Sunday, January 21, 2018

Grace and Frankie and Ruth and Maria

Season 4 of the Netflix series "Grace and Frankie" starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, is now available for binge watching, preferably while stoned.

The pot jokes begin in Episode 1, when Grace's daughter Brianna (June Diane Raphael) gets "buzzed" with Frankie, while Grace drinks martinis with her other daughter Mallory. Afterwards, Grace asks Brianna, "Why don't you take after your mother and drink instead of smoking doobies with your burned-out Aunt Frankie?" At least Grace notices that Mallory is drinking earlier than usual (while swigging a martini herself). Her advice about her daughter's hurt feelings over her ex-husband is to hurl her anger at him.

While their ex husbands ponder having more sex with other people, Grace does all she can to rebuff a younger suitor (Peter Gallagher) and Frankie leaves her lover man in Santa Fe so she can return to her family. The women fear that one of their vibrators-for-the-elderly has sent a little old lady to more than her "little death."

"You're famous for not being able to multitask," Grace tells Frankie. "You can't even task." Pot-loving Frankie is seen as so unreliable she can't be left alone with her granddaughter, while Grace's ex-husband reveals she has only "not drank" a few times, and delineated the three terrible stages of her alcohol withdrawal. Grace pops pain pills to deal with a knee problem (which could lead to overdose, given her alcohol intake) and we see her horrible scar after her knee surgery. Oh, and Frankie's daughter-in-law must have her baby without an epidural. But the men have no health issues at all except for feeling fatigued after being arrested while protesting for gay rights. (Judge Hempstead gets them out of jail.) It's the women (not their husbands) who are sent to live in assisted living, which they manage to escape by season's end.

It's nice that the season came out on Women's March weekend because there's a mention of Susan Faludi's Backlash, which is a great book. The stoner "Friend" Lisa Kudrow guest stars in the first two episodes, and no less than Talia Shire plays Frankie's long-lost sister Teddy who used to give her a hard time about "reefer."

Netflix has also brought back "Disjointed" starring Kathy Bates as a pot dispensary operator for 10 more episodes. The season opener, a 4/20 special, starts with a sweet musical number and has Bates's character Ruth confronting her earlier activist self. She decides to convene a cannabusiness women's empowerment group, where the women fight among themselves until Dabby (Betsy Sodaro as womankind's answer to Cheech & Chong) saves the day (in a way).

The writers haven't gone anywhere with the tension established in last season's pilot between Ruth's hippie values and those of her son, an MBA who sees the dispensary more as a business. Instead they did the whole thing in parody, complete with poop jokes and a rip-off of "The Help."

There are some genuine scenes with Bates's love interest (played by of Peter Riegert of Animal House), and with Maria (Nicole Sullivan), wherein Ruth introduces the concept of "Grasslighting" to her friend.

Budtender Jenny (Elizabeth Ho), a young Chinese woman, must deal with her mother's disapproval when she chooses to heal with herb instead of staying in medical school. (Too bad she couldn't do both.) She does a nice segment on Chinese hempen history, which could be good for awareness because the show is available with Chinese subtitles.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Her-Storic Golden Globes Ceremony

"It's 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn't," announced Golden Globes host Seth Meyers to begin a her-storic night when the stars wore black or "Time's Up" pins in solidarity with women everywhere.

Everyone's now abuzz with the thought of Oprah Winfrey running for President, following her monumental acceptance speech as the first black woman to take the Cecil B. DeMille award, and Meyers's joke about her running.

If it happens, Oprah wouldn't be the first candidate, or President, with a pot past.

As TokinWoman reported in 2013, Winfrey was asked when she last smoked marijuana on Bravo TV's "Watch What Happens Live" and replied "Uh...1982." Host Andy Cohen then said, "Let's hang out after the show" to which she replied, "Okay. I hear it's gotten better."

In a crowded field including perennial winner Meryl StreepFrances McDormand took a Best Actress Globe for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The film also won for Best Motion Picture, Drama (and co-stars Woody Harrelson, who missed the ceremony).

McDormand, who's also won an Oscar (for Fargo), appeared smoking a joint on the cover of High Times magazine in 2003. "I'm a recreational pot-smoker," she said, revealing she first smoked marijuana as a 17-year-old freshman at Bethany College in West Virginia in 1975. She added, "there has never been enough of a distinction between marijuana and other drugs. It's a human rights issue, a censorship issue, and a choice issue." Bravo!

