Thursday, January 31, 2008

#10 - Nichole Van Croft

The advent of the 21st century is a perfect place to kick off our top 10, with Nichole Van Croft, Miss October 2000. Nichole was a formidable force in Playboy who came up around a time when great Playmates dominated the scene. The class of 2000 was filled with superstars like (#18) the Bernaola Twins, Suzanne Stokes, Nicole Lenz, Brande Roderick, Shannon Stewart, Neferteri Shepherd, and Buffy Tyler! There were so many impactful Playmates in this one year, it was tough to sort it out and figure out which one should have been PMOY. Indeed, it was a time when Playmates were extremely talented, their bodies were outrageous, and times were great.

One of the things that made Nichole amazing was just how outrageous she was. Unlike any other, Nichole took the big-breasted blonde look and turned it into an immaculate artform. Take a look at her photos, and you see incredible femininity, awesome posing talents, and an uncanny girl-next-door style that's extremely unusual for someone with her body type and looks. Nichole broke the mold, because a girl with 36" DD breasts and a voluptuous 5'5" frame is not supposed to be so charming and worldly. However, Nichole did it with stunning precision, and that's what puts her in the top 10 Playmates of all-time, even beating out great classics. To today, she is remembered as one of the modern heroes of the Playboy revolution of the late 90's and early 2000's because of her daring efforts to bring back the "big body" look that's been all the rage in recent years.

One thing sticks out about Nichole's pictorial: sheer volume. She was a prolific Playmate that photographers just ate up because she could do so many things and still stay fresh. Photos like this classic side shot, which shows off the sheer size of her great breasts. This sweaty, sexual photo is part of Nichole's innate talent because it shows off just how she can use clothing and her moves, in this case her hands, to really pull a photo together. One of the pictorial themes that really endears Miss Van Croft to the masses is her "ice and fan" series, which is just utterly perfect. Nichole drips water down her body in a little sheer top, and Pic 30 is one of the real classics of Playboy lore, with a look to the sky and a truly intimate and sexual moment caught on camera. When Nichole lays down, the intimacy truly reaches a boiling point, and the pictorial heats up. Another one of Nichole's premier photos is her standing photo #40, where her breasts hang and her hair lays over one eye and she strikes a cute smile. It's a true work of art. This showering shot is also a clear showing of just how exotic and unique this seemingly "typical" blonde can get. As she bites on her sheer lace shirt and offers up tons of reasons to put her in the Top 10, and delivers a drop-dead gorgeous shot with a wild stare while squeezing her enormous breasts together, it's easy to see that Nichole Van Croft was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. This photo of her is a great sendoff, kneeling and enjoying the summer heat in a picture that's worth a million words. Just look at that smooth body and shimmering tan. Her final pictorial photo is a bend-over shot that intimates a sense of doggy-style penetration that's awesomely provocative of every naughty desire possible.

If all of that isn't enough to quench your Playmate thirst, Miss Van Croft also had a mean centerfold, which instantly became a classic in 2000. The saucy shot of a zoomed-in Nichole shooting a perfect smile, exposing her colossal breasts, and pulling down her thong on a hammock is a textbook centerfold shot, and one of the best ever.

After scoping out her extensive pictorial and unbelievable centerfold, there's no doubt that Nichole was one of the finest Playmates of all-time. Although she is a relatively recent talent, the sort of impact she's had on the Playboy world cannot be questioned. Today, we see shorter, more voluptuous Playmates with amazingly curvy bodies that hearken back to the "buxom blonde" look of the 70's and 80's. Thank Nichole for a lot of that. She came out after a decade of more "natural" Playmates with more refinement and less regard for what makes the female body so spectacular in the first place: its extremely sexually suggestive features. Nichole had all of that, and awesome posing talent to boot. Certainly a fan favorite for over seven years, Nichole is poised to go down in history for all-time.

