Saturday, November 3, 2012

Turpentine Moan -- Canned Heat

You’re going to start thinking that I’m making this stuff up.  But it is true when I say that I have two dubious distinctions.  The first one is that I used to work for Playboy.  The second distinction is that I was fired from Playboy.  Now, I could continue by weaving a fable of some scandalous reason why I was fired from Playboy.  But unfortunately, I didn’t go that way.  The fact is, the real reason I got fired is so dumb it’s not actually worth telling.

Technically, I actually worked for Playboy TV in Los Angeles, not the magazine.   It was a pretty interesting place to work to say the least.  But not just for the reasons you may be imagining.  Sure hot chicks were roaming around the office frequently.  They would have casting calls every so often and the lunch area would be filled with dozens of hot chicks in bikinis or lingerie.  Also, every month someone would escort the Playmate of the Month around the office and introduce her to everyone.  One of the playmates I recall meeting was Lorenzo Lamas’ old sweetback girlfriend, Shauna Sand.

Of the people who worked at Playboy, about 50% were women and 50% were men.  But, of the male population, about 75% were gay.  I theorized that this was because management didn’t want any dingleberries working for the company hoping to get lucky with one of the playmates.  But I’m also guessing it was because gay guys have a great grasp on glamour.  And Playboy was all about glamour.

Another interesting thing about working there was the art.  Many of the original paintings commissioned for the magazine were hanging on walls everywhere, including original Leroy Neiman paintings.  There was this one Neiman piece that blew my mind.  He used his famous paint bloches to render this portrait of life at a fancy Chicago lounge from the early 60’s.  People drinking martini’s, bartenders with bowties, a jazz bassist...all created with these bloches of paint.  If I ever become a cat burglar, this painting would be my first target.

Anyway, I had two primary responsibilities at Playboy TV.  One was to schedule the programming.  I put together the schedules and disseminated the information internally and to the TV listing services.  The other duty I had was to find what they call “interstitial content.”  Basically that is a fancy word for filling in programming gaps.  For instance, if a program was scheduled for 90 minutes, but it was only 77 minutes long, then you fill the gap with “interstitial content.”

It was my job to go through the Playboy video archives and look for quality material.  I couldn’t just schedule anything.  There had to be a certain standard of erotica.  Not quite hard core porn, but it least had to have foxy naked babes and it had to have simulated sex.  It couldn’t be from some bygone era, either.  It had to be fairly modern for the time.  It couldn’t be from, say, Playboy After Dark programs from the late 60’s or something like that.  

Which segues perfectly.  While looking through the library of Playboy material, I stumbled onto a whole section of old 3-quarter inch tapes of Playboy After Dark episodes.  I got to hand it to Hef.  He invited lots of cool musical guests to play on the show.  He had the Original Fleetwood Mac, James Brown, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf and a whole bunch of other musical acts including Jazz and Blues artists like James Cotton or Buddy Rich.  Amazingly one of the segments I saw (that is also miraculously posted on YouTube) is this performance by Canned Heat.

Well, that’s it.  That was the whole reason I blabbed on about Playboy.  Now if you ask nicely, I might be persuaded to conjure up a reason to tell more Playboy stories.  Those stories include...

-The day the national director of sales got rejected by a porn star.
-How I became acquainted with that same porn star.
-What it was like working next to the guy whose job it was to preview all incoming material and why playboy had a fleet of attorneys to process the material.

Below is Canned Heat from Playboy After Dark in 1969.

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