Playboy’s ‘Big Ten’ issue draws students hoping to be chosen for pictorial

by Emily Ayshford

Chantelle Owens decided she wanted to do something fun and exciting for her senior year.

So she tried out to be in Playboy magazine.

The men’s magazine was in town Tuesday and Wednesday holding interviews for its October “Girls of the Big Ten” pictorial.

Applicants could either send a head shot and full-figure photo in a swimsuit to the Playboy headquarters or schedule an interview with Playboy representatives near campus.

Interviewees must fill out a form, including their bust, waist, and hip sizes, hobbies and “something interesting about you or your family.”

After discussing how much the applicant is willing to undress, a photographer takes a Polaroid of the woman in a two-piece swimsuit.

Playboy publicist Theresa Hennessey said Playboy looks for all types of girls.

“We want just a well-rounded, photogenic girl,” Hennessey said.

Owens, a psychology senior, said she thought the interview went well and was surprised at the amount of support the Playboy representatives gave her.

“They are the nicest people,” Owens said.

Rebekah Saunders, a University first-year student, said she thought Playboy could be a means of exposure.

“I just want to get my face out there to somebody,” she said.

Hennessey said Playboy typically interviews between 50 and 150 women per school.

“We’ve been having a really strong turnout,” she said.

However, Saunders said a woman who interviewed her said representatives did not speak with as many women at the University as at other schools.

Playboy pays according to the level of nudity: $500 for nude, $450 for semi-nude – showing just one part of the body nude, or posing nude with certain parts covered – and $250 for fully clothed.

A Playboy representative at the interview said students chosen for the pictorial are not paid as much as regular models because they do not have modeling experience and have to be coached.

Saunders said Playboy interviewers did not tell her how much she would be paid if chosen, but said she did not care.

“It’s more for getting my face out there,” she said.

Playboy representatives also did not tell Owens the levels of pay, but she said she also did not care about compensation.

“But money would be nice,” she said. “It would help with student loans.”

Owens said she did not know which level of nudity she would choose if selected, but she said she could probably be swayed to pose fully nude.

Gwendolyn Pough, a University women’s studies professor, said she does not approve of magazines such as Playboy.

“I think they degrade and objectify women,” she said.

But Pough said she does not think a woman is reversing the women’s movement by posing in the magazine and that every person has to find his or her own relationship with feminism.

Owens said her boyfriend was not upset about her decision to try out. She said he will probably brag about it if she is in the magazine.

“He said, ‘Go ahead and have fun,’ ” she said.

Owens said her parents were hesitant when she told them about trying out. Because she is from a small town, her mother is worried everyone would find out.

“She said, ‘Don’t tell anyone around here,’ ” Owens said.

Hennessey said Playboy chooses at least one woman from each Big Ten school but can have up to 15.

Saunders said going to the interview was against her better judgment and she did not know whether she would pose for the magazine if offered the chance.

“I would have to think about the repercussions,” she said.

Owens said she was not worried about future fallout.

“It’s pretty tasteful,” she said. “I will probably tell everyone anyway.”

Playboy last published its “Girls of the Big Ten” issue in 1997.

Interviewees expected to find out if they were chosen late Tuesday, and photographers will shoot the pictorial later this week.

The issue hits newsstands in September.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]