Monday, June 30, 2008

Out With the Old, In With The New

There's a sad truth to life, and many may get on me when I say this, but it's inevitably true: people get older. That's it, people do. And women do, as well, and as they age, things aren't necessarily the same in terms of appearances and how they look in front of the camera. Posing nude ain't easy, there's no doubt about it... all your flaws are exposed in front of the camera in each and every shot. It's tough to hide from it, and I'd give plenty of props to any young lady who takes the bait.

Well, there's been tons and tons of hype about the Playmate Xtra feature for Miss September 1998, Vanessa Gleason. Now, this is coming from me, someone who ranks Vanessa in his top three Playmates, when I put her at #3 in my list of the greatest. So, you'd believe that I was ecstatic whenever it was revealed that, after 10 years of inactivity in the Playboy realm, Vanessa would do an encore performance, at the bubbly young age of 29.

Yeah, she is only 29, as she did her Playmate pictorial at the very young age of 19. But, to my amazement, Vanessa looked considerably older in her pictorial. Granted, Vanessa still looks gorgeous, and is an absolute knockout, and I suppose the problem here is that I am comparing her former self to her current pictorials, but I can't help it. Vanessa is one of my favorites, and seeing her as a pale, unexciting girl is saddening. Vanessa still has plenty of talent, and in many instances she shines. However, she looks aged and tired in most instances, and most angles on her are tough to shoot. It's hard to blame the photographer when many of Vanessa's pictorial photos just came out too pale and boring, with no curves and a stale figure.

I hope no one gets too upset at my opinion, because I've heard lots of people praising Vanessa's courage and poise in coming back after so long to do another set. It is unfair to compare her younger pictorial to this one, but I'm just saying that I wish she'd avoided it. It's really great that she would choose to do so, but times have come and gone for Vanessa.

Consensus... C+

Vanessa Gleason
Miss September 1998

Playmate Xtra June 2008

On the other end of the spectrum, we had the total opposite of what transpired with Vanessa. One of my favorite Playboy models in recent years, Kortnie O'Connor, who was Cyber Girl of the Month in January 2007, and whom I wrote my very first post in this blog on, didn't get a whole lot of love from the audiences for her encore performance, and didn't get the outpouring of support that I thought she deserved. Figures.

Kortnie was given a major snub in the race for Cyber Girl of the Year, finishing close to last place in most fan polls. I'm glad the lovely Jo Garcia was there to take it instead, otherwise I would have been very disappointed with how hard Kortnie got dissed. I don't really see what people don't pick up with Kortnie: she's got an out-of-this-world body, she has an awesome, unique face, and she has a feminine quality that she pours into every photo. She's wildly talented and is very multitalented, and she showed it with her new pictorial.

She took on a whole new look in this one, from her amazing look in blue lingerie, to her fantastic strapless bikini poses. There were numerous pictures where she looked stunning, and she especially looked different because of the way her hair looks newly untethered and longer, and her body looks extra conditioned and stacked to the max. It's true, her body looks extra hot. It looks like she's been working that body out hard, and it positively ripples with curves. She's so incredibly talented because of the way she always reinvents herself.

The reinvention goes through lots of different looks, with the first pictorial showcasing Kortnie's body and offering a look at a wide range of interesting poses like this coy one or an inverted burst of temptation. Her second week comprises of two hot videos, complete with some fantastic looks at the camera and some spunky smiles that Kortnie flashes from time to time. Those giggles are worth everything, and maybe that's the kicker for Miss O'Connor... the fact that she's always seeming to have fun. Her third week showcased her body in a tight little bikini, and honestly it was a masterful pictorial. It's too bad it didn't come with a video, because it was just a great performance. The last week topped it off just like it started out: just a simple, straight on set in a lacy little teddy.

