Thursday, December 3, 2009

Out With A Whimper

Playboy's fans and I have been raving all year long about how amazing 2009's Playmate class has been. The ladies have been absolutely stellar, with a mix of all sorts of girls and a great array of unusual talent. As soon as I heard, however, that Hugh Hefner's new favorite girlfriend would be featured as Miss December, I knew that the year wasn't going to end on a high note.

I was right, and so was everyone else in the Playboy world.

Enter Crystal Harris, a bubbly plastic mold of a woman who is Miss December 2009. December Playmate is a major title in Playboy history -- it's a month where the magazine tries to end things with a sultry, sexy
touch, with pictorials themed with Christmas charm and sensuous wintry themes. This month, they got it all backward.

In a year with 1/4 of the girls being "Hefmates," (the Shannon twins and now Crystal) it's got to be held up by some other fine ladies in order not to be a landslide towards the robed one's favorites. Crystal is an utter disaster of a Playmate: she's overly artificial, looks extremely forgettable, has horrific plastic surgery, and just doesn't look all that good naked. In fact, Crystal is a girl who looks like she's "always" naked, which takes away from that sultry charm that Playmates have when they're nude. She's like a porn star, and totally lacks any charm or sophistication that makes a girl a Playboy bunny.

While having a decently sexy body, bronzed and lean, Crystal makes up for it by being relatively ditzy in her photos. She strikes awkward poses while not really ever changing her facial expression or letting any of her strengths do the talking. Her strengths are few and far between, but involve her not letting herself do a whole lot of posing, and instead being passive, like in this decent photo.

Crystal has a train wreck of a body when you compare her to elite Playmates of 2009. Her breasts are the biggest dealbreaker, looking extremely fake and like small inflated balloons. I understand that plenty of nude models have had surgery done, but Crystal's breasts just look too silly in photos

. At times also, her face just doesn't have a dynamic quality to her, and she just wanders around photographs aimlessly, not allowing any rhythm or theme develop in her pictorial at all.

Don't for an instant say that she doesn't "match my tastes." Platinum blondes can be very sexy, and light haired beauties this year include Candice Cassidy and Lindsey Gayle Evans, some of the best bodies and posers of the year. Crystal just doesn't have "it," or anything for that matter. She edges out some of the bottom girls of the year simply because of her ability to pull through on some photos and the fact that she does have some admirable proportions here and there. But make no mistake: 2009 went out with a real whimper. Stay tuned, though! A comprehensive Playmate review of the '09 class is coming soon!

  • Facial: B- Crystal's sharp facial features are far less attractive than many of the girls of the year, not to mention that it remains expressionless for many of her photos.
  • Body: B- Crystal is very artificial, with her ridiculous breasts being the biggest flaw.
  • Talent: C+ The only reason she's a Playmate is because of her personal ties, and has not one bit to do with how good she is at posing for the camera.
  • Pictorial: B- There was no flow in the entire pictorial, nor was there more than one or two memorable photos.
  • Centerfold: B+ Definitely one of the better centerfolds of the year, one of the few bright spots in this Playmate's appearance.
  • Overall: B- Without a doubt, Crystal is one of the worst Playmates of 2009. It's not just the stellar class that makes her look bad, though; Crystal's utter lack of ability and any semblance of posing experience whatsoever makes her a terrible choice for Playmate. She obviously is the ultimate "Hefmate" of the modern era, and possibly the very last of her kind, but as she is now, we need to endure her presence. With three out of the twelve girls being Hefmates for 2009, there is a stronger chance that one of these failures may edge close to the PMOY 2010 crown, which would be an absolute travesty considering the caliber of talent at the top of the '09 class. If Crystal does get that far, it will prove once and for all that politics is truly king in the Playboy realm.

Friday, November 20, 2009

25 Greatest Playmates of All-Time: a Recap

After going through months of giving lengthy reviews and a countdown of the Greatest Playmates of All-Time, here is a summary of the girls who made it in my Top 25. There should be some heated debate about who was left off, and I want to hear it! I'll have an "honorable mentions" post as I promised. There are plenty of other deserving girls here, but here are a few of the justifications I've made for choosing these lovely ladies...

#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.

#12 Carmella DeCesare
April 2003
Cyber Girl of the Month February 2003
Playmate of the Year 2004

Carmella's unmatched talents made her one of the most viewed Playmates in history, as she became a Cyber Girl and ascended the ladder, eventually becoming PMOY by using her exotic looks and sinewy, sleek body.

#11 Angela Little
August 1998

With a tiny frame and an edgy but innocent posing style, Angela was one of the most underrated stars of the Playmate Golden Era. Her playful, upbeat attitude was palpable in her material, and she shone as a result.

#10 Nichole Van Croft
October 2000

Nichole stormed onto the scene with an outrageously curvaceous body combined with cute, wholesome, subduing looks that were warm and inviting. The ingenious mix of innocence and the body was a bold step that cemented her stardom.

#9 Tiffany Fallon
December 2004
Playmate of the Year 2005

Tiffany is a Playmate of modern times, but stands as an homage to the raven haired starlets of the 50's and 60's. With a curvy and silky smooth body, along with an immaculate set of intangibles that are impossible to teach, she will go down as one of the greatest.

