Playboy Casting Call at the W Hotel on Wednesday, April 13, 2011.
Photo: Simon Brubaker
More than 170 women wearing glitzy heels, makeup, lingerie or bikinis took a shot at becoming the next Playboy model during open casting calls Wednesday. More girls with dreams of being a centerfold, if not living at the mansion, will line up again today for open casting. In total, Chicago’s two–day Playboy Casting Call, hosted at the W Hotel Lakeshore, will bring more than 300 women vying for the spotlight.
Stacy Collins, the executive editor for Playboy Special Editions, gave Time Out a backstage pass and a first-hand look at the potential Playmates. “This is a way to bring Playboy to the grassroots level,” Collins said. “We target girls who do not know how to submit for Playboy or do not know all the possibilities with Playboy.”
Most of the women at the casting aspire to be Playmates, but there are only 12 positions a year, making the competition fierce. “Once you get your foot in the door, you can do things with our online division, special editions [themed issues] and online content,” Collins said. “Natural beauty, college girls and hot housewives are a few of the thematic issues that girls we find today will fall into.”
So what makes for a perfect Playmate? The answer may surprise you. Collins is looking beyond the hair extensions, augmentations, plastic surgeries and fake tans, for something more wholesome.
“We’re really looking for the quintessential girl next door, and I know that sounds cliché. What I mean is a girl that is not only pretty but has a great personality,” said Collins. “A pretty girl inside and out, where she is comfortable with herself, her sexuality and sensuality, with her body, and really exudes that in front of the camera.”
Joanne K, 19, from suburban Park Ridge, believes her destiny lies with the famed bunny brand. “This is my passion, I love being in front of the camera.” Joanne, a full-time student studying advertising and public relations, works part-time as a trade-show model for a local marketing company.
“My parents tell me to follow my dreams; they know I have a good head on my shoulders,” said Joanne. “Yeah, they show women’s bodies [in Playboy], but in a way that’s empowering; I wouldn’t want to be a part of something that makes me feel degraded.”
Chicago is the hub city for recruiting in the Midwest. Girls from Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio represented Collins's ideal Midwestern girl. “I’d like to say a Midwestern girl is someone who is really pretty, but she doesn’t know how pretty she is," Collins said. "She is generally natural, and she doesn’t have fake assets that you find more on the West Coast.”
Two Midwesterners who are also best friends showed up to audition together.
“I have been wanting to try out for Playboy for a long time, and finally this year I talked my friend Chantel into doing it with me,” said Allison Mersich, 22 from Mishawaka, Indiana.
“You can pick to wear lingerie or a bikini, and I think it is optional if you want to take it off and take pictures that way,” said Chantel Higgenbotham, 23, from Peru, Indiana. “I think Playboy is classy, yet sexy, so that’s why I decided to give it a try. You only live once.”
Mersich and Higgenbotham are Hooters girls. “We both just came back from International Qualifiers, we have both been in the Hooters calendar, so we thought we would broaden our horizons,” said Mersich.
“We have seen a lot of strong girls today, a lot of pretty, fresh, gorgeous girls,” said Collins.
Playboy model prospects can still make an appointment for today's Playboy Casting Call, Thursday, April 14, by registering online at playboycastingcalls.com or stopping in at the W Hotel Lakeshore, 680 N Lake Shore Dr from 10am–5:45pm.