Cracking the top 10 is excellent, but we've still got nine more to go. As the competition heats up, which it already has, expect to see more Playmates of this incredible caliber take center stage. These girls all left no doubt that their mark on Playboy history would be ever-lasting. Hope you agree.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coed Drought

We've had a concerning drought in good Coed of the Month girls recently. Now Playboy, I understand that you're concerned with finding new types of talent aside from your Playmates and Cyber Girls here and there, but come on! There are PLENTY of hot college girls around the country, and it shouldn't be very hard to find them. However, it's been really disconcerting how long it's been since we've had a decent coed.

The last decent Coed of the Month was Miss May, Cristal Houston. Yes, May. Since then, we've had flops like Haydn Porter, Shawna Marie, Sarah Porchetta, and the recent rock-bottom, Marita N'Shea. These girls have no sense of how to pose, have very little to offer, and only Stella Dauphine in September had any talent at all. She was sexy and could move well, but even she wasn't close to offering something that potentially could be an awesome crop of candidates.

Remember when they were great month-after-month? The great Jennifer Hurt? The gorgeous Courtney Tyler (whom I think deserved a MUCH bigger break)?

Well, how about this month... things are certainly starting to look promising. Eve Jewell was the unfortunate winner for January, but February looks like it's got some great candidates. Brooke Taylor is a fox, and looks lean and mean in all of her pictures. She looks a bit one-dimensional compared to competitor Whitney Leigh, who looks pretty intriguing. Whitney is unique and beautiful, and I'd love to see a month's worth of her to find out what she has to offer. She's got some nice photos, but it's absolutely not enough to figure out about her, except for the fact that she's got a really bright smile and a killer body.

But what's really got me fired up is the way March ended. The January 31st coed is Magen Lugo. A spunky Northern Illinois psychology major, Magen works it hard in her ten photos, perhaps putting on one of the greatest Coed of the Week pictorials ever. Her first photo is amazing, with her cute skimpy outfit both scintillating and charming. Magen is truly a gorgeous young lady, with a great smile, excellent hair, and just an overall natural look. Magen isn't voluptuous or overly gifted, but it's how she looks with that petite frame and sexy tan that sells her to the audience. Her finest photo is one even a Playmate would be proud of, twisting and bending her legs in a spectacular display of photogenic skills. All in all, I'm very excited about Magen's future, and it would be an atrocity if she was neglected in the running for the February Coed! So go out there and VOTE!

Consensus... A-

Magen Lugo
January 31st 2008
Coed of the Week

Saturday, January 26, 2008

#11 - Angela Little

Golden Era Playmates were in a category by themselves in the late 1990s, with their confidence and talent permeating everything previously shown in the pages of Playboy. One of these Playmates was Angela Little, who was Miss August 1998. Angela was part of the very elite class of 1998, at a time when girls like (#15) Heather Kozar, Julia Schultz, (#17) Lisa Dergan, Vanessa Gleason, Laura Cover, and the Dahm triplets were competing for the crown. Angela was arguably one of the more impactful Playmates of the class of '98, redefining the style and sensibilities of a Playboy girl when she made her debut.

Angela was like nothing ever before her. She broke the mold in so many different ways that she deserves to be mentioned as one of the greatest and sexiest Playmates ever. For starters, her name said it all: Angela was quite small for a model, only 5'2". She also had a very youthful look to her... like a bright-eyed girl with an extremely playful and upbeat approach to pictorials. But on the flipside, Angela could play both sides like no one else, and could appear as a sex-driven blonde vixen when she wanted to be. A total enigma of Playboy history, Angela was one of the proudest moments in Playmate selection.

Angela gave us a wealth of photos due to her popularity with fan bases. One of her more unique photos is her lollipop shot, giving you a picture of her "bombshell" nature and how she can give you that cute, wholesome look while also being unbelievably sexual. Angela's dimly-lit "milk" pictorial shows off her great body and awesome sexuality. From the famous Pic 15, it's easy to see why Angela is one of the more unique Playmates ever. You can see her small frame and how masterfully it's shot so that it gets its own sense of appeal. This awesome photo is sultry and is a departure from Angela's cutsie look, showing you her incredible dynamics. Angela can pierce into the camera with just one look, so she has all the goods to back up her Playmate appearance, and then some. The fact is that Angela had it all, and had amazing posing talent that put her with the Playboy elite. Just look at this doggy-style photo, with its classic playfulness and active sexual undertones. Even her butt is fantastic.

