Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Woody Allen interview - 1967

It helps to skip the rambling sub-Perelman introduction, some of which I've cut...

Woody Allen May 1967
By Sol Weinstein

Sol Weinstein, debuting this month as a Playboy interviewer, has thrice regaled our readers—in serializations of Loxfinger, Matzohball and On the Secret Service of His Majesty the Queen—with the exploits of his seltzer-and-sour-cream superspy, Israel Bond. An ex-newspaperman, he drew on his deadline-at-dawn reportorial experience to beard this month's elusive subject in his New York den. Weinstein's dispatch—wired to Playboy collect—begins:

"Stalking the career of Heywood (Woody) Allen dictated a change of costume, so I slipped on my Oy Oy Seven trench coat and trench hat, which melded harmoniously with my chronic trench mouth, and touched the flame of my Zippo to my lips, inhaling the pungent scent of scorched flesh. Now, a lesser man would have asked Woody's press agent to ship over a ton of publicity material from which a fast, shallow, insincere 'puff' could have been punched out in two hours. But I am something more than a lesser man, so I told him, 'You keep the clippings, write the story, sign my name to it and send me Playboy's check by special-delivery airmail.' The fink hung up. This business is full of them.

"In its review of Woody's nutty mutilation of a Japanese spy flick, What's Up, Tiger Lily?, Time interviews had described the shriveled Socrates of Brooklyn as 'an anonymous little giggle merchant who looks like a slight defect in the wallpaper pattern', a typical, lightweight Time simile concocted patently by a man who'd never seen Woody close up. A truer depiction, I thought, would be 'the product of a mad night of love between S.J. Perelman and a barn owl.' In any case, I wanted to see for myself, so I arranged my first session with Allen at New York's Morosco Theater, where his first love offering to Broadway, Don't Drink the Water, was in rehearsal.

"The press agent's uncooperative attitude had put me in something of a bind, however, and during the cab ride to the theater, I wondered aloud how I could ferret out the facts pertaining to the Allen saga. 'Oh,' said the bright-faced, crewcut cabby, 'you mean the Woody Allen who started as a teener batting out 25,000 jokes for a PR agency that used them to make its clients hilarious in print, became a top writer for Sid Caesar and Garry Moore and won the Gagwriter of the Year award from George Q. Lewis' Humor Society of America, then became a fledgling comedian at Greenwich Village bistros like the Bitter End, which, in turn, led to smash performances on the Tonight show and The Jack Paar Show, a wild moneymaker of a screenplay, What's New, Pussycat?, a role in Casino Royale and the scripting of Don't Drink the Water and What's Up, Tiger Lily? That Woody Allen?'

"'You've been mildly helpful to me, cabby,' I replied. 'As a reward, I won't mug you.'

"I parked myself in the third row of the theater, my trained eye catching Lou Jacobi, Kay Medford and Anthony Roberts emoting onstage, although it was difficult to pick up their dialog because of the roar of the greasepaint. When I did become acclimated acoustically, I found myself howling at the seemingly endless spate of crackling one-liners.

"'Gosh,' I observed on my way to Woody's dressing room, 'more than three decades have elapsed since Kaufman and Hart brought Once in a Lifetime to the Great White Way—and it still holds up.'

"'Yes' bleated a petulant voice. 'But I wish they had the decency to rehearse my play.'

"The room was completely empty, and I wondered where the voice had come from. Then, after a minute of utter silence, a slight defect in the wallpaper pattern began to move. Making a mental note to renew my subscription to Time, I switched on my Webcor and pleaded with Allen to say anything that was on his mind.

"'Dandruff,' he croaked and started to crawl back into the wallpaper.

"'Woody, I'm a friendly sort, really. I got your albums, and I thought they were just melorooney, alligator' A refreshing hipsterism would cement our relationship fast, I shrewdly reckoned.

"He wore a lavender smoking jacket that had once belonged to Laurence Harvey's dog, and a snug pair of Levi Strauss midafternoon walking jeanlets. He nervously drummed his fingers, which were genuine Slingerlands, against his red-thatched cranium. 'Be kind,' he moaned. 'I'm afraid of my shadow.'

"'From what I can see, you have no shadow,' I said jovially, in a bid to reassure the twitching lad.

"His uneasiness gone, Woody leaned against the dressing-room wall and began to whimper freely. This is the result."

PLAYBOY: By now, hundreds of thousands of people have seen your new Broadway play, Don't Drink the Water. Did you think it would be such a smash?
WOODY ALLEN: Not until some glaring faults were corrected in the Philadelphia tryout. We decided to open the curtains, light the stage and use actors.

PLAYBOY: In pré, what is its message to humanity?
WOODY ALLEN: An unequivocal admonition to refrain from imbibing H2O.

PLAYBOY: We appreciate your candor. Why didn't you appear in it yourself?
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, I wanted to, heaven knows. I read for a part—but I didn't get it. And I even slept with the author.