#8 Jaime Bergman
January 1999

With a magnetic personality and breathtaking features, Jaime was one of the most photogenic girls ever to be in Playboy, with platinum blond locks and golden tanned skin. With some of the greatest performances ever seen, Jaime was an instant treasure.

#7 Alicia Rickter
October 1995

Alicia was an instant classic, and the ultimate example of understated beauty: always subtle in her ways, but definitely the archetypical girl-next-door throughout her stint in the mid-90's. Although she never used flashy techniques, she was always modestly complex in her style.

#6 Jodi Ann Paterson
October 1999
Playmate of the Year 2000

Jodi's natural talent comes from her ability to create nuanced and professional photos, which was obviously helped by her exotic Asian background and sizzling, curvy body. Her success was a result of her unique ability to steal a scene with her youthful, cheeky charm.

#5 Elisa Bridges
December 1994

Elisa was a once-in-a-lifetime Playmate, unmatched for her slim, lengthy body wrapped in kinky tan lines. Her girl-next-door attitude complemented her extremely natural body by allowing her to effortlessly create unforgettable scenes with a heavy dose of sensuality that will never again be replicated.

#4 Brooke Berry
May 2000

Brooke was the ultimate definition of Playboy's "girl next door," but never once compromised her strong, sensual presence for her innocence and delicate beauty. With a stacked body and a photogenic appeal directly linked to her outstanding talent, Brooke had legendary looks to go along with her legendary pictorial.

#3 Vanessa Gleason
September 1998

Vanessa took the art of the pictorial to a whole new level, setting a new standard for talent during the Golden Era. With her fluttery curls and wholesome face, the 19 year-old model was breathtaking and multi dimensional. Every single photo told a story, and every pose was absolutely unique; Vanessa had a knack for the camera that few girls could ever claim to have.

#2 Shannon Stewart
June 2000

Shannon took her southern charm and infectious personality to her advantage to create a persona that was unique while still offering a nod to the great Playmates of the 50's and 60's. Her classic look and mature poise and skillful posing set her apart from every Playmate since then. With what is perhaps the finest pictorial in the history of Playboy magazine, Shannon definitely laid the groundwork for a new Playmate archetype which few, if any, have ever matched.

#1 Karen McDougal
December 1997
Playmate of the Year 1998

It is hard to deny that Karen belongs in the very small handful of candidates for "greatest Playboy model ever." In all weights and measures, she has perhaps what is the greatest body in Playboy history, some of the most iconic photos in Playboy magazine, and has one of the largest fan followings of any Playmate, period. With acute posing talent and some of the sexiest, most jaw-dropping looks ever, Karen McDougal is of the same mold that true legends are made of in the nude photography world. After grabbing a PMOY title and being hugely prolific, fans still wonder whether they will see another appearance in the future. Keep dreaming, folks.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sexy Texan

One thing we've kept revisiting within the past few months is just how strong this year's Playmate class is. The girls have been exceptional, with toned bodies, great talent, and some very good pictorials, something of an anomaly when you look at past years. Since the early
2000's, we haven't had great consistency like we've seen this year, and just when we think things are going to die down, yet another fine lady comes by and delivers.

Perhaps it's all stemming from the 55th anniversary Playmate search, which has produced some very stunning women throughout. Girls like Jessica Burciaga and others this year have been a result of that search, as is our Miss November 2009, Kelley Thompson.

Kelley is a gorgeous Texan brunette with a country girl swagger and plenty of good looks to go around. She has a voluptuous build for a girl who's not so short (5'6"), and definitely has some features that allow her to stand apart. Kelley was greatly anticipated since her debut in the 55th Anniversary Playmate Search, and many fans saw her as a legitimate Playmate candidate right from the get go. I saw it too, as her appearance in the preliminary pictorials was quite stunning, and Playboy did a great job of playing to her strengths.

With her pictorial debut as Miss November, Kelley does a decent job about using her talents. She is often hit-or-miss with her posing, and that is ultimately what hurts her, but rest assured that this is no fluke of a model. Kelley easily boosts the class of 2009, and that's no small task given the talent here.

Right from the beginning, Kelley's flannel shirt and cowgirl look plays greatly to her charming persona. She takes this to a great level in her print photos, with an awesome shot here, which really does a great job of showing off Kelley's full figure. You're immediately drawn to her amazing smile and those plump breasts, and the photographer does a good job of not making her do too much that's out of her range. The print pictorial continues with this excellent backside photo, giving viewers a shot of her balanced lower body. But the real show stopper is still Kelley's beautiful face, which is still being shot perfectly from behind her raven hair.

The shot which really characterizes her pictorial is Photo #7, which does a wonderful job of showing off Kelley's unassuming side. When you get down to it, she doesn't have a lot of very hard features on her face, and with those subtle lines and fine features, she looks very accessible and cute. This photo is innocent and sensual, and does a great job of showing off just how awesome her body is.

Overproduction abounds in certain parts of Kelley's pictorial, not to mention awkward posing, like in this photo. Again, Kelley's posing talents do not range very widely, and she is restricted by this unfortunate fact. Thus, she comes off as very inconsistent in her pictorial, often mixing a jaw-dropping shot with a dud.