If that's all not enough, look at Angela's centerfold, one of the finest ever. It's perfectly shot in every single way: her breasts are all-natural and just right, the curve of her buttocks is scintillating, and the look on her face and the lifting of that dress... it just makes you want to melt.

Angela was undoubtedly one of the most unexpected and unique Playmates of all-time. She made waves by showing that you don't have to be the prototypical model to gain the support of fans and be an elite nude model. She did it all with posing abilities on all ends of the spectrum: from cozy, girl next door action to an all-out sexual extravaganza. Angela knew how to work it, and was beautiful and mature while doing it all.

After all that goodness, it's now time to set our sights on the Top 10. Remember, these are my top 10 Playmates of ALL TIME, so it's a daunting task and certainly there will be much debate. However, I don't think you could say that any of these girls so far aren't deserving of their titles. And if you do think that, please check out the photos that I've outlined... it's sure to change your mind.

Friday, January 25, 2008

#12 - Carmella DeCesare

In the early years of the new millennium, the tides were turning to more exotic and varied Playmate from all directions. Carmella DeCesare was one of the modern pioneers of the "exotic wave" of recent times when she was named Miss April 2003. Carmella was introduced at a time when the days of the big-breasted white blonde were gone from Playboy, and as the fans wanted a taste of something different, Carmella became one of the most successful Playmates in recent times, being named Playmate of the Year in 2004. In a tough year of competition, along with Pennelope Jimenez, Tailor James, Divini Rae, and the Teles sisters, she hung on and experienced unprecedented growth.

No one to this day has earned Cyber Girl of the Month, Playmate of the Month, and Playmate of the Year honors besides Carmella. She came in with a look and a style which wowed audiences and captured their hearts because of her bright, playful nature. She wasn't the prototypical Playmate: an Ohio native with smaller breasts, very slim and not voluptuous, extremely tall (5'8"), and a brunette with a mix of Latina flavors. That's why she reshaped the view of what a Playmate is supposed to be, and that's how today's stars caught the spotlight.

Carmella certainly looked like no one else before her, and doesn't have any equal even today. Her pictorial starts with a gorgeous look at her amazing smile and petite figure. She spins around, and you can see that she's extremely photogenic in all settings. Something about her brightens up the camera, and it's immediately obvious that she's one-of-a-kind. She also has incredible, uncanny posing techniques, like this stripping of her skirt, and this lovely shot of her hips. When it comes down to it, Carmella was also undeniably sexual, given her bouts of sassy energetic poses, as well as her playful demeanor whenever she needed to turn up the heat. It should be clear that Carmella had incredible talent that just came naturally. Being a Playmate of the Year as well as a Cyber Girl meant that she had done numerous pictorials, but no two photos looked alike, and that is quite an accomplishment. She has several "posing modes," like when she needs to lay back and passively let her body do the talking, or when she needs to sizzle a little bit and work her moves by actively letting you into her mind.

In her PMOY pictorial, I found these car photos especially spicy, giving her a lean, mean look that gives you a clue about her broad spectrum of talent and artistry.

I'll say it again: Carmella has no equal in Playboy history. In a two-year stretch, she won awards and ascended the Playmate ladder unlike anyone before her, and made a definite mark on the way Playmates are chosen today. She was at the forefront of everything that makes a modern model excellent: naturally striking looks, a strong sexual attraction, and outstanding posing talent in any situation. She was versatile and artistic, and she did it all without the typical "buxom blonde" looks of years past. She also helps us break into the top half of our ranking, as we inch closer to the Top 10. It's only going to get better from here on in.

Featured Photo - 1/25

In 2005, Miss September was a plain Jane with not a whole lot about her that really kept her in our minds until now. Playmates need defining moments and great photographs to define their careers, and Vanessa Hoelscher wasn't anyone to really mobilize a fan base or get people excited.

All except for one feature.