PLAYBOY: How long did it take you to write it?
WOODY ALLEN: Four hours.

PLAYBOY: Why so long?
WOODY ALLEN: I couldn't concentrate for the first two and a half hours.

PLAYBOY: Aside from the basic concept, are there any lesser themes running through the play?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes. That people should make an effort to brush their teeth at least twice a day.

PLAYBOY: Con Gleem?
WOODY ALLEN: I'm not pushing any particular product. What matters is the consecrated act of brushing itself. It prevents cavities. If this play can prevent one single cavity, then I have fulfilled my obligation to American belles-lettres.

PLAYBOY: Are you planning a sequel to Don't Drink?
WOODY ALLEN: Actually, this play is the last part of a trilogy. Parts one and two I have no ideas for as yet. However, the best trilogies are those that run three-two-one, rather than in ascending order.

PLAYBOY: Remind us never to let you bet for us at Churchill Downs. Woody, you've just immersed yourself in the frantic, sinister world of James Bond, at least in Charles K. Feldman's version of 007, Casino Royale. How did you get involved in it?
WOODY ALLEN: Feldman asked me to. I would have accepted any acting role at that price—even a Greek chorus.

PLAYBOY: What was your contribution to the film?
WOODY ALLEN: Substantial—rape, looting and murder. As Sir James Bond's nephew, Little Jimmy Bond, who is sent off on assignment, I incinerate a few people, pull off some daring escapades, some romantic high jinks—the whole thing culminating in a terrific paycheck. My portrayal adds a new dimension of incredible cowardice hitherto lacking in these movies.

PLAYBOY: Do you identify personally with suave superspies like James Bond and Derek Flint?
WOODY ALLEN: No. But I did catch Fantastic Voyage, and I identified strongly with the germs.

PLAYBOY: We imagine you got to know London pretty well during the filming of Casino Royale. Is it really the switched-on city it's reputed to be?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes, yes! They have an all-night soft-drink stand.

PLAYBOY: What hip, fab, gear things did you do there?
WOODY ALLEN: I strolled about. I sat in a chair—twice. I went to a newsreel theater. I was sold pornographic dental X rays. And once a gypsy woman sidled up to me and unashamedly said the word "loins."

PLAYBOY: Did you run with the "in crowd"?
WOODY ALLEN: I had a very swinging group. We visited the tomb of Guy Fawkes and blew it up, hung out in Limehouse and hobnobbed in White-chapel, where the Ripper does his mischief.

PLAYBOY: Does? Jack the Ripper is dead.
WOODY ALLEN: He's very much alive. I know this from personal experience. Years ago, I was taught how to dress in female garb by Irene Adler, whom I shall always consider to be the woman. While in London, I assumed the guise of an octogenarian trollop down to the last detail—rotting hoop skirt and bustle, cracked pancake makeup, and so on—and during one of my walks through shadowy White-chapel, a black-cloaked man leaped out of a doorway and slashed at me with a razor, crying: "Saucy Jacky strikes again!" He was the spitting image of Basil Rathbone.

PLAYBOY: Did you buy any kicky Carnaby Street togs while you were in London?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes—a nifty sheet-metal suit and an all-crab-meat overcoat.

PLAYBOY: You shot What's New, Pussycat? on location in Paris. Are you happy with the way it turned out?
WOODY ALLEN: It turned out to be the greatest moneymaking film comedy of all time. All things considered, I thought it came off very well.

PLAYBOY: What part did you like best?
WOODY ALLEN: When Rommel gets defeated.

PLAYBOY: Don't you think Pussycat would have had more credibility if you, rather than Peter O'Toole, had won Romy Schneider at the end?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes—but we were going for a far-out, unbelievable ending.

PLAYBOY: Did O'Toole come up to your sexual standards?
WOODY ALLEN: He came close. But I have two or three moves he could never duplicate. Not unlike things you've seen Olympic high divers do.

PLAYBOY: It's rumored that you always contrive to be seen nude in every film you make. Is this true?
WOODY ALLEN: I have done a nude scene for every picture, but you can't tell, because I have Dacron flesh.

PLAYBOY: Let's have your frank opinion of your latest cinematic effort, What's Up, Tiger Lily?
WOODY ALLEN: It's an experimental film I was hired to work on. Originally it was a Japanese espionage vehicle. What I did was to cut out the Japanese dialog, write new dialog and put it into the mouths of the actors. What I wrote is completely contrary to what they're doing at the same time on the screen, so it comes off funny. Matter of fact, Tiger Lily was just voted one of the 10 most Japanese pictures of the year.

PLAYBOY: What new projects are on your drawing board?
WOODY ALLEN: I would like to shut myself up for a year and try to write a perfectly rhymed couplet. I'm also working on a way to transmute baser metals into gold. This, they tell me, is alchemy and was disproven years ago, but I don't believe their lies. I'm also creating interracial puppets, fasting as theater, nothing-happenings and organized nude string quarters. I am also tinkering with the idea of doing a musical version of the Gilgamesh, the Babylonian Bible. And after that, a no-character, off-Broadway drama, which I may call Death of a Salesman just to hypo the box office.