Still, Kelley is smoking hot, mainly because of her gorgeous facial features. When her forehead is covered up fine by her fluttery hair, her pretty smile and small eyes beat out every girl of 2009 in their pure beauty. The variety in the pictorial is also great, with closing shots like this one doing a good job of playing to Kelley's strength of using her face as a focal point, and not her movement.

  • Facial: A+ Probably the prettiest of 2009, and her greatest strength
  • Body: A- A bit disproportionate at the thighs, as her buttocks don't taper down normally
  • Talent: B Her biggest weakness; needs to work on being consistent with her posing
  • Pictorial: B+ As a result of inconsistency, the pictures were hit-or-miss in quality
  • Centerfold: A- Probably the best centerfold of 2009
  • Overall: A Kelley has turned heads and done a great job breaking out as a young model. Although she needs to work on her posing abilities, there's no doubt that she can make a huge run for PMOY, and has the prize in sight. Although she faces some of the stiffest competition in years, don't be surprised if she makes some fans' top 3, and maybe even the top spot. With looks that can kill and a charm that's exuded in all her photos, Kelley's "Miss Congeniality" status can carry her a long way, as can her gorgeous face and admirable proportions.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Right Moves

So, with a year of disappointment in the Cyber Girl Class of '09, we have to look forward to next year's ladies and the potential that can lift up a faltering group. With a good CGOY pick (Hillary Fisher or Jamie Graham) and a nice crop of ladies to kick off the 2010 class, the tone can be set for an amazing year.

So, to my delight, we've already got some amazing CGOW's lined up for a daunting run at the 2011 Cyber Girl of the Year crown. Now, I know it's real early to be looking so far ahead, but what we may be seeing is a couple of excellent talents making their very first debuts... the first of many.

In came Mariela Henderson last week, a girl who should run away with her month's CGOM nomination. The reason is quite simple: Mariela is a small package with plenty of bite, and the bite is all in her build. I can't wait to see what else she has to offer, because in her CGOW pictorial, the photographer focused extremely well on her lower body.

Mariela quite possibly has the nicest legs of any girl to appear in Playboy in years. I'm not usually one to tout a nice pair of stems, but Mariela's are beyond reproach. They are visibly toned, very pleasantly muscular, and they just look juicy and sexy. She's not a very tall girl (a mere 5'2"), so she isn't the "leggy" type, per se. However, those sultry thighs come up to meet a gorgeously curved butt, which is so toned, yet so plump, it's just tough to describe.

When it comes down to it, Mariela has a very nice lower body (buttocks and legs), but her upper body doesn't balance it so well, with some small breasts. She has a decently cute face, albeit not quite so smoothly toned and beautiful as many others. Still, if photographers concentrate on her strengths, where she goes above and beyond, she could be a bigtime success.

One girl who truly wowed me today was an Italian beauty by the name of Daniella Mugnolo. Daniella left me dazed and mesmerized, simply because she's the all-around package. With great height (5'8") while still being very slender (115 lbs.), Daniella is very proportioned while being sexy and sleek. Her number one strength, however, is her sexuality.

In her CGOW pictorial, a recycle of her "Fresh Faces" edition, Daniella is stunning. Wearing a silky little piece of lingerie in the shower, she strips it off perfectly and slowly for the camera, and does a great job with every little move and glimmer in her eyes. She has that European charm, but definitely has an American bite when it comes to her approach to her pictorials. She is extremely sexual, being aggressive when she gets fully naked, and not being the least bit bashful about throwing out a full-frontal assault.

My advice to Playboy: don't mess too much with this formula you have going for Daniella. She is immaculate. Her facial expressions are extremely engaging, with those pouty lips and those sleepy, dark eyes taking on a sexual, hedonistic tone. As long as she's shot the same way... no gimmicks, just let the model move and be herself... Daniella can go very far, and perhaps challenge for CGOY in 2011.

Those are my two MVP's so far for next year. Here's to a great one!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Messing With Perfection

As this year's Cyber Girl of the Month class has been far less than stellar, one hopeful that I and many others had pinpointed from the very start, Hillary Fisher, just had her time in the spotlight. After having a stellar showing as CGOW months ago, Hillary looked to be the one to steal the year's final prize and take it to the house with ease.

After a month of Hillary's features, I can safely say that there is no doubt she will be a force this year in the running for CGOY 2010. I mean, there really is no competition from anyone else -- except, of course, fo
r Jamie Graham, whose CGOM performance was second to none. Surely, Hillary, with all of her outstanding sexiness and awesome talent could surely sweep everyone and dominate the year? Well, let's take a look first.

While it's true that Hillary is head and shoulders above almost all of the girls so far this year, in other years she would be in a bit of trouble. With an uninspired and flat performance in her pictorials, the ever-so-sexy Miss Fisher was unimpressive. Even in her first pictorial, things just didn't transpire right, and the production value suffered. Her best photo was a bit of an oddity, and needed a gimmick pose to be sexy. Although ultimately Hillary's cut, toned body was very attractive, it just seemed to not go anywhere.

Things only got worse in Week 2, with some amateurish posing and horrid photography. It just seemed to not go anywhere, and only seemed to waste the talent that she had. The curls in the hair just made it seem frizzy and unkempt. Her body wasn't lit right, and so it seemed to not have the dynamic curvature and volume that it did before.

