PMOY Vote Fraud/Selection

From: Dan Stiffler <>, 11 Jun 2003
Subject: A much shorter lead on Playboy features/Survivor woman in Playboy

Regarding turnaround: probably the fastest pictorial turnaround in PLAYBOY history was the 1963 PMOY Playoff. Playoff photos of Laura Young, Avis Kimble, and June Cochran were run in the March 1963 issue, with the statement that the winner would be revealed in the June issue, three months hence. Given that, as Gretchen has noted, the magazine usually ran a three- to four-month lead time, on the surface this sounds about right—except that this playoff was a poll among readers. Back in the day when snail mail was the only mail, readers should have been allowed at least a month to get their votes in, making the June issue really a two-month turnaround. I am not sure that I thought about such things when, at the age of 14, I dropped my vote for Laura Young into the mailbox (btw, my vote was based on Laura's incredible centerfold; June clearly had the best photos in the playoff, where she was positioned last, as she had been in January's review).

Well, if a June 63 turnaround was going to be speedy (there was the matter of time-consuming vote counting, after all), imagine the speed that turned around the 1963 PMOY pictorial in time for the May issue! Indeed, the "Next Month" for the April issue announced that the PMOY would be appearing in May (a scant two months after the playoff issue hit the stands). When the pictorial appeared, the copy claimed that June had won "the lioness' share of reader votes" when "all votes [were] tallied."

So consider this time line: playoff on the stands in mid-February; readers return votes for several weeks; votes are all "tallied"; June Cochran is informed that she has the "lioness' share"; Pompeo Posar shoots the PMOY layout; the magazine is on the stands in mid-April. And keep in mind that by mid-March PLAYBOY acknowledged this was going to happen this fast (the April "Next Month").

Wow! Maybe Kaminsky could take a lesson from those old folks!

Okay, sarcasm intended. The first PMOY playoff was only the first in a long line of PMOY voting fraud (and you think the 2000 presidential election was bad...well, of course it was worse). This must be what happened.

I don't doubt that the "editors" had a hard time deciding between Laura, Avis, and June, all worthy contenders. Either this was before the day when Hef made the decision unilaterally or Hef had made a lot of impulsive promises (as most of us know, this can happen in the heat of the moment!). Whatever the case, when the March issue was put to bed, there were three playmates in the running for PMOY. However, by the time that issue had hit the stands, the reader mail for December's playmate, June Cochran, was flooding the mailroom. Thus, the editors decided to do some advance polling and *project* the winner in advance of the poll's closing (most likely, in advance of its opening!). After all, they surely knew that those amazing photos of June rolling around on the bed (p 107) would be enough to tip the vote in her favor anyway.

Then there was the fact June was, according to her own timeline in The Playmate Book, 7 1/2 months pregnant when Pompeo shot the PMOY layout (as I have noted before, June was probably also pregnant when she shot her centerfold). If PLAYBOY had waited until all the votes came in—including mine—well, the setting just might have been the maternity ward!

From: Dan Stiffler <>, 13 Jun 2003
Subject: PMOY selection; royalism

Brian Sorgatz <> wrote:

    Brian> I thought that PMOY "elections" were understood to be advisory rather than
    Brian> authoritative.  When Lisa Matthews won the title in 1991, I remember
    Brian> PLAYBOY's spokespeople openly admitting to the press that Hef had the final
    Brian> say.  Frankly, that's the way I like it.  When it comes to PLAYBOY, I am
    Brian> truly a royalist.  Somehow, the apparently true elections for Cyber Girl and
    Brian> BOL Model of the Year strike me as being too much democracy.

I'm am not too sure what you mean by "understood to be advisory." Certainly, in 1963 the statements in the magazine indicated that the readers picked June Cochran as PMOY because the "editors" could not decide. When we consider that the magazine also was running an annual Jazz Poll at the time, a poll wherein the votes tallied were actually listed in the magazine (at least those musicians who received a hundred or more votes), then there was an assumption of legitimacy to the PMOY playoff. When June was called the winner in May 1963, I didn't question the outcome. I wasn't thinking about lead time for a magazine's production when I was fourteen. And, as I suggested in my previous post, June was probably the reader's choice anyway (but I seriously doubt that any votes mailed in for the March 1963 playoff had been counted by the time of June's PMOY photo shoot).

PLAYBOY would conduct two more PMOY playoffs in the sixties: Jo Collins won over China Lee and Astrid Schulz in 1965; Lisa Baker won over Susan Denberg and Tish Howard in 1967. I have no idea how legit those playoffs were. Each PMOY did appear four issues—not two—after her playoff. In between those two playoffs, Allison Parks was named PMOY in 1966. Allison was, of course, one of Hef's primary girlfriends at the time.

When I said PMOY voting "fraud," I was thinking primarily of the phone polls that PLAYBOY used to conduct, where it cost each caller a dollar to cast his vote. No matter what was "understood" about the process, this was unequivocal fraud because not all of the playmates were eligible for the title; thus, many voters were throwing away their dollars). Also, in some years (such as 1997 with Victoria Silvstedt), the decision was made before the polls even opened. No "advice" needed. Just how much reader "advice" do you think went into this year's selection of Christina Santiago? Yet there was an cyber-club poll.

When Hef is no longer the final arbiter for PMOY, I would like to see the playoff return. I think it would be good for the magazine. I know that Penthouse does this currently (in fact, Victoria Zdrok is a playoff pet, or so she told me at the recent Chi-GC); thus, PLAYBOY will probably shy away from it for the "Penthouse" reason alone. However, PLAYBOY did it back in the sixties and, legit or not, I think it engaged the readers in a way that the current system does not.

In fact, I would insert an official ballot in each magazine. There would be no on-line voting, which can be so easily "stuffed" (fortunately, PLAYBOY discontinued the phone voting a couple of years ago). If a someone wants to vote for his choice more than once, then he has to buy another copy of the magazine, not a bad thing for newsstand sales. Votes would be mailed in the old-fashioned way, with a clear deadline.

I would also go back to the three-candidate ballot. That way, the playmates who should not be or who do not want to be PMOY can be eliminated. The "editors" can choose three playmates who would make good representatives and who are willing to commit to a year's worth of work for the magazine. Then let the readers decide.

It would be even better to have an independent auditing firm tally the votes, but that is probably asking for too much...

From: Brad Hodges <>, 13 Jun 2003
Subject: PMOY selection

You're right, paying for meaningless votes was sleazy, but if the voting is free then it's just fun to vote. The PMOY is a business decision, and no matter who is chosen there are cries of outrage from some segment of the fan base. Maybe PLAYBOY could add a "reader's choice" award if it doesn't match the PMOY.

From: Dan Stiffler <>, 19 Jul 2003
Subject: A-listers and Explicitness

Peggy Wilkins <> wrote:

    Peggy> Note that the PMOY almost always (with rare exceptions) is announced in the 
    Peggy> June issue.  How do they know that the low sales aren't seasonally related?
    Peggy> My understanding is that newsstand sales always slow down in the warmer
    Peggy> months.  I would be interested in seeing if they moved the PMOY issue a
    Peggy> month or (better yet) two earlier, if the sales would improve.  An April
    Peggy> issue PMOY shouldn't be impossible to realize,

Moving the PMOY issue—and one would hope with a PMOY cover!—to April or even March makes a lot of sense to this long-time reader. Such a move would dismiss with any pretence of "reader's choice" by poll and it would also present the PMOY in a more timely fashion.

Peggy Wilkins
Last modified: Mon Apr 5 02:36:04 CDT 2004