And it's wildly hot, sultry shots like this one that prove my point. Kortnie was very short-changed in the race for CGOY, and I really wish more people saw what I see in this great model. Kortnie deserves great accolades, and some are calling for a Playmate nomination of her. Lemme tell ya, she'd certainly be way better than a lot of what we've seen so far this year (*cough* Sandra, Michelle, Regina, AJ *cough*)!

So it's out with the old, in with the new, with great new talent coming into Playboy. I know that the oldies are goodies, but let's just leave them at that... oldies. Vanessa was great then, and girls like Kortnie or Juliette Frette are the stars of today. Let's treat them as such.

Consensus... A-

Kortnie O'Connor
Cyber Girl of the Month
January 2007

Cyber Girl Xtra June 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Race Is On

I'll say it right now: the race for Cyber Girl of the Year 2009 is about to heat up quite a bit. That's right, after a relatively slow start to this year's lineup, I'd say we're about to have a tight one on our hands. This is mostly due to the great selection that Playboy's been making for their Cyber Girl of the Week features.

The standard was raised, in my opinion, way back last year with Trina Marie's CGOW pictorial, which set the bar higher than I'd ever seen before. Trina really pushed it, since before her, most Cyber Girls debuted with rather shoddy weekly pictorials, with no videos or embellishment, just a little blurb, some stats, and a set of 15-20 photos. But the quality was all changed by Trina.

After Trina took the CGOM title in March, we've seen only one other great contender, the very talented Alexandra Penovich in May. She was pretty stunning because of her great moves, awesome pictorials, and an overall knockout body. Now, we've set a nice trend, taking it to a greater level with a bevy of excellent Cyber Girls showing up week-to-week, and getting large fan followings.

March (July CGOM slot)

The five March 2008 Cyber Girls are in contention for the slot of CGOM for July, leaving a four month selection and production time. That means we should be finding out the March race winner very soon. The girl I assume to be in the clear lead there is March 17th's Dana Dicillo, who is a fantastic candidate for CGOM and perhaps even for CGOY in the end. She's built up a huge fan following, and some are even claiming that she should transcend the ranks and be a serious candidate for Playmate soon. Even though that's a way off, Dana truly is a gorgeous girl, with a sizzling attitude and an outstandingly natural look. Although there's only a couple photos to judge her on, Dana looks to be the next huge Playboy superstar.

Next for march would have to be Heidi Wheeler for me. She has a superb pictorial and demonstrates some substantial skill, but in the end I think Miss Dicillo is just way too popular and talented to be passed over for CGOM.

April (August CGOM slot)

For me, April just has one clear star: Sharae Spears. Another diamond in the rough, Sharae is a really unique looking girl who's also understated in her beauty and all-natural, complete with a softly lit and radiant pictorial. She's slim, with some nice height on her and some long, glistening legs. Although she might not be CGOY material (or as much so as Trina or Dana), she is a great candidate for the monthly nomination.

Chelsea Co is also a contender for this month, but I don't think she has the goods to take the spot like Sharae has. That being said, April is a relatively weak month compared to March, so Chelsea has a chance, given the slight amount of buzz she's generated in the community.

May (September CGOM slot)

I think May has the most exciting upcoming class, given two of the girls that are huge contenders for the yearly award. I was very stunned by Britney Arianna, who hasn't been getting as much support as I had expected, but whom I would probably give the edge in this month. Britney is really beautiful, and has a very natural and girl-next-door feel, although this might be her Achilles' Heel. She looks fantastic in shots like this one, when she's not trying too hard. She has a killer body, and I'd certainly like to see a lot more of it in September, so she's my choice.

Now, in other months, Britney would gather plenty of support from fans, but May has its own superstar, Jia Lynn, who is a highly touted girl that's gotten tons and tons of fan support. It seems like some are on board to take Jia all the way to CGOY already, and perhaps even further past that, but that's just initial buzz and speculation. She certainly is a gorgeous model, and I'm sure some would take issue with me saying that she shouldn't even win in her own month, but that's what I think, since Britney is curvier and looks more natural. That's not to say I would be disappointed with a win by Jia. She has a soft facial structure that makes her positively angelic, and she never seems to do too much or too little in each of her poses. It's effortless, and I definitely am predicting that she'll be the one come September.