Admittedly, Hillary is, in the end, the best looking girl of 2009. She is just drop dead sexy, and in Week 3 she picked up the slack and delivered some very good shots. Taking on a more nuanced and subtle posing style, she did a great job with innocent photos like this one, and this excellent full body shot showing off her great look in natural lighting. As I mentioned, Hillary looks so good when lighting is used sparingly, and when she's allowed to move around with lighter, more natural gestures. When the photographers ruin her pictorials with overproduction and overdirection, you get the problems seen in her other weeks.

When you look at her and take a step back, you see the same awesome model as in her CGOW pictorial: strong, sexy, forceful and dynamic in her posing. She takes charge in front of the camera, and when she is comfortable in her own skin, she shines. When Playboy gets in the way and tries to do too much (overdoing her hair, her set, her posing direction), things go wrong. I'm sure that she could do more, but ultimately, the best showing of the year is still in the hands of Jamie Graham, who show
ed near-perfect posing talents and an even sexier body than Hillary.

Facial: A
Hillary's greatest strength is her bright smile and gorgeous natural looks that set her far apart from the rest of the 2009 class.
Body: B+
Hillary keeps her body very toned and has awesome proportions. However, a questionable set of breast implants and skin that's not always flawless in front of the cameras sets her back.
Talent: B+
We all know what Hillary has the capability of doing, but she takes too much direction from photographers and producers. When she gets into a natural groove, she soars.
Pictorials: B-
Again, Hillary has loads of potential. However, her showing in her CGOM set was extremely mediocre, and at times below average. She has to concentrate more on being natural and using her acute presence.
Videos: B
Hillary doesn't look great in motion, often seeming robotic and unnatural. Again, it might be a product of her being out of her comfort zone, but she looks far better in photos.
Overall: B+
While offering a better showing than almost all of the other entrants in 2009, Hillary fell far short of expectations. Her pictorials are some of the bigger disappointments in 2009, but I can still root for her chance to win CGOY 2010, because of her massive potential. If she has several months to offer retribution and to show off what she can really do, I'll take them in a heartbeat. Still, she was outshone by fellow CGOM Jamie Graham this year, since Jamie's overall performance was far stronger.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Plot Thickens

There's no secret that this 2009 Playmate class is shaping up to be what is possibly one of the best ever. It certainly has become one of the best we've seen in several years, possibly since the Golden Era years of the late 90's and early 2000's, when Playmates were refreshing, innovative, and uniquely awe-inspiring. We saw a lull in the creative engines over at Playboy for a few years, but that all seems to have come to an end with the recent entries in the race for PMOY 2010. The class has been deep and gorgeous, and just when it seemed like it couldn't get any better, they gave us Kimberly Phillips in September, who was a knockout and easily in the Top 3.

This month, they didn't make it any easier.

They stuck to their guns of delivering quality models by introducing Lindsey Gayle Evans, a blond young bombshell from Louisiana bayou country. She has every bit of the southern belle look that we crave in wholesome blond Playmates, and then some. She is unique, built like a sex machine, and is incredibly, deeply talented. So much so, that she again rattles the discussion of who the top prize should go to. Should she sneak into the top 3 with her stellar performance?

Let's take a look at Lindsey's high-quality work that really makes her significant. You'll notice that even with clothes on, Lindsey's charm and presence are unmistakable. And when she sheds those clothes, the combination of her movements and her eyes perched upon that beautiful face make for some great entertainment. Not to mention her body, whose incredible 5'10" frame makes for some serious model-like posing, like with this one, showing off her long legs and proportionate butt.

As you go through her pictorial, you start to notice that there truly is a lot to this girl's talent. Not only is she physically a great woman because of her proportions despite being so tall, but she knows how to use those measurements wonderfully. This photo is a very intriguing shot of her, with a bottomless view of her hips that draws attention with lighting and a mysterious facial expression. Because her frame is so long, often she makes good use of her legs, but it's also often best used when she curls up and gets close in on the shot, instead of going lengthwise. The photographers did a great job of capturing Lindsey's legginess, with an an amazing upside down picture and a nice view of her curled up on the couch. Lindsay's makeup was also done perfectly, accentuating her amazing eyes.

The great material doesn't stop, with the pictorial ending out with this sexy silhouette again capturing that look, and this artsy picture taking an intimate look at her personal glow in the natural light.

Facial: A
Lindsey's face is wholesome and cute, with luscious, deep eyes and beautiful, smooth facial structure with understated cheekbones.
Body: A-
Her body is very lean, although not entirely toned. Her legs are very long and her height comes across well in photos, lending to excellent proportions because of her gorgeous backside.
Talent: A
It may be more due to her photogenicity, but Lindsey is as good a poser as any this year, which certainly puts her over the top in the Playmate race. She makes excellent use of her tall frame, using her legs better than any 2009 Playmate.
Pictorial: A+
A rich, wondrous pictorial full of various themes and picture-perfect production value.
Centerfold: B
Videos: B+
The videos captured Lindsey's playful and active posing style, but often didn't show enough solid material to make them truly engaging.
Overall: A
Lindsay is just the latest Playmate of 2009 to get an extremely high score for being a complete model with loads of depth and talent. She offers even deeper competition in the field, and where she ranks in the bunch all comes from her performance in her stellar pictorial, which may very well be the best pictorial of the year. A definite contender for PMOY, she needs to tango with the other top girls of the year for the crown. The plot thickens...
Best Photo: #14 | Worst Photo: #16

Monday, September 28, 2009

CGOY & PMOY '10 - The Race is On

Let's take a second to step back and take a look at how the races for PMOY and CGOY are transpiring so far. It's easy to see that they differ greatly in candidates and their quality, but both should be pretty intriguing given how good the top talent is and the potential for some amazing pictorials. I won't rank the ladies now - that's a job for the end of the year. However, I'll take a look at who's really carrying the torch and who the stragglers are.

