Thursday, May 15, 2008

Best and Worst of 2008 (So Far)

We see lots of highs and lows throughout the years at Playboy... times where the execs and editors don't really make the right moves, or when there are strokes of genius where everything comes together.

I want to take a look at all the highs and lows of 2008 so far, and look ahead to a wonderful second half, complete with plenty of things to look forward to.

Best: Jayde Nicole wins PMOY
Playboy really couldn't have made a better choice than Jayde Nicole for Playmate of the Year, the magazine's highest honor. Jayde was, all along, the most all-around unique girl of 2007, and her PMOY pictorial was refreshing and beautiful, and a welcome change from the flops of recent years.

Best: Ida Ljungqvist is Miss March
Ida was a great choice for Playmate, being a relative unknown. Her African-Swedish heritage also made her very exotic and an interesting twist, and her great posing talent brought her over the top. She also had a pictorial with plenty of variety and creativity, something that was lacking in the other months so far this year. Ida's curvaceous body certainly tops my list so far for PMOY 2009.

Worst: Sandra, Michelle, Regina, and AJ
While Ida was an excellent Miss March, the other months' Playmates so far can't really measure up. They have all been spectacularly beautiful and seemingly talented (especially Regina), but their pictorials have been horrendously boring. Single-theme, single-minded pictorials have been contagious for the Playmates, and it looks like Playboy has just been looking to capitalize on magazine sales and did little to appease fans by putting out quality, interesting material. Shame on you, Playboy!

Best: Centerfolds
While the pictorials of the Playmates this year have so far been pretty flat, their centerfolds have been very sexy. It all seems to be part of Playboy's plan to keep all their marketable materials intact: centerfolds make money, their magazine makes money, and fans and internet users aren't a great source of income. Although that's a sad prospect for us, the centerfolds themselves look very nice, from Regina's hot look in the mirror to Ida's curvy rear shot.

Worst: Meghan Allen flops
Texan beauty Meghan Allen started with a great Cyber Girl of the Week pictorial in September of 2007, and she looked so bright and beautiful that I anticipated her CGOM nomination for January '08 to be a great way to kick off the new year. Well, it didn't turn out that way. Meghan's four weeks were mediocre, and she changed her look enough that she simply didn't impress. One of the major disappointments for me so far.

Best: Trina Marie as CGOM
We trusted in Trina after her very sexy Cyber Girl of the Week pictorial, and she gave us the best performance from a Cyber Girl so far this year. If the rest of 2008 goes at the current pace, Trina should be a clear frontrunner for 2009 CGOY, which would grant us a whole year of gorgeous material from this stunning young talent. Can't get enough of Trina!

Worst: No love for Kortnie O'Connor
I thought last year's January CGOM would have made a fantastic choice for Cyber Girl of the Year 2008. At least, I thought she'd be in contention for the award. Well, that's not what fans thought, and she barely got a mention for the nomination. I thought her pictorials were some of the more intriguing ones of last year, and that she had plenty of natural, unique beauty to go around. Maybe an "Xtra" feature sometime?

Best: CGOY is Jo Garcia
The lack of support for Kortnie was balanced by the fact that one of the most amazing Cyber Girls ever was elected Cyber Girl of the Year. I cannot wait to see what Jo has in store for us, as such a dynamic poser is a real gift to fans of Playboy. Jo is really a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and she'll prove it every month with another wildly sexy pictorial. This alone might have made up for all the low points so far in 2008.

Worst: Brittany Fuchs fails to impress
Take a look at Brittany's Coed of the Week pictorial, and you'd think that this George Mason University student might have been the savior to an otherwise weakening and faltering "Coeds" section of the Cyber Club. She looked quite promising, what with her cute looks, petite frame, and overt sexuality. Well, with her inevitable Coed of the Month feature, she proved us all wrong. Sure, Brittany had a knockout body, but she delivered week-after-week of awkward photos, terribly boring themes, and just did every little thing wrong. She had so much potential...

Worst: Magen Lugo
Speaking of coed flops, I thought Magen Lugo's beautiful Coed of the Week pictorial would lead to fantastic things in the future. She seemed like a dead lock for the month's nomination, and she did win it. However, it didn't turn out anything like the weekly feature, as Magen looked too skinny and inexperienced, and just looked very awkward in all of her pictorials, with no sparkle in sight. She looked so polished in her COTW feature, it just took my hopes way too high.

