The Playboy Interviews: Movers and Shakers reviewed by Steve Miller



Book Reviews
The Playboy Interviews: Movers and Shakers reviewed by Steve Miller
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Oct 1, 2007, 04:24

THE PLAYBOY INTERVIEWS: MOVERS AND SHAKERS by Stephen Randall; M Press, 2007

This is the 4th volume of the Interviews series, and arguably the best of the lot so far in that it includes a pathetically revealing 1974 interview with Hef and a lengthy chat with Apple founder Steven Jobs in 1985. These two talks would be a book unto themselves in that the former gives us some true insight into a person and the latter shows us just what forward thinking is. Others included here are Leona Helmsley (yes, a really mean lady), Barry Diller (an unrepentant dick) and Calvin Klein (a boring man).

Hef is a juvenile control freak who threatens Howard Hughes in the eccentric department. He speaks of his controlled setting with a sick pride, a man who never allows life to happen but looks at existence as something to be manufactured: “Man is the only animal capable of controlling his environment, and what I've created is a private world that permits me to live my life without a lot of the wasted time and motion that consume a large part of most people's lives.”

Being Hef also means getting two interviews in the same book. The second interview, from 2000, portrays a man who has grown little. Of the Mansion: “It really is Shangri-la.” Of his ageing: “I have some lower back problems caused by just what you're hoping they're caused by.” Eew. This dude is just creepy. Is this what unlimited access to slammin' bimbos for a lifetime gets you?

These pieces are classics, of course, interviews done by the best for discerning readers who have come to count on Playboy for its poignant journalism.

There are comments sprinkled throughout the Jobs piece in which he speaks of our future with astounding prescience. He tells of “the power of a Macintosh in something the size of a book,” which of course we have, not just in an Apple (Mac's later name), but in just about any high-end computer line. Jobs talks of a future in which computers can do “simple” things like monitor stocks hourly. Done. Of course, that's known as the Internet.

More snippets—Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder in 2000: “I mean in the scheme of things, we are a still a tiny company” (with sales of $1 billion); Donald Trump in 1990: (on Mikhael Gorbachev) “I believe he will be overthrown” (close, a 3-day coup); Bill Gates in 1994, speaking of the future: “Say you want to watch a movie…you select and get a video on demand. The way we find information and make decisions will be changed…how you pick a doctor, how you decide what book to read.”

I've always loved these shots of the past, things like seeing old commercials both print and broadcast, and reading old quotes and seeing how they stand up now. The time capsule effect is enlightening and gives us a perspective, as well as the knowledge that what we do now can have lasting effects and even a legacy.

Playboy's interview series has always been a strong predictor, a history lesson and a snatch of entertainment. It does speak to the man who created the whole enterprise, and as such, his voice is at the heart of it. Now if only he'd just get out of that damn robe.

-Miller

The Playboy Interviews: Movers And Shakers (The Playboy Interviews)

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