Marilyn Cole

In January 1972, Marilyn Cole became Playboy magazine’s first ever
full-frontal nude centerfold. In 1973 she was voted the Playboy Playmate Of the Year,
and also appeared on the cover of the classic Roxy Music album, Stranded.
To this day, Marilyn Cole still remains the only Briton
to hold the title of Playmate of the Year.


Over thirty years later, in her fifties, Marilyn posed for these stunning photographs shot by acclaimed British photographer John Stoddart. With the self-confidence and figure that many women half her age would be envious of, Marilyn’s photographs are charged with sexuality and allure that challenge today’s stereotyped assumption that sex is only for the young.

We recently managed to catch up with the never less than captivating Marilyn Cole in New York and the following is a sneak peak at our conversation:

Thank you for participating in the launch of this new magazine Marilyn. To talk about the photographs first, were you familiar with John Stoddart’s work before the shoot? How did the collaboration come about?

I met him at a party at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, as guests of the artist, David Remfry. John immediately impressed me as a very friendly, good-looking guy with natural charm and grace.

We chatted and when I told him that I had just had an article published about Jack Dempsey, the fighter, John suggested we meet up in London and collaborate on articles; I do the writing and he the photos. He sent me his book, It’s Nothing Personal, which I loved. His portraiture is fabulous. In fact, he later asked me to write the forward for his book, Peep World which was a privilege.

We became collaborators, working for publications such as Esquire, GQ, the Times newspaper, and others. We were a good team – spontaneous – yet always with a sense of discipline and hard work and respect. I love interviewing people, even ones I know, because you always discover so many surprises.

Would you do another nude shoot today?

It brings to mind the old saying, “We wouldn’t want to frighten the horses, would we?”

Marilyn! You’d put most women of thirty to shame. Actually, most women of thirty or so do tend to be less relaxed about their body, why do you think this is? Do you think it’s symptomatic of a fear of not matching the media’s stereotype?

That’s a very interesting question, in the sense that I remember very clearly not liking turning thirty. I think women at any age have a fear of their bodies being ‘mugged by gravity’, as Julie Burchill once so delicately put it. Ironically, for me, my insecurity was nothing to do with my body and the way it looked, but to do with my not being married, and having no clear path for my future, either romantically or financially.

I was still single – the operative word being still. At the time I turned thirty, it was 1979, and I was living with a German Baron on an isolated and beautiful ranch in northern California where Hispanic fruit pickers and an Indian reservation were our only neighbours. It may all sound fantastically romantic, except that it wasn’t.

I was not in love with the Baron; my heart was with Victor Lownes, whom I had fallen in love with, practically on sight, back in 1971 when I left Portsmouth to go to London as a trainee Bunny Girl at the Playboy Club in London’s Mayfair.

Victor was the boss and a renowned playboy in the true sense of the word. I soon realised that to embark on an affair with UK 1, as Victor was known at the Playboy Club, was to feel a bit like Bette Davis in All About Eve when she warns, “Fasten your seat belt – we’re in for a bumpy ride!”

I could hardly wait. Caution can be a foolish thing. Forget ‘bumpy’, being with Victor was a thrilling roller coaster ride which peaked and dipped for thirteen years before we eventually married in 1984, and we’re still sharing that ride and still very much in love today.

So for me, the fear of turning thirty was really about where I was in my life at that time, not so much about muscle tone or lack of it, or wrinkles and flab. I imagine it must be the same for women now. Media stereotypes have always and will always exist – my advice is to take them or leave them – it’s more about who you are at your core that matters.

To read the full interview, get hold of Issue One from The Quite Delightful Project HERE.

30th August 2014 | Alice Taylor

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