I was feeling blue; I got in a silly fight over Thanksgiving with my parents. I hate saying this but I have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving Day. Yes it's great to be together and be thankful, but then there was that pesky awful thing we did to the Native Americans by driving them off their land. Normally that Thursday I listen to KPFA's coverage on Native American issues broadcast live from Alcatraz, then watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and rate the floats. The blue feeling stayed. I decided to cheer myself up with something I found on Youtube. God knows you can find much on YT: vintage Tab commericals, a kitten playing a piano. But here's something just mind blowing: The Playboy Roller Disco Pajama Party Special. To quote Sam Barry's older brother, I am not making this up. So what else is a blue forty year old feminist supposed to do? Go to Hef's house, of course!
Not only are we going to see playmates, there's guest stars! Bill Cosby! Chuck Magone! James Caan! And be still my heart: Wayland Flowers and Madame! Who is hosting this? Richard Dawson! Oh.my.God. Bring it on!!
A red car comes up the drive to Playboy Mansion West. Richard Dawson declares it "An incredibly well built house!" Good to know! "It seems like everything around here is well built..." Ooh! Thanks Richard, for reminding us that we're about to see much clevage the next hour!
We are then treated to many girls rollerskating on Hef's tennis court. They're also playing with a beach ball in the pool. Parrots watch them play. Robert Culp gets a hot dog. And then we see Dawson dressed up in a sports coat and a brown turtleneck. He tries to flirt with Dorothy Stratten. She ignores him. Good move, Dororthy!
Chuck Mangione plays "Feels So Good." Madame is cracking jokes and while Playmates look at her. Ladies, this is Madame! She's a comic genius! Stratten gives James Caan a marmoset. All that's missing here is Joan Embry from the San Diego Zoo. Women are getting tanned, having fun. One of the Village People flirts with a parrot. My God. All of this would've given Jerry Falwell fits.
And now we see all these Playmates going around the tennis court. A blonde woman wears a Boys Scout uniform. James Caan dons overalls. Closeups of bikinied bottoms and clevage abound. Donna Summer sings "Bad Girl." Toot toot, beep beep! Is there a point to this? I mean, besides the point of the fact many teen boys probably were glued to their TV sets, thinking "This is the best show I've ever seen in my life!"
Me, I'm just stunned these girls can skate. Because of my learning disability I can't rollerskate very well. For years Sericea had her birthday parties at The Golden Skate in Antioch. When I went on the rink I pretty much clung to the wall, moving very slowly. People glided past me. I felt like a loser.
Okay, pity party over. Hef gets in the action by wearing a Native American headdress and starts skating. Oh, Hef! You rebel! He also leads a conga line across the tennis court.
And now on to the pajama party! Which means the women are in slips and teddies! No Nora Charles pajamas for our ladies! Hef mingles with the crowd. Madame wears a platimum blonde Carol Channing wig. Wayland Flowers wears an ascot.
And now ladies and gentlemen... The Village People!
Ironically on a "disco" special, they're singing a song called "Rock and Roll Is Back Again." Dancing commences along with a lot of gyrating. If Phyllis Schalfy saw this maybe she thought "You know, maybe Gloria is on to something."
After commerical break, Richard Dawson chats with prospective playmates. They're so excited about their centerfolds. They're all very feathered blonde, with perfect pearly white teeth.They look like those girls who you hated in Middle School because they giggled all the time and looked down at you because you had Gitanos jeans while they had Guess.
In the meantime, the dancing continues! We've got a Bo Derek lookalike booging down to that one hit wonder "Making It." Richard Dawson performs a magic trick with a napkin. An African American puppet talks semi dirty with The Leather Guy/Village Person. Dear God. I'm guessing she's the African American Madame, but in today's world it's borderline racist. She wears the Playboy ears and talks jive. It's awful to watch.
Okay, off the soapbox. After more dancing, and another number from The Village People, Dawson announces he has a limo for us. He does? Where is it? I want a limo! In the meantime he shares a kiss with Dorothy Stratten after she declares him "neat." Chuck Magoine plays his horn. Good night everyone!
Oh man. Man oh man. I mean, really. For the kitch value, The Playboy Roller Disco Pajama Party is perfect. But watching it is so bittersweet. Mostly because of the constant pressence of Dorothy Stratten. Flirting with Dawson and Caan, skating, dancing with the Village People, it is pretty clear they wanted her to be a star. But she became famous for something else entirely.
During a movie shoot, Stratten fell in love with the film's director, Peter Bogdonvich. She left her husband for him. This was no loss; Paul Snider was one of those guys who thought gold chains were cool and liked wearing fur coats. He was Sleezy with a captial S. She went to their old apartment to figure out money matters, only telling her little sister Louise. Snider ended up killing her in a fit of rage, then killed himself.
There's the rub, and that's when I put on my feminist hat: I have no problems with girls in bikinis going around and around. More power to them. However, why wasn't anyone looking out for this woman? It's very easy to say "Well she shouldn't have gone there herself." I'm not blaming anyone here (unlike many who blamed Hefner and Bogdovich) There is one person to be blamed: Paul Snider. What I'm trying to say is this: Dorothy Stratten should've been told that yes, this guy is awful. How about this: Helping her get a restraining order. Get a lawyer. Gloria Allred was probably available. Tell her she wasn't alone. Find a support group, maybe even Al-Anon. For Paul Snider was abusing her-not physically but a mental abuse with telling her she was a meal ticket, telling her she "owed" him. He put it in her head that she had loyality to him. And she didn't owe him one damned thing.
Maybe I'm overthinking things; I tend to do that. (And to those of you saying "We could've told you that." well geez, thanks a lot. ) It's just a silly 70's relic. However, reality does poke its ugly head at times. It didn't however the day they filmed the special. The weather was perfect, everyone looked so pretty. Wayland Flowers had no idea what AIDS was. Neither did several members of the Village People. All they knew was were at the Playboy Mansion West, and what a great party it was. Toot toot, beep beep.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries