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Hefner may have run the Marilyn Monroe shots without her consent, but now he has no problem finding big-name actresses eager to appear in the magazine. The album so far includes Carroll Baker, Arlene Dahl, Ursula Andress, Kim Novak, Susan Strasberg, Elsa Martinelli and Susannah York. Nor is there any trouble getting unknown girls to pose; hundreds apply. Sometimes, though, there is a problem in making the copy that goes with them interesting enough. For instance, the latest Miss January, Playboy said, would love to be a nurse. She was "Albert Schweitzer's fairest disciple. She has read each of the doctor's books at least twice."
The magazine also finds potential Playmates through a network of freelance photographers. A particularly rewarding field is wedding parties; a photographer covering the reception will often spot a comely bridesmaid. If under 21, she must get her parents' written consent. Photographing her is another matter. Getting a nonprofessional model, who has never before posed, in the right mood can take a photographer one whole day, or several. And all the while the photographer must keep in mind Art Director Paul's concept of the Playboy nude. "The idea," he says, "is to think clean."
Zero Garbo. The selection of the right nude from among hundreds of transparencies is taken at least as seriously by the Playboy staff as, say, choosing the proper tribal dance for a lead page in the National Geographic. Dialogue between Art Director Paul and Editor Hefner when choosing pictures for the Playmates-of-the-year feature:
Paul: This is the best shot of her face.
Hef: That shot makes the girl look too Hollywoodish. She doesn't look natural.
Paul: Don't her breasts look somewhat distorted? ... It looks as if the shots were made on a foggy day. We don't want to mix the reader up. You can't really be sure that this is the same girl.
Hef (viewing new layout): There is something wrong with the angle of that shot. Her thighs and hips look awkward. This doesn't do her justice . . . There must be other aspects to her personality.
Hefner knows exactly what he wants. He likes the young, pouty type without complications or excessive intelligence. Riper beauties he summarily dismisses. "Jeanne Moreau is a fine actress," he once said. "But as a woman she tells me zero. And zero to Greta Garbo. I think that when Sophia Loren was 20 she had a fantastic body. But that is all." To Gershon Legman, a Paris-based writer on sexuality, "Playboy is for the subvirile man who just wants to look. Basically, he's afraid of the girls." Says the Rev. William
Hamilton of Colgate-Rochester Divinity School: "Hefner rightly affirms the goodness of the body, but he misses the beauty and mystery of sexuality."