When Hugh Hefner published the first Playboy Magazine in 1953 he wasn’t aware of the cultural impact he would have.
In fact, he didn’t even think he would get the chance to produce a second issue. But Hef’s first centerfold, or Playmate, was a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe, a $500 investment that would help him sell more than 54,000 copies and launch an empire.
Playmates have always been at the center, literally, of Hefner’s Playboy. Being a Playmate can make careers, create cultural icons, and produce movie stars.
But not every centerfold model becomes the next Pamela Anderson, Kelly Monaco, or Jenny McCarthy. Some of Hef’s beautiful women use their exposure as playmates to launch careers in business.
From Bunny to Businesswoman
Lauren Anderson became Playmate of the Month in July 2002 after winning the TV special "Who Wants to Be a Playboy Centerfold." Anderson was studying to be a veterinarian in Florida when she was thrust into the glamorous world of Playboy.
Her time spent in Los Angeles opened her eyes to the competitive beauty business and she realized there was an opportunity to bring that back to Florida.
Anderson used what she learned and earned at Playboy to open her first tanning salon in Gainesville in 2004. Today, she is co-owner of LAE Beauty, a full service tanning a medi-spa with an atmosphere that is pure Hollywood. Anderson says she “wouldn’t have had the idea” for LAE Beauty “if it weren’t for Playboy.” Anderson’s is about to expand and is hoping to franchise in the near future.
More Stories of Success
On the shelves at LAE Beauty you can find Vitamins by Stacy, Stacy is Stacy Fuson, Miss February 1999. Along with being a model and actress, Fuson, who had been searching for the perfect vitamins started her own vitamin company a year ago with the help of vitamin experts.
Before becoming an internationally celebrated interior designer, Kelly Wearstler was known as Miss September 1994. Wearstler studied art in Massachusetts and moved to Los Angeles where she was spotted by a scout for Playboy.
She used the money from the magazine to help launch her design company. Wearstler is an award-winning designer of hotels, celebrity homes, wrote a best selling book about style, and was a judge on the Bravo Network show Top Design.
Jenifer Lavoie was already an entrepreneur at the age of 22 when she became Miss August 1993. Lavoie spent 15 years working for Playboy, including several years with the Playboy X-Treme Team, a group of Playmates who compete in adventure races including Mark Burnett’s pre-Survivor show Eco-Challenge.
In 2006, Lavoie co-founded a new company called Primitive Planters that sells plant hangers in top garden centers across the country. She says they tripled their business this year and looking to get even bigger in 2011. Lavoie believes she "gets her business sense from her mother," who was the one who convinced her to model in the first place.
Janet Lupo was 24 when she started working for Playboy as a bunny at their Great Gorge club. Almost immediately, Lupo was sent to Chicago for a centerfold shoot and became Miss November 1975.
Today, Lupo is a successful real estate agent in her hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey. Like many Playmates, Lupo also makes money from a personal website, and appearing at pin-up conventions like Glamourcon.
These are just a few of Hef’s Playmates who have used their beauty and brains to break into a new business.
For more information, please visit "CNBC Titans: Hugh Hefner."