June (October CGOM slot)

October does seem a long time away, considering summer has just started. Not to mention June isn't even over yet. However, we've got a couple girls that are worth keeping your eyes on. This month started off with a bombshell of a model, Crystal Enloe, taking centerstage. I've gotta say, Crystal is a wondrous Playboy model, and someone who has a load of potential, particularly for CGOM, if she does indeed make it. Her pictorial is far more sexual than most CGOW pictorials ever become, with the unusual element of emotion as something Crystal seamlessly tosses in, which is something you don't expect in these debut pictorials. It's strange, because Cyber Girls, at first, always seem a little out of their element when they make their first appearance. Crystal, on the other hand, is completely comfortable in her role, showing off her ample breasts before turning around for this artsy backside shot. I'm telling you, Crystal has the potential to be the true darkhorse success for 2008, so we should keep an eye out for her. She's got talent like no one else so far this year, so maybe she might be the breakout star...

Another intersting entry for June was Lexi Lombardelli, who looked fantastic in her scant lingerie. Lexi was very exotic and enticing, and her body is very well built and looks very hard. Although I think she'll have a tough time against Miss Enloe, it looks like Lexi is well-equipped for any CGOM job, as well.

It looks like we've got a really great lineup of potential superstars in the next couple of months. Every future CGOY comes from humble beginnings as a lowly weekly feature in the Cyber Club, and she works her way up. Before, current Cyber Girl of the Year (and possibly one of the greatest Playboy models of the last decade), Jo Garcia, had her humble beginnings as the June 18, 2007 Cyber Girl of the Week (coincidentally, about a year ago!), and has come quite far to get where she is. Just think of the potential that girls like Dana, Sharae, Britney, and Crystal hold in their futures. So many pictorials, so little time!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

#3 - Vanessa Gleason

The late 90's comprised some of the greatest years in Playboy's history, complete with a plethora of excellent Playmates who've appeared already on my countdown. I personally view the late 1990's as the "Golden Era" of Playmate history, where the girls were prototypical and influential models who shaped the future and the greatest Playmate entries we have today. During this time, 1998 was one of the strongest years, with beautiful ladies like Julia Schultz, Marliece Andrada, Lisa Dergan (#17 on my list), Angela Little (#11), the buxom Laura Cover, Tiffany Taylor, the Dahm triplets, and Playmate of the Year Heather Kozar (my #15). When you look at all of them, though, there was no one more dynamic and talented than the great Vanessa Gleason, Miss September 1998.

Now, you might think I planned it out, where Vanessa's 10th anniversary "Playmate Xtra" feature has been released in conjunction with me putting her at #3 on my list. I assure you, it's a complete coincidence, but I do plan on sizing up Vanessa's pictorials after they all are out by the end of the month. Vanessa has always been a personal favorite of mine, and I intend to show you why.

When Vanessa came around, she had something amazing that differentiated her from any Playmate before her: a calm sense of effortless elegance. Vanessa was a small package with big talent, a 5' 5" star of great proportions, whom I think never got the true credit she deserved when she debuted as Playmate. The SoCal phenom was one of the most interesting Playmates of all-time, with a huge variety of styles in her breathtaking pictorial, and a nice, natural body to boot. There's a major feeling of confidence in Vanessa's posing throughout all her work, and she never fails to wow with any of her photos. That's what put her at the top of my list: her material. It's something that so many Playmates of today skimp on, and it's something that Playmates of the late 90's did very well.

Kicking off Miss Gleason's masterpiece of a pictorial were sultry views of her sprawled over a bed, in lacy threads and soft lighting, giving it a dream-like feel. The lightly tanned legs, the high heels... a great introduction. Perhaps one of Vanessa's greatest shots was her "pink ribbon" montage, where Pic 06 looks fascinating. I've always thought Vanessa had the greatest locks of hair in Playboy history, bar none, and I'll give some examples along the way.