Rachel Brosnahan accepted a trophy from Carol Burnett for portraying a stand-up comedienne in the Amazon series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," which won Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy. In the series, Brosnahan's character tokes with Lenny Bruce (a stoner girl's dream date). Her character is based in part on Joan Rivers.

Allison Janney won a Supporting Actress prize for her role in I, Tonya, for which Margot Robbie was nominated for playing Tonya Harding. Robbie appeared in a pot-leaf-motif skirt on "Saturday Night Live" and smoked pot onscreen with Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Nicole Kidman, who played Tokin' Woman Gertrude Bell onscreen, won for her role in HBO's Big Little Lies, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was the hottest MILF ever shotgunning her young date in The Rebound (2009), wore green earrings and gave tribute to her father-in-law Kirk Douglas for hiring Dalton Trumbo to write Spartacus.

Susan Sarandon co-presented with her Thelma and Louise co-star Geena Davis, which reminded me of the scene in that movie when the rasta bicyclist gets the cop high.

Erstwhile Tokin' Woman Natalie Portman stated upon presenting for Best Director, "And the all-male nominees are...." which was especially ironic when Lady Bird won for best actress and best comedy film, but its female director Greta Gerwig wasn't nominated. Barbara Streisand (also a Tokin' Woman) was the final presenter, and remarked after she was introduced as the only woman to have won a Golden Globe as best director (for Yentl in 1984), "That was 34 years ago. Folks, time's up." Indeed.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Top Ten Christmas Cultural References to Marijuana


Yes, kiddies, Jesus was a Mushroom and so was Santa Claus. Until mankind can fully come to grips with our true drug-fueled history, here are some interesting references that have snuck through at Christmastime:

 1. The Night Before (2015) written by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) and starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt features Dickensian pot dealer Mr. Green (Michael Shannon) manifesting marijuana's three vision quest abilities: to put you squarely in the present, to illuminate a future you fear, and to come to grips with a past you have buried. To the character who protests paranoia, Mr. Green replies, "Sometimes it's good to be uncomfortable." Packed with the usual party boy insanities, this one at least has cameos from Mindy Kaling and Ilana Glazer (Broad City) as Scrooge.

2. A Bad Moms Christmas, now in theaters, stars Susan Sarandon as a grandmother who parties with her daughter, played by Katharine Hahn, in a nice contrast to the other uptight grandmas.

3. In the 2005 film The Family Stone, Diane Keaton munches special brownies as the cancer-stricken family matriarch, and Sarah Jessica Parker plays the uptight Meredith, whose freak flag flies under the tutelage of her fiancé's brother Ben Stone (Been Stoned?), played by Luke Wilson.

4. In Scrooged (1998), Bill Murray finds his soul with the help of his pot-puffing girlfriend, played by Karen Allen.

5. To deal with his sudden change in fortune, Eddie Murphy jumps into the john to take a toke, and Dan Aykroyd lights up a spliff in disguise as a Jamaican in Trading Places (1983), set at Christmastime.

6. In The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941), the unwanted visitor's host is based on H.H. Timken, the Ohio industrialist who planned to bankroll hemp production in the US.

7. In the 1951 movie The Lemon Drop Kid, Bob Hope sniffs Santa's pipe and acts high while introducing the song "Silver Bells":



8. A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas (2011) must be mentioned. Best moment: when Danneel Harris (Vanessa) convinces Kumar not to stop smoking.

9. In Happy Christmas (2014) Anna Kendrick (pictured) plays an insecure woman who puffs pot from a joint and a pipe, and does fine unless she mixes it with alcohol. It's not very Christmassy, insightful, or fun, but Kendrick is good (as always). I'm still waiting for the well done women's pot movie or TV show that isn't just trying to imitate the boys.

10. A tie between these two TV episodes: The 2008 ER episode, "The High Holiday," which features Charlotte Rea (who played the housemother TV’s staid sitcom "The Facts of Life") accidentally dosing the staff at their Christmas party with her pot brownies, made for a friend in chemotherapy. And the a 2009 Friends episode, in which Monica is baking Christmas cookies, and Phoebe comments, "A plate of brownies once told me a limerick." "Were those funny brownies?" she is asked. "Not especially," is her response, "but you know what, I think they had pot in them."

