|Absinthe Books XV - Absinthe in Playboy Magazine, 1971
"I remember a girl I knew in my bachelor days. An American, she had worked as a model in several haute
couture salons in Paris and had acquired a taste for absinthe. We were at her place one evening and she asked me if I
would like to have a martini as a nightcap. I said I was game, though I favored cognac and
water in the evening, when the lights are low and the music is throbbing on the
high-infidelity. She stirred up a pitcher of martinis and brought it on a tray with glasses and a bottle of absinthe.
She set the tray on the coffee table, or, rather, the martini table. Now, I don't know whether this voluptuous
creature had ever heard about thujone or knew that vermouth means wormwood, but she
poured two chilled martinis and said she was adding a little absinthe to hers and would I
like some in mine, and I said why not. I found out that night that "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder." We
slowly sipped our martinis and, frankly, I didn't like the flavor; but then, as the elixir went into my stomach and the minute
fraction of thujone coursed through my veins and arteries, I experienced a slow surge of sexual hunger as she
suggested I make myself comfortable. She kicked off her shoes and I slipped off my loafers and we slowly continued
sipping and stripping, and I didn't feel at all self-conscious, because it was as if everything rational was drifting
out of myself and going outside to the hall elevator. You could say that a guilty conscience is that part of
the human being that is soluble in absinthe. I experienced a more than usual desire for this girl, whom I
customarily yearned for even without absinthe martinis, and we murmured things and sipped a second
martini and were slowly kissing and caressing. By then, we were as naked as two absinthe-crazed
jaybirds and we soon floated into her double bed."
Maurice Zolotow's remarkable article in the June 1971 issue of Playboy is both a fascinating and sometimes amusing period
piece, and a still surprisingly relevant outline of absinthe's history, with a particularly gripping and comprehensive account of the
Lanfray murders. Click on the link below to read an annotated transcript of the complete article.
Click on the Adobe icon to read the full text of Maurice Zolotow's article "Absinthe" from
the June 1971 issue of Playboy Magazine (and, click here to download Miss June).
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Maurice Zolotow (1917–1991) was a show business biographer, popularly known as "the Boswell of
Broadway". His articles appeared in publications including Life, Collier's Weekly, Reader's Digest, Los
Angeles, and many others. His book "Marilyn Monroe" was the first written on the iconic actress, and it
was the only one published while she was alive. It's regarded as the first modern showbusiness
biography. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison he took his first job at Billboard,
then a publication covering not just the music business but all aspects of show business. Zolotow was
an early jazz lover, and he gave Duke Ellington his first national review. He was described as an
unusual mixture of intellectually erudite, enormously well-read, but fond of and absolutely au courant
with contemporary and pop culture. He recalled seeing Houdini perform at Coney Island as a child;
Zolotow wrote a novel, The Great Balsamo, based on him. Subjects of his other books include John
Wayne (Shooting Star), Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne (Stagestruck) and Billy Wilder (Billy Wilder in
Hollywood). He wrote shorter profiles of celebrities ranging from Tallulah Bankhead to Walter Matthau to Grace Kelly to Milton
Berle. A long-time alcoholic, he quite suddenly gave up drinking and smoking at the age of 57, joined AA, "made amends", paid
off debts of every kind and in the process became what a friend called "the world's greatest dark horse candidate for terrific
father". He was working on a memoir called "Famous People Who Have Known Me" at the time of his death.
Original scans kindly provided
by Ward Ginn.