A Playmate is a female model featured in Playboy magazine as "Playmate of the Month." The Playmate's pictorial includes nude photographs and a centerfold poster, as well as a short biography and the "Playmate Data Sheet," which lists her birthdate, measurements, and likes and dislikes. At the end of the year, one of the twelve Playmates of the Month is named "Playmate of the Year" (or PMOY). Playmates are paid US$25,000 and the Playmate of the Year receives an additional US$100,000 plus a car. In addition, Anniversary Playmates are usually chosen to celebrate a milestone year of the magazine. As of April 2005, 617 women have been Playmates.
The magazine's philosophy has been to choose women that look like the "girl next door" -- an approachable woman, not necessarily a far-off glamour girl. Due to this, the Playmates are women of every social strata, from different professions, countries and backgrounds. Playboy encourages potential Playmates to send photos for consideration; others may submit photos of Playmate candidates, and are eligible for a US$2500 finder's fee if their model is selected.
Readers are encouraged to send pictures of their girlfriends and wives. The Playboy photographers and Hugh Hefner then decide who is the lucky candidate. The Playmate of the Year is chosen personally by Hugh Hefner, taking into account an annual readers poll.
The first model called a Playmate of the Month was Margie Harrison , Miss January 1954 (the second issue of Playboy). (Marilyn Monroe, who was featured in the first issue, was "Sweetheart of the Month.") The first fold-out centerfold was in March 1956 with Marian Stafford . The first Playmate to show pubic hair in a pictorial was Liv Lindeland , Miss January 1971. (The first appearance of pubic hair in Playboy was in an August 1969 pictorial featuring actress Paula Kelly.)
Generally a woman may only appear once as a Playmate, but in the early years of the magazine some models were featured multiple times. Margaret Scott (February 1954, April 1954, April 1955) and Janet Pilgrim (July 1955, December 1955, and October 1956) are tied for the most appearances. Margie Harrison (January 1954, June 1954) and Marguerite Empey (May 1955, February 1956) are the only other women to appear more than once as Playmates.
Multiple women, usually twins, have also appeared as a single month's Playmate. Misses October 1970 were Mary and Madeleine Collinson ; Misses September 1989 were Karin and Mirjam van Breeschooten ; Misses December 1998 were triplets Erica, Nicole, and Jaclyn Dahm, and Misses January 2000 were Carol and Darlene Bernaola . Misses October 1958, Pat Sheehan and Mara Corday , were unrelated.
Playboy points out that there are no "former" Playmates: "Once a Playmate, always a Playmate."
Playmates who became known for more than their Playboy appearance(s) include:
Playmates of the Year
- 50th Anniversary (January 2004): Colleen Shannon
- 45th Anniversary (January 1999): Jaime Bergman
- 40th Anniversary (January 1994): Anna-Marie Goddard
- 35th Anniversary (January 1989): Fawna MacLaren
- 30th Anniversary (January 1984): Penny Baker
- 25th Anniversary (January 1979): Candy Loving
- 20th Anniverary (January 1974): Nancy Cameron (Cameron is the only Playmate to have a double-sided, front-and-back centerfold photo.)
- 15th Anniversary (January 1969): Leslie Bianchini
- 10th Anniversary (December 1963): Donna Michelle
- 5th Anniversary (December 1958): Joyce Nizzari