It's almost May, which, in the Playboy world, means that the 2007 Playmate of the Year is going to be announced pretty soon. Although leaks and speculation have pretty much decided the winner, I'll look over the past year and all the wonderful girls who've graced the pages, and pick out my fave photos from each of their pictorials.
Playboy does their own Playmate Review in their January 2006 issue, but it's anything but comprehensive, let alone critical of their precious girls. The reality is, not all of these gals are winners. Let's rank some beauties, shall we?
Athena Lundberg - Miss January 2006
The new season kicked off with a pretty California girl with golden blonde hair. Something new? Not really. After a mediocre Playmate Preview, Athena couldn't hold on to fan support.
The Good: She excels in a girl-next-door look sometimes (Pic 3), where a soft light makes up for her edgy face structure. She's got beautiful blonde hair and a sexual knack.
The Bad: Athena has very strong facial features, which complement her slender body, but don't shoot very well in photos. She's too skinny for her own good, while lacking any breasts at all. Very uninteresting in most poses, and her edgier, sexier pictures aren't suited for a girl that can't pull off that "buxom blonde" look very well. She's definitely one of the more forgettable girls of the year.
Cassandra Lynn - Miss February 2006
A more interesting prospect for PMOY came along in February, a skinny blonde with huge breasts and sexy moves. Just watch some of Cassandra's Playmate Xtra Videos, and you'll instantly become a fan. She moves incredibly smooth and is so very sexual that it's hard not to notice her charm and enthusiasm.
The Good: Cassandra has amazing posing ability, as you can tell from photos like this one. Her body is fantastic, with amazing, huge breasts and a great butt (check out this pic to believe it!!), especially for such a skinny and tall blonde. She works the camera with lots of poise and has a body type that's actually pretty tough to find in models anywhere, and her face is beautiful as well.
The Bad: There aren't many flaws to her, except that she is a little inconsistent in posing, and not all of her photos come out as winners. But then again, who doesn't have a few flops here and there? Cassie is also often shot from the front, like in her centerfold, which looks a little unflattering because of her thin hips that match the size of her waistline.
Monica Leigh - Miss March 2006
After being nominated Cyber Girl of the Month, and later, Cyber Girl of the Year, Monica Leigh is one of those rare girls that comes along every once in a while and dominates, much like Carmella DeCesare of 2003. Monica caught my attention by being a perfect girl -- perfect body, perfect face, amazing pictorials, and a playful personality. All of it comes together to awe and amaze. She's made a huge impact on the Playboy world, in my opinion, and if she won PMOY, she would easily go down as one of the greatest Playmates of all time.
The Good: Where to begin... Monica is a perfect 10 all around. Monica's PMOM pictorial is full of bright, beautiful pics (photo 9) that let off some of Monica's radiance. Beauty like this is hard to find... beauty that can shift between being buxom and gorgeous to being cheery and light. One thing that's really obvious about any of Monica's pics is her perky nipples... they're eye-catching and so sexy! Her Playmate pictorial features some great shots in a yellow hue, which show off her golden tan and extreme curves. All in all, Monica makes it tough to be disappointed.
The Bad: Nitpicking has to be done to find any of Monica's minor flaws. One flaw may be her tendency to get into niche traps, where she consistently has to reinvent herself to stay fresh. It looks like her CGOM pictorial gets a little repetitive from time to time, but I'm not judging based on that pictorial series, anyway.
Holley Ann Dorrough - Miss April 2006
The new trend of the "skinny blonde model" was continued as the torch was passed from Athena Lundberg to Holley. This one is an improvement... a lot brighter, a lot prettier, and just a lot more fun to look at overall. Still, a forgettable footstep on the way into the year. Holley's stamp is being able to cement 2006 as the year of a certain form of model, that really made a splash last year and in terms of defining the modern girl.
The Good: The "modern girl" carries with her lots of class and captures the camera. Holley has a good ability to catch your attention with her playfulness, like in her car wash pics. When she gets physical and sexual in her pictures, she gets especially interesting, because to put it simply, she's really beautiful... just take a look at sexy photo 12, and you'll see.
The Bad: Holley brings along the "modern girl" package, with that slender, forgettable body and tiny breasts. Although she makes up for it with sexual prowess better than Miss January, Holley lacks all that which make more full-bodied girls so great. She can't capture sexual attention as well as she could otherwise.
Alison Waite - Miss May 2006
Playboy actually took a different route with their fifth Playmate of 2006. Alison has a very "anygirl" sort of look... a very girl-next-doorish girl with really down to earth looks. She's sexy in a really subtle way, and although she can't wow you with energy and overt sex appeal, she can do it in her own little way, and that's enough to get people to talk.
