Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 6, 2006)
A new release called Playboy Women of Retail packages together four prior DVDs, We get 1994’s Girls of Hooters, 2003’s Women of Starbucks, 2004’s Women of Wal-Mart and 2005’s Girls of McDonald’s. Although I usually review the content of Playboy DVDs in detail, the amount of footage here means that I’d prefer to offer general thoughts for the videos. The sole exception will come from McDonald’s simply because I already reviewed it; no reason to cut short that article, so I’ll reiterate those comments here.
Girls of Hooters (57 minutes) presents 11 models, most of whom get their own brief video sessions; Le Toia Francis and Tanya DeShields pose together for their clip. (A few other uncredited models appear at times too; for instance, Playboy regulars will recognize lingerie star Alley Baggett in one segment.) Each model introduces her section with absurd fantasy dialogue, always delivered awkwardly. I hope none of these women shot for acting careers, as they displayed very little talent.
By far the oldest of the videos in this set, Hooters shows its age. Playboy’s 90s releases tended to be pretty unsatisfying, as they came with too much gauzy photography and choppy editing. They still lean that way at times, but they tend toward more straightforward material these days, most of which is more satisfying.
Hooters has each model introduce a concept – riding a Harley, sunning on the beach, etc. – and then we watch them pose/frolic/gyrate in a connected way. This usually doesn’t prove very satisfying. The show starts poorly with Bonnita McCourt. She’s pretty but has some very unattractive implants – they’re too bulbous for her taut body – and she’s saddled with a scenario that forces her to make out with some ludicrous Fabio wannabe. The segment uses lots of blown-out lighting and jerky semi-slo-mo to quickly wear out its welcome.
We see lots more of the gauzy look and clumsy slo-mo throughout Hooters, and that renders the program less effective. Even the better models – like very sexy Renata Brazil and Lauren Brehm – prove less effective due to the “fantasy” photography. The frequent use of dopey male models as accessories doesn’t help. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t particularly want to see some lunkheaded stud make out with these babes. Just show us the women and leave these mimbos at home.
Even had the program used more enticing scenarios, the models would have made it less than thrilling. I’ve said it before, I’ll continue to say it: implants are a major turnoff, especially when they’re really poorly done. Some look decent, but none of this program’s fake breasts seem anything other than obvious and ugly. As I mentioned, McCourt ruins her body with her implants, and the same goes for otherwise sexy models like Kimberly Hall, Casey Gray and Sheila Davis.
If I had to pick a highlight here, I’d go with gorgeous Jennifer Hurley. I’m normally a brunette man, but she’s a stunning blonde with a sensational natural body. She does a sensual strip in a diner that sounds idiotic on paper but proves quite effective.
Unfortunately, Hurley is a fairly isolated high point of this disc. Girls of Hooters proves too stylish and silly for its own good. The “glamour” photography and overwrought fantasies on display don’t offer the models to their best advantage. This is a generally lackluster Playboy product, and not one that I particularly like.
On the other hand, we now come to Women of Starbucks (56 minutes). I’ve been watching Playboy videos literally since their first videotapes in the early 80s. While I’ve not viewed all of them, I’ve seen a lot of the releases, and I can state unequivocally that I think Starbucks is the best of the bunch.
I feel this way for two reasons. For one, Starbucks usually uses reasonably unobtrusive photographic techniques. It drops the goofy fantasies of Hooters and prefers to simply show the models in various normal settings. Thus we get them at the beach, in pools, and doing other activities they enjoy. We also watch them pose for their pictorials. These settings may not sound exciting, but they let us check out the women without the interference of idiotic pretensions.
However, the main reason I like Starbucks so much results from the incredible quality of its models. We find 10 women here, and each one is a winner. I’ve never seen a multi-model Playboy video with such a high rate of success. Even my least favorite is still very satisfying, and as for the best… well, the best are as good as any Playboy models I’ve ever seen.
At the top of that list of top-notch babes we find the amazing Elizabeth Dindial. I loved her the second I saw her giddy, uninhibited shots in the magazine, and she only proves hotter in full motion. I especially love the scenes of Dindial as she frolics on San Diego’s Black Beach. She shows no signs of self-consciousness as she displays her flawless body for the camera. I’ve watched her segments many times but still can’t get over how incredible she looks.
Plenty of other excellent moments show up here as well. Pool segments with Kattie Bruce and Erica Loveless prove very satisfying, and there’s something interesting in each section of the DVD. I’ve watched this video more than any other Playboy product I own and continue to think it’s a simply stellar piece of work. It’s worth your purchase all on its own.
Obviously I don’t think Women of Wal-Mart (50 minutes) lives up to those standards, but it has some good moments too. It presents seven models in its vignettes. First we see the women as they pose for pictorials in which they strip from Wal-Mart style uniforms down to nothing, and then we watch them in various provocative settings. We also see the women at home or in other “normal” – ie, non-naked – places – and find some behind the scenes glimpses of their photo sessions. Those elements offer a semi-documentary feel.
I like this format. The show doesn’t dawdle too long on one setting; that can become a bit frustrating when we like what we see, but at least it means that we’re not stuck in unappealing content for too long. There’s decent coverage of all the sessions, so we’re not stuck with the nearly unwatchable footage seen in Hooters.
