Wednesday, February 27, 2002

MORE HEFNER WATCH: John Sladek is an under-read science fiction writer of the New Wave period --I mean, I haven't read his Roderick books which are supposed to be his best. But I have read The Muller-Fokker effect, which has a Hefner doppleganger named Glen Dale, who publishes Stagman magazine. The funny things about Glen Dale are 1. he's a virgin, and 2. he's never seen a woman naked, so he can't read his own magazine. Yet he has this empire:

Glen Dale's empire was accidental, like a famous pearl. It had begun with a small, quite ordinary grain of irritation --when, in youth, Glen had discovered that he could not, no matter what, get laid.
It was improved and rounded by a few coats of what Glen called "sophisticated seduction techniques". A better bottle of wine, a few more jazz tapes, four-star brandy, tickets to shows, dinner for two, oh yes, and smoking jackets, cocktail shakers...layer upon layer did this poor oyster of a man apply to his misery. Cars, a yacht, the magazine, money, clothes, more of everything, better of each, a glossier magazine, the Stagman Club...until the accident seemed deliberate and fine.
I wonder whether the pearl ever ever chokes the oyster to death?
Eleven million Stagman readers opened their center folds each month to enjoy the twenty-two million well-photographed nipples of Miss Monthly. Then there were the dozens of Stagman Clubs, the thousands of bare-chested girls in buckskin ("Does"), the hundreds of thousands of moist men who, being strictly forbidded to touch the Does, except in the palm with crisp money, came to play. The grandest club of all was here in the Stagman Tower, in the scrotal end. The shank was devoted to magazine offices; the tip, a penthouse for the chief.

It's like Crisis On Infinite Hefners in the above there. But Glen Dale eventually does see the forbidden fruit booty:

A woman stood waist-deep in the water, her naked back squared to him as if posing for a Stagman calendar. She walked out of the water and out of focus. A tune, some tune was playing in Glen's head. He fiddled helplessly with the range adjustment; she has already turned toward him before he found her again. Rotating the little wheel, he turned her from a puzzle of light and shadow into a naked woman drying herself.
The tune wound up to a silent scream as he saw who she was. Then Bette dropped the towel and stretched her arms toward the sun. Glen saw what he had never dreamed existed, and everything else stopped dead. Mental transmission went off the air.
No rose, no eye, no cavern, no labyrinth of mystery --nothing but
a patch of dirty hair!
"Like an armpit! Ugh!" It picked up his limbs and threw him into the lake; without movement he pushed back water and flung himself toward her. Across the quiet lake.

It's a good take on Hefner and the Playboy phenomenon, and one part of a real funny novel. Read it if you can find it.

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