Saturday, August 28, 2010

New York Times "Paperback Row" Features "Masters of Sex" in Aug. 29 Issue

The New York Times Book Review features my biography "Masters of Sex" in this Sunday's issue, Aug. 29, and the short capsule touches on some of the main points. Certainly it's newsworthy to point out that having sex with Masters was initially part of the job for Virginia Johnson, but I hope readers will realize there was a lot more to their relationship over time. Personally, I prefer the review from The New York Times daily book critic Dwight Garner, who grasped some of the humor in the book ( like Virginia's attempts to recruit women for their sex study in the lab) because
this provides a necessary contrast to some of the dramatic and sometimes tragic aspects of the book. No matter what, the book is testimony to the extraordinary work and personal relationship between Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Price of Art Dept: Brad Pitt as Dr. Masters? Angelina Jolie as Virginia? Hey, What's a Bald Cranium Among Friends, Right?

I was recently asked who would I like to see as Masters and Johnson if they made a rendition of my biography, "Masters of Sex", for the big screen (actually, my 42-inch HDTV screen, to be exact). Of course, Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson are one of the most fascinating American couples of our times, so naturally I thought Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The drama around their lives is nothing compared to the long-running partnership and marriage of Masters and Johnson. Of course, Pitt and Jolie might command top dollar for such a production. But I read in Vanity Fair's cover story on Jolie that she and Brad were looking for a project that they could both work on together. Well, voila! How's that for a short commute?
Contracts, agents, the paparazzi, they all are surely factors if Angelina and Brad became the "Masters of Sex" portrayed in my book, a kind of real-life version of the Pygmalion tale. The biggest obstacle might be the need for Pitt to shave his head bald, a la Dr. Masters. It gets awfully chilly in that lab without hair. But what price art, say I?

Pooh-Poohing Pee-Wee? Claims He'd Call "Masters and Johnson" Expert to Bolster Innocence in "One Hand Vs. The Other" Defense

When you're a high-minded biographer like myself, you're occasionally asked a question that makes you squirm. Sometimes, it's because you don't know the answer. Other times, it's because you wish you weren't asked the question in the first place.
A friendly journalist at Playboy, Chip Rowe, called me the other day about this reply that Paul Reubens (aka, TV's "Pee Wee Herman") gave to his magazine when asked about the 1991 arrest for indecency that virtually wrecked poor Pee Wee's career with the kiddies and their parents. Chip asked if I knew who might have been willing to testify among the Masters and Johnson staff on Pee Wee's behalf? I told Chip that I might have an idea, but the person I have in mind spoke to me in confidence for my book about Masters and Johnson and I couldn't reveal this person's name. I was really sorry to do that because the Playboy Foundation was very gracious to my book and Hugh Hefner consented to a very illuminating interview as part of the research. As my biography of Masters and Johnson recounts, Hefner is very proud of the financing that his foundation provided for the medical research done by Masters and Johnson, particularly at a time in the 1960s when government and academia shunned them. By the early 1990s, the Masters and Johnson clinic had virtually closed down, with Virginia in near retirement and Bill suffering from Parkinson's disease and winding down his medical practice. I'm virtually certain they wouldn't have testified for Pee-Wee. A former staffer who might have been willing to be called for the defense was an early source for mine in the research. I couldn't reveal this source without breaking my off-the-record promise. So unfortunately, I was no help in solving the Great Pee-Wee Mystery.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Newhouse: The Last Tycoon (But the First paperback!)

In The Guardian, Steve Fishman's profile of Si Newhouse is reprinted from New York magazine and mentions my book, "Newhouse: All the Power, Glitter, and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and Secretive Man Behind It". And it's still available in paperback with an update!

Here's what Mr. Fishman writes:

" Sam was a newspaper man - Si didn't see much of him until he was old enough to visit the Staten Island Advance, Sam's first paper. By Sam's death in 1979, at the age of 84, he'd amassed a newspaper empire that stretched from Newark, New Jersey, up to Portland, Oregon - larger, by some measures, than that of William Randolph Hearst's. Both of Sam's sons were college dropouts who worked in the business from the age of 21. Sam tapped Donald, his younger son, to run the newspapers. Si was installed at Condé Nast - he finally became chairman in 1975. "Those who knew him well seem to think he trusted the judgment of his younger son, Donald, more than Si," writes Thomas Maier in his excellent biography, Newhouse.
It was clear what Newhouse's father thought of magazines; they were baubles, suitable for socially ambitious middle-aged ladies. Si, though, would ultimately prove his father wrong about the value of the magazines and about his talents.