The Race for Cyber Girl of the Year 2010

The Top (in no particular order)
  • Hillary Fisher
  • Jamie Graham
  • Cassie Keller
The Middle
  • Kaytee Bees
  • Carlie Christine
  • Netty Maj
The Bottom
  • Lauren D'Marie
  • Jennifer Lewis
  • Rebecca Lynn
For CGOY, the race is very top-heavy. You have some great talent and clear frontrunners in the last two months with Hillary and Jamie, but the rest are just a blob of unrecognizable talent. Cassie is a fan favorite not really because of her looks, but because of her unique posing talent and impeccable technique. Kaytee Bees was the Cyber Girl 100 winner and shows the most promise outside the top 2, but there is a noticeable talent gap between #2 and 3. The rest are just disappointments, the biggest of which was Lauren D'Marie, who followed up a gorgeous CGOW performance with a flat and very uninspired CGOM entry. The results are a very thin CG class going into the final three months.

The Race for Playmate of the Year 2010

The Top (in no particular order)
  • Dasha Astafieva
  • Jessica Burciaga
  • Kimberly Phillips
The Middle
  • Candice Cassidy
  • Hope Dworaczyk
  • Crystal McCahill
The Bottom
  • Jennifer Pershing
  • The Shannon Twins
On the Playmate side of things, everything is noticeably more of a level playing field. It's so deep, I can see anyone I ranked in 'the middle' winning it all for 2010. The top of the class is absolutely stellar: in separate years, Dasha, Jessica, and Kimberly would all win PMOY. But here, only one can win. Still, the talent runs deeper, with Candice Cassidy being a truly legitimate contender, and Hope being a possible fan favorite. The Shannon twins were an experiment gone wrong, and Jennifer Pershing is not even worth the mention. These, however, are minor blemishes in an otherwise deep and talent-rich class. It should be a brilliant ending, with the 55th Anniversary Playmate leading the charge.

So, what does everyone think? Are these categories close to the truth? Who do you think will come out on top down the stretch? Three months to go, and plenty more fun to come.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Out Of The Blue

Every once in a while, Playboy has the ability to discover a seminal talent that really puts us back in our seats and makes us stare in awe and wonder. After all the downs that the magazine introduces, after all of the lame, cookie-cutter Playmates and Cyber Girls, they manage to pull out an absolute gem. That's what keeps us coming back, and that's what keeps them on the gold standard. Do they realize their own ups and downs? Probably not... what else would explain the Shannon twins?

That's happening right now, as we speak. Every day, the Cyber Club introduces a marquee pictorial, such as some breathtaking Playmate Xtra entries (Kayla Collins and now the unbelievably gorgeous Laura Croft, who deserved another shot more than anybody) and a very exciting talent in this month's CGOM, Hillary Fisher. The real story of the year, however, has been the Playmates.

Oh, what a year we've had. The candidates have been second to none, and in a race like this, with talent top to bottom, one can expect things to die down towards the end. Well, they aren't dying down one bit. Enter Kimberly Phillips, Miss September, who has just crashed the PMOY race as a relative unknown, and stolen the hearts of thousands. She's just appeared out of the blue, and has become easily one of the top contenders for the year's crown.

One look at Kim will tell you all about why she's so special. She is the quintessential girl next door of the modern era: very tall (5'8"), very busty, and curvy to a point where she doesn't look like a twig with a bra on. She has perfect proportions, and her model-like size combined with her sweet and unassuming persona makes her a bit of an oddity. Being such a ridiculously proportioned girl, she stays well grounded.

Kimberly's pictorial is awesome, full of variety and life. This full frontal shot is jaw-droppingly amazing, with that curve along her belly and that bald hip line looking especially incredible. You can see an hourglass figure, and in such a tall girl it really makes for a sight to see. You can even see her relative voluptuousness more clearly in this photo. After a playful series of carwash photos that don't do a whole lot to enhance the quality of the pictorial, she returns to the bedroom, stripping down in this natural and very candid photo.

Kim then unleashes a sexual tide, looking frazzled and extremely flirty after taking off a lacy top and slinky underwear. She alternates this with a strong sense of innocence under a soft light, allowing her to show off her strong versatility. She caps it all off with an unusually sexy centerfold, which I found to be very interesting in that it doesn't really look like her at all. Although she looks very different in it, her dark, small eyes shimmer, and as in her pictorial, are very tantalizing.

Kimberly Phillips is the real deal, there is no doubt. Her subtle posing style and fantastically unusual body are her main weapons, and she produces top quality photos with no gimmicks whatsoever. She may not be as flashy as this year's top girls, like Dasha Astafieva or Jessica Burciaga, but she has her own style that sets her apart. She is the ultimate modern girl-next-door, and truly carries with her a sense of the present. In fact, she is so representative of the modern vision of a sexy woman that she may define the 2009 year if she is to win PMOY. And for that prize, she is a very, very serious contender, if not #1 in many peoples' eyes.

