Few people know that way, way back in the day I was asked to pose for Playboy.
Um, well. Sort of…
When I was in my early 20’s doing standup comedy, a talent scout for Playboy magazine came by the Comedy Store one evening and after a show asked some of the female comics if we’d be interested in auditioning for a photo shoot for a “Women in Comedy” themed issue. And when I say “we,” I must clarify that I was standing between two buxom, big-boobed, gorgeous lady comics. So when the talent scout looked in their direction, I of course assumed he was talking to my sparse, yet perky, 34B chest, as well.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. If this doesn’t sound like a scam to get women to take their clothes off in some back alley warehouse, then we all needed our heads examined. But hey, come on, the dude had real, live Playboy business cards. And instead of the traditional male footwear of the day (designer tennis shoes) he wore polished leather loafers with tassels and everything. How could we not believe him?
Fortunately, we weren’t stupid. Being that we made a living as professional cynics, we checked this guy out. And sure enough, he was a talent scout for Playboy. He told us that if we were interested in auditioning to call his office to set up a Polaroid shoot.
Get Ready for Your Close-up, Honey
Believe it or not, Playboy won’t let just any country bumpkin hop in front of a camera topless. Achieving that honor is a multi-step process, the first being a professional photographer takes some Polaroids of you in the raw to make sure that: 1) You actually have some body parts people want to look at, and 2) That you don’t clam up like a frigid Yeti once you take your clothes off in front of a room full of men you just met.
Once you cleared that little hurdle, then they actually wasted some real film on you (this was the pre-digital era, so 35mm stills were quite pricey). These pics were then passed up the Playboy food chain until someone of real authority greenlit your ass as a future centerfold.
So Did I Do It?
A bunch of my friends set up their audition dates, and tried to get me to come with them…mainly because I had a dependable car that could get them to the studio in Burbank. (No, it was NOT the Playboy mansion.) I have to admit, even though I’m a big talker, and even though I was raised on the ultra liberal West Coast, with zero heavy-handed supervision, I just couldn’t bring myself to do a nude photo shoot. Yes, I knew it would be instant recognition and status, and yes the money was good. But I have trouble taking my pants off for a gynecological exam, let alone for a meeting where some old make-up lady has to powder my B-team cheeks to eliminate moonshine.
Besides, after checking out a couple back issues of Playboy, I was fairly positive I wouldn’t pass the Polaroid stage. In fact, once I took my clothes off, I’m not sure they’d even want to waste Polaroid film on me, let alone the photographer’s time. I pictured the receptionist taking one look at my skinny (fully-clothed) physique and then ordering a Cobb Salad, extra avocado, dressing on the side, because she assumed I was the kid collecting lunch orders. I could only imagine the humiliation when I said, “No, I’m here for my Playboy Polaroid audition!” At which time she’d give me the judgmental once-over and then tightly reply, “Oh. Okaaaayyyy. Please wait over there in that broom closet until we call you.” And then they’d all go home for the night.
A Comedic Playboy Success Story
However, it did work out for several other female comics, the most successful of those that I personally met being Rhonda Shear. She was older than me (and therefore more confident, and um…developed), and I doubt she even remembers my scrawny little ass. But she DID pose for Playboy, and it worked out well for her.
Rhonda was the total package, funny, nice, beautiful, and a body that would actually make men commit crimes on command, not unlike dogs performing death-defying acts at the circus in exchange for raw meat. In the late 80’s and early 90’s she and comedian Gilbert Gottfried hosted the late night cheesy movie show USA Up All Night on the USA network. And then Playboy came knocking.
She answered, I didn’t.
Today Rhonda is a millionaire entrepreneur with her own line of lingerie for full-busted women. Eventually she married her childhood sweetheart and most recently launched her own network, Rhonda Shear TV, available on Roku and YahooTV.
I, on the other hand, am running all over the country watching one kid play jazz sax in places like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center (as he hobnobs with greats like David Sanborn and Wynton Marsalis), while I help the other kid build state-of-the-art quad-copters which he hires out for aerial cinematography. Oh, and kid number two is also a smartass like his mom, so I help him sharpen his wit via sarcastic parenting. A satisfying practice that keeps me from drinking too much.
Hmm. I guess in the end Rhonda’s and my respective brushes with Playboy magazine worked out well for both of us.
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Stacy Dymalski is the host of the hilarious TV talk show “Mother Bloggers” on FirstRun.tv. She’s also an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.