PLAYBOY: It sounds as if you're far too busy to relax with hobbies, such as the judo lessons you were allegedly taking some time ago.
WOODY ALLEN: With the help of judo, I have broken every major bone and organ in my body. Judo enables one to do that much quicker than any other form of self-defense. But I do have many intriguing hobbies. I collect stamp hinges, I play the comb, I threaten old ladies and I carve soap.

PLAYBOY: What kind of soap do you use?
WOODY ALLEN: I tried Lifebuoy initially, but Lifebuoy's a difficult medium to come to terms with. For essential purity, one should use Ivory.

PLAYBOY: What do you carve out of soap?
WOODY ALLEN: Soap dishes.

PLAYBOY: You used to play a pretty fair clarinet, too, we're told.
WOODY ALLEN: I still noodle around with it. I guess I could eke out a meager living as a clarinetist. But my real musical ambition is to be the first white bop harpist.

PLAYBOY: Wasn't there a jazz harpist named Corky Hale?
WOODY ALLEN: Well, I play the jew's-harp....

PLAYBOY: Let's backtrack a bit to your early years in show business, when you were writing jokes for Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo and Arthur Murray. Of them all, who did your material the most justice?
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, I'd say Sammy Kaye for the one-liners. Guy Lombardo for the longer, more philosophical routines. But Arthur Murray got the most mileage out of the material, because of what I'd call his "good look."

PLAYBOY: These were also the days when you were, shall we say, being phased out of New York University and City College of New York. Any regrets?
WOODY ALLEN: I wasn't exactly phased out. I was given a Section Eight, the only one ever awarded by a nonmilitary institution. My only regret is that I wasted as much time as I did in those places. The whole experience was like swirling in a grim, grisly pit of eels. When they called me before the board of deans to sever our connection, they said, among other things, that they didn't like being considered a grim, grisly pit of eels. They also called the police. To this day, I recall that just as the dean gave me the ax, he opened his raincoat and blushed. Queer duck.

PLAYBOY: Then came your break-in nights at various Greenwich Village bistros. Would you advise young comics to take the same route?
WOODY ALLEN: The Village still seems to be the place to get started. There's no other route. In those days I tried them all. I even auditioned at hootenannies. For many months I played a place called the Duplex at no salary and I had to supply my own cab fare and wardrobe. Things began looking up when I got a job at the Bitter End. I started at $75 a week and in just two years I was pulling down a fast $76 a week. Still no cab fare, though.

PLAYBOY: There's a story that the owner of the Bitter End used to send lovely models onstage during your shows to ease you through panicky moments by feeding you ice-cream sodas. Is that true?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes, but it is indicative of my maturity as both performer and human being that by the end of my engagement I had begun eschewing the ice-cream sodas and assaulting the models.

PLAYBOY: By now, do you think the public has accepted you as a star of the first magnitude and not just another pretty face?
WOODY ALLEN: I think so, although it has been very hard to overcome my uncommonly fine features in a society that puts such a premium on them. Anyone with an eye for aesthetics can see that just by scanning me.

PLAYBOY: What kind of people comprise your audiences?
WOODY ALLEN: Primarily left-handed people, single taxers, a liberal sprinkling of deviates, some Lutherans. The rest are Eskimos.

PLAYBOY: Do you think people of different social and economic milieux can appreciate the same jokes?
WOODY ALLEN: No. In order to appreciate the same jokes, you must be making the identical salary of a person appreciating the same jokes. And that includes deductions.

PLAYBOY: Is there a personal trap in being a comedian? That is, are you always expected to be funny?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes. But I fool people. I stand in the corner at parties and pretend to be an end table.

PLAYBOY: Do you feel there's any particular need for scatology in humor?
WOODY ALLEN: Definitely. When one of my monologs starts to flag, I always insert a wild, swinging Ella Fitzgerald riff. And the laughs come back again.

PLAYBOY: We meant obscenity in humor.
WOODY ALLEN: There's no particular need. If the material is funny, that's what counts. I could watch nuns do an act if they were funny. However, if you're dirty and funny, you run a greater risk than being clean and funny. Dirty and funny—you're a comic. Dirty and unfunny—you're a child molester.

PLAYBOY: If you hadn't been blessed with your comedic gift, what would you be doing now?
WOODY ALLEN: I imagine I'd be a bum. I don't believe in any sort of labor.

PLAYBOY: If you were really up against it, would you be willing to panhandle?
WOODY ALLEN: Since I can't interact socially, I couldn't take the emotional contact with the victim. Purse snatching would be far more suitable. It's over quickly. No relationship. No guilt. Also, it's tax-free and a swell way to meet women. And you can sell the purses afterward.