Scorecard (click to enlarge):

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Legend In The Rough

Throughout every year, there is an ebb and flow when it comes to Playboy's leading ladies. Oftentimes, the Playmates and Cyber Girls are out of sync, with one race being completely devoid of decent candidates while the other is absolutely breathtaking and groundbreaking. It's never both at once, always one or the other.

2009 has been a wondrous year for Playmates. We've had girls like Dasha Astafieva, Jessica Burciaga, Hope Dworaczyk, and Candice Cassidy in the mix, all contributing to a stellar class. And it just looks like there's more excellent material to come, with sinewy, luscious redhead Kimberly Phillips, who looks extremely promising, and could be a true candidate for 2010's PMOY.

On the other hand, the race for Cyber Girl 2010 is not quite so nice. It's been a mixed-up, mashed-up race with disappointing entrants left and right. March's Lauren D'Marie was the first candidate with seeming potential, but she crashed and burned by deviating from her captivating CGOW look. Kaytee Bees, the Cyber Girl 100 winner, was not necessariily up to par with her billing, but was moderately cute. Carlie Christine lost every bit of luster she had in her cute CGOW pictorial. Cassie Keller picked things up, but is not a real, truly viable CGOY candidate.

So who stepped up to the plate? Well, in 2008's Girls of the Big Ten college girls pictorial, one girl really stood out to readers, and personally caught my eye, as well. I'm talking about Jamie Graham, who had a stunning series of two photos in that pictorial that were truly amazing. Even with only two photos, you could see that her body was just phenomenal up and down. Lo and behold, Jamie won some recognition with this showing, and is our July Cyber Girl of the Month.

Jamie is an honorable mention this year because she is not only the best Cyber Girl of 2009, but may well become one of the all-time legendary Cyber Girls. Everything comes together when you witness Jamie, her engaging posing style, her breathtaking posing talents, and you just cannot omit her nearly flawless, cut body.

Firstly, Jamie has an amazing sense for the camera. She plays into it and each and every shot counts when she gets in front of it. Much like eternal Cyber Girl greats like Amy Sue Cooper or Jo Garcia, Jamie has a true knack for posing in the nude. When she arches that back and lets it all spill out, her sexuality oozes and comes in heavy. It is relentless and stunning in every photo and video that she is in, and for such a seemingly low-key girl with her clothes on, she absolutely transforms when all the lingerie flutters off.

That's the most endearing thing about Jamie... the fact that she can absolutely transform before your eyes before she switches gears. Jamie can start out as a wholesome girl with parted, straight locks of hair and an innocent half-grin. Then, she can turn it all around by showing off a body that is second to none, with plump, full breasts, a wonderfully toned backside, and a flat, cut belly that just looks as hard as a rock when you view it. All that is combined with flawless, milky skin that masks a powerful and well-maintained fortress of femininity.

When it comes down to it, Jamie is by far the best we've seen this year, and may go down as the best model of the year when all is said and done. She might be the ultimate retribution for a poor CGOY choice for 2009 (Sharae Spears), and may go down as one of the great CGOY's of all time, taking her rightful place among greats like Jo, Merritt, and Amy Sue. Altogether, she has what it takes to go all the way -- the only thing in her way is competition that might come down the road later this year. If all goes normally, there will not be another girl who can replicate the sensuality and the absolute physical perfection that Jamie possesses. This girl is simply too hot to pass over... we might have a true star on our hands.

Jamie's Scorecard (click to enlarge)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Announcing the Greatest Cyber Girl Tournament

So I mentioned a while ago that I was taking nominations for a tournament field of 32 that would be in the running for Greatest Cyber Girl of All-Time. These lovely ladies would be plucked from the batch of over 400 Cyber Girls we've had so far, on any level (CGOW, CGOM, etc). Then, they'd go head-to-head in a bracket-style tournament to see who would come out on top.

The selections are out, and as I had explained, there are four "groups," with the girls seeded 1-8 in each group depending on a number of factors. One major factor is fanfare and recognition. The "crowd favorites" will get higher seeds. Also, girls who have more material and are more prolific will get higher seeds. Of course, any girl who has been a Cyber Girl of the Year automatically receives a #1 or #2 seed as a reward. Girls who only had reached CGOW status will get bottom seeds, but their nomination means that they still have a chance to knock out the big ones.

With all that, here is the bracket:

Greatest CG Tournament Bracket (click to enlarge)

I'm sure there will be some controversy over who got snubbed and who was nominated, but we'll all see it play out in the coming weeks and months. As always, your support (and criticism) is definitely welcome!

#8 Seeds
Kim Hiott
Gianna DiMarco
Markesa Yeager
Erica Campbell

#7 Seeds
Danielle Gamba
Dana Dicillo
Hillary Fisher
Jaime Graham

#6 Seeds
Shamron Moore
Kortnie O'Connor
Trina Marie
Mary Jane

#5 Seeds
Heather McQuaid
Paula LaRocca
Carolee Bass
Jia Lynn

#4 Seeds
Tasha Nicole
Kimberly Holland
Melissa Puente
Kaytee Bees

#3 Seeds
Jennifer Hurt
Stephanie Eve
Carmella DeCesare
Jillian Beyor

#2 Seeds (CGOY)
Erica Michelle Barre
Alicia Burley
Breann McGregor
Sharae Spears

#1 Seeds (CGOY)
Jo Garcia
Monica Leigh
Merritt Cabal
Amy Sue Cooper

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twice? Not as nice.

