Playboy was founded by Hugh Hefner in 1953 as a lifestyle and entertainment magazine that featured women in the nude and semi-nude.
Hefner, equipped with a degree in psychology and experience in writing, sales and marketing, and promotions, was able to launch the project by raising about $8,000, including contributions from his mother and brother. Women featured in the pages were eventually called 'Playmates.'
Over the years, the magazine also published exclusive interviews of famous public figures and stories by notable writers such as Haruki Murakami, Vladimir Nabokov, and Chuck Palahniuk.
We know very well what Playboy means for those who purchase the magazine, a feast for the eyes and for the mind, but what did it mean for the women who modeled for it?
New York Mag investigated this question in 2014 by revisiting former Playmates 60 years after their stint with the publication. The models featured here range from Miss March 1954 to Miss January 1979, and each of them had something different to say of their experiences.
Dolores Del Monte (Miss March 1954), age 82.
Del Monte didn’t realize that her photos would end up in the magazine. She was an aspiring actress at the time and agreed to a photoshoot because of its decent pay.
After Playboy she went on to work in public relations. When her son was in college, he came across a 25th anniversary issue of the magazine and asked her about it. Del Monte was reportedly embarrassed about the whole thing.
Helena Antonaccio (Miss June 1969), age 65.
“They thought I was too virginal, not sexy enough,” Antonaccio said of her experience in modeling school in New York.
That’s when she took a job at a Playboy Club, a known stepping-stone into Playboy.
“When you go to the Playboy mansion, you get a butler and a maid and you’re driven around in a limo and somebody does your laundry.”
Later on in life, she worked as a doggie-day-care counselor.
Today, she still doesn’t view herself as sexy and says that “it’s all just fantasy and smoke and mirrors.”
Marilyn Cole Lownes (Miss January 1972), age 65.
We’re sure that an experience at Playboy will leave you with a lot of material to write about. Marilyn certainly had the drive, because she pursued a career as a journalist after her Playmate post.
“A big advantage of being a bunny girl was the fact that we had enough money in our purses to get on a plane if we felt like it,” she told New York Magazine.
“We could buy our own drinks at Trader Vic’s and go to any club we wanted to and we did it all with our money, and that gave us a sense of power and liberation. We were all promiscuous. And we were all very much our own people.”
Janet Lupo (Miss November 1975), age 64.
Janet Lupo started out doing semi-nude photos in grandma lingerie. When her robe slipped off during one shoot, photographer Pompeo Posar continued to shoot.
Posar showed her the results and helped her feel comfortable with the photos, saying that they didn’t look “dirty or bad,” and she agreed. Afterwards, Lupo worked as a real-estate agent and entrepreneur.
Laura Aldridge (Miss February 1976), age 59.
Aldridge was equally transparent in her interview, saying that most men were only interested in getting laid. Her ex husband, who did graphic design work for the Beatles, was probably the “only person who didn’t think Playboy was cool.”
Aldridge later built a career as a stylist and decorator, and her two daughters work as supermodels.
Candace Jordan (Miss December 1979), age 60.
You wouldn’t expect a high school valedictorian to go on to become a Playmate, but that’s exactly what Candance Jordan did. No one forced her to do it. She did it on her own free will, and she found a sense of sisterhood at the St. Louis Playboy Club, which was priceless for someone who grew up as an only child.
After Playboy, she found work as a model and was even in Risky Business with Tom Cruise (as a hooker). Today, she is a well known and respected society columnist and blogger.
She added that playboy fans are “very, very respectful.”