In her pictorial, photo #5 was absolutely breathtaking. It's a backside shot of hers that was shot for the magazine spread, with perfect lighting and an even more perfect pose by Vanessa. The photo is gently lit without overpowering or bleaching out the model, while bringing out the natural colors in her body. Her butt looks excellent and perfect, and the arch of her back is sexy because of the way she clasps the walls to her sides. Everything about this pose makes it a classic: from the way Vanessa's hair lightly wafts against her face, to that irresistible look on her face, complete with those hot eyelashes and those classic parted lips. One thing that sells the photo is the way Vanessa holds on to the walls, with her elbows bent in a picture-perfect pose. I never thought Vanessa was the most photogenic model, but boy did she work it in this one. She wants it, and she wants it hard in this one. Great job, Miss Hoelscher.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Countdown Recap: #25-13

The staple of Playboy has been, throughout its years, the girls that make up its elite group of Playmates. Playmates are immortalized in their pictorials and photos, and are frozen in time for their natural beauty and otherworldly allure. There's nothing like a Playmate... they're simply the most beautiful. So what does it take to put these girls in some sort of rank, and finding the 25 greatest ever?

It's no easy task.

So we've made it halfway through our ranking of the 25 Greatest Playmates of All-Time. It hasn't been easy comparing these ladies to each other, and it just gets tougher as we go further into it. I think it's going pretty well, as the girls who've appeared so far are all impactful and revolutionary in terms of how they've contributed to the Playmate image. So let's recap these beauties so far, and get to remember how they've made their mark in the Playboy world.

#25 Carrie Westcott
September 1993

Carrie was far ahead of her time - taking the edgy, rough look to the mainstream and becoming the first true "blonde bombshell" in Playboy.

#24 Cara Wakelin
November 1999

The smooth-skinned Canadian beauty was a much forgotten Playmate whose striking pictorial presence and unique looks were unmatched.

#23 Heidi Sorenson
July 1981

Far ahead of her time, she ushered in the style of the 80's with an constant array of goddess-like poses and epic nude artistry.

#22 Gillian Bonner
April 1996

Gillian's overt sexuality and piercing eyes, coupled with a playful sense of presence, made her one of the most important Playmates of the Golden Era.

#21 Crista Nicole
May 2001

Crista's beautiful curves alone are worth a thousand words. Her tall body and engaging face were curvy and set the bar for Playmates of the new millennium.

#20 Julie McCullough
February 1986

Julie set the tone for the "modernization" of the 90's, complete with a playful, fresh look and a departure from the "big hair, big makeup" look of the 1980's.

#19 Raquel Gibson
November 2005

Raquel, a more recent Playmate, is a testament to Playboy's commitment to diversity. Her Filipino-Italian looks are exotic, and her islander body is extraordinary.

#18 Carol and Darlene Bernaola
January 2000

The Bernaola twins ushered in the new millennium by offering a double dose of South American bodies, their outstanding chemistry being the focal point of each and every photo.

#17 Lisa Dergan
July 1998

Lisa was part of the historic class of 1998, although the lesser known of the bunch. Her unbelievable intimacy in each of her photos was enough to make her a major fan favorite.

#16 Kelly Gallagher
September 1994

A tall, luscious Playmate with legs for miles, Kelly's sophisticated performances and all-natural beauty were both inviting and classically reminiscent.

#15 Heather Kozar
January 1998
Playmate of the Year 1999

Heather was a prolific poser from the most outstanding era in Playboy history, when her curly blond locks and awesome posing talent earned her a number of awards.

#14 Monica Leigh
March 2006
Cyber Girl of the Year 2006

A recent superstar, Monica is an omnipresent star in modern Playboy because of her exceptional ability to strike a vast variety of poses and make her incredible looks work to perfection.

#13 Jennifer Walcott
August 2001

Jennifer took a dash of animal-like sexuality and a buxom brunette body and put it into a spicy concoction that made her a huge star into the new millennium, impacting the edginess of pictorials to come.

Wow, those were some amazing girls. How much better could it get? Well, we haven't even touched upon the best of the best yet. The top 12 are going to be quite a ride, and I'm sure all you fans have plenty of names swirling all over. You'll just have to wait and see!