The Good: Probably the best thing about Alison is that her pictorials are like ordinary girls, just taking their clothes off in private. How she starts her pictorials is akin to a comfortable fantasy, not something overblown. And when you dig a little deeper into Alison's pictorials, you can tell that she really is amazingly sexy. In fact, it can surprise you just how sexual she can get. Her body is awesomely proportioned, with 34C-24-34 measurements putting together a mind-blowing pictorial. Check her out for yourself in photo 29 and 30.
The Bad: Alison can get into a niche where she doesn't have that "modelish" look that modern Playmates have. This could be a good or bad thing, but can certainly be one of her glaring flaws. She doesn't have many outstanding qualities that make her unique, but instead lots of subtle qualities that do. She can often be an inconsistent poser, with some of her photos looking frazzled and unprofessional, not to mention a little unflattering.
Stephanie Larimore - Miss June 2006
After busty brunettes and paper-thin blondes, another type of girl mixed things up in 2006. Stephanie brings one thing more than probably any other girl of the year, enthusiasm. Her cheeriness is unmatched, and it shows in every one of her pictures and videos. Her face is unique, not to mention her amazing body. Let's break her down...
The Good: Steph is into trying new things in her pictorials, and being aggressively cute and energetic. Her face is consistently radiant, and her body, with almost perfect measurements, is always something to behold. Lighting and production value are Stephanie's best friends, as she needs it to sustain some interest in her posing, like in Photo 28, where it all pours out.
The Bad: Although it looks like Stephanie is a great model prototype, that's really all she is. Execution suffers... she can't carry an entire pictorial with the skills she has. She starts to become a bore by the end of her first series, and begins to look like the same old girl in every picture. Even her amazing body stops losing its appeal after she flashes it in the same way for the eighth time. Although her bright face is hard to forget, her pictorials are, and that's what ultimately matters the most.
Sara Jean Underwood - Miss July 2006
By July, the "modern model" mold created by Holley and Athena has been perfected. Sara Underwood came along, and she was an instant fan favorite, and a complete hit. She has gorgeous looks and great posing ability, which are the key ingredients to pulling off the "skinny blonde" look. Sara's measurements, at 32B-24-31, are definitely not hourglass proportions. But this new breed of model needs to match its purpose sometime... and this is it. Sara is sheer perfection in presenting the new type of girl-next-door blonde, and watching her unfold and blossom is pretty exciting along the way.
The Good: Starting with the magazine spread picture, you can instantly see how beautiful Sara is. Her blonde hair glows, her skin is as smooth as silk, her white smile is to die for. She brings all the picturesque beauty you could ask for, and then some. But wait... the big test, at least for me, was her versatility. Can she pull off a sexual pictorial, also? Just watch her do it, like in Pic 30, Pic 29, and the amazing Pic 17. She pulls it off masterfully, and absolutely glows with the lighting in every photo. She captures the camera and the image burns into your mind. She makes you remember, and I think that's her most important asset. She could turn out to be an instant classic, especially if she keeps up her current posing style. Her consistency is also a great strength of hers, probably due to her innate beauty that makes it hard to mess up a photo.
The Bad: Just like the other "modern blondes," Sara's body is in question. She makes up for it with her outstanding beauty, but it's hard to ignore that her proportions are so small. Still, she uses her body to her advantage, and avoids any problem with this issue.
Nicole Voss - Miss August 2006
Nicole was another beautiful brunette, but this time, the face made the case. Nicole's stunning eyes and stare are what sell her as an above average Playmate. With a questionable body, it's interesting to see how she stacks up.
The Good: Nicole isn't an average Playmate, in that she's got a really unique look about her. She's a classic-style girl who's got vintage looks, and isn't as full-bodied as many of today's Cyber Girls or internet models. She does a great job looking absolutely stunning in some of her pics, and looks great with clothing props, also. And the test stuck... when her body proportions are put to the test, she can flex the hell out of them and pull out a winning photo. This one was a personal fave of mine, because it showed off her amazing butt that was covered up so much in her other photos. Her fountain photos are spectacular. She's definitely worth a look if she suits your tastes.
The Bad: Nicole is very, very inconsistent in delivering quality poses and pictures. Photographed from the front, her proportions are out of place, and her lower body is a bit big when pictured the wrong way. She flips and flops, and oftentimes she doesn't deliver. All in all, when she hits it right, she does it really well.
Janine Habeck - Miss September 2006
Fans went crazy when this star from Playboy Germany crossed over to the cutthroat American Playboy scene. When I saw her, I saw lots of things that were unique about her body and her style, and just the way she carried herself in her photos makes her a great PMOY prospect. She's at the top of lots of fans' voting boards, and I don't see why not.
