Marilyn Cole, Playboy’s first full-frontal nude centerfold, remembers racy shoot: ‘It allowed me to be free’

Marilyn Cole was 21 years outdated when she turned Playboy’s first full-frontal nude centerfold in 1972.

It was a boiling scorching set, however the Portsmouth, U.Okay., native, who was in Chicago the place the unique Playboy Mansion was situated, was chosen after making her mark as a Playboy Bunny in London. For the shoot, the mannequin stood in opposition to a bookshelf and a hearth as she held a guide in her birthday swimsuit.

Cole recalled that life-changing {photograph} in a brand new podcast titled “Energy: Hugh Hefner,” which dives into the sophisticated legacy of the journal writer who handed away in 2017 at age 91. Hosted by creator Amy Rose Spiegel, it options interviews with a number of ladies straight concerned with Playboy and former Bunnies, together with Holly Madison.

Cole, now 72, spoke to Fox Information about going nude for Playboy, what her dad and mom actually considered the daring snap and whether or not she felt exploited for it.


British glamour mannequin Marilyn Cole. She was Playboy journal’s Playmate of the Month for January 1972. 
(Night Commonplace/Hulton Archive/Getty Photos)

Fox Information: Wanting again, what made you need to pose for Playboy?
Marilyn Cole: The cash. It was completely concerning the cash. It was concerning the cash being a Bunny. Perhaps among the others had totally different aspirations, however this was a time when ladies didn’t earn a lot cash. Many people didn’t have actual careers. It was a method out. And it was profitable. I used to be incomes like $15 per week. I used to be paid $5,000 for only one {photograph}. That was 1972. And I’m nonetheless opening fan mail. They’re very well mannered, respectful letters. They all the time ask me for my autograph.

Fox Information: The place did you get the braveness to go full-frontal?
Cole: I considered it within the sense of, the place do you get the braveness to do something a lot in life? The place do you get the braveness to take your garments off for a person? I do know it sounds simplistic. Driving a automobile sounds simplistic, however I’ve by no means had the braveness to drive a automobile. I’ve had the braveness to take my garments off. I suppose it goes again to the truth that I knew what I used to be doing. I knew that after I mentioned sure, I must take my garments off. In my mom’s phrases, “It’s a type of magazines.”

Marilyn Cole with her partner, Playboy executive Victor Lownes.

Marilyn Cole together with her companion, Playboy govt Victor Lownes.
(Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Photos)

However I didn’t assume that I used to be going to be a centerfold. I used to be simply posing. I didn’t have any props. We didn’t have a hairdresser, make-up artist or stylist. I used to be simply there bare. I already had been topless on the seashore, so nudity wasn’t so big for me. I do know Playboy had not gone full-frontal. However when it got here to having that braveness, it was actually about taking that gamble, that threat. And having good instincts. And this was not a sleazy journal. I wasn’t being arrange by some weirdo who’s going to all of the sudden convey his digicam out and ask me to carry my leg or one thing. It was Playboy, completely reliable… And I believe we have been all exhibitionists in the way in which. It’s important to be to placed on that Bunny outfit and command a room in that costume serving drinks. You needed to be checked out, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it.

Marilyn Cole became an overnight sensation after appearing in Playboy.

Marilyn Cole turned an in a single day sensation after showing in Playboy.
(PA Photos through Getty Photos)

Fox Information: What was your response while you noticed the photographs for the very first time?
Cole: I had seen a black-and-white take a look at shot and I’ve to let you know, photographer Alexas Urba was fairly sensational. He’s so necessary to the story.


Fox Information: What did your dad and mom assume?
Cole: Effectively, they’d blended emotions. However on the identical time, my dad and mom have been cool sufficient and never judgmental. They have been all the time on my facet. Even when they disapproved, they might’ve been on my facet. This was not a tragedy to have your daughter pose for Playboy. My dad was very pleased with that {photograph}. He took it round to indicate his mates! He was a really mental man and knew about artists, so he felt it was extra like a Rubens portray. It’s very classical trying.

English model and actress Marilyn Cole poses outside the Playboy Club on Curzon Street in London, U.K., circa 1973.

English mannequin and actress Marilyn Cole poses exterior the Playboy Membership on Curzon Road in London, U.Okay., circa 1973.
(Night Commonplace/Hulton Archive/Getty Photos)

Fox Information: Your life should have modified in a single day after that picture.
Cole: I believe my life first modified after I turned a Bunny. I used to be noticed by [Playboy executive] Victor Lownes and he despatched me to Chicago. And that’s the place I used to be examined [before the shoot]. By the point the problem got here out, I had been working on the London Playboy Membership. I began relationship Victor and he was very cool. He didn’t ask me out till 10 months after we first met. So my life was already altering. However when the problem got here out, it meant extra money as a result of I used to be then chosen to be Playmate of the Yr. That meant one other $5,000, a number of prizes and extra notoriety. Different modeling jobs have been supplied to me. Good swimwear manufacturers needed to work with me. I used to be everywhere in the nationwide press.

Model Marilyn Cole modeling a £50,000 necklace designed by Ernest Blyth, which won an award at the 1973 Diamond International Awards at Goldsmith's Hall, London.

Mannequin Marilyn Cole modeling a £50,000 necklace designed by Ernest Blyth, which received an award on the 1973 Diamond Worldwide Awards at Goldsmith’s Corridor, London.
(Fox Photographs/Getty Photos)

Fox Information: For years, critics have mentioned that Playboy exploits ladies. What’s your stance on this?
Cole: It goes again to the cash. You already know, cash means energy and independence. I used to be paid very properly… As a Playboy Bunny, we generally earned greater than among the males within the room. For me, the Playboy group confirmed me respect as a lady. It allowed me to be free in a method that wasn’t widespread in these days.

Fox Information: What stunned you essentially the most about Hugh Hefner after assembly him?
Cole: Effectively, age comes into it. I used to be 21 and he would have been 44, 46. He had this boyish method. I arrived on the mansion from England and naturally, he needed to indicate me round. We went via all of the quarters and there have been images all over the place. So I requested him, “What do you do when your mum and pop come right here?” I remembered he laughed and mentioned, “Effectively, I do put a few of them away.”


You’ll have anticipated him to say he doesn’t. However even then he considered his dad and mom and needed to be respectful. I felt he was very easygoing. I didn’t reside with him and I by no means had a deep, significant dialog with him. I’m undecided he ever did with ladies anyway. For him, it was all about having a superb time. He lived to entertain folks, to please them. I don’t know what would have occurred if I had been extra critical or demanding. 

Hugh Hefner at Heathrow Airport in 1971. He was met by Marilyn Cole.

Hugh Hefner at Heathrow Airport in 1971. He was met by Marilyn Cole.
(Victor Crawshaw/Mirrorpix/Getty Photos)

I don’t assume I’d have gotten very far, to be trustworthy. I don’t assume he was a person who preferred confrontation. He was handled like royalty in his personal home. And he simply needed to have a superb time. I believe what in the end stunned me was seeing this boyish man who managed to create such a profitable empire. And Playboy was totally his imaginative and prescient.

Fox Information: What do you hope folks will get out of your story within the podcast?
Cole: I hope they take it only for what it’s. With the whole lot occurring on this planet regarding the pandemic and politics, I didn’t assume anybody would actually care that I took my garments off for {a photograph}. I’m actually not diminishing Playboy in any method. Nevertheless it was all leisure for me.

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