Elisa Bridges December 1994
We have has an e-mail from S in Vancouver asking us where our Playmate centrefold reviews for December and January are. Oh, dear, we have got behind, so we will undertake to despatch these in short shrift so that we can attempt to get February's in on time.
Susan Bernard from 1966
This has been a tricky month, with no real obvious winners standing out as in some past months. Getting down to half a dozen or so was pretty easy but after that... We looked at a number of December centrefolds in our review of Christmas Playmates and we would certainly include Susan Bernard from 1966 (more about her in that post).
In the end we decided on Miss December 1994, Elisa Bridges. This is a wonderful composition by Richard Fegley; all geometric angles that makes Miss Bridges look like..well, the girders on a bridge. The pool table nicely divides the picture in half and the arched window behind her frames the top half of her body. The window is set to the left which balances her legs on the bottom right. The diagonal force of the composition is strengthened by the pool cue, which also balances the text in the dark area top right. Her red top works well with the carpet and by visually recessing her torso adds power to the opposite diaganol strokes of her left thigh and arms. The top covering just her trunk just emphasises her bottom, bare breasts and some of the perkiest nipples ever seen in Playboy.
Tragically, Elisa was found dead in bed at the home of one of Hugh Hefner's acquaintances, 58 year old art dealer Edward Nahem, in February 2002. Playboy initially claimed her death, at the age of 28, was due to natural causes. The coroners report, however, showed an overdose of heroin, methamphetamine, meperidine and alprazolam. However, no drugs were found with her body and she had unexplained bruising on her extremities. No one knows what really happened. There was one interesting fact that did come out. Elisa was described as 5'6" tall on her Playmate data sheet yet the coroner reported her as being just 5' tall. Why would Playboy lie about a girl's height? A false name, birthplace, education etc could all be explained by wanting to conceal the girl's real identity. Bust size might conceivably effect whether she was hired to do other jobs. But height?
Lisa Winters for December 1956
Our next choice is from 1956, Lisa Winters photographed by Bunny Yeager (Winters said that she was much too shy to have been photographed by a male photographer). Yeager had spotted her boarding a bus in Miami but failed to catch her in time. She went back to the same bus stop several days in a row until she spotted her again.
This is another strong geometric composition with the edge of the pool cutting a diagonal swathe across the picture and making the background look like the flag of some African republic. The rails of the swimming pool steps nicely frame Miss Winters, whose picture is made by her wonderful smile. This is an unusual centrefold in that just her head and upper chest are shown but it is all the more effective for that. Hugh Hefner, who liked a peroxide blonde, soon added Lisa to his "collection". Lisa was a popular Playmate, topping a 1957 readers poll for the most appreciated Playmate of the previous year (this was before they had an official Playmate of the Year) and being one of five selected for a Playboy 5th anniversary look at the five most popular Playmates.
Dinah Willis for December 1965
We jump forward nine years for Dinah Willis' centrefold shot by pompeo Posar. Although, in some ways, her pose is a little awkward it is beautifully lit, with Dinah's face in the shade and the sunlight emphasising the sculptural qualities of her body. The tactile effect of the soft-looking blanket draped across half of her body can't be ignored either. Above all, it is that perfectly squeezable breast pointed skyward that is the focal point of then picture. Dinah had sent a photo to Playboy asking how someone could become a Playmate. The magazine was so impressed that they flew her to Chicago (her first ever flight) for her pictorial forthwith.
Terry Nihen for December 1983
From 1983 to 1984 Playboy got a little bit more explicit, again, than it had been for the previous few years. From this period comes Terry Nihen's labia flashing centrefold by Richard Fegley. Other photos of Terry show that she has very prominent bits but, even so, Playboy could have chosen to put them in shadow and they didn't. In fact, on the contrary, in her magazine pictorial she shows her bits half a dozen times; surely a record for a Playmate.
Terry is cocooned in pink and white as if she has been dropped into a box of Turkish delight. The light falls across her body emphasising the softness of her contours. Finally there is that curly phone cord, wrapped around a stocking-clad thigh and drawing your eye down to her fluffy bush.
Terry was actually persuaded to have a tryout for Playboy by another Playmate, Miss February 1983 Melinda Mays, who spotted her at a disco bikini contest (what a sound concept).
Kata Kärkkäinen for December 1988
Our final young lady is Finnish lovely Kata Kärkkäinen. In this photo by Stephen Wayda Kata's lace encusted body emerges from the gloom; the only bright colour coming from the swimming pool and her amazingly blue eyes. Kata is one of the most beautiful Playmates of the eighties and her dark, seductive look is a nice contrast to the more usual blondes.
Kata, short for Katariina, is a member of MENSA and has an IQ of 148. She had an acting career in Finland and is now a novelist, having also been a scriptwriter for TV. Kata is also a well regarded painter. She was also Finnish under eighteen national bowling champion. So, lovely and multi-talented!