WASHINGTON — Jim Brown walks like something's hurting him. Maybe it's the pointy-toed black snakeskin cowboy boots. Maybe it's an old football injury. Or could one of his numerous girlfriends have delivered a well-placed kick?
"I just walk funny," he said.
He always gets out of cars slowly, so as not to pull anything.
Is it possible the man is showing a few signs of age? It doesn't look as though Father Time has exactly stomped on him with cleats, but there are a few telltale shadows of life evident on the former Playgirl centerfold, who, after all, is 52. (He said. Biographical listings give his birth date as Feb. 17, 1936.) The chest hairs peeking over the black tank top are flecked with gray, and the top of his forehead is now farther from his eyebrows than it was in either his football hero or acting days. Is he getting a tad overripe?
Fruit and Meat
Brown is fond of grocery metaphors when it comes to women, whom he is very fond of if they fit into a certain type. "I prefer girls who are young," he says in "Out of Bounds," his hot-off-the-press memoir. "When I eat a peach, I don't want it overripe. I want that peach when it's peaking."
Or to put it another way, "If I wake up in the morning, I hunger for crab, then I don't want steak." Steak being a woman who is older, say over 25.
And, the book continues, he wants a woman who's small. "I don't mean mousy small. I mean tight. Petite. Delicate. No excess. When I get into the bedroom, I don't want to see anything that's big like me." Not that he looks only for vacuous one-night stands--at least not any more.
Brown said he understands why some people might find his attitude about women, as portrayed in this book, offensive; that people, especially females, might blanch at his constant references to "chasing girls" like a hunter after game, picking up whole coveys of them and passing them out among his friends, swapping them, sharing them and then moving on to the next day's quarry. Or the endless parties/orgies, as he is happy to call them--at which the primary decorations are naked women and the only rule is No Locked Doors.
'Just My Sexuality'
He admits in the book to following a double standard, to having a Main Girlfriend that you take out in public, as opposed to the women who were called freaks, the ones who arrived at Cleveland Browns parties, where "we'd all bring two or three girls. . . . Those pretty girls from Cleveland were allowed to express themselves freely and creatively."
He knows, but he laughs. True, the laugh is a little tight, perhaps embarrassed, but basically, he said in an interview, he just is the way he is. "It's just my sexuality. Everybody likes something."
Remember, sex sells.
And by that standard, Brown's book should be a best-seller. The first half is mostly about his career in football, which he left in 1965 at his peak after nine great seasons as a fullback. The second half is about sex, and various movie stars he's known, and sex, and business, and politics, and sex. And about some of the legal troubles he's had involving various accusations of assaults on women, none of which he has been convicted of.
He writes about not having affairs with co-stars Raquel Welch, Stella Stevens and Jacqueline Bisset; how he introduced Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to menage a trois; how his good buddy Muhammad Ali was having as many as five women a night in his early years while declaring himself celibate; and how he almost became part of Ali's management team before the fighter bucked the draft as a conscientious objector.
Confusing, and Frank
Actually, "Out of Bounds" is not a book in the traditional sense, because it was not written so much as talked. Brown and a collaborator, Steve Delsohn, then edited the tapes down to book length. The result is a sort of extended locker room monologue--profane, outrageous, one-sided and occasionally thought-provoking.
It is full of unexplained references and confusing allusions, but it also contains some frank character assessments and self-appraisal. It is Jim Brown's take on Jim Brown, his version of the way things were, his platform. He wrote it because he was not happy with his first book, "Off My Chest," also written with a collaborator.
"It reflects my life honestly," he said. "It might shock you but if you read the whole book you might see I have a very individual point of view."
His point of view, as reflected in the book and an interview, seems to be that of a combination radical black militant, sexual libertine and traditional Republican capitalist.
On the one hand, he spoke recently at Huey Newton's funeral; has been friends with Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan; and has always, even as a young football player in the 1960s, been an out-front activist.