PLAYBOY: What gives you the inspiration for this kind of far-out humor?
WOODY ALLEN: I smash my occipital area with a heavy mallet, then write down whatever comes. Everything good that I've ever written is the result of a sharp, searing blow.

PLAYBOY: A great deal of your comedy is self-deprecatory. In your heart of hearts, do you really think you're funny?
WOODY ALLEN: I think I'm a scream—but no one has confirmed it to me as yet.

PLAYBOY: One critic has suggested that your technique of turning personal misfortune into comedy helps you "get even with the world." Is he right?
WOODY ALLEN: No. I do it for the money. You can't get even with the world. It takes too long and too many lawyers.

PLAYBOY: Much of your subject matter is derived from your middle-class Jewish upbringing. How do you feel about Jewish humor?
WOODY ALLEN: There's a common misconception about my being Jewish. What it is, really, is that I'm not gentile. My father is hieroglyphic and therefore believes in mercy killing and free lunch. My mother is an orthodox paranoid and, while she doesn't believe in an afterlife, she doesn't believe in a present one, either. I, if the truth be known, am a devout pervert. We're a small sect who meet on crowded streetcars and worship in our own way.

PLAYBOY: You've said that your parents sneer at show business as an enterprise for "gypsies." Do they still want you to become a pharmacist?
WOODY ALLEN: Not anymore. They'd rather I got something on the docks—or prize fighting.

PLAYBOY: According to Cahiers du Cinéma, people laugh at you because you symbolize the little man who can't fit in with the dehumanizing world of technology. Are you still at odds with that world? It's been noted, for example, that you don't drive a car.
WOODY ALLEN: The National Safety Council this year presented me with a golden scroll for not operating a motor vehicle. They estimated that by my staying off our highways, 68,191 lives were saved.

PLAYBOY: While we're on the subject of your mechanical incompetence, you've also discoursed ruefully about your bedroom clock, which runs counterclockwise, and a tape recorder that talks back to you in a snotty, bored fashion: "I know, Woody, I know...." Why do you think machines single you out for this kind of treatment?
WOODY ALLEN: There's a definite malevolence in all inanimate objects—like the pencil that breaks its point when I need it to sign something. It's willing to do that, to sacrifice itself, just to impede me. Have you ever stepped into a shower and noticed the deliberate sequence of ice-cold water, boiling water, ice-cold water again? Or the way taxicabs avoid you when you need one in a hurry? It's a conscious conspiracy. I think I'd like to write a paper on sinks.

WOODY ALLEN: There's evil in sinks. They have a decision-making ability no one knows about. In short, I have never known a noncommitted object. I know this theory of mine will erode the very roots of existentialism and incur the enmity of French intellectuals, but that's the way I feel.

PLAYBOY: Some of your funniest material has alluded to your psychotherapy. Has it been beneficial to you?
WOODY ALLEN: It did unblock my bank account. Though I must confess, I retain a tendency to run down the streets in undershorts, brandishing a meat cleaver.

PLAYBOY: What's your analyst's reaction to the spoofs you've done about him?
WOODY ALLEN: It's hard to say. He thinks he's a bathroom plunger. The whole thing has been eight years of unmitigated free association for him. Thus far, no breakthroughs for either of us.

PLAYBOY: Why not?
WOODY ALLEN: Because I don't believe he should know everything. Anybody can affect an analysis if he knows the facts. But I withhold strategic information, like the fact that I'm married, my fears, my sex, my occupation.

PLAYBOY: What does he think you do for a living?
WOODY ALLEN: He thinks I'm a quicklime salesman.

PLAYBOY: Who is your analyst, anyway?
WOODY ALLEN: A Croatian midget. Another reason I can't tell him everything is that he's probably in cahoots with his couch. You know how I feel about objects. I don't trust him or his couch.

PLAYBOY: What kind of financial arrangement do you have with him?
WOODY ALLEN: I get him broads.

PLAYBOY: You mentioned your fears. Is yielding to homosexual urges one of them?
WOODY ALLEN: Hardly. I have a lethal heterosexual potency that I supplement with budget-priced vitamins from shady mail-order houses. I'm naturally throbbing. I could walk into a crowded room and radiate sexuality.

PLAYBOY: Do you?
WOODY ALLEN: No, because I'm crowd-shy. However, I will occasionally do it by backing into an empty room.

PLAYBOY: This legendary shyness of yours—does it still plague you, for instance, when a stranger recognizes you on the street and gives you a cheery greeting?
WOODY ALLEN: I continue to be abnormally withdrawn. My reaction to such a salutation would be to blush and mutter.

PLAYBOY: What if he tried to prolong the conversation by saying something like, "I saw you on TV, and I thought you were great..." etc.?
WOODY ALLEN: I'd panic and deny being me. Then I'd try to force him into denying who he is. Then, as two impostors, we could seek new things in common, start afresh.

