“So gimme a stage, where this bull here can rage. And though I can fight, I’d much rather recite. That’s entertainment!”
-Robert De Niro Raging Bull (1980)
Hef, Arny Freytag, Stephen Wayda, Richard Fegley under Christie Hefner’s leadership, gave the magazine its swan song for the 1990s after a tumultuous 80s of being bombarded with right wing fundamentalists and feminists protest, declining magazine sales and the Meese Report’s antagonism, Playboy’s days seemed numbered.
Yet with the brand’s resiliency and Christie Hefner’s direction, Playboy saw stability for the first time in years, expanding its business licensing while becoming a profitable corporate entity. In a culture where hardcore pornography was booming with startles like Jenna Jameson, Playboy somehow caught lightning in a bottle twice with Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith.
The magazine’s sold a solid 3 million issues each month throughout the 90s. Stars like Sharon Stone, Mimi Rogers, Stephanie Seymour, Elle MacPherson, Drew Barrymore, Carmen Electra, Uma Thurman, and Cindy Crawford graced the covers and pages of Playboy while Playmates like Lisa Matthews and Kelly Monaco set the bar for class and beauty for years to come.
Playboy’s allure was always in the girl next door, the every woman, the girl who often time was overlooked in school because she was a tomboy or a tall, gawky brainiac struggling with her body image like Traci Adell, they proved relatability and what was overlooked could be sexy, too.
Even as attitudes toward sex began to change and porn became the standard, Playboy was often times demonized and scapegoated for its “objectification” of women. It seemed there wasn’t a way to repair Playboy’s image without radical change and appealing to a more diverse audience.
Playboy is a lot different today than what it was in the 80s and 90s. I didn’t grow up with Playboy, but I continue to be astonished by the magazine’s past the more I research it. You’ll never see anything like it again. I love reading about the playmates. They were wonderful people and their beauty was second to none.
It was incredible how ordinary yet electrifying 90s Playmates were. If you met any of these women before they became Playmates, you’d probably seriously doubt anyone would ever put them in a men’s magazine or someone having a picture of them hanging on their wall as a sex symbol. I can relate to these women so much and what truly made them special was their openness and humanity.
If Playboy in the 90s were a film, it would be a Martin Scorsese film close to its final act, with its moments of greatness, willingness to live life on the edge, delaying the impending self destruction.
Maybe Playboy’s image will bounce back after all is said and done, who knows. But in its day, it had a hell of a run that’s hard to forget. Loaded like a freight train, flyin’ like an airplane, feelin’ like a space brain, one more time tonight — it’s gonna bring you down, huh!
Jacqueline Sheen feels right at home in the water. A resident of Florida, blonde-haired Jacqueline is known around her backyard, the Clearwater Harbor, for her unusual water-skiing technique. “One of the most important things about barefooting is that you have to go fast—the faster the better,” explains Jackson, as she is affectionately known by friends. Yes, that’s right—Jackson water-skis without skis, and she learned from another of her friends, Cooke. “Pronounced Cookie,” she clarifies. “If you’re going to write about my barefooting, he should get the credit!”
Tour the apartment Kerri Kendall shares with her mother and you meet the members of Kerri’s animal kingdom. “That’s Ulysses S. Grunt and Ulinda S. Grunt,” she says, pointing to the pair of fluffy pink pigs — stuffed-animal variety — splayed atop the sofa. “They used to just date, but they’re married now.” On a shelf above the Grunts’ soft snouts, clumped carelessly around the trophies Kerri won in local bikini contests, is a cloth menagerie of rabbits, bears and, yes, more pigs (“I just love pigs – aren’t they adorable?” asks the svelte San Diegan).
Wendy Kaye is as American as cheeseburgers and apple pie, and about ten times as appetizing. Born in Memphis, blonde-haired Wendy is proud to be American – at one month old, she celebrated her first Independence Day with her father, a U.S. Navy flier, and to this day, it remains her favorite holiday. Rather fitting for our bright, independent July Playmate – who better to celebrate the Fourth with than Wendy Kaye? “It’s perfect, I love it,” gushes Wendy. “A lightning bolt came down, and God said, ‘Do something different with your life.’ This is it!”
Luck has always been with Corinna Harney, our Playmate of the Year 1992. Born in Bremerhaven, Germany, petite Corinna was raised in Las Vegas on a steady diet of bright lights and big personalities – but far from cardsharp, the young Miss Harney wrote poetry and nursed serious literary ambitions. “I was never quite in sync with society,” admits Corinna, though she loved growing up in Las Vegas. In her teens, she and her friends would hit the Strip after class, goofing off and grubbing at late-night diners. She’d often end up in the desert, watching stars shoot across the vast Nevada sky. “I’d wanted to be a Playmate for years,” says Corinna, who used to sit out there in her car, wishing on those shooting stars. Little did she know that her wish was about to come true.
