Friday, May 18, 2012

2012 Playmate of the Year Review

As we heard the rumors stir for the past few weeks and months, the frontrunners apparently came and went in this year's Playmate of the Year race. There were fan favorites Jessa Hinton, Kylie Johnson, Ciara Price, and Amanda Cerny, all of whom were thought from time to time as being the eventual nominee.

But in the end, it was the one constant fan favorite who took it. For once, the controversy isn't quite as heavy as it has been in past years. We had some surprise candidates in the past years, the most recent being last year's Claire Sinclair or 2010 winner Hope Dworaczyk.

With Jaclyn Swedberg, though, we knew that her fanbase was huge from the start. Folks supported her in droves from the beginning, and it showed in every single poll on any site. She came in fourth in my own blog poll, but I even expected her to do better. Sure, I put her at #6 in my 2011 class ranking, but I knew all along that Jaclyn would be a strong contender, and for good reason. I never actually disliked Jaclyn, as her natural beauty and finesse are really quite endearing. It's actually her lack of talent and any solid photos that really took her down a notch for me.

As much as I was hoping that she would redeem her poor PMOM performance with a great PMOY spread, I do know better by now. We haven't really had a decent Playmate of the Year pictorial since Carmella DeCesare nearly ten years ago. Heck, we haven't had a truly talented PMOY who could put together a potentially explosive pictorial since Ida Ljungqvist (who didn't deliver, either).

Miss Swedberg's pictorial is underwhelming at best. Instead of trying to refine and accentuate Jaclyn's really endearing girl-next-door traits in any way, Playboy's editors just step on the gas and crush any hope of that. Instead, they try to rough her up a bit, getting her in more mismatched costuming and poor hair and makeup. On that note, they absolutely smother her amazing face with makeup, masking her innate beauty which could easily carry her in any photo set. What we have left is a pared-down model who is overly bashful and rarely shows any emotion.

In the end, though, it's all right. Jaclyn, while only being my sixth choice, is a fine candidate for Playmate of the Year. While she has never quite delivered, she's still a truly "good" model with plenty of good looks to balance things out. While the past years have given us women who have totally lacked the ability or looks to put together a good photo set, Jaclyn at least has the potential to do so. Although we'll never see much more from her again, that's something we can hang our hats on, as we say "maybe next year" once again. To 2013!

Here are the poll results from my blog. Thanks to all who voted!

#1. Amanda Cerny (19%)
#2. Jessa Hinton (15%)
#3. Tiffany Toth (14%) - PBC pick
#4. Jaclyn Swedberg (13%)
#5. Kylie Johnson (10%)
#6T. Rainy Day Jordan (5%)
#6T. Ciara Price (5%)
#8. Anna Sophia Berglund (5%)
#9. Sasha Bonilova (2%)
#10T. Iryna Ivanova (2%)
#10T. Mei Ling Lam (2%)
#10T. Ashley Mattingly (2%)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Leigh It On Me

Nikki, Miss May
As we move into the final month of 2012, we've been delivered a rather mediocre string of Playmates, without much variety or forethought, it seems. We're still waiting for that big bang to take place, for that one gorgeous gal to deliver us the spark we need for a true PMOY frontrunner.

For the past month, we were introduced to young Nikki Leigh. She made her debut in early April in the Plus website as a slim, playful model with talent and zeal. Although she didn't wow me initially, she seemed to pose with an optimistic quality, although I'd admit I did not see a Playmate appearance coming just a month later.

And here we are, with Nikki being Miss May 2012, and trying to take us to a new level, away from the disappointments of Lisa Seiffert and Raquel Pomplun. We're looking for a desperate breath of fresh air in 2012, especially after things are seeming to get much better in terms of quality for Playboy Plus' Amateurs, Coeds, and other models. What about the flagship franchise?

Let's just say that Nikki is a mixed bag, but in that bag you'll find more positives than otherwise. In her pictorial, Nikki serves us well, with an above average set. Her theme is tried and true, and a little bland for the most part, but she hits some seriously good poses in sparing fashion. Nikki is no physical specimen, but she  does a great job of carrying the pictorial with starpower. Her braided blond hair is a nice change of pace, and her body is held with poise as her face mostly takes center stage. The first few photos are nothing to cheer at, but it gets better.

Nikki physically is nothing to really cheer about, as she's certainly no heavyweight in any sense. She's not voluptuous or gifted in those ways, but her body has beautiful structure to it. It's nicely toned and detailed down to the tiniest muscle. Her body also complements her flowing hair, which supports a rounded, angled face that is actually quite fetching.

The kicker comes when Nikki poses in front of a mirror of sorts, with the camera only capturing a hazy reflection. After some monotonous photos, she finally hits her stride, with some overtly sexual poses that are pretty spectacular. Here, her slim, straight frame comes off wonderfully. And when she faces the camera while giving a lift to her rear, your jaw could drop. Towards the last stage of her pictorial, she gets into a more raw bedroom scene, looking polished and cute. Although straight body shots aren't her strength, she is radiant enough to be a leading lady.
  • Face: B+
    Definitely her biggest strength, Nikki's jawline and rounded facial structure are unusual but certainly attractive. She has memorable eyes and a beautiful straight smile, which she certainly doesn't take advantage of enough. When she nails a photo with her face, she can take the pictorial to another level. When she doesn't, it's just more of the same.
  • Body: B
    Although Nikki's body is certainly photogenic and shows off a nice tone and structure, it's definitely nothing that can carry her through pictorials without a bit of personality or talent. She's a bit on the slim side, and has an unusually high waist-hip ratio (0.813). Given this, she still makes it work from time to time, with her flat abs and sharp body helping her nail many shots.
  • Talent: B+
    Nikki doesn't hit on every photo perfectly, but as she isn't physically held back in any way, she's got a great sense for the camera. She rarely hurts a photo with an awkward pose, and never tries to do too much. She does a good job of taking charge and negotiating the section of her pictorial where it's all her, given what she has to work with.
  • Pictorial: B
    Nikki's pictorial is sadly a mixed bag, as you get flashes of what it potentially could have been. She starts off very sluggish, with some slow and passive posing that doesn't get her true talents across. Then, she hits some very sexy mirror poses that change everything, followed by some raw nude poses that provide a bedroom setting where her real colors are showcased. She never slips throughout, but it also never plays very well to her strengths either.
  • Centerfold: B
    Her centerfold is also nothing spectacular, keeping with the western theme of her pictorial. Her face, as usual, looks beautiful and radiant, but otherwise it once again misses her strengths.
  • Overall: B+
    With Nikki, we have a girl who will ultimately end up in the top 5 of the 2012 class. As with so many of the Playmates whose potential has never been realized due to poor decision making from Playboy editors, Nikki never gets to fully develop and show what she's capable of. Here is a greatly talented woman who is fully deserving of the Miss May title, as she's as photogenic as any. She can carry the pictorial with her own sense of style, but is held back because of her physical deficiencies and the pictorial's inability to capture her character. Still, she's the best Playmate of the year, next to the busty Leola Bell, and could be a contender for the 2013 race.