PLAYBOY: Some critiques of your material have suggested that your success is predicated on your failures. Yet we see before us a man with a lovely new wife, a man raking in the coin of the realm by the bushel from his plays, movies, acting roles, high-salaried nightclub gigs and writing for such publications as The New Yorker and this learned journal. You seem to be having more fun failing than most men have winning.
WOODY ALLEN: My life is still a series of small failures accruing to a monumental catastrophe. Given a fair opportunity, I can screw up any situation. While it may be true that the external trappings of my existence have changed, the basic problems remain.

PLAYBOY: What are they?
WOODY ALLEN: I'm still striking out with women—but it's a better class of women.

PLAYBOY: Are you still paying alimony on your first marriage?
WOODY ALLEN: We've an arrangement. We alternate. I pay her for a year; then she pays me for a year. The unfair thing is I'm paying for child support and we had no children.

PLAYBOY: Would you like to have children?
WOODY ALLEN: Eight or 12 little blonde girls. I love blonde girls.

PLAYBOY: Would you like them to go into show business when they grow up?
WOODY ALLEN: I'd like to see them either in a monstrous trampoline act or hustling drinks in Tijuana.

PLAYBOY: You and your new wife just moved into an apartment in New York. Tell us about it.
WOODY ALLEN: It's still in the process of being furnished. It looks like Mount Palomar. The living room is French Moroccan with a touch of Algerian Resistance. The dining room is Aramaic; the sun parlor, Heavy Latin; the gym, Early Flemish. A stuffed Bedouin stands at the gateway to the umbrella closet. We eat off a mummy case. Our bedroom is under water, so we don't get as much sleep as we'd like. We can't hold our breath long enough to get our basic eight hours. Bags of cement lie about here and there, and clusters of garbage effectively arranged by our decorator, who's also lying about—effectively arranged by his decorator.

PLAYBOY: Would you call this a Playboy pad?
WOODY ALLEN: No, I'm not a Playboy pad type. The items I described are all from my old one-room apartment, including the decorator.

PLAYBOY: Then you wouldn't like a round, revolving bed?
WOODY ALLEN: No, I'm not fond of circles. I'd like a bed shaped like the prime minister of Ghana.

PLAYBOY: What do you think of The Playboy Philosophy?
WOODY ALLEN: I think it consumes space that would be better used for nude pictures. Pack the interviews with "stuff" is my philosophy.

PLAYBOY: Woody, for all your sexual braggadocio, you've admitted that you're "no fun at orgies." Now that you've become a big star and hobnobbed with the worldly international set, would you revise that statement?
WOODY ALLEN: I've never been to an orgy, honestly. If I was invited to one, I'd be the guy they sent out for cold cuts. Anyway, I wouldn't care too much for the sight of strange naked men. However, I wouldn't mind emceeing an orgy.

PLAYBOY: How would you emcee an orgy?
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, I guess I'd just do my regular act. And I suppose they'd do their regular act, so it might work out.

PLAYBOY: We doubt it. You're said to be a nonparty type who prefers entertaining in a modest fashion at home. What would be your idea of a congenial evening? Would it be spent with fellow entertainers?
WOODY ALLEN: I'd rather spend it with one other person with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. The entire evening could be spent avoiding any sort of contact—mental or physical—and ducking issues, if necessary, by staying in the closet.

PLAYBOY: If you feel that way, why not refuse to answer the door when a guest arrives?
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, that would be rude. Unless, of course, I left a candy dish on the stoop.

PLAYBOY: When you're not throwing bacchanals, how do you spend your evenings at home?
WOODY ALLEN: Early evening is given to morbid introspection. After dinner it's watching the Tonight show for diversion. From one to three a.m.—anguish and torment. From three to five a.m.—remorse and regret. Then a review of my life's mistakes, featuring the 10 outstanding blunders, 15 minutes of advanced anxiety, and so to bed.

PLAYBOY: Do you also have an organized schedule of nightmares?
WOODY ALLEN: No, I'm not an active sleeper. However, I have experienced dreams on rare occasions. In one, I am attacked by a cheese. In another, my body is dipped in a vat of feathers. In yet another, I make love to some moss formations. A fairly common one has me straying through an empty field, kissing rare minerals while my mother, symbolized by a penguin, smokes a Kool and wrestles the Harlem Globetrotters. During the filming of Casino Royale, I dreamed I was Ursula Andress' body stocking.

PLAYBOY: In your peregrinations, you've come in contact with some of the world's most fetching film goddesses. Who among them turns you on the most? Ursula?
WOODY ALLEN: No—Brigitte Bardot and Julie Christie. Bardot has everything—in spades. She doesn't have a defect, especially the defect of being too perfect.

PLAYBOY: And Julie?
WOODY ALLEN: She also has everything, but it's a different kind of everything.

PLAYBOY: Who's your third choice?
WOODY ALLEN: Margaret Hamilton, just the way she appeared in The Wizard of Oz, with contorted green face and riding a broom. She just drips S. A.

