Friday, July 11, 2008

Finely Crofted

So here we are, starting off the second half of the year in terms of Playmates, and we've got a class that's slowly starting to pick up. The pace at which the Playmate race has been going is frustrating; we started out with some beautiful models who had plenty to offer but gave us very little, like Sandra Nilsson or Regina Deutinger. We also had some questionable candidates like AJ Alexander or Michelle McLaughlin, who perhaps weren't "cut out" for the elite role of being a Playmate. Then, we finally had a savior in the year with Juliette Frette, who had plenty of talent and really set the bar high for the year, and who will be very tough to compete with for PMOY 2009.

Now, we have Miss July, Laura Croft, who seems to be taking that upward trend and running with it. Laura is, indeed, a lovely girl, and from her modeling previews that have been circulating around the internet, you can tell that Laura's had a bit of experience with non-nude modeling, and she looked so fantastic that I was really pumped for her nude debut. I was floored by her silky hair and cute and fresh smile, and I knew Laura would have something new to offer and maybe brighten up this dull year.

I can safely say that Laura met my expectations, and even surpassed them in some ways. On the other hand, she might have disappointed in other ways still. First of all, Laura is a fantastic model, and one with tons of talent that really carries her far. I'll also say this: Laura is probably the most beautiful girl that we've had so far in 2008, meaning that she just has raw beauty, and is just physically more appealing than all the models so far. However, that said, Laura doesn't always deliver to her full potential, and sometimes it feels like she's holding back. I think it feels that way because she had to follow the fantastic Juliette Frette, who wasn't as beautiful, per se, as Laura, but knew how to work it as well as anyone.

Laura's pictorial is fresh and perky, and takes on a summertime feeling, given the month of July. Comparing Laura's "Playboy makeover" look to her previous bikini shoots, you'll notice immediately that she's just become more of a presence on camera due to her blown up, longer hair and airbrushed exterior. Yes, Playboy seems to have done some editing on many of her photos, but the unpublished photos look far better. I mean, Laura looks statuesque in pictures like this, but it's so processed that she almost looks like a computer-generated image.

Laura's pictorial isn't very long, but it gets to the point. She starts out whimsical and fun, and puts out full body shots like this that really are striking. But still, shots like these don't scream talent, not like her predecessor's did. Some of Laura's photos look a bit awkward, and sometimes it seems like she doesn't fully know how to control or use her body in the pictorial. This is disappointing, given Laura's innate beauty. Laura strikes some uninspired, plain poses before moving into more spicy looks, like this one where she's laying down and having some fun. Miss July is a bit of a clueless model, but this one's a keeper, given just how amazing she looks naked.

When the mood darkens a bit, it all escalates and gets better. She delivers this piercing shot on a speedboat, where her face looks perfect and her eyes tell all. Now that is what her performance should have more of. I think that Laura sometimes doesn't fully embrace her sexuality, and often just fiddles around in front of the camera. Most of the time, audiences want more sex and only a slight bit of girl-next-door charm. I mean, Laura's body is cut out for this, absolutely, and she's a great choice for Playmate, and it's photos like this one that really gather a nice balance for her.

Ultimately, Laura seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity, just like we saw at the beginning of 2008, but considerably less so. The blow is softened by the fact that Laura is extremely adorable, and just a sight to behold. Again, she's probably the prettiest, most visually pleasing girl since Spencer Scott or even back to Jayde Nicole of last year. In fact, her appearance reminds me of Jayde, but I guess that she just didn't have the opportunity to prove her sexual appeal like Jayde did. I doubt that Laura will be in major contention for PMOY 2009, but it all depends on the next 5 candidates, which includes the highly-anticipated Valerie Mason in September.

Consensus... B+

Laura Croft
Miss July 2008

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