Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Talent In Bloom

With recent posts, I've just been sticking to the Playmate races, more or less. I have my routine of reviewing every single Playmate of the Month, culminating in year end reviews. But sometimes, girls come along in Playboy that truly capture my attention, and they're worth a special mention.

That's what happened yesterday, when two spectacular young talents launched their Playboy careers and immediately caught my eye. I really, truly believe that these two girls have all the talent to become future PlayboyCritic hall-of-famers, and that's no exaggeration.

First off, yesterday's debut of Cyber Girl of the Week Casey Lauren completely blew me away. The 25-year old has a sleek, slender body (only 95 lbs worth) and has a clean cut, smooth look that is beyond words. With the dismal showing of Playboy's Cyber Girl class lately, it's so refreshing to see an exotic fresh face like Casey hit the scene. In a photo like this, you notice that she obviously isn't the voluptuous bombshell that characterizes models of late, but she sure does have an intriguing look that's helped out by her petite figure.

On top of it all, Casey's face is very unique, and her smile bright and youthful. There's something about her face structure and her nose that make her very unlike any girl I've seen, and her dark black hair laid out on those white sheets makes for an immersive experience when looking at her. Not to mention, her posing and posture are excellent.

The thing is - we won't see if Casey pans out to grab a spot at CGOM until 2011. And thus, she's out of the 2010 race, anyway. That's very unfortunate given the boost that this Cyber Girl class could use this year - Casey is probably the best CGOW since Elizabeth Mendez (who flopped miserably in her turn as CGOM).

As for the other girl who absolutely wowed me yesterday: she wasn't a Playmate or a Cyber Girl at all. She was actually part of a forgotten breed of ladies in Playboy - the Coeds. Christine Veronica made her appearance as Coed of the Week, and boy, she was something else. The busty 20 year old is a combination of spunky youthfulness and great posing prowess, with the face of an absolute angel.

Even Christine's outfit got me going; the way she energetically tugs her clothes off is an utter joy to watch. What you notice at first in her fantastic pictorial is how buxom she is. Her body has some meat on it, and that's a good thing. The way she holds her posture, too, complements her fine breasts.

The real kicker about Christine, though, is her face. She has an absolutely spectacular smile, and one that she (thankfully) sustains throughout her pictorial. She never lets up with it, and I loved every little bit. When she flashes those pearly whites, and her eyes squint and glimmer with that beautiful hue, it's heavenly. This is the stuff that elite Playmates are made out of, not amateur college girls. And when you pan away or zoom out, and you see that her picturesque face is coupled with perfectly curved body, you start to appreciate just how special Christine is.

It truly is great to see talent like this come around, but we need to see it cultivate. I beg you, Playboy, to give Christine her due, and move her up the ranks. Give her a Coed of the Month feature, then promote her to Cyber Girl... and please, do it well. You don't want to mess this great talent up. Since she's so comfortable in her own skin, and strikes poses with incredible ease, Christine is without a doubt the best Coed of the year, and easily the best since Jessica DeCarlo of April last year.

Now go, Playboy! Get these two awesome ladies some gigs! They have my support, without a doubt.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Claire the Playmate Time Machine

Of all the ups and downs during the calendar year, and in each year's class of Playmates, there are times when Playboy botches pictorials and does a poor job underrepresenting gorgeous girls in front of the camera. They sell them short. However, if there's one thing you have to give Playboy credit for, it's this: the editors of Playboy are definitely looking to take risks in recent years. There was a boring slump in the 80's, and the lack of creativity in the 90's was made up for by some stellar models. Nowadays, though, they need to spice things up to keep audiences interested. And this, they do quite well.

