It took a while to get an appointment in Santa Monica for a Playboy Test shoot because there were so many people on the list. I had maintained my workouts and diet, and I finally got my opportunity for my first test on December 7, 2000—about two months after my trip to L.A.
Before I arrived, I had the works: manicure, pedicure, hair, facial, bikini wax, and a fresh fake tan for the perfect glow. I arrived dressed in a pink sequined tube top, black cloth pants that hugged my body, sexy black heels, and a white fluffy cropped jacket that had an almost Marilyn Monroe aura about it.
Worried about being late and not sure how far the drive was from Los Angeles to Santa Monica we drove about two and a half hours ahead of time and had about two hours to kill when we arrived in front of the Playboy office. By the time my appointment arrived my hair was flat and my makeup was barely there.
Still not really great at doing my makeup or even thinking about bringing a touch-up kit I had nothing to make myself look any different. I had little to no makeup on with some mascara and rosy red cheeks. I couldn’t go back now and change things because I had already waited two months for the appointment.
I entered the office having Bruce drop me off back away from the front door to make it look like I arrived alone. A girl and guy were in the waiting room, and she was filling out paperwork. I signed in, and they gave me a test application. I provided the following information: Measurements 38-25-35, 118 pounds, 5 feet 7 inches tall, blonde, blue eyes, 30 years of age, no piercings (including ears), no tattoos, and was
currently a resale clothing shop owner. I wrote that my hobbies were poker and playing with my beloved poodle. I purposely did not mention too much about the poker because I was trying out for Playmate, and if I didn’t make it I would try a different approach.
During the wait for my turn the gentleman waiting there started to flirt with me.
Guy: Oh my god I can’t believe I am getting to meet you in person. Can I get a hug just one hug?
Jill Ann: Sure, but I’m not anyone famous.
Guy: Yeah right! [Pointing to a big picture on the wall of a Playmate (can’t remember if it was Anna Nicole or Victoria Silverstedt that he pointed to)] He insisted it was me and I just smiled.
The people behind the counter seemed to start to get annoyed with the guy, and I felt bad for his girl who was with him because he needed to act like she was the most beautiful girl on the planet. That’s what Bruce has always done with me. I have always been his princess.
An official Playboy photographer came out and had to pry him away to get him to stop speaking enough for him to take me to the back room. I gave him his hug and made my way to the back with the photographer. As we walked down the halls, gigantic life- size covers of Playboy filled the walls: Anna Nicole’s Playboy Issue, Pamela Anderson’s Playboy Issue, Cindy Crawford’s Playboy Issue, Jenny McCarthy’s Playboy Issue.
I could feel my pants becoming wet from the excitement and the feel of being whisked away to wonderland past walls of the most beautiful girls in the world. It was like a Playboy Museum.
My heart was pounding—excited and scared. This would be the first time I had ever posed nude, but I felt confident that my hard work and cosmetic surgery would pay off. The photographer led me into a room, told me to put on the silky robe hanging by the door and to come out when I was ready.
The floor was filthy with debris and hair and I put my feet on my own outfit to make sure that the bottom of my feet would not be black, in case they happened to be photographed. When I walked out no one was there, but they were doing a photo shoot in a big room to the right with another girl. Tons of staff was in the room with the girl buck naked. It didn’t seem odd, but there were a lot of people seeming to do nothing but watching. My photographer was nowhere to be found, so I patiently waited there covered up in my robe for his return. Finally he came to my rescue from the stupid look I had on my face of standing there
undressed, nervous and not sure of what to do with myself.
He led me back down a hallway to a small dimly lit room. Closing the door behind me and leaving just the two of us in the room, he had of all things a Polaroid. I was surprised just because they tell you to send in Polaroids but never thought they would use them. I figured they would have a regular camera or digital. Pointing to the door there was a place to hang my robe and he informed me I could put my robe there.
I slowly took off my robe and was standing there with nothing on but my heels.