PLAYBOY: Aside from these three sex stars, what kind of girls turn you on?
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, tall, gelid, aloof Teutonic-Prussian girls. I adore Villagey-looking blondes. I like a girl who's arrogant, spoiled and dirty, but brilliant and beautiful.

PLAYBOY: How do you keep them in line?
WOODY ALLEN: I distribute ballpoint pens at Christmas. That keeps them faithful all year long.

PLAYBOY: We've noticed you constantly nibbling sweets throughout this interview. Does this compulsion have a sexual basis?
WOODY ALLEN: I'd rather nibble sweets than do anything else on earth. I'm a Hershey bar freak.

PLAYBOY: Has your wife been forced to disguise herself as a Milky Way or a Three Musketeers in order to...?
WOODY ALLEN: She doesn't have to. My wife is very sexy.

PLAYBOY: Many stars have proclaimed the virtues of Wheaties as an aid to virility. What is your position on Wheaties?
WOODY ALLEN: I agree with Kierkegaard and the findings in his essay On Wheaties. Kierkegaard speaks for me on all major matters relating to breakfast cereals.

PLAYBOY: How do you get into shape for the love act?
WOODY ALLEN: Like any other act I do. I write it first. Then if I think it'll play, I do it.

PLAYBOY: We were referring to physical preparations.
WOODY ALLEN: I work out with the New York Rangers.

PLAYBOY: But they have a long off season.
WOODY ALLEN: That's so. But I only have sexual intercourse during the fall and winter. Every once in a while, though, I barnstorm.

PLAYBOY: Could you possibly have any respect for a girl who wants you solely for your body?
WOODY ALLEN: My body is a miracle of engineering comparable to the aqueduct. I see no reason to fault a girl because she finds it unbearable to suppress an urge to taste nirvana.

PLAYBOY: While we're on the subject of physicality, to what extent do you think your success as a performer depends on your physical appearance?
WOODY ALLEN: Well, I feel I must show up before I can really do anything.

PLAYBOY: Our readers might be fascinated to learn just how big you are. Would you tell us?
WOODY ALLEN: I'm five feet six and fluctuate between 118 and 125 pounds. The exact poundage depends on certain shifts in the earth's crust. It's very involved.

PLAYBOY: What's your chest measurement?
WOODY ALLEN: Eight inches. Ten, expanded.

PLAYBOY: How do you keep your body in such superb physical condition?
WOODY ALLEN: Every now and then I have a representative of a metallurgical cartel come and give me an acid bath. And I buff myself regularly with Ajax.

PLAYBOY: Do you oil your body before posing for pin-up shots?
WOODY ALLEN: No, I secrete a natural grease. I sweat Vicks—an unusual phenomenon. On a sultry day I'm like a swamp.

PLAYBOY: Who requests these pin-ups?
WOODY ALLEN: Beggars, convicts, an occasional shut-in and the sort of unsavory types whose names appear regularly on the blotters of the morals squad.

PLAYBOY: You were once quoted as saying, "I'm an intellectual Cary Grant." Is that true?
WOODY ALLEN: I never said that. Some writer did in an interview. But I believe it. Hell, the mirror doesn't lie.

PLAYBOY: You also claim to exude an animal magnetism that women find irresistible. What's it like?
WOODY ALLEN: It's what I'd call "the new sex appeal." I'd link it to the Michael Caine or Belmondo look, not commercial or waxy. Women sense in me a willingness to be violent.

PLAYBOY: Do you come across female mashers often?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes, because I deliberately place myself in jam-packed subways and buses and try to look as bewitching as possible by wearing a cuddly sweater or cardigan. You'd be surprised how often it works.

PLAYBOY: You once said, "I could be mugged and three weeks later come up with something funny about it." Can you say that now?
WOODY ALLEN: I felt that way until I was mugged. The only thing I came up with was my lunch.

PLAYBOY: You look like you're still wearing the suit you were mugged in. What do you say to haberdashers who lament your rumpled appearance?
WOODY ALLEN: To be truthful, I have a supreme noninterest in clothing. My favorite item of apparel is my Hathaway hair shirt, which I use to mortify myself over a fantastic guilt I have, based on accepting a cupcake once when I didn't deserve it. When I do buy clothing, it's because it looks great on the dummy. I've even gone to parties with the clothes still on the dummy.

PLAYBOY: Were you a hit at these parties?
WOODY ALLEN: No, but the dummy scored heavily. I still possess brand-new clothing I purchased three years ago, unworn to this day. My apartment is a treasure house of unworn clothing.

PLAYBOY: How do you choose your ensemble du jour?
WOODY ALLEN: I'm a first-hanger man, If it's on the first hanger, I wear it. If the first hanger is empty, I wear the first hanger. In addition to my hair shirt, I adore my huge turtle shell. It's wonderful when the weather's cold and, besides, it protects me from my natural enemies, squid and barracuda. As for shoes, if I find a pair that fits, I wear them relentlessly. It's also more comfortable to wear them with the shoe trees inside. Gives me a seductive shuffle when I walk.

