“Put your hands in your hair,” commanded veteran Playboy magazine photographer Kim Mizuno. “Stretch out.”
Mizuno fed these lines to a tall, blond LSA junior who would only give her first and middle name – Amber Sue – during a tryout yesterday at Weber’s Inn for Playboy’s Girls of the Big Ten issue. She smiled, shaking out her hair and turned awkwardly in her stilettos on the plush carpet.
“It’s just you and me – and a hundred other people,” he said, referring to the few local reporters and photographers also crowded into the bedroom suite. One other girl, a School of Nursing junior whose first and middle names are Renée Alison, was scheduled for the morning; at least half a dozen were supposed to show later in the afternoon, said stylist Linda Kenney. More are scheduled for today.
Playboy representatives advised the candidates not to give their full names to the press.
All this was uncommon for the beautiful but stodgy Weber’s Inn on Jackson Avenue – the maintenance men showed up suspiciously fast when called to fix the air conditioning.
Playboy is on a campus tour of all 11 Big Ten Conference schools in search of models for its annual college girls pictorial. The feature – slated to run in the May 2008 edition of the magazine – will be the first college pictorial to feature Big Ten co-eds since the “Girls of the Big Ten” issue in October 2003.
Amber wants to make the pages of Playboy. She attended an open casting call two summers ago in Cleveland, subscribes to the magazine and follows the website (“Like everyday,” she confessed), where she found out about the tryouts.
“I skipped three classes this morning for this,” she said.
Playboy has also advertised for the pictorial on MySpace and Facebook, Kenney said. The week before tryouts are held in a college town, Playboy runs an ad in the university’s newspaper.
To try out, women must be full or part-time students at a Big Ten university and at least 18 years old. The tryout consists of basic shots in a bathing suit or lingerie – but models are allowed to strip completely if they want. If the magazine chooses a woman from the University, it could start shooting as soon as Wednesday. The Playboy team plans to leave Ann Arbor by Sunday. They were last at Michigan State University.
On average, about 30 girls will turn up for college tryouts in each town, but certain regions will turn out more, Mizuno said.
“You go to Florida, California, some of the Texas schools – except for Baylor – and you’ll get more girls,” Mizuno said. “Some people say the higher the (academics), the lower the turnout.”
Mizuno said he doesn’t think that’s true.
Models don’t have to pose completely nude for the magazine.
“You’re able to choose how much you want to expose,” said Renée, who said if she were chosen, she would “probably” be willing to get naked for the magazine.
Renée’s keeping her Playboy tryout relatively quiet. But that would change quickly if she made it into the pictorial.
“I’d tell everybody,” she said.
She expects response to be positive, except, perhaps, in the nursing school.
“It’d be ‘drama,’ ” she said, making air quotes. ” ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe she did that.’ “
But she said she wouldn’t care.
“I think it’s liberating,” she said.
The college girls feature can be a stepping stone into the Playboy world. Sara Jean Underwood, 2007’s Playmate of the Year, was first featured in the magazine’s October 2005 “Girls of the PAC 10” pictorial.
“I would like to be in a regular issue, a Playmate – maybe even Playmate of the Year someday,” Amber said. “Who knows?”