in glove with militarization to demonize homosexualityÂ” (61). The classification of homosexua lity as a mental illness allowed government officials to present homosexuals as a threa t to national security. Regardless of KinseyÂ’s research regarding the continuum of sexual ity, anyone not strictly heterosexual also experienced discrimination. Baldwin charac terizes EricÂ’s father as existing on this continuum. For example, during JamieÂ’s birthday party, J amie asks EricÂ’s mother if he Â“ever told [her]Â…about the things we used to do?Â” (211, Jan. 1966). EricÂ’s mother admits that she doesnÂ’t want to hear about them, and EricÂ’s father quickly chimes in: Â“He wouldnÂ’t tell you anywayÂ…he knows what IÂ’d do to him if he didÂ” (211, Jan. 1966). And later, when EricÂ’s father discusses JamieÂ’s old age (34) Jamie claims that he is young enough to Â“still do all the things [they] used to doÂ” (211, Jan. 1966). The men also share exclusive moments of tenderness in between moments of aggression (210, 211, Jan. 1966). According to Eve Sedgwick, this type of interactionÂ—between the homosocial and the homoeroticÂ—draws the homosocial back into the realm of desire: Â“the potentially erotic, then, is to hypothesize the potential unbrokenness of a continuum between the homosocial and homosexualÂ—a continuum whose visibility, for men, in our society, is radically disruptedÂ” (1-2). Through their homoerotic rel ationship, Baldwin reveals the Â“political agenda that acts across the boundaries of sexua l preferenceÂ” (DeGout 146). Expressing that sexuality exists on a continuum, as oppose d to a strict dichotomy, offers Playboy readers a model of masculinity that encompasses more than a fascination with the-girl-next-door Playmate. Conclusion By publishing Â“The Man Child,Â” Playboy editors provide readers with another
187 model of masculinityÂ—one that offers sexuality on a continuum and critiques gendered spaces. BaldwinÂ’s fiction also illustrates the danger of strict dichotomi es, something his non-fiction Playboy contributions highlighted as well. When read together, the entirety of BaldwinÂ’s Playboy contributions reveal his main concernÂ—that children, African American children especially, are afforded the opportunity to grow up and out of simplistic binary oppositions (DeGout 150). His non-fiction essays on race and sexua lity, and his dialog with Bud Schulberg, all mention children. Appealing to Playboy readers, this shared concern for future generations allows Baldwin to critique aspects of PlayboyÂ’s grand narrative. PlayboyÂ’s editorial content promotes an ideal masculinity that includes heterosexuality, capitalism, and patriarchal hegemony. All of BaldwinÂ’s Playboy contributions undermine conspicuous consumption, but Playboy editors continued to publish him because his cultural currency provided Playboy with an African American correspondent on the Civil Rights Movement. And later, towards the end of the Cold War, Playboy used Baldwin as its reporter on the changing sexuality scene, when it published his Â“Freaks and the American Ideal of ManhoodÂ” in January 1985.
188 CONCLUSION Reminiscent of Baldwin's claim that the "great force of historyÂ…is lite rally present in all we do," studying Playboy as a Cold War artifact bridges the gap between Cold War historical, gender, and literary studies. More than an arms race, the Cold War wa s the emergent superpowersÂ’ struggle for governance, labor, wealth, and resources This global conflict altered, and continues to alter, the American landscape; national secur ity concerns forced permanent militarization, and the nuclear war produced intense uncertainties. Space and sexuality became sources of post-war tension, a s cultural ideology strove for homogeny. Government policy encouraged the eruption of homogenous suburbs. Organizational men drove to white-collar jobs on new highways and an exaggerated domestic ideology reminded women of their familial priorities Undiscriminating market forces offered standardized fare; McDonaldiza tion and Disneyfication promised predictable, sanitary conditions. The standardizati on from suburbs to sexuality required a tiring, constant performance on behalf of United St ates citizens. This performance, and the reactions to it, need to be studied. Cold War Playboys reinforces that "the normative characteristics of masculinityÂ—and of w hiteness, middle-classness, and AmericannessÂ—require constant culture work in order t o appear the effortless attributes of a privilege they simultaneously justify and disg uise" (Gardiner 17). Containing the normative characteristics of masculinity, as well as al l of the tendencies of the Cold War, Playboy is an appropriate site of study. Embedded in the
