“Beauty’s only skin deep,” you’ve heard people say, minimizing the importance of outward appearance in favor of charming inward qualities. A person’s character should be more important than how they look. Except when you work for Playboy. Then you gotta look good. Skin and all. That’s what they pay you for, after all. Talk about pressure! But here’s the skinny: even Playboy stars pop a pimple now and then. We’re all human, and we can’t let a little imperfection stop us from being sexy. Read below to find out how I handled a blistering beauty crisis.
Please enjoy the next installment of my upcoming book
LONG LEGS & TALL TALES:
A Showgirl’s Wacky, Sexy Journey to the Playboy Mansion and the Radio City Rockettes
by Kristi Davis
In the days leading up to the photo shoot, I may have appeared relaxed and confident on the outside, but on the inside I was a nervous wreck because, horror of horrors, over the course of the week a boil had sprouted out on the middle of my forehead. I was casually glancing in the mirror while brushing my teeth when, all of a sudden, my eye was drawn to a raised, red spot on my face.
“What’s that? That wasn’t there before!” I said in disbelief, touching the bump to make sure it was real. “NOOOOOOO! I have the photo shoot in three days!” I panicked for a few minutes, then quickly began pulling out my blemish-eliminating tricks. “Okay, maybe there’s still time to get rid of it,” I thought, hopefully.
I used lotions, potions, zit creams, and a steaming hot washcloth, but I think I only made it madder, because it grew. And grew. And grew. Bigger than any pimple I had ever seen. It was a dime-sized lump that birthed from my face like I was trying to grow a second head on top of the one I already had. There was nothing there to squeeze or pinch. Nothing short of surgical removal could have helped. I had no bangs (the fact that I wouldn’t even consider cutting some to cover that monster was evidence of how much I hated bangs) and no way to hide it.
And so it was that my new “friend” and I returned to Playboy Enterprises for the important photo shoot. As if I wasn’t nervous enough already about the photo shoot and meeting the cast for the first time, I was now also horribly self-conscious about my dermatological nightmare. Valerie’s eyes bugged out when she saw me. “Oh my. Uh, you’d better get yourself over to the makeup artist right away, dear,” she insisted, laughing nervously.
I agreed with Valerie, and I prayed the makeup artist would have some special pancake makeup to disguise that blasted boil. When I showed her the mountain on my face and, in desperation, asked her, “Can you do something to fix it?” she gave me this incredulous look like “I’m not a miracle worker, you naïve, acne-faced bimbo!” Of course, trying to cover that sucker was about as easy as trying to make my nose look invisible. Even the best makeup artist in the world can’t hide Mt. Vesuvius. She made a valiant effort by piling on the thickest cover-up she had. It was the best we could do.
Back in the main room, I joined the rest of the all-female cast of Playboy’s Girls of Rock & Roll, which consisted of three singers, two dancers (myself and another girl), and three Playmates. Satin, Mallory, and Taffy were the three nude models who were willing to sing and dance in this show. They had taken their clothes off and been photographed for the most famous girlie magazine in the world. I was going to be dancing with them, talking to them, socializing with them. Word was, they made twenty-some-thousand dollars or so for posing for the magazine. I don’t know if that was true, but even that sizable chunk of change wasn’t enough to make me want to bare it all. Meeting the Playmates was like going to the Big Top of the Bizarre to see the woman with three eyes or the rubber man who could twist himself up like a pretzel. I stared at those real Playboy Bunnies like they were circus attractions. I was enthralled.
Taffy was an ultra-petite beauty with long, wavy blond locks and a perfect body. She starred in a Playboy video where she did naked rhythmic gymnastics while twirling a long, satin ribbon attached to a stick into mesmerizing circular, spiral, and figure-eight patterns around her delicate figure. She was light and airy and not extremely friendly. She didn’t need to be; she was just that hot, and boy, could she give a look to kill when she was in a sour mood.
In contrast, Mallory was an enormous, blond, athletic, Canadian kick boxer with fake D-cups and an “I’ll kick your ass!” attitude hovering beneath the surface. I wanted her on my good side; she could most certainly beat the tar out of me if she felt like it.
Satin was a voluptuous gal with lusciously long, blond hair. Under that soft, sultry exterior, however, was a tough little cookie. I’m sure she could hold her own, if not entirely slaughter almost any woman, in a mud wrestling contest.
