“Once a Playmate, always a Playmate,” according to Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy. And, according to a new photoshoot from the magazine, this holds true regardless of the changes that come with age.
Playboy recently invited seven of its former cover models to recreate their iconic shoots decades on.
In a blog post, former Playmate Candid Candace said, “I was thrilled and then terrified and then determined – determined to make this shoot something I would be proud of and also, in a way, let the world know that women of a certain age still have a lot of fight and spirit left in them long after their ’20s disappear.”
The event also reveals a little bit about the real lives the women led after the camera bulbs stopped flashing: One of them now runs a substance abuse recovery centre, for instance.
The shoot took place in Chicago with photographers Ryan Lowry and Ben Miller. “[Lowry’s] first words to me were, ‘Boy, I really think you’re brave to do this.’ I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry,” Candace said.
See the before and after covers below, along with the stories of how the models originally starred in – and then why they returned to – one of the world’s most famous men’s magazines.
Kimberly Conrad Hefner – 1988 vs. 2017
Kimberly Conrad Hefner, who was January Playmate in 1988 and Playmate of the Year in 1989, told Playboy: “I’m from Alabama originally, but I grew up in West Vancouver…I moved to Los Angeles and – boom – there it was. Hef and I started dating, got married, had kids, and the rest is history.”
“There was a common misconception that I put the kibosh on the partying at the Mansion. It had nothing to do with me …We never refused anyone, ever. But it’s nice to know that there’s going to be people in your house when you’re coming downstairs in the morning.”
Her son Cooper Hefner asked if she would be willing to return for the covers project. He told the Chicago Tribune: “It was kind of a hard question to ask my mom but I did it. And I think she was flattered and proud.”
Charlotte Kemp – 1982 vs. 2017
Kemp told Playboy that her roommate Jill De Vries was the one who convinced her to get involved with Playboy. “One afternoon we got drunk and walked down to Playboy in Chicago … That was Saturday night. By Sunday morning there was a limousine there to take me to LA. On Monday we shot. It was an absolute whirlwind,” she said.
Cathy St. George – 1982 vs. 2017
“I had my party at Studio 54 when my centerfold came out,” St. George told Playboy. “It was really cool. The song ‘Centerfold’ by the J. Geils Band had come out that month, so when I walked out, all these photos of my face came down from the ceiling to that song.”
On returning in 2017, she told the Chicago Tribune: “I was extremely flattered but a little worried. I had suffered an injury and hadn’t been working out as much as usual but I thought, well, I still look pretty good.”
Monique St. Pierre – 1979 vs. 2017
The 1979 Playmate of the Year now runs a recovery house for women addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“I lived at the Mansion for about a year. Hef said, ‘Believe me, you pay your rent because you make all the girls feel comfortable when they come to the house.’ I’ve always been a little bit of a mama. I was always taking care of the girls and I’m still doing the same thing.”
“What I’m doing now is such an honor and privilege. I get to witness miracles.”
Renee Tenison – 1990 vs 2017
Tenison, the 1990 Playmate of the Year, said: “When I did Playboy, there was a little bit of controversy because I was the first African-American Playmate of the Year and some women were saying I was being objectified … When the issue came out, the response was 90% positive and maybe 10% didn’t like it.”
“If you look back, all the big models from Christy Turlington to Naomi Campbell posed nude. I see it as art. Not everybody sees it that way, but that’s how I see it.”
On being asked to return, she said: “We are a very exclusive sisterhood, a sorority. And most of us, I’d have to say, look pretty great. We work at it. We are just a little older now.”
Candace Collins – 1979 vs. 2017
“I appeared on eight Playboy covers (two U.S., six international) and the first time was a blur,” Collins said. “I was a Bunny at the Chicago Playboy Club and did a lot of promo shoots. I even had a life-size poster in all the clubs around the world to promote key club sales.”
“It was a job, granted a job they wanted done perfectly, but still a job.”
Lisa Matthews – 1991 vs. 2017
“I was at a regular modelling agency in L.A. and a girl who I’d become friends with there had done her centerfold,” the 1991 Playmate of the Year told Playboy.
“I don’t think I’d ever even seen the magazine. We were together on a job in Utah and went and bought her issue. We probably went to a 7-Eleven. She brought me in to do a test, and the next week, I shot. It was like, ‘You’re in. Done. We’re shooting now!'”