Well, dear readers, heading into day three in the morning and yesterday was a slow, languid Indiegogo day. Yes, we did go up about three percent and crossed the eight thousand dollar line, which is great, but let’s keep the momentum going – it’s all about movement and momentum, not necessarily in that order. And yes, new perks did indeed go up. Then again, yesterday was a completely weird day with no juice, if you get my meaning.
But before I talk about that, may I just mention the passing of Mr. Hugh Hefner, who lived an absolutely amazing and full life. Someone who was both praised and damned by feminists, someone who championed freedom of speech and civil rights, and someone who I got to know a tiny bit and who was always very sweet to me. So, here is my small history with Hef (he insisted that’s what I call him – that’s what everyone called him). Back in 1976, my motion picture entertainment, The First Nudie Musical, came out. At some point within the first months of its release, Hef, as was his wont, had a print sent to his house for one of his Friday night soirees and screenings. My friend who worked at Mann Theaters actually arranged for the print to get to him from Paramount. I got a call from my friend a couple of days after the screening – he told me that he’d heard that the laughs were so loud and so long that you couldn’t even hear half the film. And it became one of Hef’s favorite movies, and he ended up screening it several more times over the next two years – the only movie ever to be screened multiple times back then. I was tickled pink about it, frankly and even more tickled pink that he was telling everyone that my performance was one of the funniest he’d ever seen.
Flash forward to 1982. My agent calls me and tells me that I’ve been offered a job on a new cable show called Playboy on the Air, on the Playboy Channel, which was just launching. I thought it was a joke, frankly. Only it wasn’t. They wanted me to be their sex news reporter, to do funny stories about whatever was happening in terms of sex – kind of their Andy Rooney. I was really taken aback by the offer, frankly. Then my agent said that Hefner had asked for me specifically, that he only wanted me. That was just amazing to me and of course I accepted without a second thought. I was to work out of the Playboy building on Sunset, where I’d have my own office. The money was good and I had freedom to do whatever I wanted. Also, the pleasure of my company was requested at the Playboy Mansion – that invite came via Mr. Hefner’s secretary who asked me to come on Friday night to meet Mr. Hefner – she also told me I was now on the A list for the Friday night soirees, which meant I could go there every Friday night if I so wished, and also that I would be automatically invited to all the big parties.
On Friday night, I drove over to the mansion, just south of Sunset in Westwood. I was escorted into the main house. I was just in awe to be there and, of course, recognized many people right off the bat. Before I could even get my bearings, Mr. Hefner was coming right over to me. He shook my hand and said, “You were my idea, you know. I love your film and your performance.” I was almost speechless, but got out, “Thank you so much, Mr. Hefner.” He immediately said, “Hef, call me Hef.” I had a blast. The food was incredible, Hef introduced me to lots of interesting folks, who were all very nice to me. I ran into my old pal Johnny Crawford, so we hung out together for a while. I was shown around – the grotto (and yes, there were people frolicking therein, the game room, all over. Then we had food, which was great (plus the chef would make you whatever you wanted), and then it was movie time. In what would become an amusing running gag, Wilt Chamberlin sat in front of me, which made it impossible to actually see the film. After the movie, I hung out in the game room – I wasn’t about to go in the grotto, let me tell you – much too shy. The game room had what was then all the popular arcade games like Pac Man and Frogger. I played a LOT of Frogger. At some point, Kristy McNichol came out of a room with another girl, and they were obviously a romantic couple. That was funny.
In any case, I began shooting my segments, which were pretty funny, and Hef would always get them as soon as they were edited and he’d always send word that he loved them. And so it went. I was literally at the mansion every Friday night, and I attended the two big twice a year parties. And then, after I’d been there for almost ten months, a new producer for my segments was brought in. And it was instant hate for both of us. He didn’t get my sense of humor, and he had NO sense of humor and we clashed repeatedly. After about a month I’d about had it. I tried to soldier on, but he was just an offensive twit and one day he went too far and I quit. I wrote Hef a long letter, but it went without response. I do know he got it. I still was invited to one of the big parties, but after that I was no longer on the A list or any other list. I did get invited there a year later as part of a charity thing, and he was very cordial to me, but I just don’t think he was used to people up and quitting on him, even though I was very clear that it was because of this producer and the fact that working with him had become impossible.