Up in Canada, the Paperback of Masters of Sex Roars!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Translated by Admirer, Dr. Spock Is A Hit in China; Old Ben's Big in Beijing

Benjamin Spock not only influenced generations of American parents and their children. Now, a decade after his death, Spock's work is influencing China. As the Wall Street Journal reports, "A child-rearing book that has been a runaway success in China has this piece of advice: Listen to your child. That may not sound like revolutionary parenting advice, but as Yin Jianli, the book’s author has found, it has struck a chord with many Chinese parents as just that."

As the story goes on to say:
Books such as “Emile” by Rousseau of France and “Baby and Child Care” by American pediatrician Benjamin Spock have greatly shaped Yin’s view toward parenting, she said. “From these good books one can learn how kids think, and the meaning of equality and respect,” she said.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Recalling Masters and Johnson 40 years ago; Their Bio "Masters of Sex" Now in Paperback and Kindle

The new paperback for "Masters of Sex" is out this month along with the Kindle edition that can also be read on iPad and all e-readers. The only thing obscene about this book is its low price. (Otherwise, very high literary standards. Oprah and her magazine loved it, and so did the NY Times.)
Forty years ago, Masters and Johnson published their second book in 1970 that revolutionized sex therapy for married couples in America and turned them into the most talked-about couple in the land. The Atlantic Magazine ran this profile of them and here's a little snippet about Virginia Johnson.

Gini Johnson, wearing a black and white patterned overblouse and white uniform pants, is now on her way to the Foundation in an open convertible. She is an attractive forty-five-year-old who could, if she dedicated time to herself instead of her work, be ravishing. In the publicity pictures shot for their second book, Gini was made up by George Masters (no relative) and benefited greatly by eyeliner, eye-shadow, false eyelashes that wisp up quickly at the end, and lipstick applied by brush; but she usually wears her hair swept back from her face into a ponytail or covered by a fall that is a shade off from her own auburn. She smiles more readily than Masters, but keeps her lower jaw set, which prevents her from making full-fledged cheek-wrinkling grins.
Since the beginning of this year, when word began to circulate that Masters and Johnson were ready to publish their second book, they have made themselves available, within reason, to the print media, particularly the women's magazines, which they consider a vital conduit for their information.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Miniseries Isn't "The Kennedys"; Read The Book Instead!

Will "The Kennedys" -- the upcoming miniseries for the History Channel -- look anything like my history "The Kennedys"? And even more important to me and my lawyer, will there anything be lifted from my recent book? Mmmmm........
Earlier this year, a plethora of Kennedy historians condemned this new mini-series after they got a look at the early drafts of scripts. Supposedly, they claimed, this miniseries will be a hit job by its conservative producer. Looks to me, if anything is afoul, that this new miniseries will resemble those old ABC TV Movie of The Week productions, where Jack, Jackie, Bobby and the gang would be better played by marionettes. More so, I'm afraid that, in this time of Obama, the essential minority status of the Kennedys as Irish Catholics looking to grab the brass ring of the White House will be whitewashed. Instead, we'll get another American Camelot production, with Kinnear wearing Ray-Bans and Jackie in pearls as the major insight.
Anyway, kids, to get the real insight on the Kennedys pick up my version, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings", still available on Kindle, IPad, paperback and hardcover from Basic Books. This book has the real scoop about Jackie's reaction after the assassination, the ties of the Kennedys to the Vatican and even the story of the Kennedys in Ireland. The Boston Globe said it the best book about the rise of the Kennedys in Boston, and Publishers Weekly said it should replace Doris Kearns Goodwin's tome on the family. So as Honey Fitz used to say, 'Vote for 'The Kennedys' The Book and don't accept any substitutes!"