Saturday, August 23, 2008
Playboy Bunny Reunion 2008
What makes the story of the John Keehan/Count Danté's life so intriguing is the variety of experiences he managed to cram into 35 years of living.
When Keehan returned to Chicago after being in the military in the early 60s, he decided to go to beauty school to become a hairdresser. Art Rapkin explained to me that John chose hairdressing for two reasons. It gave him the freedom to work whatever hours he wanted to, leaving free to train as much as he liked. With few men working as hairdressers it also gave one the advantage of meeting as many women under intimate circumstances as possible for a young man. This was another activity among innumerable business ventures he was already involved in as well as his emerging realtionship with members of the Chicago Outfit.
Keehan's identity change to Count Danté seems to have been a catch-all business decision. For his hairdressing business, it signified the romance of European nobility, classic style. In martial arts it was a way to romanticize his image with a name that spoke of adventure, daring and epic battle. Like the Count of Monte Cristo, and other daring mythical and real characters of Europe's past, he chise a persona through which he could become larger than life.
It has been said he wa a hairdresser for Playboy Bunnies. I have heard it from everyone but an actual Playboy Bunyy whose hair he did. This weekend I will be attending the International Playboy Bunny Reunion 2008 in Chicago looking for Bunnies from that era who might have know him. "Bunny Monique," on of the organizers, has been very courteous and has been nice about me and a camera person attending.
My strategy is to get to registration early and pass out the flyer you see above. Hopefully we will find out what level his hairdressing skills were like and get a few choice anecdotes along the way. I may even have the pleasure of seeing Barbara Kemp while I am there.
Yes there will be pictures. Just don't expect anything racy from this weekend's reunion, this is alllllllllll biznizzzzzzz!!! :-)
I spoke with Bob Wall today at World Black Belt. He has completed his Illustrated History of Martial Arts in America: 1900 to Present. It is a coffee table sized book that covers the entire history of martial arts in America with photos. Chicago gets firmly rooted in that history with photos of Bruce Tegner's judo instructor mom and dad in the 1920s. I helped him located images for the book while I was doing research for the film. World Black Belt is a great site for the marketing of my film. They have about 400,000 members and schools, they offer the kinds of services that professional associations really need. Bob Wall has been very supportive of the film, he has opened doors for me with people he knows and is one of my great encouragers. He also has some GREAT stories from the days of point fighting. I got really impressed with Bob when he flew out the evening of Ken Knudson's memorial and flew right back out that evening. That was the tribute of a true friend.