"I scan through the familiar terrain married, mother, 35C... until I come to the final section... She's written: `I volunteer as a pediatric AIDS worker, which I consider a great honor,' " details Ueland, as he notes yet another ironic, cultural incongruity in his job as the house reporter for Playboy's six-month national search for Playmate of the Millennium. If "35C" and "pediatric AIDS worker" seems to be a contradiction, so is Ueland and his job. He says he's "never been the Playboy guy," and he appears to have gotten this gig because, while working on his novel, he wrote a humorous article about his sexual insecurities entitled "Trials of a Gay-Seeming Straight Male." Indeed, Ueland writes at length here about his therapy sessions dealing with his identity crisis as a heterosexual male who desires women outside of the Playboy paradigm. When Ueland is at his best, this sometimes shapeless, on-the-road memoir crackles with fine, mordant observations, and he can astutely communicate his emotional disjuncture with this project: "I really am invisible, standing in the middle of the crowd. I watch mutely." But too often Ueland's epiphanies feel slightly shop-worn: "These girls, the Myras, Mollys, and Hesters you know what? I'm like them. They're just likable." Frequent name-dropping (Graham Greene, John Updike, Norman Mailer, Ernest Hemingway), while ironic, looks silly. In the end, Ueland learns that being a heterosexual male doesn't mean being a womanizer, but while his journey is often entertaining, it doesn't yield surprising insights. Agent, Laura Dail. (Nov.) Forecast: Ads in Sports Illustrated and blurbs from John Leguizamo and Nerve.com founder Rufus Griscom will target this memoir's audience, and one can only imagine what a book release party for the media might be like (Warner hasn't said anything yet). But will guys respond? The cover art which is suggestive but not quite titillating might help. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Frustrated novelist and self-described "Gay-Seeming Straight Male" Ueland is tapped to write a daily dispatch describing his adventures on Playboy's "Playmate 2000" search bus.
Despite his concerns that prolonged contact with the Playboy empire may transform him into a "serious pig," 32-year-old Ueland, living in what could charitably be called bohemian poverty and still struggling to find himself, basically lunges at the chance to become the man who other man envy. How? By taking up residence in Playboy’s rolling casting studio, where applicants dreaming of stardom can't wait to get naked on the couch. Accompanied by a stable of Playboy employees (none of whom make much of an impression after 6 months and 300 pages), Ueland morphs from a man who revels in his feminist heritage to a guy who encourages aspiring playmates to flash him their naughty bits in New Orleans alleys, at Niagara Falls, and in front of the Lincoln Memorial—all for the good of his World Wide Web column, of course. Perhaps feeling some sort of obligatory quid pro quo, Ueland reveals himself as well, reeling off accounts of his therapy sessions, his five years of celibacy, his sexual liaisons with a tastefully small number of aspirants who just can't resist him. No one comes off looking good here: not Ueland, who seems equally anxious about his growing comfort with daily anonymous debauchery and the possibility that he won't bed a single Playmate before the search is over; not the (generally very young) women who can think of no other way to escape the tedium of their existence; not the organization that so expertly turns all of this anxiety into a money venture.
Frothy and creepy in equal measures.