PLAYBOY: Upon rising, do you have a regimen for cleanliness?
WOODY ALLEN: The left side of me is cleaned compulsively—the left of my nose, mouth, chest, navel, etc. Everything on the right side I let remain steeping in my natural body oils.

PLAYBOY: You do this, presumably, to make yourself sexually irresistible. Yet we're told that you got an unlisted phone number when your career took its sensational upturn. Why?
WOODY ALLEN: When it was listed, some of my loyal adherents would call at all hours. But then I began to get crank calls, people shrieking that they were considering committing suicide.

PLAYBOY: How did you handle them?
WOODY ALLEN: I'd try to be soothing and suggest various ways. But I myself am not suicidal. I have an animal fear of death.

PLAYBOY: Still, if you had to choose, how would you prefer to go?
WOODY ALLEN: Smothered by the flesh of Italian actresses.

PLAYBOY: Besides the crank calls, have you ever gotten any hate mail?
WOODY ALLEN: Once in a while. It generally comes in two categories—either unsigned or from my family. And every so often I get a sexual proposition.

PLAYBOY: Do you turn them down?
WOODY ALLEN: It depends on the photo with the letter.

PLAYBOY: You certainly come off as a cool, jaded, worldly type. Are you?
WOODY ALLEN: My nerves are like ice water. Although I do have a propensity for throwing up under pressure, I'm basically very cool.

PLAYBOY: What procedures do you recommend in setting the stage for a seduction?
WOODY ALLEN: (1) Find a girl. This method will also work on a camel or a bacon rind, but a girl is probably the most satisfying. (2) Lean her against something soft—preferably another girl. (3) Put on the most seductive recording you can find of Sheep May Safely Graze. (4) Blow into her ear with a bellows. (5) Slip into something provocative, like a mink posing strap. (6) Assume a false name like Laslo or Helmut. (7) Impress her with your collection of post-impressionist chopped meat. (8) At the crucial moment, bring the New York Rangers out of the closet.

PLAYBOY: How do you tell a girl to be gentle at the moment of surrender?
WOODY ALLEN: I explain to her that (a) it won't hurt, and (b) it'll all be over in eight seconds.

PLAYBOY: Would you warn a girl, "Baby, I'm no good for you"?
WOODY ALLEN: I wouldn't have to. Rough going is written all over my face. A girl starts in with me, she knows what the score is. I carry an automatic and leave town fast. I also have a tendency to dribble—that hurts my chances sometimes.

PLAYBOY: Has it always been easy for you to get dates?
WOODY ALLEN: No, generally it's been hard. I'd rather not say how I met her, but I once dated a lady embalmer for five months. Neither one of us had any complaints.

PLAYBOY: In this connection, do you have any repellent personal habits or indulge in unspeakable acts of perversion that your PR men have tried to cover up?
WOODY ALLEN: I enjoy chewing gum already chewed by a midget. And sometimes I dress up in a nurse's uniform and talk bawdy.

PLAYBOY: Do you have any other secret vices?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes. Keeping 200 live Chinese in my bedroom at all times, prison food, eating out of tin plates—small, tasteless portions of beans, watery soup—and being pummeled by sadistic guards who look like Barton MacLane. I also love herbs, roots, locusts and larvae.

PLAYBOY: Are you on a nature-food kick?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes. The best thing is a good piece of timber—sequoia, if possible; if not, some of the hairier lichens. The best diet is fatty and cholesterol-rich, with gigantic amounts of sweets. Heavy smoking on top of all that builds the body. Exposure to radioactivity doesn't hurt, either.

PLAYBOY: What physical feats can you perform?
WOODY ALLEN: I can stand on my eye. I can sneeze backward. I can touch both ears together. I am able to lift large quantities of decayed matter. I both lie and make love pathologically.

PLAYBOY: Have you ever experimented with the mind-expanding drugs?
WOODY ALLEN: I take a chocolate-covered St. Joseph's baby aspirin now and then, and groove myself out of my skull. It's fantastic; it heightens my orgasm. I see colors more vividly, the veins in leaves, the birth of bacteria on Formica tabletops. Gradually I hope to up the dosage to two per trip.

PLAYBOY: So much for your predilections. Do you have any aversions?
WOODY ALLEN: I do not like turning rapidly to my left; I move right in a 270-degree arc until I'm facing left. I am fond of the Atlantic Ocean, but not the Pacific, which says nothing to me oceanwise. I have a psychological fear of dancing with a mailman. Had it since childhood. Oh, and a morbid phobia of breaded veal cutlets.

PLAYBOY: What else bugs you?
WOODY ALLEN: The fact that my jokes are constantly being purloined by other comedians.