If we had to describe Cheryl Bachman in two words, those words would be ‘wild child’. Born in Jacksonville, Cheryl was known as the ‘pretty baby’ of her Florida family. A few months shy of her 21st birthday, her mother and older sister encouraged her to enter a local pageant. “I thought, Oh, my goodness, what am I doing,” remembers Cheryl, who despite her nervousness won first place in the contest.
As noted by Brian Eno, the qualities of echo can be strange – but from her natural beauty to her kind-hearted dedication to the environment, we just couldn’t love Echo Leta Johnson more. Born in Austin, Texas, honey blonde Echo was raised in Ecuador, and later, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As a former Miss Santa Fe, Miss Johnson was no stranger to the world of modeling, and though she was only turning nineteen at the time, she handled her turn as Miss January 1993 like a seasoned pro.
Traci Adell is truly inventive. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, the dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty used to be timid, but overcame her fears – and gained some much-needed body confidence – with the help of her high school classmates. “I used to be extremely shy,” says Traci. “I dressed very conservatively and never dated.” However, when voted Class Beauty, Traci had second thoughts – with a political science degree from Memphis State, she moved to Los Angeles to establish herself as a model, actress and business-savvy entrepreneur.
When someone asks, ‘Who’s that girl?’ the answer is nearly always Kelly Marie Monaco. A succulent brunette from Pennsylvania’s Poconos, Kelly spent her girlhood outdoors, climbing trees, fishing and swimming with the best of them. Trained by her mother, a former figure skater, Kelly honed her tight, toned body on the ice rink, and a summer job at a resort led her to become a lifeguard. “I’m very daring,” she says. “You don’t have to ask me twice! Success comes with bold and creative moves.”
Carrie’s story begins in Buffalo, where she was born to a research scientist and a free-spirited painter. When her parents divorced, Carrie was ferried to Memphis, Tennessee, where she toured Graceland, visited the Grand Ole Opry and dreamed of being on the road with her favorite bands. “It all started when I was a groupie,” says Carrie, who met and fell for Eric Carr, the drummer for Kiss, in 1987. When Carr died in 1991, Carrie picked herself up, packed her bags and took off for California, where she was discovered in the waiting room of a Hollywood dentist’s office.
Growing up in the small town of Pearcy, Kalin spent her time outdoors, and she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. “I was a tomboy,” she says, “not real feminine.” Kalin’s classmates disagreed, and voted her Most Likely to Model in high school superlatives. Emboldened, she entered a local swimsuit competition, and before long, she was a finalist in the nationally-renowned Hawaiian Tropic pageant – and then Playboy’s Miss August 1997.
Marliece Andrada needs no introduction. A tall, slender blonde from Manteca, California, Marliece was made to be a star, and a role on TV’s hotter-than-hot Baywatch seemed made for her and her alone. After a stint as an Oakland Raiderette, she landed the role of a lifetime on everyone’s favorite beachfront drama. “I crave attention,” admits Marliece. “I love it when people watch me. I love to flirt with the camera.” Miss Andrada plays Skylar Bergman, a rookie-turned-series regular, and with Playboy, she’s following in the footsteps of primetime Playmates like Pamela Anderson, Erika Eleniak and Donna D’Errico.
Laura Cover never thought she’d become a model, let alone a Playmate – but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Growing up in Bucyrus, Ohio, blonde-haired Laura was raised on a steady diet of Christian family, Midwestern meat and potatoes, but when she entered her early twenties, she knew she wanted something more. On a whim, she traveled to Los Angeles and stepped right up to the plate at Playboy’s Studio West. “I actually just walked in,” she says. “I didn’t have modeling experience, but I didn’t want to get some from Joe Photographer, so I went to the Playboy studio by myself.”
Make the rounds with Tiffany Taylor, our Miss November 1998. With her long, dark hair, wide brown eyes and ample bust, she’s one of our best-loved Playmates – she’s been with us for fourteen years, and in that time she’s been featured in over thirty pictorials for print and web. She was born in Virginia, and when she was twelve her family moved to Maryland, where she went to a coed Catholic school. “It taught me to play by the rules,” she says. “And I can still fit in my plaid skirt and sweater.” After a stint at Hooters, her respect for the law led her to the University of Maryland, where she studied criminal justice.
Jaime Bergman hails from Ohio, sometimes known as the Beehive State – and as our Miss January 1999, she had everybody buzzing. Growing up in Salt Lake City, the fair, blonde-haired Jaime was known as something of a cowgirl – she spent her teen years riding horses, racking up a wall’s worth of blue ribbons along the way. “People always said I should be in Los Angeles, modeling,” says Jaime. “A photographer I met asked me if I’d ever considered Playboy, and I had to admit – I’d thought about it.” Bolstered, Miss Bergman jumped in the saddle – she quit her administrative job, drove to Los Angeles and straight to the Playboy Mansion, where she became our 45th Anniversary Playmate.