Callie, Jasmine, and Rhonda were our well-seasoned singers. All three had performed in the Playboy Show at the Maxim in Vegas and were so well acquainted with Valerie they called her “Val.” Callie was a riveting seductress who reminded me of a young Morticia from “The Munsters” with her waist-long, brunette hair parted in the middle. On stage she had a dark, sorceress aura about her, but off stage she was as fun, funny, and lighthearted as a person can be. An L.A. native, she was always sporting some funky, ahead-of-the-trend clothing and was game for just about anything.
Jasmine, a nice girl from New Mexico, was an aspiring country singer and guitar player. She was tall, thin, flat, and wholesomely beautiful with waist-long, stick-straight blond hair. She did her best to put on a rock and roll vibe for the show, but underneath you could tell she was a country sweetheart. At thirty-something, Rhonda was our most senior and most experienced performer. This rowdy rocker, from Vegas, sported big, black, wild, frizzy hair, and a curvaceous, womanly body. She had found salvation in her Mormon church and was proudly counting the days she’d been sober. Rhonda had a rough edge about her, having lived on the wild side for so long. All three singers were amazingly sexy performers in their own way.
Besides yours truly, Porsche was the only other real dancer Valerie hired. The two of us were the only Playboy virgins, the rest of the cast being Playboy veterans in some respect, either on stage or in print. Porsche was a talented dancer with short, strawberry-blond hair and a fantastic boob job that was her pride and joy. She had married a sensible guy with a normal job, and was the only wedded one of the bunch.
I was nervous and shy around these stunningly beautiful, overly sexy, talented, and worldly women. I felt like a frumpy housefrau in comparison. Many of them knew each other and chatted away as they dug through a box of old black leather, silver-studded S&M mix-and-match costume pieces claiming their favorites from previous shows.
“Remember this ugly thing? I’m not wearing that again.” “Hand me that belt. It’s mine.” “Here, Jasmine, this must be your tiny bra; I’d never fit into it. What is it: triple A?” “Very funny. Ha ha.” “Satin, this would look good on you.” “Does this make me look fat?”
The costume box contained as assortment of thigh-high black boots, black halter tops, black bustiers, lacy black bras, black leather gloves, dog-collar chokers, and wide black belts to wear over black thongs. It was Harley Davidson meets harlot. Gulp.
“Find something to wear, dear,” Valerie said to me. “These are the costumes for your opening number.” I pawed through the scraps of black, black, and even more black, hoping to find something that would cover up my flaws and accentuate my assets.
The veteran girls seemed to take over, leaving Valerie in the dust. A couple of them emerged from a closet where they hauled out another box to rummage through. “I’m sick of those old costumes. How about these, Val? These would look better,” Rhonda said holding up a colorful, sequined spaghetti-strapped mini dress in one hand. “We have five of these and three of these” she added, grasping a midriff-bearing sequined halter top and sequined shorty-shorts in the other hand. “The singers can wear the dresses, because I’m not showing my stomach, and this would look better with my boobs.”
The veteran girls grabbed their picks, and I was stuck with a halter top and shorts, which meant I was going to have to show my stomach. I kept wishing I weighed ten pounds less and had washboard abs. Still, I guess this was better than a black thong, motorcycle mama bra, and studded dog collar. We were given black fishnet tights and black stiletto boots to finish off the look.
For our photo session, we grouped together for a sexy pose that would lure those Southeast Asian men away from their bowls of rice and toward our bosoms. Sure that a massive pimple wouldn’t help our marketing efforts, I tried to part my hair so that a few strands hung over my forehead. Then I watched as the other girls instinctively arched their backs, stuck out their chests, cocked their heads, and pouted their lips for the photo. I had no clue how to make love to the camera, so I just sucked in my stomach, held my breath, and smiled. I am way out of my league, here.
Next, we changed into super-short, simple, sexy spaghetti-strap black dresses with long, white satin gloves that came up to the elbow. It was a classier, more romantic look. Having no cellulite showing and being fairly hidden in the back of the group, I had a much easier time posing like a lady of the boudoir.
Glory be! The promo pictures actually turned out pretty nicely. I was relieved that one had to look very closely to see that boil I had sweated buckets over. Anyway, no one was going to be looking at me when there were professional sex kittens offering an eyeful. Meow.
Once the photo shoot was over, it was time to get down to business and learn the show. Our rehearsals were held in Santa Monica at the studio of producer/director/choreographer Anita Mann. Sadly, my fabulous friend Gino was ousted as choreographer before we even started. He was replaced with Anita, who was much more experienced, but I felt terrible for Gino and am forever grateful for his recommendation. If you are out there, Gino, I hope when this door closed, a better one opened for you.
