Thursday, January 22, 2009

Miss 55

Every five years, Playboy commences a search for an "Anniversary Playmate," someone who really stands out among the crowd and defines the look of an era. For this year, the 55th Anniversary Playmate was to be found by several means, namely through a competition called the "Road to the 55th Anniversary Playmate," which allowed girls from all over the world to post videos to YouTube in order to get noticed.

It turns out that the whole thing was just a tease. The six finalists chosen might never get to see the light of day as a Playmate, let alone as the 55th Anniversary title holder. The final result isn't a darkhorse favorite or even a relative unknown Playboy insider; instead, the winner was announced as being Dasha Astafieva, a Ukranian supermodel who had already won Playmate of the Year in her home country. Indeed, this wasn't the result that Playboy had let many to believe was in the works: this wasn't a complex search through hundreds of entries, but was probably known all along.

Although the manufactured hype is a bit of a disappointment because of the way Playboy approached things and led fans to believe that there was an actual selection process going on, if one does examine Dasha versus her "competition," there is very little contest. What we have here is one fantastic, incredible model.

Dasha is a bit of an anomaly when you consider the entries of 2008 and of recent times. Playmates have been polished and beautiful, but haven't carried the sort of superstar appeal that really cements the reputation of a future Playmate of the Year, or that of a truly iconic girl. The closest a Playmate came to that in this past year was Juliette Frette, and most of the other ladies couldn't hit that "it" factor as well. Dasha, however, brings it, and brings it very well. She is one of the most talented "pure" models that I've seen in Playboy in a long time.

Dasha has a strangely magnetic quality through her very dynamic posing. Her pictorial isn't a conventional one with a typical mix of all the standard photos, but is instead a bit of an experimental piece, trying to bring European Playboy themes into the discussion. Dasha's Eastern European qualities shine in many of her photos, and when she sprawls herself upon her bed, it's hard to ignore just how naturally beautiful this girl is. The real essence of Miss Astafieva can be felt in these pictures, picture 8 and 9. Her body is breathtaking, her skin tone a beautiful golden brown, and her face is exotic and alluring, like something you've never seen before. Dasha is effortlessly smooth, and through every photo you get a different perspective of just how deep this model's talent runs. It's fascinating.

Speaking of fascinating, the plethora of artsy shots in her repertoire are a bit unconventional, but Dasha does a great job of satisfying even the casual fan. In fact, it suits her well to do an eclectic array of shots, considering how well she pulls them off, like in her poolside emergence. A close-up sheds an almost natural light upon all the little droplets tracing her outstanding curves. The photo makes her look almost too good to be real. Dasha then takes it to the bedroom, and does a great job of almost moving through her photo series, twisting her sinewy body and laying on her back for a great overview of her innate beauty. After viewing her pictorial, you get a sense of what makes her different from other Playmates you've seen before. I can't remember the last time I've seen a girl who poses in such a unique way and brings so much sexuality to the table, easily conveying her passionate style through her material.

The only thing odd about Dasha is that, while you look through her pictorial, you almost wish she'd have a momentum swing in her style. She almost goes too hard and gives it her all a bit too much throughout her pictorial, never letting up. Most pictorials have climaxes after following a single theme for a couple photos, but Dasha took a different route and brought a plethora of different looks and moves... which is good, considering that she's a breath of fresh air among all these amateurish Playmates of late.

Dasha truly is a magnificent talent, and someone who absolutely deserves to be an anniversary Playmate. Other candidates certainly would have a hard time competing with such a model, and Dasha has a way of leaving an impression because of her wildly unique European posing style. I say, American Playmates, take a good look! European and South American Playboy models are experimental and interesting, and are totally active posers with an uncanny sense for the camera. On an annual basis, 2009 has started with the bar set incredibly high, and it will be a real challenge for any of the rest of the eleven girls of the year to measure up in terms of having the total package. Of course, in the coming months, we'll see plenty of the ladies that were discovered during the 55th Anniversary search, including February's Jessica Burciaga, who looks like a surefire winner.

Consensus... A

Dasha Astafieva
Miss January 2009
55th Anniversary Playmate