Childhood make-believe games are usually just that — a fantasy. But for School of Nursing senior Renee Alison, a childhood imagination became reality when she posed in the October issue of Playboy magazine.
“When I was in 5th grade, I was 11 years old and I was a Playboy Bunny for Halloween,” she said. “I had a little T-shirt on, and the bunny ears and curly hair.“
Alison, along with University students Caitlin Shannon and Bobbie Korina, is featured in Playboy magazine’s Girls of the Big 10 issue, which hit newsstands last Friday. The magazine’s annual college issue rotates among conferences, featuring students from each of the schools.
Though Alison had done some modeling in the past, she went to the auditions with her heart set on getting the Playboy gig. She said she was “thrilled” when she found out she had been chosen and her friends and family were equally excited and supportive.
“My dad was really excited,” Alison said, who is from Northville. “He calls everyone he knows (to tell them) that I’m going to be in there. I’m pretty sure I could get arrested and he’d be proud of me, though.”
Alison says she’s been recognized around campus and asked for autographs, since the release of the glossy, Many of her most enthusiastic fans have been customers at the Blue Leprechaun, a campus pub where she bartends.
The selection process on campus began a year ago. Alison attended the auditions after some prodding from a friend, who showed her an ad announcing the tryouts.
“I’m just a little bit of a free spirit,” she said. “I’m kind of a wild child, you know? The class clown, sort of — I say anything. So I guess they thought I was the type for it.“
The auditions were open to any female student enrolled at the University who was 18 or older. According to Playboy publicist Jessica Sigelbaum, the inclusive nature of the selection process allowed anyone to get their shot at the spotlight.
“It’s all about school spirit, and getting the girl-next-door out there and finding great college girls that embody what Playboy’s all about — pretty girls next door,” Sigelbaum said.
But with school spirit often comes rivalry and trash-talk. Alison said that when she arrived on the day of the photo shoot, “The hair and make-up and wardrobe lady said that the (Michigan) State girls had been, you know, talking crap about us, and saying that they weren’t going to find any hot girls at Michigan.”
Seven women from Michigan State were featured in the magazine.
To promote the release of the issue, Playboy held a signing yesterday at Campus Corner. The event drew a sparse crowd, but Sigelbaum said she was confident more people would show up to the Girls of the Big 10 party at Rick’s Cafe late last night. There, fans could mingle with Alison, Shannon and Korina and hear a performance by the band The White Tie Affair, recently featured on MTV’s reality show The Hills.
Ann Arbor resident Markay Hall, who said she was an ardent Playboy fan, attended the signing with her young daughter.
“She’s hot. I wanted to know if she lives with the Girls Next Door,” Hall said, referring to Alison and the E! television show.
Other attendees were less expressive about their reasons for coming out. College of Engineering sophomore Jordan Klein and LSA sophomore Zane Aukee said they attended the signing for a friend who couldn’t make it.
Another student, who asked that his Playboy be signed to “The Dam” — the nickname given to his house on the corner of State Street and Hoover Street — came after hearing about the event from Campus Corner staff and seeing flyers. When asked to elaborate, he said, “Well, we’re getting beer. Naked women. And she’s here, so we can get a signature.”
As Alison stood waiting to greet fans, she looked excited despite her less-than-glamorous surroundings.
Asked if she would go back and do it all over again, she said without hesitation, “In a heartbeat.”
— Veronica Menaldi contributed to this report.