And for you kids in town without a Christmas tree, the "smoke your marijuanaka" line in Adam Sandler's original Hanukkah Song always gets a big ovation whenever he performs it live. His newest version #4 of the song, shows he's still smokin:

 

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Tokey Awards

Tokin' Woman of the Year: Kathy Bates


The venerable actress Kathy Bates not only played a medical marijuana dispensary owner on the Netflix series Disjointed this year, she also made the rounds of the interview circuit, talking up the medicinal uses of marijuana and candidly speaking about her own use.

Asked by the New York Times if she smokes pot, Bates replied, "Yeah, I do. I’ve had a prescription for some time for chronic pain. I’ve really become a believer. I find it just as, if not more, effective than other pain relief." She also said she supports legalization "even more so now that I’ve become more educated about what its properties are" and mentioned meeting NFL players in the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition.

AARP Magazine's headline was Kathy Bates: She's Smokin', and Stephen Colbert introduced her as "an Academy Award–winning actress who terrified us in Misery, inspired us in Titanic, and now she sells us weed on the Netflix show Disjointed." She demonstrated her technique for using a vape pen for Stephen, and gifted Chelsea Handler with a cannabis wrist corsage for her interview on Chelsea.

Bates also played a marijuana-smoking lawyer in the 2011-12 TV series "Harry's Law," and portrayed Alice B. Toklas's lover Gertrude Stein on film in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris." In 2014 she said she'd shared "some good sh##" with Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy.

Gotta say, though, having just seen Bates in "The Great Gilly Hopkins" (2015), it made me wish the writing for cannabis-themed movies and TV could approach a great film like that one.

Outie of the Year


Olivia Newton-John

Gwynneth Paltrow

Anne Hathaway

Admission of the Year 


Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on parties where marijuana "may have been present"

“It’s never fun to work in drug prevention,” said Drug Free America’s Deputy Director Amy Ronshausen.


Top Activist

Peachtree NORML founder Sharon Ravert (pictured at right with members of the NC Women and others) lobbied to bring the Drug Policy Alliance conference to Atlanta this year. Just before the event, Atlanta, which had the worst-in-the-nation record for arresting blacks over whites for marijuana, passed a decriminalization measure. NORML is working to pass more reform measures throughout Georgia and Sharon produces a segment on 420radio.com highlighting the stories and work of other women in the fight to end marijuana prohibition.

Honorable mentions

Alexis Bortell - 12-year-old suing Sessions over marijuana policy

In Peru, mothers rouse support for legalizing medical marijuana

Women could push marijuana legalization across the finish line in Texas



Political She-Ro Award 


Elizabeth Warren Wants Marijuana Answers From Trump Health Nominee and Seeks to Pull Pot Shops Out of Banking Limbo

New York Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal introduces bill to allow cannabis for menstrual cramps

Harwell Open to Medical Marijuana Law in Tennessee

Kamala Harris to Trump: Leave Grandma's Marijuana Alone

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on the future of marijuana legalization

Minister of Women and Child Development in India Wants Medical Cannabis



Best Commentary (Written) 


Dr. Jocelyn Elders: Health Care is a Human-Rights Issue

NORML Women of Washington: Profit vs. access on Facebook, our digital town square


Best Commentary (TV)


Samantha Bee Rips Jeff Sessions

John Oliver on MJ Legalization

Bill Maher: Opiate of the Masses Now Officially Opiates (and Booze)

Dr. Oz Shocks "Fox & Friends"


Funniest TV Moment 


The Daily Show: Roy on Drugs

Saturday Night Live: Leslie Jones's Jamaican Vacation

Russell Brand on His Favorite (and non-favorite) Drugs

Kathryn Hahn's Wake and Bake on "I Love Dick"

Family Feud Contestant Wins with Weed



Phattest Film 

Mary Janes: The Women of Weed


Best Video or Series

Kelsey Darragh: I Tried Medical Marijuana For 30 Days 
To See If It Could Cure My Chronic Pain

Damian Marley: Meet Medical Cannabis Patient Michelle Aldrich

Now This: This Grandma Wants You to Smoke Weed

Nohttps://twitter.com/nowthisnews/status/947211465949188096
Merry Jane: Queens of the Stoned Age