Anyway, Anita was this forty-something, super sexy blond dancer/actress who used to choreograph for the 1980s TV show Solid Gold—a musical countdown in which the sultry Solid Gold Dancers would move alluringly to the top ten pop hits of the week. These women knew how to work the camera and were always shown in their close-ups making seductive faces for the people watching at home. Of course, I loved the show, which aired when I was a teenager, so Anita was a celebrity to me. Her work there even got her nominated twice for Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Choreography. (She later earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for her work on The Miss America Pageant and continued to produce phenomenal productions for stage, screen, and television, even garnering recognition by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as “one of America’s top five contemporary choreographers.” Anita was also born in Detroit. What an amazing talent hailing from my neck of the woods!)
To stay young and gorgeous, Anita was game to try a facial peel or some Hollywood miracle beauty treatment or a special diet. Whatever she did, it worked. She also sported stylish clothing, especially shoes. Dancers are very trendy; when her dancers would come in wearing the latest cool duds, she had to have them right away. She looked sensational.
Scads of distractions, however, kept Anita spread so thin that they made it hard for her to focus on one task. When she first started her business, she actually choreographed shows herself. You’d learn two sets of eight, and she’d have to answer a phone call about another project or her boys would come in or someone had to know if she wanted Chinese take-out or chicken burritos for lunch or one of a hundred other questions had to be answered. She’d return to rehearsal wondering where we’d left off. This was the way she worked, and you could count on her projects being tweaked and perfected up until the last moment.
Used to working television where she choreographed on the spot, Anita seemed to thrive best with the push of a deadline looming in her face. To succeed with her, you had to be able to work with organized chaos, rehearse yourself, do your homework, and be flexible and prepared for last-minute changes. She was extremely kind and friendly and happy to have you, but if you could steal a minute to talk to her it was probably while she was on hold on her cell phone, in between bites of chop suey and running to her next meeting. She was like an espresso shot in Doc Martens. I wanted to be her, looking Hollywood hot and sassy in jeans, black leather jacket, and with cell phone, before cell phones were popular.
Anita often critiqued her choreography as she created it, saying, “This isn’t right.” I thought, “How can it be right or wrong?” She was attempting to work the choreography so that you didn’t have odd weight changes or “cheats”—where you have to quickly switch to another foot to be prepared to go in another direction. Her attention to these sorts of details made my job easier and less disjointed. I learned a lot from Anita and thoroughly dug working with her.
Anita had her hands full in teaching the show due not so much to her business juggling act as to the impulsive Playmates. These unpredictable Bunnies didn’t have the same work ethic as did the professional singers and dancers. Everyone held their breath wondering if they would show up on time, if at all, for rehearsals and, once there, if they would agree to do what was asked. The choreography had to be amended to fit their abilities, as they weren’t professional dancers. In general, reliability was an issue. Perhaps some ladies weren’t used to the daily discipline required to practice and perfect a production.
In fact, partway through the rehearsal process, Taffy, a Playmate who came with a designated talent (gymnastics), up and quit on us. I was disappointed, because she really spiced up our act. She was replaced by Kylie, a professional dancer from Anita’s talent pool, who was another sexy, petite blond with a fantastic body and the ability to be provocative. Sadly, we were now down a Bunny. Gladly, we were up a real dancer.
My track was easy—no difficult choreography or challenging singing. It was all fun and few worries. Between performing and changing costumes, I was busy the entire show—no time to sit down and take a coffee break—but the pace was comfortable enough.
Some of our show consisted of slightly altered and patched-up hand-me down numbers from Anita’s other shows. Being a smart business woman, Anita recycled her work when appropriate. The numbers were entertaining and energetic, seductive and flirtatious, but they weren’t particularly pornographic; this was no XXX Adult Girlie show like you’d see in Vegas. For me it was just the right amount of risqué without crossing over into sleazy. I could do this show and still show my face in church. Maybe.
In retrospect, I feel extremely lucky that the show was as respectable as it was. Being an adults-only production, I could have shown up for rehearsal and been required to do lord knows what with lord knows who. What would I have done? I was just that naïve that the thought never crossed my mind about what trouble I might be getting myself into.
Don’t get yourself into trouble by thinking you’re not beautiful enough. Let your outer appearance reflect your inner beauty, and rock whatever ya got going for ya. Remember…even with a zit or two, you look maaaaaaahvelous! Both inside and out. Don’t let a little blemish (or a big one) stop you from being all you can be.