The Lady Loves Cigars
India Allen, the 1988 Playboy Playmate of the Year, is looking for a breakthrough movie on her terms.
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95
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Everything about the cigar culture appeals to her, she says: "Cigars create such camaraderie. And they help so much in business. I have made so many friends over cigars. I remember once I went to Miami to try to sell a video I was starring in. It was an erotic thriller called Wild Cactus. Two Blockbuster Video executives and I had dinner. We smoked cigars together. It was very relaxing. We smoked the stogies and just talked about family and life. And they said, 'Wow, you're so normal. We were not expecting this at all.' So they ended up buying the video. And it did very well. It was just one of those things where over the table we developed an instant camaraderie."
Indie's smoking companions have included the rich and famous, among them Gene Pressman, the head of Barneys New York, and Jack Nicholson, long known as a stogie-passionate performer. "I don't think I have ever met a cigar smoker who was unsuccessful," she says.
"A producer came up from L.A. just a couple of weeks ago and brought Gene Pressman with him," Indie recalls. "He was over at Spanish Bay, so we went into their smoking room, lit up and told cigar stories. One person I used to mooch stogies off a lot at dinner parties was Jack Nicholson; he had the really good Cohibas, especially the Robustos. One evening, we ended up walking out of a restaurant arm-in-arm smoking cigars. I leaned over and took a puff of his cigar and all the paparazzi waiting outside were snapping away. One time, on a trip to Italy with an Italian art-dealer friend, a photographer who knew him saw me smoking and said he had to shoot pictures of me with the cigars. I showed up at his loft and we started shooting. The cigars might have been Avos. I'm not positive. Or maybe Hoyos. Though it was a No. 1. It was a long one. And before you know it, I was naked. They're fantastic pictures."
Among the cigar smokers she has admired but never met, she says, is Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Arnold is to die for, as far as I'm concerned," she says. "He's brilliant; he's an incredible businessman, and he smokes cigars. You just can't go wrong."
In fact, she says, for her to be interested in a man, he has to smoke cigars. "I don't have to make exceptions," she says. "I guess I just have an eye for it. The type I like smokes cigars. And surprisingly, a lot of them are very fit. I require that anybody I date be very fit. And he has to be accepting of my smoking cigars and of my being in the company of men and smoking cigars. He has to be very self-confident, and that's difficult to find. And I also have to have somebody who's smarter than me. That's tough. A lot of the Marine officers based here smoke cigars. In fact, I'm dating one right now who's brilliant and built like Arnold."
Despite her devotion to men, Indie is critical of male performance standards when events move from the smoking room to the bedroom. "I love men," she says. "I love them to pieces. I can't live without them, and I just think they're the most beautiful things in the world. But, unfortunately, I just don't think they know what they're doing in the boudoir.
"I think women are in charge of the bedroom," she says. "In my relationships, I control the bedroom. There's no question: I set the tone. And even if the man's in charge, I have maneuvered it so that he is in charge."
It is simply, she says, that women are much sexier and are more sensual thinkers than men are. "There are things that men are naturally very good at, and things that women are naturally good at," she says. "It all comes from the fact that women give birth, that we are nurturing. Nurturing is just a different side of sensuality. It's the same reason that if I have a man over for dinner and I see his glass go partway down, I'm going to get up and fill it. And no feminist in the world is going to be able to stop that. I can't help it. Women are just sensual: we're softer, we're rounder, we're smoother, we have a lighter touch."
And as if to prove her point, she reaches for the two empty dinner dishes that had held the agnolotti, takes them in her gentle hands and carefully places them on an adjacent empty table. "It's just the way I am," she says.
What she is, though, is not at all what she expected to be when she was growing up. The name India, she says, is her actual given name: it is popular in England and in the South, and her parents "just liked it." Her high-school days, she says, were "totally normal." Her first boyfriend was a football star who won an athletic scholarship to Stanford University but was injured in a game. He now owns a local used-car dealership.
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