189 glossy pages of Playboy are the inextricably intertwined narratives of Cold War history and post-war literature. In his first editorial, Hugh Hefner reinforces the purpose of Playboy and of literature; he reminds readers that, like Playboy, literature is meant to delight and instruct. Consequently, when Playboy prints a story, it reinforces classical assumptions stated by Aristotle and Matthew Arnold. The literature of Playboy requires an analysis that no one seems to want to complete; even the most comprehensive scholarship on the trajector y of the Â“Playboy EmpireÂ” or on HefnerÂ’s biography ignores PlayboyÂ’s literary pretensions, or only provides them with a few paragraphs. This omission is striking, because, as Elizabeth Fraterriggo claims, in Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America, Playboy would not have Â“stood out from the numerous menÂ’s magazines that traded in female flesh if it had not been for the larger editorial contentÂ” (3). And because Hefner has always stated that sex Â“by itselfÂ” was never enough, the li terature in Playboy is just as, if not more, important than the Playmate centerfold. For Hefner, wooing women required being sophisticated, which meant engaging with literature. He fner claims the Â“whole idea behind Playboy was to put the two parts back together againÂ— mind and bodyÂ—that have been in conflict so long in our society. Sex, after all, is more a social than a physical experienceÂ” (qtd. in Weyr 11). Accordingly, Hefne r knew that seduction was a matter of the mind, not the body. Recently, at a Playboy mansion reunion, seventy-year-old Hefner thanked his Playmates: Â“Without you gals, without t he Playmates, IÂ’d be the publisher of a literary magazineÂ” (Corliss). Whe n PlayboyÂ’s early editors quip that Playboy would Â“die like a dogÂ” without the sex, even if it had Â“all the Nabokovs in the world,Â” they inadvertently prove the necessity of the literature, not the
190 naked playmates (Weyr 35). Thus, the literature and the sex become codependent features in Playboy. And, if seduction is a matter of the mind and not the body, it makes sense that the literature component of the magazine offers the most variety. Mont h after month, the centerfolds are all similarly posed and each has that same doe-eyed gaze, making their photo-spread more innocent than erotic. For variety, readers must t urn to the literature. Consequently, the huge amount of spaceÂ—the literal thousands of pagesÂ—which the magazine devotes to literature becomes a form of escape from the grand narrative, from PlayboyÂ’s ethos of heterosexuality, wealth, and sophistication. The literature carves out a niche, in between the calls for conspicuous consumption and the female objectification. PlayboyÂ’s literature can offer readers alternative models of masculinity. The space PlayboyÂ’s literature presides over in the magazine parallels PlayboyÂ’s reclamation of masculine space in the Â‘feminized societyÂ’ of the Cold War. Playboy Â“grounded its vision of the good life in a different kind of spaceÂ”Â—the bachelor pad (Fraterrigo 83). In 1962, it started to advertise its bachelor pads by sharing layouts and full-color spreads of PlayboyÂ’s Chicago townhouses and the Playboy penthouse; the bachelor pads promoted Â“an ultra-urban island of individualityÂ…the best of all possi ble worlds for the unattached, affluent young man happily wedded to the infinite advantage s of urbia (sic)Â” (84, 105, May 1962). With this reclamation of domestic space, Playboy attempted to Â“reaffirm male privilege and power at a time when gender boundar ies were shifting and the physical spaces of the city and the family home were being tra nsformedÂ” (Fraterrigo Â“Answer to SuburbiaÂ” 769). Editors advertised the bachelor pad as a way for men to rule a particular domain, and the bachelor pad allows men to construct Â“an
191 imagined space that served as an extensionÂ” of their constructed masculine ident ities (Fraterrigo Â“PlayboyÂ” 761). The bachelor pad was divided into two zones: the acti ve zone and the quiet zone. Editors considered the living room, dining area, and kitchen to be active, entertaining zones and the bedroom, study, and bath to be quiet zones. One might assume that a playboyÂ’s bedroom should be part of the active zone, but editors made sure that the quiet zone of the bedroom, bath, and study, were Â“private spaces within the privacy of the penthouseÂ” (Fraterrigo 91). The bedroom and the study were adjacent in the layouts, reinforcing the connection between physical and mental stimulation. One might also assume that editors would put primacy on the bedroom, but, instead, they claim the study is Â“the sanctorum, where women are seldom invited, w here [playboys] can work or read or just sit and think while gazing into the fireplaceÂ” (70) In the study, the playboy can escape from the tiring performance of his playb oy life. In the safety of his sanctorum, he can read quality, serious literature. Therefor e, PlayboyÂ’s literature offers the ultimate escape from the magazine that prides its elf on offering its own Â“imaginary escape into the world of wine, women and songÂ” (qtd. in Watts 78). As a complementary feature to the magazineÂ’s nudity, PlayboyÂ’s fiction safely provides readers with alternative images of masculinity.
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