Be sure to check out our slideshow Girl Next Door: Behind The Scenes at Playboy's Casting Call (sNSFW) here.
The first day of Playboy's two-day Houston casting call lured women from as far as Cleveland, Ohio, and New Boston, Texas -- it's to the left of Texarkana -- to meet with photographers and magazine staff from the men's magazine. The event, taking place in a west Houston hotel conference center, drew girls from all walks of life, including an actual working aerialist (who just happens to also be a molecular biologist), a popular downtown bartender, a few stay-at-home mamas, one with a handful of tattoos across her body, and at least one ballet dancer.
The exact location of the casting call is not publicized for security reasons.
"Everyone's so quiet here. There's no reason to be nervous. Some of us will go somewhere, and others will just go back home," says LaFaye, a bubbly mother of three posing in black and white lingerie for photog Jodi Vander Woude. LaFaye could be laughing and giggling for the camera one moment and return back to a sultry model stare within seconds.
The women coming to the casting call first made appointments with magazine staff days or weeks prior to coming to the hotel. When they arrive, there is paperwork to fill out, like releases and forms verifying age. The hopefuls then change into lingerie for their first round of shoots. The second shoot is a nude one, which we were not invited to sit in on, obviously.
Tattoos and piercing are quickly becoming the norm for Playboy, a far cry from the days when women with tattoos and piercings would be common for tattoo and biker mag racks, but not in a relatively conservative men's magazine. These days a Playboy Playmate can have ink on their hip or a lower back piece, along with a nose piercing.
One girl, Sidney the ballerina, had diamond micro-dermal studs in her wrists.
Veronica Gomez was the most heavily-inked woman we saw on our visit, sporting two horror and Halloween-themed tattoo sleeves and some assorted piercings. The Pearland native has been in the pages of Playboy before, as a Playboy Barmate in the February 2011 issue, a monthly feature spotlighting the sexiest bartenders in America. This was when she worked for rock haunt Scout Bar in Clear Lake. She now slings drinks at Reserve 101 off Caroline.
Kristen Clingman hails from Clear Lake and had the most interesting story of the day. By day she works with stem cells as a microbiologist at a firm here in Houston. On the side she is a celebrated aerialist and trapeze artist with Take Flight Aerial, also in Houston. We asked her how her employers would respond to her appearing in the nude in Playboy.
"They wouldn't have a problem with it. It's a small company anyway," Clingman says right before she goes back into her second round of shooting.
We found Houston-area mother of two Ashley Moran in the hallway in a short white robe waiting for her first round of shooting. The six-foot redhead sported plenty of tattoos, including a great deal of script on her left side and a large feather piece on her right wrist. She says her ex wasn't happy with her Playboy aspirations, and that drove them apart.
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Local girl Sandy Garza has already done plenty of work with the Playboy people in their various special editions, and just appeared in Maxim as a "Hometown Hottie" this summer. Hair Balls even spoke with her around the time of her appearance.
She was here auditioning with the rest of the girls, and says even after all this time posing in front of photogs, she still gets nervous. During her lingerie set we heard X's Los Angeles album oozing from a nearby laptop, giving the whole room a fun, vintage punk vibe. The lingerie probably helped too.
The casting call continues tomorrow at this location, and any women interested should head to this link to check out the rules and regulations. Hopefuls are asked to come as prepared as possible to pose on the day of the shoot, and to not overdo hair and makeup. Less is more, they say.
If we have one word of advice for potential Playboy models, after spending a thankless but necessary hour in the trenches with a bunch of beautiful half-naked women, it's to always be smiling and laugh.