Best Commercial


Martha Stewart and Snoop Dog: T-Mobile Super Bowl Ad




Top Tweets (Politicos)


Tulsi Gabbard
Dina Titus
Kirsten Gillibrand
Julia Brownley
Kamala Harris



Top Tweets (Entertainers)


Paula Poundstone
Elayne Boosler
Susan Sarandon



Best Album


Jhené Aiko: Trip


Best Musical Moment
Sheryl Crow wailing on the harmonica to Willie Nelson's "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" at Farm Aid

Best Dance Moment
Stella Abrera performing "Soul Bossa Nova/Dear Quincy" (with pipe) in tribute to Carmen de Lavallade at the Kennedy Center Honors. See Carmen dancing it. 





Best Book

Ashley Picillo & Lauren Devine: Breaking The Grass Ceiling: Women, Weed and Business

Debby Goldsberry: Starting and Running a Marijuana Business

Ayelet Waldman: A Really 
Good Day

Paula Poundstone: The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness


Excellence in Reporting


Amanda Chicago Lewis: Medical Pot Is Our Best Hope to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Paul Armentano, NORML: Blowing the Lid Off the "Marijuana Treatment" Racket

Sofia Miselem, AFP: 'Grandma's magic remedy:' Mexico's medical marijuana secret

Tom Angell, The Marijuana Moment: Teen Marijuana Use Down In Most Legalized States, Federal Data Says 

Brooke Edwards Staggs: The Cannifornian


Best Interview

Arnie Cooper, The Sun - Hooked: Maia Szalavitz Debunks Myths About Addiction 



Best Public Art


Hollyweed Sign

"I Thought the KKK was OK" (pictured)


Best Speech

Diane Goldstein accepting the H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Law Enforcement at the Drug Policy Alliance Conference. 

Kathleen Harrison: Cannabis and Spirituality


Best Event


Women's Visionary Congress: Women and Cannabis Salon 

Best Billboard

The "moving hand" billboard on Sunset Strip for Disjointed. (See it moving at night.)


Top Studies


Cannabis and pregnancy: Maternal child health implications during a period of drug policy liberalization

People Who Smoke Weed Have 20 Percent More Sex

Women Who Smoke Marijuana Are Smarter Than Women Who Don't

Delaying marijuana smoking to age 17 cuts risks to teens' brains, new study suggests

Medical Marijuana for Children with Cancer? What Providers Think

Middle-aged women prescribed the most opioids, report finds

Children More Likely to Overdose If Mothers Are Prescribed Opioids

Energy Drinks Are a Gateway to Cocaine and Alcohol


States of Shame


Kansas Jails Cancer-Stricken Grandmother for Driving After Taking Anti-Nausea Drug

Proposed Wyoming Bill Equates Giving Substances Like Cannabis to Pregnant Women as Homicide

Alabama's crackdown on pregnant marijuana users

One North Texas Mother Convicted of Five Felonies for Breastfeeding One Child on Pot

Texas Cops Spent 11 Minutes Searching a Woman's Vagina, Found No Drugs


"What Were They Smoking?" Award


Ann Coulter: Marijuana use is “destroying the country”

Sen. McCaskill: If Pot is Legal "Kids Will Get Handed Joints Like They Get Handed Beers"

Rob Portman Claims MJ Laced with Fentanyl

Himachal Pradesh local women destroy cannabis plantations

Feds block a product aimed at keeping drugs out of kids’ hands

Feds Authorized Montana Woman's Hemp Farm, but Now They're Killing It


Marijuana legalization and gay activist
Gilbert Baker,
who designed the Rainbow Flag

A Fond Farewell To:

Gilbert Baker
Chuck Berry
David Cassidy
Hugh Hefner
Joanne Kyler
Joanna McKee
Roger Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
Jeanne Moreau
Tom Petty
Anita Pallenberg
Jacki Rickert

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Why Does Jerry Brown Keep Insulting Potheads?