Vanessa's lace pictorial progresses into the bathtub, where she gets sudsy and puts on one hell of a show. An AMAZING shot of Vanessa is this beautiful vantage point, where she sprays down her genitals and the camera angle is provocative and subtle, showing her sexy, natural profile. Vanessa moves on to this great shot of her behind, where her butt and arched back prove that she's got plenty of curves to go around in addition to that fantastic talent. Here is an excellent clothed shot of Vanessa that shows off how sexy her curly hair is. It's disorganized but feminine at the same time, and looks beautiful.

There are so many great photos of Miss Gleason, this post would go on forever describing their beauty. There aren't enough words to describe the wet, glistening body of Vanessa in a soaked camisole. Probably my favorite pictorial series of Vanessa's was the one in her sheer babydoll, where the level of intimacy was palpable, like in this wonderful photo. Vanessa switches flawlessly between "playful" and "sultry," absolutely pouring it on with the sex and lust. She can shoot a mean look like anyone, and pose in amazing fashion.

And I'm not finished yet... Vanessa was probably one of the most underrated posers in Playboy history, what with photos like this one, which shows off one amazing body coupled with luscious lighting and impeccable photography. Vanessa isn't just a pretty face; you quickly realize that she's absolutely stacked, with a viciously hot body, like in Pic 51, where a suggestive rear pose takes centerstage. Vanessa shows an intimate side in this lingerie series, while not revealing too much but showing an emotional and personal aura. To finish things off, here is the quintessential viewpoint of Vanessa's amazing and sometimes understated body, which really is something when you look at it this way.

There were so many amazing photos in Vanessa Gleason's repertoire, I had little room to list them all. I'd suggest that anyone go over all of them again and see just how breathtaking this model was in the late 1990's. Vanessa was one of the seminal beauties of all-time, and although many may not agree with her #3 ranking because of a perceived lack of popularity among fans or the like, one thing's for sure: Vanessa was vastly underrated throughout her appearance in Playboy. Looking over her photos in her new "Playmate Xtra" she still looks great 10 years later, and I'm glad that Playboy hasn't forgotten about this sensuous and spectacular girl.

Vanessa had talent like no other I've listed here so far, and very few girls since Vanessa have shown me talent like she delivered. That's really what it boils down to in Playboy. That's why Juliette Frette has been so successful with fans, and that's why girls like Vanessa were trendsetters in the past. Talent like her is scarce today, and you can put the most gorgeous girl in the world in front of the camera, but if she can't pose right, she won't strike a chord with fans the way she should be able to. That's what has made up my Top 10: talent. Oh, and a rock-hard body on the side doesn't hurt, either.

So there you are: we've cracked the Top Three at last. Since we began this countdown of the Top 25, we've looked at a wide variety of beauties. The bronze medal goes to the lovely Vanessa, and we'll move on to the 2nd place girl in a little bit. If you haven't seen your favorite Playmate yet, just have patience, and she might just pop up. If not, let me know, and we'll do one big recap and an "honorable mentions" series, as well.

Until next time...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

VIP Fans?

Seriously, I want to know... do the people at Playboy read my blog?!? I've been complaining how things haven't gone right recently in the Cyber Club, like with the lack of great Playmates, and here comes Juliette Frette to breathe some life into a weak 2008 class.

OK, so if that's not enough reason to feel that way, how about Kortnie O'Connor getting a Cyber Girl Xtra? I just complained about how she wasn't "getting any love," and here she is, getting the ultimate consolation prize for not getting much support for her 2009 CGOY bid? I'm just ecstatic about this move, and I LOVE the first pictorial! It's so raw and unfettered, and Kortnie is drop dead gorgeous in it. Way to go, Playboy!