If there's one thing Playboy has proven with its latest "double issue," combining July and August into one big "summer edition," it's the fact that fans are growing tired of gimmicks. That's evident from the recent reaction to the Shannon twins, which seem almost like a cheap way of introducing two Playmates at once without having to work too hard, and letting the editors off the hook for a couple weeks of vacation.

What else could it really be? Playboy just wanted some time off, where they didn't have to work too hard. I must admit, when I saw the preview pictorial come out, I had gotten my hopes up just a bit. These twins looked like they had the "it" factor -- the chemistry and sense of sisterly love that could vault them over the top and give them enough gusto to perhaps look like serious Playmate twins.

It was all just a gimmick, after all.

These Playmate twins are nothing more than just twins, just like the Campbell twins last December. I have to reiterate this, and I believe other fans' patiences are wearing then with this fact as well: even if a mediocre model has a copy of herself in the same picture, it doesn't make her any sexier. In fact, it just cheapens the whole experience. Having Playmate twins just for the sake of having them makes you feel like you're being cheated, like you're being taken for a ride by Playboy. The Shannon twins simply don't have the bodies nor the talent to strike it big with viewers. Where are the Bernaolas or the Teles twins and their curvy bodies? Now that would be a pleasure.

The Shannons' pictorial is just one big gimmick. It is set entirely within the Playboy mansion, taking advantage of different vantage points all over the house. Now, the twins can look mighty cute when they just give a nice glance at the camera. By far cuter than the Campbell twins, just because of their bright personalities. It's this bubbliness, combined with their excellently shaped buttocks, that save them from being atrocious models. That's where the buck stops, because these twins haven't got that sparkle, to say the very least.

The Shannons are shiny and polished when they're with each other in all their glory. However, when they try to get cozy with each other, the scheme wears thin. They are a very physical couple, which is what you want to see with twins (and I'm talking physical in the playful sense, of course), however, leafing through the pictorial, you get the sense that it's not the models' prowess that makes them slightly interesting. They are photogenic, but after striking some awkward poses and looking like two amateurs the whole way through, you begin to think that these girls would be better suited as Cyber Girls than full fledged Playmates. A shoddy centerfold doesn't do much help to wrap things up, either.

The Shannon twins are the equivalent to Playboy slamming on the brakes on an otherwise excellent 2009. With a great Playmate lineup so far, they didn't have to go to such lengths to turn in a mediocre pair of Playmates to eat up a couple months. Perhaps a non-sister duo would have been great (a blonde and brunette in the same pictorial). Instead, we get a set of twins that will undoubtedly go down as one of the major missteps in Playboy's history. These two don't lack looks, but they do lack any real spark to be considered viable Playmates, let alone Playmates of the Year.

Scorecard (click to enlarge):

Monday, July 6, 2009

Send In Your Nominations for the Greatest CG Tournament!

I thought I'd do the running for the Greatest Cyber Girl of All-Time by doing things a little differently. Instead of doing a simple countdown, I'm going to set up a tournament bracket. The bracket will be single-elimination, pitting two Cyber Girls against each other one-on-one.

The field will be made up of 32 Cyber Girls... anyone from any era, be it a CGOW, CGOM, or CGOY. The girls will be seeded based on their relative popularity around the Playboy community, and their status. If they made it to CGOY, they will hold a #1 or #2 seed. There will be four brackets called "divisions," and the winner of each goes on to try for the semifinals. Just check out the bracket below to get an idea for what it looks like.

Click to Enlarge Bracket

What I need from all my fans is a list... I need each of you to list 10 Cyber Girls that you think should be in this tournament. I'll gather the results and results from other sources and personal choice, and arrange the bracket seeding that way. Then, we'll start the tournament and go match-by-match eliminating girls and seeing who deserves the final crown. There'll be much room for debate, and I think this is a fun way of doing things that can get everyone a bit more involved with predictions, etc.

So please, write in your favorites!

Monday, June 29, 2009

#1 - Karen McDougal

It's definitely been a while since I last left my long-running countdown of the Greatest Playmates of All-Time. It's been a thorough and comprehensive list, and although fans may have been waiting for their favorite gal to pop up without any result, there's been speculation about who the number one model would be. She's been identified with lots of accuracy, and for good reasons. The leading lady is a girl who I think is the most complete Playmate, and model, ever to appear in Playboy, on any level. She transcends the norms and raises the bar when it comes to true beauty in the world of nude modeling.

I refer to the late 90's and early 2000's as my "Golden Era" of Playboy. With such consistency in the quality of models, it's no wonder I refer to it in these words. The girls of these years were some of the all-time greats, as is reflected by my countdown, and it all was kicked off at the end of 1997...