Ringing In the New Year

Playboy decided to go for the New Year with a bang, since 2007 ended with a fizzle. They elected to get some outside help, too. Introducing Sandra Nilsson, a - get this - Swedish brunette with lots of European sophistication and flavor. Sandra got my interest with her preview, where she looked mature and alluring. I didn't really realize that she was Swedish, that fact having skipped my mind when I saw her flowing brown locks. But yes, there are brunettes in Sweden, and Playboy's found a great one, here.

One thing that's easy to notice about Sandra is that she's polished and flowing in each one of her photos, not to mention she has a ton of natural beauty. She's not overtly sexual, and in that there may be her weakness, but she's really nice to lay eyes on, and certainly looks excellent with no clothes on.

Heck, Sandra even looks great with clothes on. In her first picture, that dress complements her eyes and hair so well, I just wish I could take a good look at her for even longer. Sandra, however, does get naked, and I'm not upset she did, getting a good look at her tall, flowing body. Sandra gets down and dirty... well, as dirty as she can possibly get. But she doesn't really ever go full-on with her mood, only hinting at her lustiness and never really even showing much of her vagina. Most of her shots are slanted enough that you can barely even see her labia. She does have beautiful, sophisticated poses like this one, capturing her subtle beauty and particular facial features that make her very unique. Her centerfold also is a pretty one, taking her aura of beauty into account.

What Sandra Nilsson brings to the table is simply not enough in this day and age. Playboy fans demand more sexuality in their Playmates, and these girls have been selected to deliver both class as well as the "goods." The evolution of Playboy from a tongue-in-cheek entity to a more full-blown service providing candid shots of beautiful women is what we expect. Sandra herself is an incredibly gorgeous woman, but I just wish there was more to evaluate her by. So far, however, Playboy is on the right track starting 2008, and previews of lovely Michelle McLaughlin look promising, as well. Kudos!

Consensus... B+

Sandra Nilsson
Miss January 2008

#13 - Jennifer Walcott

Near the tail-end of the Playmate Golden Era of the late 1990's and early 2000's, Jennifer Walcott became Miss August 2001. The class of 2001 led a marked change to the "superstarlet" style of Playmates in the 2000s, with girls like Crista Nicole (#21 on this ranking), 2002 PMOY Dalene Kurtis, and Lindsey Vuolo. These girls were ultra-sexual, and left behind the artistic subtleties of Playmates past. Instead, these girls were on a mission to send a message of voluptuous sexuality to the audience, and Jennifer was in the forefront of that movement.

Jennifer was a pioneer of sexuality in Playmate attitudes. The edginess with which she posed was unparalleled, and she ushered in a new genre of Playmates. This was accomplished by her strong, confident posing style, her innate beauty, and her gorgeous, tough body which was visibly rock-hard from each and every one of her photographs. Jennifer constantly strived for variety in her pictorials, and it shows the precision with which she mixed things up and took risks.

Jennifer's great clothed shot shows a gym motif, which suits her perfectly. Her cute facade is depicted very well at the punching bag, where her lovely smile captures the scene. What really sold Jennifer for fans, however, was her ability to strike eccentric poses that oozed sex. In the bathtub, she shined her brightest. This interesting and alluringly candid photo of her shaving and grooming her pubic hair is an interesting and edgy shot, endearing her to a broader sense. She can be very personal and sensitive when she wants to be, such as in these shots, with her eyes giving off an innocent sense of vulnerability. Her little cotton shorts are beautifully matched to her body, as well. This zoomed photo captures the subtleties and outrageously sculpted features of Miss Walcott's firm body. Her breasts were large and substantial, and her attitude helped wrap it all up. Even her butt looks breathtaking and her face looks bold in this edgy Pic 37. On the bed, Jennifer continues to impress, with Pic 47 being one of her finest and most sexual performances, giving a peek at her lovely lips down under. Best of all, Jennifer maintains that mature, feminine presence that can really sell the in-your-face sexuality that she offers.