Linda Ronstadt with Brown in 1978. 
Once more, as he had in 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown has insulted (and then kinda praised) potheads, this time in a Rolling Stone interview, where he said when asked about California's new law legalizing marijuana: 

"It's a bold experiment! We don't know how many people will be stoned, how long. Is it going to reduce the influence of criminals and cartels? Or is it going to lead to just another - you know: There they go! [Droops his head back on the couch, pretends to be a stoner.] 'Well, I'm gonna have another joint; don't worry about climate change.' [Makes huge inhaling noise as he pantomimes smoking a doobie.] 'It's all great…' [Colorado Gov. John] Hickenlooper says it's working pretty good. He has more experience. I would say the devotion and the zeal of the marijuana people is extraordinary. And far exceeds the mainline church community's, as I encounter it."

Is this more distancing by Brown from his "Governor Moonbeam" image? As Jessica Mitford recorded in a letter on April 23, 1992, SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen joked that while Bill Clinton claimed he didn't inhale, Jerry Brown had never exhaled.

In 1992, I had just learned about the hemp/marijuana connection, from a guy who'd taken me to a Brown campaign event for our first date. Inspired by what I heard, I decided to delve back into politics, both as a hemp activist (for environmental reasons) and as a volunteer for Brown's presidential campaign. Far from being a lazy so-and-so who didn't care about important issues, I was working around the clock: at my paying job, as well as on my two non-paying political causes.

Brown's campaign was going well, until suddenly on April 9 the lead story on the ABC Evening News showed two different men with their faces and voices obscured alleging that pot smoking went on in Brown's house while he was Governor and dating Linda Ronstadt.

My fellow hemp/Brown activists and I tried advising his staff that he ought to make light of the accusations, but instead he issued a blistering response, calling them "false, malicious and absurd" and "part of the Gong Show of presidential politics."

He'd allowed himself to be put on the defensive, and never recovered. Clinton emerged as the front runner, and Brown had to reinvent his career, first as Mayor of Oakland and California Attorney General before being reelected as Governor.

Does Brown blame marijuana for the demise of his 1992 campaign? At least he now acknowledges that cannabis activists are a committed bunch, although he thinks we're too stoned all the time to care about important issues like global warming. I've been a cannabis activist ever since and would like nothing better than for its persecution to end so that I could work on other causes, like voting rights or environmental issues.

I'd warrant that marijuana smokers are in general more aware and active in greater causes than are, say, beer or wine enthusiasts. In fact a booklet published for parents in 1998 by the Salt Lake Education Foundation, featuring a forward by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, included "excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc." as a warning sign of marijuana use. Interestingly enough, Hatch has now introduced a sweeping medical marijuana research bill.

To his credit, Brown signed the bill to decriminalize marijuana in California in 1976 during his first term. Recently, he signed a bill legalizing hemp farming in California (but only after it was amended to only make it legal once the feds did). He also approved a bill ending the practice of kicking medical marijuana patients off organ transplant lists in 2015. But in California, people can still lose their jobs for using marijuana, even with a doctor's recommendation, and cannabis-using patients are routinely kicked off their prescription medications, forced instead onto more dangerous opiate drugs.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Penny Marshall on Pot

Marshall as Laverne (to Cindy Williams's Shirley)
UPDATE 10/10/17: Kathy Bates, promoting her Netflix series "Disjointed" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, described smoking some of Bill Maher's too-strong pot at a birthday party for Marshall. No word on whether or not Marshall smoked it too. 

Penny Marshall's 2012 memoir My Mother was Nuts tells how she became a TV star, married Rob Reiner, motorcycled across Europe with Art Garfunkel, became a film director....and smoked pot.

After appearing in musical theatre in her youth, Marshall decided to move to Los Angeles with some fellow cast members. She writes:

"On the night before we left,  Bill, Randy, and I went to the drive-in and saw The Trip, director Roger Corman's movie abut a TV director who takes LSD and goes on a mind-bending journey. Bill lit up a joint, and I smoked pot for the first time. It didn't even make me hungry."

Marshall says she liked Reiner because he "wore pajamas and didn't do drugs. His wild days were behind him." But after they married, "our house becomes a hangout for comedy's elite," naming Albert Brooks, Jerry Belson, Billy Crystal, Richard Dreyfuss, and Charles Grodin, among others.

"These were the pot-smoking years, and a lot of it was smoked at our house," she writes. "I cleaned the seeds and stems in a shoebox top. It was a skill, and I was good at it." Women weren't invited into the club. Belson would interrupt Brooks's comedy routines to say, "Can we take a break and smoke a joint?" and Brooks would get the munchies so badly he would eat Marshall's daughter's brown bag lunch meant for school the next day.