The Good: From the first few photos of her pictorial, you can see what kind of girl Hef's imported. Janine has a sort of alluring body complexion and glow to her that make her stunning. She's tall, dark, and gorgeous, even in frontal shots, which have been a problem spot for lots of girls last year. She's really well-placed in the pictorials she's in. Not to mention, she's absolutely rock hard. What else is there to say? She captures every shot and makes it her own, and she looks like no other girl out there.
The Bad: The one thing physically, that I've noticed in Janine since the moment I saw her, is her oversized jawline. It doesn't intrude on most photos, but the shape of her face is very telling of her German roots, and that doesn't help sell her face very well. Her body is made of dreams, but her face leaves something to be desired that other Playmates this year have taken care of already.
Jordan Monroe - Miss October 2006
This one was a tricky entry. Another girl-next-door along the lines of Alison Waite was in the books for 2006 when Jordan came around. Jordan really looks like an average girl that's been uncovered. I was delighted at the first thought of it... think about it... seeing that average girl show off her not-so-average assets. Well, it didn't turn out exactly so perfect.
The Good: Jordan is cute. Let's not kid ourselves, she's a total beauty. Just look at the body this lady packs. She's unbelievably hot, and her pictorials do a good job showing her in domestic life. In some skimpy lingerie around the house, or stripping down slowly. She's extremely sexual, there's no doubt about that.
The Bad: She's not as well proportioned as other girls in the 2006 class are. Being a 34DD girl doesn't look as amazing as you'd think on her. She's got a great body, let's not doubt that, but she's also nothing to totally cheer about. As for her major drawback, it's simply her nose and her face. It's just too wide and doesn't go with the beauty her body brings. She's gorgeous, but there's something left to be desired from her smile and her facial structure.
Sarah Elizabeth - Miss November 2006
November was a month that I skipped over in terms of keeping track of Playmates. When I looked back at it, I didn't miss much in terms of action. Sarah Elizabeth is a pretty forgettable girl. She's got nothing really intriguing going for her, and she's pretty much a weak way to begin to close out the year.
The Good: She's got a bit of Alicia Silverstone in her... a tall drink of water with long blonde locks. Here and there, she glimmers a little, but it's hard for me to say anything good about her. It almost looks like she was a "filler" Playmate to pass the time. One of the few pics that caught my eye was this one.
The Bad: She's very plain, like a girl you've seen way too much already. There's not that much else to say... a blemish on an otherwise pretty good year.
Kia Drayton - Miss December 2006
A dose of hot chocolate was an interesting twist and a pretty good way to close out the year. I've seen some really good black Playmates (my fave being Neferteri Shepherd), and a great quality that they have is a fancy way of blending into a certain mood in a pictorial. Kia does it very well. She has a near perfect body and great posing.
The Good: Kia has a way of mixing in well with the pictorial and giving off a mystifying, sexy look. She has a really slender core and great hourglass proportions (34C-24-34). In the hot tub, she's sweaty and sexy, and really shows off her stuff. We can agree that a black Playmate is always a risk, because of the general readership of the magazine. But if you look at the exotic appeal of African American women, it makes lots of sense. Any guy can appreciate how hot Kia looks sprawled out on a bed. She's definitely got everything going for her.
The Bad: Again, the risk factor of trying out a black Playmate is always there. I never mind it, in fact, I welcome little changes here and there. Kia's got a unique problem: her inability to break away from a stereotypical portrait. Her DJ pictorial photos are good, but it pushes her into a corner where she can't break out of easily. Still, she makes up for it with her other really sexy pictorials.
Ranking the Class of 2006...
12. Sarah Elizabeth
11. Athena Lundberg
10. Jordan Monroe
9. Holley Ann Dorrough
8. Kia Drayton
7. Stephanie Larimore
6. Nicole Voss
5. Alison Waite
4. Janine Habeck
3. Cassandra Lynn
2. Sara Jean Underwood
1. Monica Leigh
Monica is my pick for PMOY, obviously. Overall, besides her, it was a pretty average year, with no real huge stars to go around. Monica already is Cyber Girl of the Year, so I doubt that we'll see a repeat Carmella DeCesare this time around.
There're some rumors around that the PMOY will be between Sara Jean Underwood and Alison Waite (my #2 and 5). Those rumors were started by this website, and there're lots of doubters out there. There're also people who have the sneak preview issue of the magazine with a faint cutaway of a blonde as the "next PMOY." If that's the case, I have a pretty good feeling that Sara might be the next PMOY. If she is, you know I'll keep you up to date, as well as check out her PMOY pictorial right away! In the meantime... GO MONICA!