PLAYBOY: Do they do your bits well?
WOODY ALLEN: They lack my command, authority and great natural warmth.

PLAYBOY: Are you feuding with anyone in the business?
WOODY ALLEN: One feud, a long-standing one with the nearsighted Mr. Magoo. No one will invite us to the same party.

PLAYBOY: Yes, we saw that item in Winchell. Do your pet peeves include pets?
WOODY ALLEN: I don't find pets distasteful. If I could have any pet, it would be a clam. They're unusually affectionate, loyal and keep burglars away. They're quite responsive to commands, more so than dogs or chimps. Of all clams, cherrystones are the most dependable.

PLAYBOY: Let's talk about world affairs. What do you think of De Gaulle?
WOODY ALLEN: I don't trust anyone who speaks French that good.

PLAYBOY: How about L.B.J. and his crew?
WOODY ALLEN: He's got a ranch and one of those hats. Terrific!

PLAYBOY: Prayer in schools?
WOODY ALLEN: I'm in favor of it. There are no atheists during midterm exams.

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about the busing of schoolchildren?
WOODY ALLEN: I would just run over the more precocious ones.

PLAYBOY: Invasion of privacy?
WOODY ALLEN: My views on invasion of privacy must and will remain private. I deeply resent your boorish intrusiveness.

PLAYBOY: Black power?
WOODY ALLEN: I know nothing about chess.

PLAYBOY: The Red Guards?
WOODY ALLEN: Or checkers.

PLAYBOY: What's your draft status?
WOODY ALLEN: 4-P. In the event of war, I'm a hostage.

PLAYBOY: If you were 1-A, would you consider burning your draft card to avoid induction?
WOODY ALLEN: I regard the draft boards as I regard boards of education or any other inanimate objects—as sinister. As far as burning a card is concerned, I wouldn't be able to make a fire. I can't see feigning homosexuality; a stud like me wouldn't know how to begin. But if I did go into the Army, my natural tendency would be to be a hero—if they gave out medals for desertion. Actually, I'm at work on an incredible secret weapon to use against the Viet Cong—an electronic beam that will give them postnasal drip.

PLAYBOY: Where do your sympathies lie in the debate between the Hawks and the Doves?
WOODY ALLEN: To be honest, my sympathies lie with myself. I have a terrific empathy with myself, tend to identify with myself more and more. Anyhow, I don't know who the Hawks and the Doves are, but when I find out, I'm going to ring their doorbells and run.

PLAYBOY: Lately, we've seen the emergence of an apocalyptic strain of comedy termed black humor. Have you had any particular vision of the apocalypse?
WOODY ALLEN: Death has visited me in the form of a shrouded figurine. I'm playing him gin rummy for my soul—at a penny a point, just to keep it interesting.

PLAYBOY: Are there any cultural trends you find pernicious?
WOODY ALLEN: I'm against evolution. The present progressive evolvement of the species toward higher forms is a dangerous trend that should be arrested—reversed, if possible. If I had my way, this Mr. Scopes of "monkey trial" fame would have been convicted.

PLAYBOY: Speaking of the monkey, do you frequent discothèques?
WOODY ALLEN: Quite often. My body generates a rhythm that can best be described as Indonesian. Once Sybil Christopher stopped frugging at Arthur to watch me with ill-concealed envy and hostility.

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about Mod fashions?
WOODY ALLEN: I like short dresses, but only on extremely fat girls with bulbous thighs, huge muscular calves and thick varicosed ankles.

PLAYBOY: What's your position on long hair for men?
WOODY ALLEN: I'd rather see a man in long hair than a pageboy.

PLAYBOY: For many young people, long hair seems to be a symbol of nonconformity and defiance of the establishment. How do you feel about student protest?
WOODY ALLEN: I'm all for it—and student riots, too.

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about "the new morality" on campus?
WOODY ALLEN: The present sexual revolution in the colleges has almost caused me to reregister. When I was in college, there was no all-out sexual revolution, just some sporadic guerrilla warfare. And I wasn't very good in ambushes.

PLAYBOY: What, in your eyes, is the major cultural contribution of the 20th century?
WOODY ALLEN: The movie version of Act One.

PLAYBOY: What would you place in a time capsule to represent the best of our age?
WOODY ALLEN: I would fill it with feathers. Plenty of feathers.

PLAYBOY: Master Heywood Allen, with your hit play, your movie scripts, your acting roles, your nightclub and concert engagements making your name a household word, you stand astride the entertainment world, as one critic has phrased it, like "a Colossus of Toads." Is all this enough for you, or do you have some greater mission in life?
WOODY ALLEN: Yes, to invent a better yo-yo and, even more important than that, to accumulate the world's biggest ball of tin foil.

Don't blame me if you click on the link and see stuff you shouldn't.


  1. I enjoyed reading the interview with Woody Allen. I am a huge fan of his movies and his wit. Great post!

  2. Phew! That's a lotta Woody!