It was always Hugh Hefner's (Hef's) mantra, 'Once a Playmate, always a Playmate,' and I felt the full force of this after I was asked to fly to L.A. for another shoot for Playboy magazine a full 40 years after appearing as its December 1979 centerfold.
The request, obviously, caught me completely off guard since I didn't expect to be modeling for Playboy after all these years. My journey with the organization began way back in 1974 when I first became a Bunny at the St. Louis Playboy Club. My first photo shoot, shortly after being hired, was for a "Best Bunnies" pictorial. It caught the attention of the home office in Chicago and I was quickly invited to transfer to the hub, which I did, moving into the storied Playboy Mansion on State Street on September 22, 1974.
Two years ago, Cooper Hefner invited me to reprise my February 1979 cover for another feature for the magazine that included six other "iconic" Playmates--his mother, Kimberly Conrad Hefner (Playmate of the Year 1989, Jan. 1988 Playmate); Reneé Tenison (PMOY 1990, Nov. 1989 PM); Lisa Matthews (PMOY 1991, April 1990 PM); Charlotte Kemp Muhl (December 1982 PM); Cathy St. George (August 1982 PM) and Monique St. Pierre (PMOY 1979, November 1978 PM).
This most recent shoot was a complete departure of anything I've ever done for Playboy before. It included Renee' Tenison (the first African American PMOY, 1990, November 1989 PM who also appeared in the cover reprisal shoot; Victoria Valentino (September 1963 Playmate who was a Cosby victim and now the oldest PM to ever appear in the magazine at age 77); Raquel Pomplun (the first Mexican/ American PMOY, 2013, and the April 2012 Playmate) and Brande Roderick (PMOY 2001 and April 2000 PM). The issue celebrates five decades of Playmates, a first for the magazine!
I was invited to participate via an email that arrived on October 9, just after Chuck and I had returned from a trip to Dollywood where I had eaten my way through every fried food stand there. Waist-wise, the timing couldn't have been worse but I shaped up in time and was fully prepared by the time I arrived in LA on October 21.
The 12-page cover feature was shot by Nadia Lee Cohen, a cool, edgy female photographer who also serves as her own muse on her Instagram account. She's a contributing photog for Vogue mag too. Her surreal vision for the shoot came as a surprise to me and several others. It involved a step back in time, the swingin' 60s, when wigs were big (literally and figuratively). Nadia's crack styling team was on top of it all. (Luckily though, I convinced Nadia to let me ditch the wig, which she kindly did.)
Looooonnngggg fake nails were glued onto everyone's hands and looooonnngggg eyelashes were applied. Heavy eye makeup was the order of the day as were the aforementioned wigs. Downstairs, racks and racks of vintage clothing, underwear, heels, jewelry and more were strewn across every spare surface. We were instructed to get spray tans before we came. Nadia mentioned during the shoot that she was aiming for something like a " Valley of the Dolls" vibe which involved pretty serious wigs. I wasn't overly pleased to hear this but, in the end, her vision just rocked and made history for Playboy.
The venue was a house in Burbank that was once owned by Esther Williams, the iconic swim star from the '40s/'50s. It's vintage vibe had never been touched as witnessed by the throwback wooden features and overall mustiness. An orange shag carpet had been brought in to add more authenticity to the era. There was a pool in back, of course, and a guest house that served as the staging area for wardrobe, hair and makeup. It was a BIG shoot, lots and lots of crew and even a dog wrangler for two cute pups who seemed to want to be anywhere else but where they were.
I just loved reconnecting with the Playmates and was happy to meet the new guard at Playboy magazine. They were enthusiastic and very respectful of the past yet with a firm eye on the future.
I was so honored to be one of the Playmates chosen for this cover feature representing five decades of Playmates. As photographer Nadia Lee Cohen explained, "I wanted to celebrate the original Playmates who helped shape and pioneer the brand." Just as Hefner always wanted when he coined the phrase and title of the feature "Once a Playmate, Always a Playmate."
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Filed under: Entertainment
Tags: Brande Roderick, Candace Collins, Candace Collins Jordan, Candace Jordan, Candid Candace, Cat Auer, Cathy St. George, centerfolds, Charlette Kemp Muhl, Chuck Jordan, Cooper Hefner, covergirls, Erica Loewy, Hugh Hefner, Jamilah Lemieux, Kimberly Conrad Hefner, Kristi Beck, models, Monique St. Pierre, Nadia Lee Cohen, pin-ups, Playboy, Playmates, Raquel Pomplun, Renee Tenision, Victoria Valentino