Not to mention, the Coeds feature is picking up, too. We've had two great CGOW's recently, including the beautiful Lauren D'Marie and Amanda King. They've both taken the Coeds feature to a new level, with more qualified models and more elaborate pictorials and outfits. Hopefully this will just be the tip of the iceberg.

All in all, this is all just coincidence, but at least Playboy is listening to fans and improving every day in every department. Keep it up, folks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Believe the Hype

For those of you who haven't heard (and might have been living in a cave for the past couple of weeks), Juliette Frette, Miss June 2008, has been getting absolute rave reviews from fans from all over the Playboy world. She's been regarded as a fresh new approach to Playboy's feature girls, and one who will change the Playmate world as we know it. Well, first she had to get past one little hurdle: me. Although Juliette is a fascinating girl, I failed to recognize the innate beauty that so many touted for so long, even throughout her stint as a Coed of the Month in March 2006. With her preview pictorial, it still confounded me how many saw that she could be a potential blockbuster of a Playmate at such an early stage. To me, the pictorial failed to portray Juliette as such an amazing girl as many had claimed.

Well, the post title says it all: believe the hype. Juliette is poised to be the impactful Playmate she was designed to be, and may be one of the most important Playmates in the past five years. Yes, that's how great she is. She's more than just a body in the pages of the magazine; Juliette reinvents the brand with ease. She adds personality and flair to the job of Playmate, something that many girls flat out do not have. Many Playmates are just objects for us to observe, but Juliette is a whole different animal. She offers a natural, human touch to every single photo, and has posing talent like you wouldn't believe. Juliette is the real deal, and an immediate contender for 2009 Playmate of the Year, so much so that she blows the early 2008 Playmates out of the water, without question.

Let's take a look at this gorgeous pictorial that truly takes this girl to new heights. The first shot that caught my eye is this lovely, bright painting picture that reminds me of the old Jennifer Rovero pictorial a few years back. Juliette immediately looks polished and cute. She then goes on with some artistic views with advanced lighting, where she looks sultry and amazing. One thing Juliette began to do more with this pictorial than in her past performances was show off her sexy curves, which can't be understated. Make no mistake: Juliette has a knockout body, and one that's been untouched and unhindered by boob jobs or plastic surgery. This is the real thing, and it's too bad we don't see it often enough.

In her main pictorial theme, Juliette looks sinewy and slim, and her sheer blue top and lingerie set make it spicy and complement her elegant style flawlessly. Juliette offers her dose of personality in photos like this one, where she flashes a cute smile and delivers a full-on sexual photo with a powerful office backdrop. The pictorial truly comes to a climax and impresses as Juliette takes off all the accessories and exposes herself for a full, clear display of her gorgeous features. Juliette's body is hard and toned, and looks awesome in the shadows in photos like Picture 17. Her fully nude body is extraordinary, and I've never seen anything like it before, which makes it unique and intriguing to boot. Here, her hair complements the intricate lighting and careful posing. The curve of her hips and the hourglass figure that her back creates in shots like this one are textbook Playboy shots that Juliette pulls off effortlessly and with great poise. Then, a fully naked Juliette turns to her side playfully, before closing off her pictorial in expert fashion.

The expertise shows finally in this magnificent shot, which might be the classic of the pictorial. It's a piece of art, for sure, with the arch of her back the stuff of legends. Juliette closes off her great pictorial with pomp, lace, and a luxurious touch.

Juliette showed us all that she's one for the record books. It will be tough for any girl to beat this amazing talent for the rest of the year, and for now it looks like miss Frette has all the fans on her side for the next six months. Juliette has everything to be a PMOY quality Playmate: the breasts, the smile, the butt, the posing talent, the loaded pictorial, and she adds the key ingredient that makes her so likeable: the magic that only Juliette can offer. She's instantly recognizable, and has characteristics that are unique to her as a person. Ultimately, she's gotten us all addicted.

Consensus... A

Juliette Frette
Miss June 2008