So, it should come to no one's surprise that they throw a monkey wrench into the works for this month's Playmate, Miss October Claire Sinclair. This girl really has surprised readers, in a positive way. She certainly took me by surprise, in that her style is like nothing I've seen in years. There's been several times that Playboy has tried to throw in a 'retro' style pictorial or two, but they didn't quite have the models to pull off such a look. However, Claire is a whole different breed of woman. At the impressionable age of 19, she is highly reverent of the models of the magazine's lore, including pinups like Bettie Page.

Back in the magazine's early days of the 1950's, models were unabashedly curvy, had milky white skin, and often were dark brunettes without highlights in their hair or frills in their posing. Because their range of nudity was limited, they used great creativity to pull off majestic themes. How could a girl who's only a teenager living in 2010 replicate this? Amazingly, Claire does it, and boy does she do it well.

Claire is an homage to those great nude stars of yesteryear, but also with a refreshing twist of youth. In some of her first photos, you can tell that she's taking this theme seriously, spreading out but taking some more conservative shots. Then, her pictorial shifts gears for the better, with a more agressive shot of her entire body. As she shows in subsequent photos, her passive posing style, which she overwhelmingly prefers, is actually effective because she's just so mesmerizing. Claire is a tough model to figure out, because it's almost as if she lives in two different eras. She hits you with an exceptional starlet-like pose, but then shifts gears, relaxes, and lets it all loose by putting her body on full display.

To really pinpoint what it is about Claire that makes her unique, and that keeps her apart from both the 50's and the 2010's, you need only look at her mixed features. She has a unique face that's without sharp, angular features that come in today's models. This is one of the elements that keeps her "retro" feeling. Obviously, the costuming helps, but we can go deeper than that. To keep her from getting too disconnected from this year's crop of ladies, she also has a leaner, more sculpted body than women did in Playboy's infancy. For example, in this photo, you can clearly see her accentuated hips and rather slender waistline, which wasn't always so prominent with the old gals.

As she continues her pictorial, you can notice that the quality of this model is truly something to appreciate. She does get lost in her posing here and there, and that's the issue with her. She isn't a very skilled poser, but her passive looks are very intriguing. Through all of her novelty, this really is a great model. However, the lingering question follows throughout the pictorial: is this really a serious contender in today's Playboy? The answer? Probably not as serious as if she was just a straightforward model. We applaud her for taking risks and producing a wonderful pictorial with winners like this great shot, but in the end, does it really satisfy?
  • Face: B+
    Claire's face is beautiful, and her smile is infectious. Her face really sets her apart from other Playmates of recent years, and is her defining feature. However, it still lacks some distinctive features that can make her more memorable.
  • Body: B+
    Claire is voluptuous and busty, with a milky white complexion, which lends itself to her "pinup" motif. She is really far more cut than most photos would lend you to believe, but it doesn't touch the rock-hard bodies of other girls.
  • Talent: B
    If there's a true Achilles' heel to what Claire does, it's that she models her style too closely to former pinup girls. Back in those days, it was more about the presentation and the idea of nudity than the girl's skill. She just doesn't have the knack for the camera that she would have if she was more active in her movement.
  • Pictorial: B+
    Claire's pictorial is not particularly well-done by the editors, nor does it truly harness the multidimensional beauty that she has. It could use more photos that center on her surprisingly tight body, but instead they focus on the thematic quirkiness of her style, losing the focus that should be placed on the model herself.
  • Centerfold: B-
    One of the poorer centerfold shots of the year, it just doesn't do her justice at all, and misses the point entirely.
  • Overall: B+
    I, as the magazine has, have highlighted Claire's posing style and motif in my review as the highlight of her Playmate reign. It's obviously what makes her stick out in a year with some above average talent, and so it should be taken seriously, and not just some kind of schtick. That theme crosses over a bit into being real substance, but ultimately, it can't carry itself into the PMOY race. Claire is just not a pure talent like Amy, Jamie, or Katie were this year, and so she should easily slip into the middle of the pack. It was amazing to see such a young girl pay homage to her heroes in such a nuanced and fun way, but in the end, it won't take her to the finish line on top.