Sunday, January 23, 2011
In 1975, The British Conservative Party chose it's first female leader, Margaret Thatcher, the Vietnam War ended, the unemployment Rate in the US reached 9.2% and recession is recognized by President Ford. Microsoft became a registered trademark, work on the Alaskan Oil Line began and the digital camera was invented. Bruce Springsteen released his third album, Born To Run, Saturday Night Live began and people everywhere flocked to the theatres to watch Jaws, The Towering Inferno and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
Born in 1975 were Tiger Woods, Kate Winslet, Angelina Jolie in September of that year, yours truly Tye Briggs.
Also in 1975, nineteen year old Gene Carter was training to be a life guard on a beach in Fort Lauderdale. One day, on the beach, after a run, Gene was approached by a woman with an interesting offer...
'She tried to sell me on the idea of posing for a magazine and when I heard her say nude, my answer was No. I was thinking that it was a sleazy porno magazine and wanted nothing to do with it.'
The next day, persistent, she approached Gene again and his answer was still a firm no. When she asked why, Gene explained to her that he didn't want to pose for a porno magazine.
'She told me that this was no porno magazine and that Burt Reynolds was going to pose for it, along with other celebrities. This was the beginning of me changing my mind. I thought if someone famous would do it then it must be a legit magazine. Plus the fact that it paid $2500 for about three hours of modeling sold me. At that time, I really needed the cash.'
The magazine of course...was Playgirl.
For many young men coming to terms with their sexuality, especially before the Internet in the 70's and 80's, Playgirl Magazine played a huge role. I would bet many of our mothers, mothers friends and aunts have gone to find a certain issue only to find it missing...
Playgirl certainly was a huge part of my experience and I have written before how in the early 90's, once I had my licence I would drive to neighbouring towns to purchase a copy (placed between a Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated...like I was fooling anyone.) I have always wondered how one became a playgirl model and what the experience was like. 1975 discovery Gene Carter was gracious enough to help fill in some of the blanks. Gene posed in 1975 when he was just 19, his issue hit the stands in September 1976 around the time of his 21st birthday.
FH: Can you give us any details into the shoot? Did you have any say/control?
'I was young, naive and shy and was very uncomfortable with the nude scenes. Pretty much went with what the photographer wanted to do.'
FH: When and how did you break the news to your family/friends/girlfriend? How did they react?
My girl friend at the time was excited about it but my parents thought it was shameful. My fathers reaction was of disgust. But my grandmother, after looking at the pictures, said "I always thought he had a cute butt"
FH: Was the fact Playgirl had both women and men readers at all a consideration?
'Not at all!'
FH: Where was the first place you saw the issue on the newsstands?
'Playgirl sent me a copy so I never saw it at the news stand.'
FH: Did the release of the issue create any immediate changes?
'Not really other than receiving hundreds of proposals and fan letters. It probably boosted my confidence in regard to my self image about my looks. It was an acknowledgement from professionals, that I was attractive. It was flattering.'
FH: Did you ever have any experiences being recognized by fans?
'Yes actually many years later I met a gal who said "Oh my God, I used to have your pictures taped inside my locker when I was a student in College. That was pretty cool.'
What was the best part of the experience?
'I actually didn't enjoy the photo shoot at all but after the magazine came out, I thought it was pretty cool being published in an international magazine.'
What was the worst?
'The actual nude modeling in front of strangers looking on and the cold sterile environment of it. Hence the lack of excitement as reflected in the pictures. If you know what I mean.'
FH: As you got older, married or had children was having the layout something you continually had to confront and talk about with people or was it put in its place?
'I have been pretty quiet about it but would occasionally share it with close friends. Never discussed it or shown it to my two daughters.'
FH: If not for the Internet many magazine issues would be long forgotten. Is having your images pop up an embarrassment or a nice reminder?
'I think it is a nice reminder of my past and something I had not thought about for a long time.'
FH: If you could turn back time, would you do it all again?
'Absolutely! I would have taken a more proactive part in the whole process. I liked the majority of the pictures that they chose to be published but there were two pictures in the layout I didn't like and regret they were chosen. There were two other magazines that I was told Playgirl published my pictures in, "Men of the world" and "100 Sexiest Men Ever". I haven't seen either one so can't say if it is true or not.'
Below: Jamaica 1992.
Going back to the family question, Gene tells me his parents negative reaction was short lived.
'My father and I have a great relationship and I can certainly understand how someone from his generation would feel about his son posing nude for a magazine. Wasn't really a big deal. As far as my daughters go, they do not know about it as far as I know but since one is 24 and the other 16 it's not something I think is appropriate to bring up to them at this time. However when they are somewhat older I would be happy to share it with them. It's nothing I am ashamed of or afraid for them to find out.'
Below: Cancun 1995.
Gene also shared that the story that Playgirl wrote and included with his pictures was all fictional.
'I guess they just made the whole thing up. They did interview me but I guess they thought a different story was more interesting. When I first read the story they published I called them and said that they had posted someone else's story with my pictures. My guess is that they did it intentionally.'
Below: South Africa 2002.
I was surprised at the $2500. Gene says that for him, that was a lot of money, especially for 1975. At the time he was making about $2 and hour and ended up buying a red Coronado convertible with white leather interior with his paycheck. Gene has been running his own company since he was 25 years old and as you can see has spent a great deal of time travelling.
'I have just been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel all over the world. Still have many places to go and see.'
Below: Gene's 50th Birthday party in 2005.
Thanks again Gene for sharing your Playgirl Experience with FH!