But thirty five years ago her chances of being approved were slim to none. Even to the casual observer it would be obvious that the basic attributes of the majority of the published Playmates up until then could be summed up with Blonde, Blue Eyes, Big Boobs. Not that there were no exceptions. Once in a while an ethnic Playmate would sneak in, by and large, Playboy’s Eliza Doolittles shared the above three attributes. The girl next door, turned into My Fair Lady in the image of Henry Higgins of Playboy empire’s Hugh M. Hefner himself. And yet, when an exotic beauty showed up at one of the magazine’s studios, the photo editors couldn’t resist the urge to try her – just in case. She could turn out to be the one of those few and far in-between. Often times, after the initial internal voting, she wouldn’t even be presented to the MAN! Most of them would end up in their slush files, never to be looked at again.

Editors felt not so good about having to reject someone outright – someone who could have been a promising candidate. By then they would have also known the girl and may even have liked her at personal level. But not much they could do. There were other limitations: a sign tacked on the cork wall of Chicago based Playmate editor Janice Moses said: BUT WE ONLY NEED TWELVE A YEAR! Alluding to the fact that hundreds of girls presented themselves at Playboy’s door steps in hopes of maybe, just maybe being picked to become the next month’s Playmate. Perhaps even Playmate of the Year. But now with the Foreign Editions having firmly established themselves, they had an option for such an exotic beauty, especially the  ones with foreign ethnic backgrounds.

One of the first such candidates to land on my desktop was a pile of 35 mm slides of Elda Mareea Lopez, sent to me from our Los Angeles studio chief, Marilyn Grabowski. The brief hand written  note on the inter-office pink memo paper said: perhaps you can use her. I think she is gorgeous and is absolutely delightful in person. Judging from those hundred or so frames, she certainly is gorgeous. And when I first meet her, she is beyond being delightful. She is down home muy simpatica!

What strikes me oddly intriguing about her even before I put the Lupe to her slides is the way she has spelt her middle name in the Playmate Data Sheet. She has spelt it Mareea instead of usual Maria. I guess, she is looking for her very own identity, distinguishing herself from practically every female of the Latin origin with virgin Mary squeezed in somewhere in to their names.

To Marilyn’s perhaps you can use her, I immediately think, she could be our first Mexican Playmate! Now they won’t have any excuse not to have one. It’s been almost three years that we have been on the tails of our Mexican publishers about the need for us to have some authentic Mexican Playmates, which would allow us to promote the edition in a way we couldn’t by inviting American Playmates to the south of the border. Finally we are able to convince Ricardo Ampudia, how important it is to have a local girl next door Playmate to grace the pages of our Mexican edition.

Over a weekend while both Al Debat – our Chicago based departmental manager and also a professional photographer and I were in Mexico City, Ricardo tells us that he has just the right  Playmate candidate. Al and I agree to a quick test shoot and take it from there. Ricardo invites us to his house for breakfast on a Saturday morning and we are to do the shoot in his garden. Al and I together shoot eight rolls of films.

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