The Playboy Playmate Reaction Story

Thoughts on this week's watershed media moment from Miss January 1984, Miss May 2005 , Miss June 1969 and more.

Playboy’s decision to eliminate nude content from the U.S. print edition starting next spring is local news gold. This watershed media moment has allowed outlets across the country to check in with area women who were once centerfolds.

Penny Baker, the magazine’s 30th anniversary Playmate in January 1984, tells the Buffalo News that the money she made financed her college education and a career start with her own marketing and promotion firm. Jamie Lee Sasso, Miss May 2005, is now a holistic life coach. She confirms to WPLG-TV in Miami that even just ten years ago, it was still wild and crazy in Holmby Hills:

Sasso said after the magazine executives pick a centerfold, they ask the women to come and do a test shoot. She said they then go to dinner with Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends – although he has since married.

She said from there, it was all posh parties and lucrative appearances. Sasso also got the chance to live in the Playboy mansion.

“It’s all the rumors you hear,” she said. “It’s crazy. A lot of crazy wild girls and a lot of wild stuff goes on. That’s for sure.”

Helena Antonaccio, Miss June 1969, is one of several former Playmates speaking out to in favor of the more tasteful nude pin-up photos of old. At age 66, she still poses for those kinds of shots for her website subscribers.

Meanwhile, one-time Playmate and Chicago society columnist Candace Jordan (pictured) writes that if the magazine intends to follow the Instagram rules of female photography, she’s not interested. Like Antonaccio, she treasures her memories of a time when Hef’s aesthetic could still win the print day:

If the plan is to emulate the naked poses found on Instagram, count me out as a fan. I know that every kind of nudity you can imagine is just a click away on the Internet which is why I find it incredible that they’re following this herd mentality by incorporating images inspired by this particular social media platform. Although it hasn’t hurt the Kardashian clan now has it?

I loved the Golden Years of Playboy in the ’70’s (of course!), when the girls were not completely nude, but rather enticingly photographed. Anyone can snap a naked Instagram photo – it’s much more difficult to photograph a woman and make her look like photographers-artists Richard Fegley, Pompeo Posar and Arny Freytag did.

Antonaccio concurs. “Baby boomers are saying, ‘Oh, it’s so great, back then it wasn’t so trashy. It was classy.’ I think people are still looking for that.”

In concert with the 30th anniversary Playboy Playmate issue and the selection of the aforementioned Baker, Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene wrote a column about the extensive nationwide search process. The following passage suggests that fame through social media and even things like American Idol have also supplanted the basic Hef concept:

Playboy senior photography editor Jeff Cohen pointed out that a large number of mothers brought their daughters to the [nationwide 30th anniversary Playmate] tryouts – particularly in the Southern states. “And when we asked whose idea it was to pose, most of the time it was the mother’s,” Cohen said.

Update (October 15):
A slightly amended version of Jordan’s blog post appears in today’s Chicago Tribune opinion section.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
These Playboy Playmates Became Journalists

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.