Worst: Coeds
So Magen Lugo and Brittany Fuchs are only the tip of the iceberg, because this is a segment of Playboy's Cyber Club that's in dire need of a great star. After the Playmates and Cyber Girls, Playboy's Coeds of the Month are the premier ladies on the site, and ought to provide premier content. I mean, think of college girls in this country: there are loads of 'em, and there are some damn sexy ones. So what's with the trouble getting real quality girls? Eve Jewell? Amanda Adams? It feels like we haven't had a decent COTM since May 2007's Cristal Houston!

Best: "Girls With Girls" feature
This is a relatively new feature pictorial series in the Cyber Club; there are only 15 entries in the series, which is part of the "Special Editions" section. What we've gotten lately are extremely spicy, supercharged pictorials with loads of sexual (albeit tasteful) content with excellent model selection. Harmony and Candice are some Playboy favorites that have tons of chemistry, as did Anna and Jessica in this sizzling series. But it was the tried and true talent of Louise Glover paired with the extraordinary body of Emily Dean that led to this captivating girl-on-girl display, one with spectacular fireworks from the sparks that these two British babes provided. Keep it up at this level, and you've got a real winning series on your hands, Playboy.

Worst: Xtras
Playboy introduced the "Playmate Xtra" and "Cyber Girl Xtra" series to bring back a bit of nostalgia, offering fans a dose of old favorites that can still work it and offer plenty more content. Honestly, Playmates don't get a lot of content out to users; a couple pictorial photos and some cheesy "Video Jukebox" features just don't hit the spot most of the time. Xtras are a great idea: tons of pictures, videos, etc. But you have to question their selection... Katie Lohmann, Nicole Voss, Scarlett Keegan, Holley Ann Dorrough, and Shallan Meiers were selected as Playmates, and Shawn Hektor, Roxanne Dawn, and Megan Elizabeth were chosen as Cyber Girls. Makes me wonder who's sending in these suggestions. Aren't there TONS of Playmates we'd like to see more of? What is this garbage??

So, with the first half over, what can we expect for the rest of the year? Well, we've got a promising slate of Playmates on the agenda. June goes to Juliette Frette, who recently wowed me with her preview videos. She didn't look that great to me in her preview pictorial, but fans have raved, and after seeing the videos of her photo shoots, I'm convinced that she has a chance to be the savior of 2008's poor Playmate selection. After her, July goes to Laura Croft and August to Kayla Collins, with Valerie Mason waiting in the wings. I hope the Coeds feature picks up, and the current hot streaks keep it up.

Another Near-Miss

It's kind of chronic, the sort of problem we've been having with Playmates so far in 2008. With a great Playmate of the Year race finished off and a growing field of Playmates halfway through the 2008 class, we've seen a disappointing field so far. The contestants for the 2009 crown mostly share something in common: they've got weak pictorials.

Sure, Sandra Nilsson, Michelle McLaughlin, and Regina Deutinger have all been gorgeous models who had great shots at giving it their all, but the one point comes to mind when looking at the year so far: a Playmate is only as good as her material, and her mere presence can't do it alone (well, not most of the time). A girl can be as hot as they come, but without great pictures, that beauty can't be conveyed, and she just goes to waste. Every single girl (with the exception of possibly Ida Ljungqvist) this year has had very subpar pictorials, which didn't cross any boundaries or put on impressive displays.

So here comes Miss May, almost halfway through the year, who is the lovely AJ Alexander. AJ is definitely a beautiful, exotic girl from the Midwest, who has an interesting premise of a "racing" pictorial theme, but sees the editors flop on another one. Her pictorial is extremely disappointing, and doesn't do anything to capture the subtleties of this complex beauty.

Actually, that's the best way to describe AJ: complex. She's not an easy girl to shoot, and isn't as basic in her qualities as, say, Regina Deutinger. Early on, Playboy tries out a simple nude outdoor theme, but doesn't really take it far enough. You can see that the editors really tried to make AJ's magazine pictorial flashy and well-produced, but she comes out "plastic" looking and cartoon-like in some of the photos. Still, pictures like this one convey the sexual presence of Miss Alexander, and do a good job of showing that this really is a talented model. Still, AJ tries out the racecar pictorial to no avail, as it comes out to be a dead end for her.

