Monique St. Pierre, Playmate of the Year, June 1979.
Marilyn Monroe was the first Playboy cover girl featured in the magazine in December 1953. That copy of Playboy wasn’t actually dated as publisher and editor Hugh Hefner didn’t know if there would ever be a second issue. Marilyn was also the magazine’s first “Sweetheart of the Month,” a title which changed to “Playmate of the Month” with Playboy’s second issue in January 1954 when Margie Harrison became the magazine’s first ever centerfold. Marilyn’s iconic photo spread only appeared over pages 16-18. Since then, Playmate of the Month has continued right on up to present day with Elsie Hewitt featured as Playmate of Month for June 2017 and Brooke Power featured on the cover as Playmate of the Year.
There was a well-told urban myth about the glamorous Playmates featured on the cover that claimed they were given a marking, out of twelve, according to Hefner’s tastes. This was based on the stars printed on the cover either on or next to the letter “P” of Playboy. This rumor alleged Hef was giving “stars” for either the cover girl’s looks, or performance in bed, or even how many times the old goat had slept with her. This was never true. The stars which appeared on the cover between 1955 and 1979 denoted regional or international advertising for that particular issue.
Playboy is now synonymous with America and American values as Mom’s apple pie, the Stars and Stripes, and Abraham Lincoln. That Hefner’s magazine and his multi-million dollar porn industry have achieved such a strange (shall we call it?) respectability says much about the dynamic changes in culture and morals over the past six decades.
A selection of Playmates was recently offered the opportunity to replicate their iconic covers some thirty years on from their original appearance. Playmates Candace Collins, Monique St. Pierre, Cathy St. George, Charlotte Kemp, and Reneé Tenison, among others, were photographed by Ben Miller and Ryan Lowry as part of this project. As can be seen from the photographs below, the results are quite incredible.
Monique St. Pierre, 2017.
Candace Collins, Playmate, February 1979.
Candace Collins, 2017.
Cathy St. George, Playmate, October 1981.
Cathy St. George, 2017.
Charlotte Kemp, Playmate, October 1983.
Charlotte Kemp, 2017.
Kimberley Conrad Hefner, Playmate, August 1988.
Kimberely Conrad Hefner, 2017.
Reneé Tenison, Playmate of the Year, June 1990.
Reneé Tenison, 2017.
Lisa Matthews, Playmate of the Year, June 1991.
Lisa Matthews, 2017.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Salvador Dali’s bizarre but sexy photoshoot for Playboy, 1973
Art Spiegelman: The Playboy Years
Brush On Fashions: Playboy body paint issue, 1968
Funny and revealing pictures of the Playboy Mansion
Bunnies in the cockpit: Hugh Hefner and Roman Polanski aboard the Playboy ‘Big Bunny’ Jet
That time in 1978 when Dolly Parton posed for Playboy with a super pervy-looking bunny
The Playboy Club Bunny Manual of 1968
The end of an era: Every single Playboy centerfold from 1953 to 2016
Woody Allen gets into a pillow fight with a six-foot brunette in the pages of Playboy, 1969