She mentions smoking cigarettes frequently, a habit she started while still in junior high. While working with Steven Speilberg, "I tried to get a Quaalude in him. They were my drug of choice. I constantly joked about wanting to know what he would be like if he relaxed."

Once, she flushed a bag of heroin down the toilet when her friend John Belushi offered it to her. "I had tried heroin once. It made me carsick," she wrote. "Artie [Garfunkel] didn't like it either, thank God. When others were chipping on the weekends, he way my ally in not doing it, and I will always be grateful to him for giving me the wherewithal to keep saying no. I wish John had done the same."

Marshall became one of the most successful female film directors ever, starting with directing Whoopi Goldberg in Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), followed by Big with Tom Hanks, and Oliver Sacks's Awakenings with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. I thought it was brilliant that for Big she had the actor who played Hanks's younger self act out all the scenes so that Hanks could see what a boy looked like in them; it was also interesting to learn that DeNiro almost played his role.

I particularly enjoyed her description of directing A League of Their Own, the first women's baseball movie. She tells how she cast and re-cast the film, getting Madonna to try out on the baseball field, and standing her ground to keep the ending with the "old women" of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, for whom she says she made the movie. League was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2012. The film celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 1 (with a new Blu-ray edition).

After surviving lung cancer that metastasized to her brain, Marshall gained weight and turned to her friend Carrie Fisher, then a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig. "Thirty years earlier we had dropped acid," she writes. "Now we were microwaving our Jenny meals. What had we become?"

Up next from Marshall: Between the Pipes, the story Manon Rhéaume, the only woman to play for the NHL, and the story of Dennis Rodman, due out in 2018.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hugh Hefner: Drug War Foe

Gloria Steinem in her Playboy Bunny costume, 1963
I  must say I'm conflicted over whether or not to mourn Hugh Hefner's death.

As a feminist, I can't say he was a hero of mine. I read Gloria Steinem's undercover description of what it was like to be a Playboy Bunny, and it wasn't pretty. On the other hand, he supported a woman's right to choose. 

Hefner stood up for the First Amendment in more ways than the obvious one: publishing an interview with Malcom X lead to his first obscenity trial. He also helped get NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) off the ground with a donation and editorial support, and later held fundraisers for the Marijuana Policy Project at the Playboy mansion (hostessed in 2009 by Adrienne Curry and Fairuza Balk).

It was also in Playboy where former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders commented about then-Health and Human Secretary Donna Shalala's indefensible stance against medical marijuana, saying, "She has a Ph.D. in political science. That's the kind of science she practices." Bill Gates outed himself as an LSD user in Playboy, and Rush Limbaugh told the magazine in 1993 he smoked pot only twice in his life and it made him nauseous. (Others dispute the claim.)

I recently viewed the Amazon biopic series on Hefner, produced by Playboy Enterprises. It surprised me by revealing that his first girlfriend cheated on him with another man, devastating him and causing him to question monogamy. (So he acted as Shahryar did?) Episode 6 addresses Playboy's commitment to civil liberties, heightened by the hiring of editor Arthur Kretchmer, who's interviewed recalling, "Some of us were smoking dope." (Meanwhile, Hef was downing prescription Dexedrine to keep up with his grueling schedule.)

Episode 8 details the unjust drug arrest of Hef's close friend and associate Bobbie Arnstein, who committed suicide after receiving a 15-year prison sentence. Hefner was in genuine tears when he read a statement condemning the US Government for hounding Bobbie to death. But it's also thought that she was troubled over an inferiority complex heightened by constant comparison with the Bunny Brigade.

Of course Hefner owed his success to the women who willingly graced the pages of Playboy over the years. The Marilyn Monroe estate's Twitter feed reminded us that she helped launch Playboy, by appearing on its first cover. Inside was that classic, exuberant nude of her, taken years earlier and purchased by Hef from a calendar publisher for $800.

The early centerfolds were quite beautiful, I thought, but I can't look at them today: each one has the same, unnatural body (no hips and oversized boobs; worse, little or no pubic hair). The biopic also reveals how competition from other girlie magazines forced Playboy into rancher realms.