A History of Black Playboy Playmates

Posted on Feb, 1 2013 By Josh Robertson from The History of Black Playboy Playmates

When someone mentions the words Playboy Playmate, the image of a blonde Barbie-like California transplant from the Midwest immediately comes to mind. However, not every beautiful woman on the pages of the storied publication look like a carbon copy of The Girls Next Door.

Kicking off Black History Month, we’re looking back at some of the women who broke stereotype, took over the coveted centerfold spread, and expanded the definition of beauty for fans of the mag. This is the history of black PlayboyPlaymates.

Jennifer Jackson

Issue: March 1965

Jennifer broke the color barrier in Playboy, 11 eleven years after the magazine’s debut, and two years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

While Jennifer is the first in a series, and certainly one of a kind, she has two doubles. One, her twin sister (who was a Bunny at a Playboy club), and two, Jennifer Jackson (white girl, no relation), sometimes called Jennifer Lyn Jackson, who was Miss April 1989.

Jean Bell

Issue: October 1969

Jean Bell was the second black Playmate, but the first black woman to appear on the cover of the magazine, which she did in January 1970. It was the annual Playmate Review issue, and Jean was one of five Playmates on the cover.

(The first black model to get her own cover was Darine Stern. In the iconic shot, Darine was sitting on a Playboy Rabbit-head chair. Darine was never a Playmate, though.)

Jean dated Richard Burton for a time and had a fairly good acting career for a Playmate, starring in the blaxploitation flick T.N.T. Jackson (1974).

Julie Woodson

Issue: April 1973

Here is some sweet trivia: Only two Playboy Playmates have ever appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan. One was Pamela Anderson, and the other was Julie Woodson (it was the May 1977 issue).

Ester Cordet

Issue: October 1974

Ester’s sudsy centerfold is an one of the great shots of ’70s Playboy (taken by the master, Richard Fegley), but it’s not her best-known drippy pic. That would be the cover of the 1975 Ohio Players album Honey, considered one of the sexiest album covers of all time.

Azizi Johari

Issue: June 1975

Enough of these Jeans and Julies, in 1975 Playboy featured its most exotic girl yet. Azizi had a modest acting career—look for her in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie(1976)—and did a sexy album cover for the funk/disco group, Sun.

Rosanne Katon

Issue: September 1978

Rosanne had a substantial acting career, both before and after her appearance inPlayboy. A lot of the roles were all about showcasing her physical gifts—The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974), She Devils in Chains (1976), Chesty Anderson U.S. Navy (1976), The Muthers (1976), Lunch Wagon (1981), Zapped! (1982), andBachelor Party (1984)—but she also did TV work, including St. Elsewhere, Full House, and the Sanford & Son spinoff Grady.

Ola Ray

Issue: June 1980

Lots of people saw Ola, and they didn’t even have to buy a nudie magazine to do it. She was the female lead in arguably the most famous music video of all time, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (1983). When Jacko’s eyes turn all creepy and he barks “Go away!”, this is the chick he was chasing off.

For years, Ola maintained that she never received royalties from Jackson for her turn in “Thriller.” Despite a supposed reconciliation in 1997, she sued him in 2009 for the dough. He died two months later, but Ola did eventually receive some cash. In early 2013, TMZ reported she was paid $55,000. That feels a little light to us.

Anne-Marie Fox

Issue: February 1982

During her youth, the fire of creativity burned within Anne-Marie Fox. In fact, as creative types go, the resumé doesn’t get much better. She studied acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory; she has a BA in literature from Columbia; she received a degree from the International Center for Photography; and she attended UCLA Film School. Today, she’s a professional photographer, and you’ll find no mention of her Playboy career on her website.

Venice Kong

Issue: September 1985

Black-Asian beauty Venice (rhymes with release) was born in Jamaica, where both her mother and aunt worked as Bunnies at Playboy‘s resort in Ocho Rios. She played a Playboy Playmate in Beverly Hills Cop II, but will go down in history as the last Playmate to be in a stapled issue of Playboy. But that last stapled issue is better remembered for another fact: It featured some old black-and-white, hairy-armpit pictures of the biggest pop princess in the world, Madonna.

Renee Tenison

Issue: November 1989

Renee Tenison was the first black Playmate of the Year, and went on to do quite a lot of TV acting, including a recurring role in the late-’90s black-cop-white-cop series L.A. Heat. Renee was ridiculously hot in 1989-1990, and just to remind us all, she came back to Playboy 13 years later for more naked pictures. This time with her identical twin, Rosie. Yes, identical twin.

Lorraine Olivia

Issue: November 1990

Lorraine posed in a flight attendant uniform, a choice inspired by her real-life job as a flight attendant. She is also one of a handful of Playmates who appeared alongside Hef in the “Fresh Prince After Dark” episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That’s the one in which Will got to go to the Playboy Mansion, but you guessed that already.

Stephanie Adams

Issue: November 1992

Even by Playmate standards, Stephanie Adams has lived a hell of a life. She was a model for Wilhelmina and Elite, joining the latter agency when she became engaged to co-founder John Casablancas. She founded her own publishing company, Goddessy, which publishes metaphysical books and astrology calendars. In 2003, she came out as a lesbian, but after a good run, she went back to the other team and announced, in 2009, she was marrying a man.