Flash forward almost twenty years. The DVD of The First Nudie Musical is released by Image. On release day, I went to Dave’s Video, the big DVD store in Studio City and there it was, end-capped and looking great. One of the sales people I was friendly with came running up to me and said, “You’ll never guess in a million years who just ordered your movie and is having it messengered to his house.” I took a beat and said, “Hef?” It was really funny and, of course, that’s exactly who’d ordered it. And so, I took the liberty of writing him a letter and even though I knew he’d bought it, I sent a copy, telling him I thought he might like to have it, how fondly I remembered my time at Playboy and how I missed coming to those Friday night soirees. He wrote me a very sweet letter, which I suppose must be here somewhere – I wonder where – certainly I would never have thrown it out. I’ll have to look for it. But I never did get put on the A or any other list. And that’s my tale of Hef. I have a fun photo of us at the mansion – I’ll try to find it and scan it. Meanwhile, you can amuse yourselves by reading posts about Hef on Facebook – what a lot of faux outrage from incredibly stupid and misinformed people.
Yesterday was plum annoying. Slow Indiegogo, less than eight hours of sleep, and literally spending all day long trying to get the Levi script ready to send to people. I had to add a couple of things, and had to fix a lot of misprinted lyrics, as well as make two or three tiny trims, but it was the typos – I thought I’d caught most of them, but I must have found fifty on my first pass through. Then I made a PDF and went through that and whilst doing that found another fifty. It was just endless and it took every hour of the damn day right into the damn night. I kept watching Indiegogo for movement but we had none until the evening rolled around, when we finally went up two or three percent with three contributions. But of course Indiegogo wasn’t updating properly, so it just sat there at the lower total – I still don’t know if it’s updated. Funnily, if you go to any of the pages we’re trending on, the total displays correctly there. Go know. Finally at seven-thirty I needed to get out of here and needed to get some kind of snack – I’d eaten two tuna sandwiches fairly early in the day.
I went to the garage and tried to open the car door. Nothing. Had to enter via the key housed in the car fob but I already knew the battery was a goner, which it was. Not a peep from the engine, not a light to be seen. I called the AAA and they got there about forty-five minutes later. A very nice guy checked out the battery and said it was basically leaking battery acid and done. I’m guessing whoever looked at it last time was incorrect about it being okay. So, he switched out the battery (still under warranty, thankfully), and that was that. I finally got to Gelson’s at nine o’clock. I got a couple of drumettes and a tiny package of extra crunchy Cheetos. I came home, ate them, had some telephonic conversations, and finally ceased all work, at which point the computer froze. That’s the kind of day it was. But now that we have our new battery, hopefully today will be a day filled with good juice, baby. We always need the good juice. Now go tell ten of your nearest and dearest chums to contribute and grab a fun perk.
Today, I shall do a few things that need doing, I’ll eat, hopefully pick up packages, and then we have our second Kritzerland rehearsal. Then I’ll relax and maybe even watch some damn thing or other.
Tomorrow I have an early morning meeting with an LACC student who’s going to help me figure out our cast list, how many parts there actually are, and I’ll begin to figure out who is going to play them – lots of people will play lots of multiple roles. After that, I have to come back for one rehearsal with a singer who can’t come today. Saturday is our stumble-through, which thankfully is late in the day so I can sleep in. Sunday is sound check and show and I will, of course have a full report.
Let’s all put on our pointy party hats and our colored tights and pantaloons, let’s all break out the cheese slices and ham chunks, let’s all dance the Hora or the Black Bottom, for today is the birthday of our very own dear reader JohnG. So, let’s give a big haineshisway.com birthday cheer to our very own dear readers JohnG. On the count of three: One, two, three – A BIG HAINESHISWAY.COM BIRTHDAY CHEER TO OUR VERY OWN DEAR READER JOHNG!!!
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do a few things that need doing, eat, hopefully pick up some packages, have a rehearsal, hopefully see lots of good juice and momentum on Indiegogo, and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What did you think of Hef – of what he created, what he championed, the magazine that was a game-changer, and him in later life? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, wishing Hef a happy journey to wherever folks go when they shuffle off this mortal coil.