Sunday, August 23, 2009

The September 2009 Issue of Playboy Magazine Gets the Vintage Look

If you’re into finding retro goodies and don’t subscribe to Playboy Magazine, I recommend getting your hands on a copy of the September issue right away. Maybe it’s because of this season’s premier of Mad Men, or maybe it’s because they’re featuring a graphic novel version of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds; whatever the reasons, the already hip (and hep) kats and kittens at Playboy Magazine have returned to their Rat-Packing roots and gone retro for the issue.

It starts with the cover…unusually old-style typefaces seem out of whack yet ultra-hip next to the photo of a very dirty Heidi Montag. The promise of a previously unpublished work by Kurt Vonnegut adds to the vintage flair. Inside, the 50’s/60’s cool continues with a pictorial on Mid-Century Modern furniture, complete with pricing for the originals (ie, through the roof) and well-made knock-offs (ie, cheaper than half the price), plus some beautiful dolls to accent the furniture’s curves.

Then there’s the men's fashion section. This section, usually occupied by trendy-looking male models in $5000 wardrobes, kicks off with a vintage photo of Cary Grant, dressed to kill. The section is full of vintage pix of celebrities, including Jack Kennedy in a pair of Ray-Bans, and features tips on buying like-style threads in the modern world. (Here's the online version).

pb-guide-classic-styleThere are subtle retro hints throughout the magazine, from the more-classic-than-usual party jokes to the cartoons. But just when you least expect it, you get slammed in the face with Quentin Tarantino’s graphic novel version of Inglorious Basterds. Set in WW2, the panels look like they were hand drawn in 1943 and sealed in a time capsule. The colors, style, typefaces all scream 1940’s…or at least the way they would have done it in the 40’s with better printing technology and no censors.

I’m sure the art director would have loved to have the entire issue go retro, keeping the theme throughout. Last month they magazine even featured a new twist on the old Playboy Bachelor Pad, and there've been numerous spreads showcasing the magazine's covers and models of the last 50+ years over the last few months. Unfortunately advertisers can’t always accommodate a theme, and pictorials of the models are shot way in advance. They might consider coordinating an all-retro issue in the future, as a special limited edition issue. I’m sure it would be at home on Tiki Bars bachelor pad coffee tables all over the world.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Vampire Killing Kit by Crystobal

Vampire Killing Kit by Crystobal

A long time ago I discovered a very strange, yet very talented artist. He went only by the name of Crystobal. Crystobal did a lot of set pieces for my Dinner Theater Company (Stardust Productions) back in the 90's, and although he's basically a recluse, I still keep in contact with him.

Crystobal is a "Gothic Artist". That means he creates really wacked-out stuff, gorey, bloody Halloween body parts, dead things, slanted crosses, and Vampire Killing Kits.

He got the idea years ago when he was visiting a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum in St. Augustine, Florida. They had an original, turn-of-the-century Vampire Killing Kit on display, and being the morbid SOB he is, he wanted one. When he found out how rare they were, and that the price tags flew into the thousands, he decided to make one himself.

Now, years later, under the request of friends and collectors, Crystobal makes one or two kits a year and sells them for the Halloween season. He just finished his latest kit, "Drucilla", and will be posting it for sale on eBay soon. He sent me some photos which I'll post here.

It's very groovy. He makes the kits to look like they were made 100+ years ago, including antiquing all the items. This kit, he says, is one of his most elaborate ever, and includes

• A combination flintlock pistol/dagger, in the shape of a cross (replica, of course)
• Six black wooden stakes
• A large black wooden cross
• Black Rosary Beads
• A vintage-style Holy Bible
• Leather satchels of gunpowder and silver balls (bullets) for the pistol
• Six vintage coffin nails
• Leather-clad box of vintage matches
• Antqued mirror
• Large black candle
• One bottle of garlic cloves
• One bottle of rock salt
• Two bottles of Holy Water
• Custom designed case

It's a great item for anyone who appreciates vampires, horror films and novels, or the occult in general. He's decided on a starting bid of $500. His kits have sold in the past to private collectors for as much as $3000, and have sold on eBay for as low as $150 for simpler, smaller kits. Anyone who would like more information can visit his web page on my Theater Site at