Oh, and in 2006, she got into a dispute with a New York cab driver, who gave the police a phony story that she had a gun and had threatened to shoot him. The cops roughed her up a bit, she sued, and in 2012, a court ordered the NYPD to pay her $1.2 million.

Elan Carter

Issue: June 1994

Elan’s claim to fame, other than the Playboy thing, is that she is the daughter of Otis Williams, the sole surviving founding member of the Temptations.

Karin Taylor

Issue: June 1996

In addition to being a Playboy Playmate, Karin was another icon of cheesecake goodness: A Snap-On Girl. Snap-On tools published a very popular calendar featuring bikini babes for 12 years, but discontinued it in 1994. As the November/December model for that year, Taylor (posing as Karen Winder) could be considered the last-ever Snap-On Girl.

Daphnee Lynn Duplaix

Issue: July 1997

Daphnee Duplaix might be the second-most successful soap opera actress amongPlayboy Playmates (note: totally unverified), having appeared in 34 episodes ofPassions and 95 of One Life to Live. That’s a long way off from Kelly Monaco’s 1000+ episodes of General Hospital, though.

Holly Joan Hart

Issue: April 1998

Holly Joan Hart went to a strict Jesuit school and her father was a cop in Oakland. Who says girls get naked for magazines as a form of rebellion?

Neferteri Shepherd

Issue: July 2000

Neferteri has gone all fancy now. On her website and Twitter feed, she describes herself as “TV Host for networks such as UPN, Starz & HGTV to name a few. Model, Mom, & Expert on Dynamic Living.” “Dynamic Living” is her catchphrase; if you want to be like Nef, you best be living dynamically.

You will not find any direct mention of Nef’s Playboy Playmate-hood on her website, though.

Nicole Narain

Issue: January 2002

Nicole, who is a mixture of Afro-Guyanese, Chinese-Guyanese, and Indo-Guyanese, is also known as the woman who made the sex tape with Colin Farrell. It was kind of a big deal. Farrell sued her to prevent it from being sold, but that didn’t stop people from seeing it for free online. Nicole later wound up on Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew.

Serria Tawan

Issue: November 2002

Serria co-authored The Bunny Book: How to Walk, Talk, Tease and Please Like a Playboy Bunny with Pennelope Jimenez (Miss March 2003) and Deanna Brooks (Miss May 1998). This is despite the fact that all three were Playmates (centerfolds in the magazine) and not Bunnies (servers at the Playboy Club). Usually, this is a life-or-death distinction at Playboy, so we’re not sure how this book ever got published with such a misleading title.

Qiana Chase

Issue: July 2005

Qiana first appeared in the December 2003 issue, in a pictorial connected to the search for the 50th anniversary Playmate. She didn’t get that gig (it went to—wait for it—a blonde) but was back a year and a half later with her own damn centerfold.

Kia Drayton

Issue: December 2006

Kia got into a wee bit of trouble with the law not too long after her Playboypictorial. There was a boyfriend, the boyfriend had some drugs, the drugs were discovered in a hotel room, etc. But she was swiftly exonerated and went forward with her education and her life. She’s now a mom and a student at UCLA studying Sports Law.

Patrice Hollis

Issue: September 2007

Patrice Hollis is many things—sports fan, poet, budding actress (she’s making her film debut this summer in Dirty Dealing 3D with fellow Playboy model Madelon Cullen).

But she’s also something else. Well, tied for something else. This is not the science you might think it is, but Patrice is arguably the bustiest Playmate ever. Measurements have changed over the years. For a long time, Playboy didn’t even list cup sizes in the magazine, and indeed women’s bodies have changed. But Patrice listed herself as a 34DDD, which converts to an F cup. That would tie her with Rosemarie Hillcrest (October 1964) and Janet Lupo (November 1975), who were also said to be in the F-troop.

Ida Ljungqvist

Issue: March 2008

Ida was born in Tanzania to a Swedish father and Tanzanian mother. Her dad worked for UNICEF, so Ida saw a lot of the world growing up. In addition to English, she speaks Swedish and Swahili. In 2009, she became the second black Playmate of the Year (the first was Renee Tenison) and dedicated her title to philanthropy.

Kylie Johnson

Issue: February 2011

Kylie is the offspring of a black father and a German mother, and grew up in and around Buffalo, NY. She is one of the few Playmates to have prominent tattoos. On the left side of her torso is written “Vi veri veniversum vivus vici,” a Latin phrase that translates to “By the force of truth, I have conquered the universe while living.” (It was a favorite saying of Aleister Crowley, and was also used in the graphic novel V for Vendetta.) She currently appears as one of Blackbelt TV’s “Fight Jocks” using the name “Killer Kylie.”

Leola Bell

Issue: February 2012

Playmates don’t necessarily happen overnight. Leola Bell was a Playboy Golf girl, aPlayboy Miss Social candidate, she was featured on Playboy.com as a casting-call hopeful, yet she wasn’t a Playmate. And then, all of a sudden, she was, and a damn good one.

We’re all still getting to know the lovely Leola, but we’ll throw this out there: She just might have the world’s sexiest Instagram feed. Proceed with caution.


One thought on “A History of Black Playboy Playmates

  1. Wonderful post! Now these bring back some great memories as a kid! I had a huge crush on Ola Ray. All the guys in my neighborhood fell in love with her when she was in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. I also remember Renee Tenison and Stephanie Adams. Thank you for this upload. I forgot about a lot of these women. I wonder what they’re up to now. I need to google them.lol

    Liked by 1 person

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