When it comes down to having a vast collection of powerful photo work and to being a model who exemplifies the evolution of what it means to be a Playmate, Jennifer Walcott had it down. She moved and posed in beautiful montages that really took Playboy into the 21st century, and did it all with an amazing body and an even more beautiful smile. Now, as we pass the halfway point in our countdown of the Top 25 of all-time, the race gets even tougher, with the true elites of Playboy history making appearances. I'm telling you, what you're about to see are the real game-changers in Playboy history... the gals who built the modern tradition and wowed audiences like no other.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Opinion Polls for 2008

I said I'd keep you all posted on the opinion polls for the Playmate of the Year 2008 race, even in the months leading up to the votes. I've looked through several of the early opinion polls in the Playboy community, including a couple of hotly contested ones with strong indicators for a couple of girls. Some polls show a very close race, so let's see how they stack up with my rankings...

Poll #1: 2008 Official Poll
(PlayboyCritic ranking given in brackets [ ] )

January - Jayde Nicole [3] 3rd
February - Heather Rene Smith [5] T-9th 4.65%
March - Tyran Richard [4] T-5th 5.23%
April - Giuliana Marino [11] T-5th 5.23%
May - Shannon James [2] 12th
June - Brittany Binger [1] 1st
July - Tiffany Selby [6] 11th
August - Tamara Sky [10] T-5th 5.23%
September - Patrice Hollis [9] T-9th 4.65%
October - Spencer Scott [7] 2nd
November - Lindsay Wagner [8] 4th
December - Sasckya Porto [12] T-5th

This poll was particularly interesting and shocking because of the ranking of Shannon James, who placed last in votes, but was my #2 because of her fantastic pictorial. She's a beautiful woman, and I don't understand why she hasn't mobilized enough fans to get her going at all. One positive concurrence is obviously Brittany Binger, who gathered first place in both my ranking and in this poll. With more than a quarter of the votes, she's even rather far ahead of predicted fan favorite Spencer Scott, who is generating tons of buzz. As you know, I placed Spencer at #7, but the fans are obviously very excited about the young blond model. There are plenty of stalemates in this poll, but another piece of good news is the performance of Jayde Nicole, who placed third in both the poll and my ranking. I'd love to see her win it over Spencer, but it looks like Miss Scott might be at an arm's length by the time the votes are tallied. Also, Lindsay Wagner surprised me by placing 4th, as I didn't realize that she was generating this much buzz in the community.

Poll #2: General Fan Poll
(PlayboyCritic ranking given in brackets [ ] )
Miss January, Jayde Nicole 27 29.35%
Miss February, Heather Rene Smith 9 9.78%
Miss March, Tyran Richard 11 11.96%
Miss April, Giuliana Marino 13 14.13%
Miss May, Shannon James 6 6.52%
Miss June, Brittany Binger 51 55.43%
Miss July, Tiffany Selby 4 4.35%
Miss August, Tamara Sky 5 5.43%
Miss September, Patrice Hollis 10 10.87%
Miss October, Spencer Scott 27 29.35%
Miss November, Lindsay Wagner 20 21.74%
Miss December, Sasckya Porto 3 3.26%

This poll is definitely even more interesting, in that it gives Brittany Binger a massive lead over everyone else, with over 55% of votes! It also has both Spencer Scott and Jayde Nicole tied at 2nd with more than a quarter of votes! This huge gathering of votes by the clear top three makes it easy to narrow down the candidates: we should have Brittany, Spencer, or Jayde as our next PMOY. I was still upset that Shannon James placed at 9th and is doing so poorly in every opinion poll, although not as poorly as in the previous one. The poll was also showing that Sasckya Porto was a clear last-place finisher and an overall disappointment to many fans.

Given these polls, it's clear that we've got three candidates who are head-and-shoulders above all the others. Brittany, Spencer, and Jayde combined for a majority of votes in both polls, asserting their dominance on the field. It's my hope that Brittany or Jayde win over Spencer, but either of the three could prove to be a good candidate for PMOY. I'll keep everyone posted on any further developments.

In the meantime, enjoy the montages of what kinds of girls we might have taking the crown in April. 2007 was a great year of Playmates, regardless of who wins. With so many exotic faces and a markedly changing direction for Playboy, it'll be exciting to see what lies next in 2008.