Walking down the crystalline white halls of the Sagamore Hotel on Miami Beach last Saturday, there was an aura of mad-crazy fun coming from the glistening glass doors that were just steps away. A stylish barrage of white balloons and beach balls only heightened the anticipation for excitement. As the doors opened, the sound of echoey bongos bounced around from wall to wall. There your eyes were treated to the sweetest candy in the world – the Playboy Playmates.
This past Saturday, in honor of the last days of summer, Playboy threw a bash that was one of a kind. As she casually stood by the pool, Millennium Playmate Maria Checha signed autographs and posed for photos that will be treasured by her admirers for years to come. In the background, synchronized swimmers performed a delicate routine to the sound of the drums. Over at the bar, the drinks were flowing like Niagara Falls. The mood seemed to be a bit reminiscent of some sitcom where everyone was smiling. To the right of the pool, a few flirtatious men seemed to have been on a mission to convince members of the Playboy staff, wearing body painted bikinis, to hop in the pool. In the shallow end was a fantastical looking “mermaids,” wearing only the occasional seashell as they basked in the sun.
Though this was the first event Playboy had done at the Sagamore, the event’s planner, Carrie Gross, explained that, “Miami is the perfect city to host a Playboy party – it’s a fun, sexy city with a fun, sexy crowd.” Similar parties are also scheduled at the Boston College Fest and the University of Los Angeles, but Miami may be the only city to provide a viable weather-related reason to excuse the extreme lack of clothing. Miss October 2002, Teri Harrison, smiled and sarcastically remarked that “signing autographs in Miami isn’t the worst place to be in the world.” A 21-year-old former student, Harrison left the University of Central Florida because she cherished the opportunities to meet people and travel that being a Playmate has afforded her.
Many people came to the event simply looking for a glimpse at their dream girl. A local Miami resident confessed that this practice was “a little bit stupid, to come down to the beach only to stare at the girls and their ‘assets’.” However, those in search of such lofty goals were not disappointed. In a one-on-one chat about Hugh Hefner’s mansion, Miss October 2001, Stephanie Heinrich said, “there really isn’t a 24-7 party and that it is actually a very relaxing environment- most of the time.” She admitted with a wink, however, that “the rumors that are started in Hef’s mansion are probably all true.” Heinrich has been a Playmate for a year and admitted that it is “nice for a while, but it’s not something that you can do for your whole life.” She stated that it is “important to know that you are more than an object,” something she constantly tries to get across to her fans.
Behind all the fun, Cyber New World Business marketing director, Bonnie Mossamen said that, “the purpose of the event was to turn on Playboy readers to their online merchandise site that is powered by the next wave of online buying – the CNWB private label online debit/credit card, which provides a secure way to made purchases online.” Everyone that walked through the door received a $20 gift card to the site, not a bad promotion – a party and free stuff. To make the deal event sweeter, the Playmates were signing autographs on gift cards emblazoned with their pictures.
There were also two fashion shows to showcase clothing from FCUK (French Connection United Kingdom) and the Playboy store. The girls on the catwalk were provocative enough to attract almost every attendee’s eye – regardless of sex. Eventually, the last drinks were poured and the last autograph was signed. At the close of the event, partygoers seemed reluctant to make their exit back into reality. Having survived a hectic day, Playboy marketing coordinator Danny Perez grinned and remarked that, “today was pretty damn hot… in more ways than one.”
Rachael Henrichsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.