This format offers less variation than most, so the models themselves become even more important than usual. Tesha Mullen may have been chosen for the cover of the original Wal-Mart DVD, but she’s my least favorite model of the bunch. No points if you guess that this is because of her painfully overinflated implants; it looks like her chest is about the bust open. That’s a shame, as she’s really quite attractive otherwise.
A more conventional choice for me would be the unfortunately named Beth Beanblossom. She’s got a very nice girl-next-door look to her. Despite her implants, she actually feels like a real woman, not a professional model. This makes her more appealing and attractive.
Since I’m a brunette man, my affection for blonde Suzan Battalgia comes as something of a surprise. However, one glance at her spectacular body makes my rationale clear. I think Beanblossom is cuter, but Battaglia is just amazingly sexy; her body just can’t be beat. She also seems more natural in front of the camera, while Beanblossom is a little stiff at times.
As for the rest, they range from decent to pretty good. I hate Deborah Moss’s nipple rings but love everything else about her; she’s gorgeous and has a killer body. Katie McKee looks the most like an actual Wal-Mart employee; I don’t want to seem mean, but she definitely has a trailer park vibe about her. That said, she’s attractive and has a pretty nice body; she just needs to lose the white trash hairstyle and the tacky tattoo that runs up much of her right leg. Ultimately, I think Wal-Mart falls far short of the standards set by Starbucks, but it’s nonetheless a consistently satisfying program.
Girls of McDonald’s (47 minutes) proves that the massive fast food chain employs at least six attractive women across its thousands of locations. McDonald’s presents this sextet of cholesterol purveyors as they pose and chat about themselves.
We begin in Louisville, Kentucky with Cristy Creighton and then head to Vancouver with Amanda Bell. Erie, Pennsylvania’s Jennifer Takach follows and we subsequently meet Shawnna Getzinger from Bowling Green, Ohio. Next we watch Wanda Coallier of Burnaby, British Columbia and the program ends with Randy Occhialini from Winter Park, Florida.
Each model does some strip sequences in which they go from McDonald’s uniforms to the buff, and they also appear in “glamour” sessions as well. In addition to these, we get some nudity via personalized segments. Creighton goes bowling naked with her friend Sara, and the others do things like sit on the beach and whatnot.
Some of the comments from the models are unusually frank. For example, Bell talks about getting weirded out by guys fantasizing about her, and we also hear about problems with posing nude. During some of the studio sessions, we hear from Playboy personnel. We get remarks from Photographers Waldy Martens, George Georgiou, stylists Sonia Leal-Serafilm, Gerry Cantanni and Pat Tomlinson, and Playboy.com managing photo editor Chad Doering. Many Playboy products feature these documentary elements, but this one works better than most as we learn about the various style and photographic choices.
As always, each fan’s mileage will vary in regard to preferences among the models. I’m usually not big on blondes, but Creighton is nicely perky and natural. Though she’s a bit of a hick, she comes across as lively and fun. The shots with her attractive friend Sara are some of the DVD’s best.
Speaking of the best, Bell is definitely my choice for the program’s top model. She’s definitely prettiest, and she seems surprisingly mature for 19. A very sexy woman with a virtually flawless body, she’s a winner.
Inevitably, Takach represents a step down, but not a huge one. Her body is flawed for a Playboy model, as she seems lumpier than most. She also has an awkward style in front of the camera and gets stuck with some unflattering hairdos in the “glamour” sequences; she looks much better with a simple ponytail. I’m also not wild about her apparent implants, though I admit they’re so subtle I’m not positive she has them. Overall, Takach has her moments but seems pretty average for Playboy.
Essentially repeat all of that for Getzinger except for the remarks about the implants; she clearly sports her natural equipment. She’s not as pretty as Getzinger and could use some dental work, though I suppose some folks like gaps between teeth. Anyway, she also seems a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera, and she remains attractive but unmemorable.
Definitely the second hottest of the bunch, Coallier looks like a more appealing Paris Hilton. She’s very pretty and has a killer body, though I really don’t like her nipple bars. (Interestingly, the folks at Playboy airbrush out those bars for the DVD’s insert photos of Coallier.) I do wonder about her career options, though – apparently she aspires to be either an architect or a pro wrestler.
From there we end with easily the least appealing model of the bunch. Occhialini is the only one who looks like a professional – a pro stripper, that is. She has bad implants and an angular face that makes her not too pretty. Add to that her multiple piercings and tattoos and she ends the set on a negative note.
It’s too bad McDonald’s concludes with Occhialini, as I liked the fact it otherwise emphasizes women who look decidedly normal. Some Playboy “Women of” shows feature too many models who would seem too at home in a strip joint. I like amateurs and women who look like they really could live next door to you, not ones who appear to be professionals of some sort.
Except Occhialini, we get women with that amateur look in spades. This means that while they’re not as stunning as the usual models, they have a believable appeal beyond the unattainable perfection usually depicted. Unfortunately, this comes with one negative: the women seem decidedly less natural in front of the camera.
Indeed, most of them fail to display much personality in their segments. I see this as good and bad. On one hand, they come across as more real, but they also appear less interesting. Despite the drawbacks, I like this aspect of the program, partially because it makes Girls of McDonald’s something different. It’s not a great show, but it’s good as a whole.