'97 was a turning point for Playmates. There were many milestones before the year, but there was something special about this one. The year took the shape of a typical 90's era collection of Playmates - and had its fair share of great Playmates, such as Lynn Thomas, Kalin Olson, Nikki Schieler, and Inga Drozdova. However, this was all just a precursor for December, which brought about a turning point in the way Playmates were perceived and photographed.

I'm talking, of course, about Karen McDougal, Miss December 1997 and Playmate of the Year 1998. She easily won the title after a rather weak class of Playmates, but would have dominated in any other year, easily. She set a new standard for the way Playmates were shot: with a classy but strong presence, with a new standard of curviness and strength, and a sense of bodily conditioning and posing talent that could put any other girl light-years behind. Karen could easily exist in any Playmate era and overshadow the competition, no matter who it could be. That is why she is my #1 - there is no question that she is head and shoulders above anyone in terms of sheer quality. Karen was unlike any other, and it would take pages upon pages to truly describe just how special a Playmate she was.

Karen emerged from blue collar Gary, Indiana, a midwestern schoolteacher who was a smash-hit beauty from the very beginning. With rounded, modest measurements: a 34-24-34 frame and a busty 125 lbs, the numbers on her sheet don't do her justice. Karen's exotic traits come from her Native American heritage and Irish mixed background, and show in each and every photo. Her unique looks are understated to just the right level, and never take over her shots and become the focal point over her pointed, highly effective posing style. Her grace is impeccable, and she doesn't have a single shot that falls short of expectations. Truly a momentous Playmate.

It's hard to peruse Karen's material without going over her centerfold first. Possibly one of the great centerfold photos of all-time, Karen's is an iconic pose that doesn't go all-out with a frontal assault on the senses, but instead holds back just the right amount, showing off Karen's beautifully built backside. Her feminine shoulders shimmer in the soft lighting, and the wintry setting makes for a very memorable sight. With a pretty red ribbon to tie back those lustrous locks, you've got a centerfold that is extremely well-shot, and accomplishes exactly what all centerfolds should do: be something that can stand as a work by itself, aside from pictorial material, taking on a life of its own.

One always has to begin describing Karen with her most eye-catching feature: her body. It was not just another hot and stacked figure that set Karen apart from all the others, but it was the way it became an icon for the Playmate world. Karen's figure is a temple, a shrine to feminine perfection. Not only was it soft and accented in its curviness, which set the bar for voluptuous and sinewy models of the era, but it was also as hard as a rock. She is known for her athletic, muscular build, and it showed in her pictorials, with every single pose being complemented by her tight form and exquisite posture.

Karen's figure was also one of incredible feminine balance: while she had a rough and tough exterior that allowed her to strike contorting, innovative poses, she also had a glowing softness to her skin and face that truly made her cute and endearing.

I always say that the most important asset of a Playboy model is her material, as well as her posing talent. Karen was the consummate professional in this category, providing stunning montages and incredible sights to behold. She had an almost poetic flow to her pictorials, always changing her gaze and shifting through with ease of motion. In the snowy hills, she shot an iconic set, ingrained in the memory of many a fan. Throughout her pictorials, she also boasted incredible production value by her editors, something which has not ever been matched in a model's pictorial. The quality is unbelievable, with thematic layering and a textural feel to each and every one of her pictures.

Her pictorials are almost of a storytelling nature, and the Christmas-tinged wintry themes are spot-on. The sets and lighting cater to Karen's unique skin hue, and her playfulness is never forgotten, and always highlighted when the time is right. The outtakes never even seem as such, often creating a sense of sexual innocence that draws the audience even closer to its alluring nature. All-in-all, Karen was never overbearing in her posing, always taking her time and having a level of patience that I had never seen elsewhere. She always knew how to time her photographs perfectly, never seeming like she was trying too hard to get that perfect pose. She is an example that all Playmates and Cyber Girls alike could learn quite a bit from.

Karen McDougal's ultimate impact on the Playboy world cannot be easily described. To a new generation, she was an icon and a trendsetter. To a legion of dedicated readers, she was a breath of fresh air and an usher for a new era of revival and greatness. Indeed, "revival" is the best word to describe Karen's influence. She created a new image of the Playmate as a strong, intimate woman who was fearless and always in control of the way she would come off.

Karen greatly influenced the way in which Playmates' range of skills were evaluated. In other words, girls were put into "niche" posing styles and categories that would limit their abilities and close them in, but Karen always found new ways to expand and grow her talents. Even when she was selected as Playmate of the Year 1998, Karen found incredible ways to "wow" the crowds, with shots like this unforgettable mountain vista. Her PMOY pictorial, in fact, contains some absolutely breathtaking photos that define professionalism in nude photography, like this silhouette and this follow-up, which truly highlight just how perfect Karen's body was.

Karen was not only a prolific Playmate, but she truly had a sense of quality, and what made a great pose and what did not. She was consistent, had a wholesome presence, and natural photogenicity that is incredibly rare. She stood head-and-shoulders above all others in Playboy's history, and should be remembered as such. In crowd circles, it can be widely debated as to who is the greatest Playmate ever, since there have been hundreds who can qualify and compete. However, a Playmate is something more than just a naked girl. There are three billion women on this planet, and many millions of gorgeous ones. However, it takes a certain intangible to truly be a fantastic nude, and Karen McDougal proved that she absolutely had the greatest body and set of talents in Playboy's history.