Playboy comes to NU looking for women for 2008 Big Ten issue

Elise Foley

On a campus probably known more for brains than bodies, Playboy Magazine is auditioning students for their “Girls of the Big ’10′” issue.

More than 25 girls from Northwestern auditioned Monday and Tuesday to be featured in one of Playboy’s biannual college issues. At least one NU student will be chosen to pose nude or topless and will be photographed later this week for the May 2008 “Girls of the Big ’10′” issue.

Playboy auditions between 15 and 70 students for most college issues, which the magazine has published since 1973, said Playboy spokeswoman Tina Manzo. George Georgiou, a Playboy staff photographer, said he did not expect any difficulty finding girls to pose at NU, even though it has fewer students than the other schools in the Big Ten.

“How many students does Northwestern have, like 8,000?” Georgiou said. “I’m sure out of all those girls, we can find a couple pretty ones.”

The audition process started Monday afternoon, when girls met Georgiou, assistant photographer Rudi Ayasse and production coordinator Cynthia Kaye in a local hotel room. Everyone who called could audition, and there were no weight, height or hair-color requirements, Manzo said. Applicants had to be female NU students over 18 years old.

“The girls that we end up putting in the issue are the ones that you see in your math class on Wednesday or in the bar on Friday – we look for kind of the ‘girl next door,'” she said. “We look for girls with confidence and school spirit.”

Kaye said modeling experience is never necessary to appear in Playboy.

“There are really no professional models in Playboy – most of the people are found through submission and they’ve never modeled before,” Kaye said. “But they don’t need to know how to pose. That’s our job.”

To audition, interested students filled out a form with some general information, including hobbies and availability. Georgieou took test shots of the bikini-clad girls in the hotel suite’s bedroom. It can be an awkward process for the girls, but the Playboy team does its best to make students feel comfortable, Kaye said.

“For the girl that is chosen, it would be her first time modeling, and her first time modeling in Playboy, which means that she would be topless or nude,” Kaye said. “We choose wardrobe based on what the girl is comfortable with, but it’s Playboy Magazine – the girls know what they’re signing up for.”

Most girls who auditioned declined to be interviewed. One Weinberg graduate student, who asked to remain anonymous, said she did not want to ruin her relationship with her academic advisor by trying out for Playboy.

Georgiou said he understood why the girls would want to remain anonymous, though the students chosen will be revealed in May.

“I just told (a girl auditioning) inside, her education is far more important than modeling in Playboy,” Georgiou said. “I wouldn’t want someone to risk it for this.”

The graduate student said she thought trying out for Playboy would be a fun experience, though she joked it might ruin her chances of ever working as a teaching assistant again.

“I have been watching ‘The Girls Next Door,’ and I love them,” she said. “I’ve always thought it would be amazing to be in Playboy and I thought this might be my only opportunity to do it.”

Girls who sign up to audition rarely back out, in part because they are required to talk to their parents before the audition process, Kaye said.

“We don’t want someone to have to quit because they talk to their parents and they threaten to take away their tuition money,” Kaye said. “I think the girls are aware that there could be repercussions.”

These repercussions can sometimes make finding models for college issues difficult, Ayasse said. At Baylor University, a private Baptist school in Texas, the administration told the girls they would be expelled for modeling for Playboy, he said. Playboy does not shoot photographs or recruit on campus, except for in student publications, to avoid problems with administrators, he said.

The girls are paid up to $1,000 to model, depending on the amount of clothing they wear in their shoot, Kaye said.

Despite the incentives, some NU students said they would not pose in Playboy.

Charissa Quezaire, a Weinberg freshman, said she thinks Playboy is “demeaning” but would be curious to see who posed. She said she could understand why girls who auditioned probably did not want to give their names.

“I think they’re kind of embarrassed by it – I mean, I would be too,” she said. “But I think it’s kind of stupid to hide their names. I mean, everyone will have seen their picture in a few months.”

Katie Coombs, a Weinberg sophomore, said she wouldn’t think of posing for Playboy but the magazine might alter NU’s reputation.

“It might break our stereotype of being nerdy and unattractive,” she joked.

Reach Elise Foley at [email protected]