He showed me a few positions that were customary for them to take pictures of and demonstrated the first one for me. I mimicked immediately, and he snapped the Polaroid. He then had me lean up against the wall and give the Playboy stance and he snapped another Polaroid. Then on the couch that was in the room he asked met to arch my back on my knees and look back. I felt very nervous and my heart was still jumping out of my chest. I would have thought being in a room with just one person would make me more comfortable, but it made me more nervous. I felt weird being naked in a room with a stranger, while meanwhile my boyfriend outside was waiting in the vehicle around the block.
After about eight Polaroid shots in a variety of positions, all designed to imitate the poses you see in Playboy all the time—some with that sort of “peek-a-boo” playfulness, I said, “It’s so hot today. My makeup is almost gone.”
“It’s better with less makeup. That way they can see you raw. Don’t worry about it. You’re perfect—
“Oh, you say that to all the girls.”
“Really, I don’t,” he said.
I must have smiled a mile wide. He wanted me to look at the pictures. I didn’t want to and just glanced quickly at them.
“We’ll be calling you for sure either tomorrow or first thing Monday.”
He smiled and nodded.
He led me back to the room where my clothes were. I changed back into my clothes and headed out to the car where Bruce was waiting around the corner. I talked all the way back to the hotel. I was sure that, with the photographer being so confident, I would make it. I was on cloud nine and had no intention of getting off quickly. My cell phone went with me everywhere. The following day came, and every time the phone rang I was instantly sick to my stomach as I picked it up to see who it was.
Friday went by with no call from the Playboy office. It seemed that the weekend would never end for my impatience to have Monday arrive. Monday I was so nervous I was afraid to answer it if it did ring. As the day went on and no one called from Playboy I began to contemplate a million things through my head.
Was this good they were taking longer to call or was this bad? Maybe they were doing a background check or maybe they were not going to use me and then decided to get a second opinion. I was going over and over it in my head why I had not received the call.
By Wednesday the 13th with no call, I called the Santa Monica office. I spoke to Tashanna Williams in Playmate Submissions and told her what the photographer had said.
“Our procedure is to send out a letter,” she explained.
“But the photographer seemed very sure that they would call me directly.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you.”
While waiting for the letter I decided to e-mail Suzi Simpson, Miss January 1992, and contacted her via e-mail on December 13, 2000. I brought her up to speed on the week’s events and wondered if that had been her experience as well.
58 On Wednesday the 20t,h I received a letter from the Santa Monica Playboy Office: It basically told me that though the photos were good, they only select twelve centerfolds a year—from thousands of girls—and I didn’t make it. They reminded me how tough the competition was and signed off pleasantly.
The letter was written the same day I had called her. I didn’t understand. The photographer was so positive. What had happened between him and the editors? Was it only his opinion? Naturally, I was already concerned about my age and that was the first thing that came to mind. The photographer did not return my data sheet when I left. Maybe he was sure I was perfect but when the editors noticed I was thirty, they decided to pass. I decided to write Tashanna back.
I just could not understand that if it was procedure to write a letter why a photographer would flat-out tell you they were going to be calling you Friday or Monday. They wouldn’t purposely give girls hopes for no reason. This would be stupid and a waste of their time. He said I was perfect, and he would call, so what had gone wrong?
I received my regret letter on December 19th turning my application down. I was wondering if there was a special edition or lingerie I could do. I had left it blank where the application asked what I was applying for because I was open to anything Playboy would want me for. Can I have those pictures back to forward to a different department or is this decision final for anything with Playboy? I met …Suzi Simpson, Kimberly Donley and Barbara Moore back in October and they all thought I would be perfect… I know you must have a million people call and write you … Please fax or mail back a response or advice. You can also reach me on my cell.
She called me back. “The editors said that even for special editions or lingerie they were not interested at this time. I’m sorry.”
I asked if I could have the photographer call me back directly so that I could just speak with him. She asked me who took my photos. Drawing a blank since I didn’t write it down I asked if she could look to see who was working that day. She said she was not able to do such a thing. I was back to square one. But I also know any dream worth having is worth pursuing to the fullest.
Jill Ann in front of the Playboy Studio