AJ is a model who really was begging for some kind of exotic backdrop or a new, fresh, and creative theme. What she got, however, was a couple of awkward, drawn out photos in a strange selection of costuming (those stiletto sneakers??). AJ maintains her sex appeal, but fizzles out in an attempt to keep things spicy in an otherwise bland pictorial set. AJ needs things to work with, but fails because of her need to hit fresh poses in a limited setting. She also carries over this theme into a bad centerfold, one in which absolutely no creativity is used, and AJ look completely out of her element.

AJ Alexander will just go down as another girl with a poor pictorial courtesy of Playboy. AJ is beautiful, and there are short bursts of hope that glimmer throughout her pictures. However, she's just another victim of the limited brainstorming that Playboy does, which seems to be their gameplan for the entire 2008 class. If Playboy doesn't step it up, this might be one of the lowest points in recent memory. Next month: Juliette Frette, a girl who's gotten lots of fan attention, but hasn't yet wowed me with her coed pictorial or introductory exclusive. We'll have to wait and hope for something better...

Consensus... C+

AJ Alexander
Miss May 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Announcing the 2008 Playmate of the Year pictorial, featuring our newly crowned leading lady, Jayde Nicole. Turns out the rumors were true, and the leaked cover was the real thing. Jayde was uncovered as 2008's PMOY, and has gotten rave reviews from fans. Many went so far as to say that this was one of the few times when Playboy got it right. Well, I might agree with that, given the last two years' choices of Sara Jean Underwood and Kara Monaco, two odd choices. This year, it seems, the folks at Playboy made the right decision.

Jayde has everything it takes to be a true PMOY superstar. She has the body, she has the exotic appeal, and she has the talent to make it big and offer memorable photos. She did just that in her PMOY debut, putting out an assortment of very engaging and interesting photos that show off this gorgeous Canadian girl in a different light than we saw in her PMOM installment at the beginning of 2007.

Jayde starts off her 2008 reign with a couple of clothed photographs. They do a great job of showing off what's possibly Jayde's most intriguing asset: her angelic and radiant face. She looks amazing in this first photo, looking as bright as ever. Same as in her second offering, where she looks stunning in a purple slip robe.

Her next motif is the car wash theme, where I thought she would've been better served if her hair was let down. It looks like her hair grew a bit since we last saw her, and that just gives her a more full, feminine feel that makes her that much more desirable. It then shifts over to a great photo showcasing her dark locks, also with fantastic lighting on her breasts.

What I thought was the best showcase of the "new" look of Jayde was in her shower photos, where an interesting look from her sexy face was followed by a polished look at her smooth, fully nude body. Photo 10 is just an excellent and natural pose that really shows off Jayde's talent, and offers a great view of her fit, cut, and curvy body. It has all the right lines in all the right spots, and really proves to be worthy of the PMOY crown.

Other sexy views of Jayde do a lot to further her image, but don't really do much to get a natural, intimate look at this amazing girl. It's not Jayde who's at fault, but the pictorial just doesn't have that natural feel that you crave from these girls, and it's a problem that occurs with all the PMOY pictorials. Great photos like this intimate one (a theme that I wish they pursued more with the outfit), which moves into this angelic pose (does a great job of showing off that flowing hair), and then this fierce look towards the camera... undeniably sizzling.

The pictorial finishes with some looks at her long, sinewy body, getting a little darker and more intimate with the lovely lady. Bent over, legs spread, she does it all.

Bottom line is, Jayde Nicole is a pure gem. Playboy hit the jackpot right away last year, and no one else really truly ever measured up, with the exception of possibly Brittany Binger or Spencer Scott. Jayde was, however, the right choice. She's unique and memorable. She looks like an enduring Playboy icon, and not just another lucky girl like 2006's Kara Monaco or last year's Sara Underwood. This one's special, and I just wish she came out with more pictorials that show off even more of her variety of looks. This pictorial just didn't do her justice, although it almost nearly hit the spot.

Again, congrats to the lovely Jayde. My only hope is that next year's PMOY will be nearly as lovely as she's been, and we see more of her in the future.

Consensus... B+

Jayde Nicole
Playmate of the Year 2008 Pictorial