Playboy is about more than just pretty girls shedding their clothes and the men's magazine is definitely about more than the articles. Playboy is about bringing bitter rivals together.
Just ask UC Berkeley student Ophelia Shallot, who has experienced Playboy's healing powers first hand. The English and philosophy major is one of the magazine's newest models and has a new best friend from her school's bitter rival.
Shallot and Stanford student Kristen Elizabeth Gura posed nude for Playboy's annual issue featuring "the hottest college girls," which hits newsstands Friday. Think of Gura as Shallot's Capulet.
"My immediate thought upon seeing (Gura) was 'Holy cow,'" Shallot said. "I had no idea they had girls this gorgeous at (grimace) Stanford!"
Playboy’s October issue has featured a college pictorial for the last 34 years but every year the magazine rotates conferences. This year Playboy photographers shot "The Girls of the PAC 10” for the first time since 2005.
Ahead of Friday's release of the magazine, Shallot took a few moments to talk about why she decided to pose for the magazine, what it means to represent her school in the buff and how she became friends with a Stanford student.
1) Where did you grow up and what are you studying at UC Berkeley? What do you hope to do after graduating?
I grew up all over the place, but I spent my childhood in Sonoma and Marin and most of my formative years in the great state of Montana. I moved back to California the last semester of my senior year of high school. I guess you could say I went from one cultural extreme to another!
I am studying English and Philosophy at UC Berkeley. I am just getting ready to apply to Grad school to get my MFA in Creative Writing. Hopefully I will publish some poetry and short stories. I have this grandiose plan of ghost writing memoirs for people who have survived trauma, such as rape, molestation, war, alcoholism, drug addiction, parental abuse or neglect, etc, and come out of it to do positive, amazing things.
I was considered an "at risk" youth due to my father being ill and dying from Lou Gehrig's Disease, and my mother's bipolar disorder and alcoholism, among other things. The only reason I am alive and well today is because of Mitch Albom's touching book about Lou Gehrig's disease entitled "Tuesdays with Morrie," which made dealing with my dad's death far less lonely. Similar to how "Tuesdays with Morrie" was so helpful to me, I hope that the books I write will not only provide a cathartic release for those who get to tell their story, but a similar point of relation and hope for those out there who are going through similar struggles.
After I have established myself as an author, I hope to go back to school and get my Masters in English Literature, and maybe, someday, my PhD. Because literature has helped me survive by giving me hope in my dark times, I would like to profess at the University level, whether it be in Creative Writing or Literature, so that I can share this gift with others.
2) Why Playboy? How did you first hear about the opportunity to pose in the magazine and what was the process before you were chosen?
It's an interesting story, actually. In my free time I sometimes find modeling enjoyable, and a childhood friend who I am friends with on Facebook also happens to do some modeling. I was perusing some pictures of her work and thought that they were absolutely beautiful, and since the photographer who shot them was tagged in the picture, I friend requested him for networking purposes.
The next day, I was surprised to receive a message from him saying that he noticed I went to UC Berkeley, and asked if I was interested in representing Berkeley in the Girls of the Pac 10 Issue. I was like 'WHAT are you serious?" and was a bit incredulous at first, but after Googling his name, and speaking to my friend who had modeled for him, I found out that he was legit!
So I asked him how soon this would be taking place, and he said he would be in my area in the next 2 days! YIKES! I immediately called my boyfriend and asked his permission as a sign of respect, and he said "Of course!" So I emailed the photographer and told him "I'm in."
Two days later, I went to the shoot. I was not sure what to expect from Playboy, but the photographer and his assistant were extremely professional. He told me I could take off as much clothing as I felt comfortable with. Well, as anyone who knows me will attest to, I am not shy! I think I may have surprised the fellow with the speed at which I dropped my clothes.
The test shoot was over before it started, and then I walked out the door into a waiting room stuffed full of hopeful Berkeley Girls of the Pac 10 prospects. They all were so beautiful, I felt dismayed. I was sure that they were prettier than me and that I didn't stand a chance. However, I still felt honored that the photographer had thought me beautiful enough to participate in the tryout shoot.
But, surprise, surprise! I got a call three days later telling me that I was picked to represent UC Berkeley in Girls of the Pac 10, and that we would be shooting again, for real this time. I had a blast getting glammed up and posing in the beautiful, unique bathroom they have there. Clumsy as I am, I even managed to slip and nearly fell off the sink I was standing on. Dear me!
Then, a few weeks after that shoot, I received another call from Playboy inviting me to fly out to Chicago to do yet another shoot. When I was told that I would be on the same flight with, same hotel with, and shooting with the girl representing Stanford, I bristled with indignity. Stanford? Really?
I didn't see her on my flight there, but once we arrived in the Chicago airport it was inevitable we would meet as we waited for the car which was taking us to our hotel.
My immediate thought upon seeing her was Holy cow, I had no idea they had girls this gorgeous at (grimace) Stanford! After chatting with her on the ride to the hotel, and spending the night with her, working out with her, eating with her, laughing with her, and shooting with her, I am loathe to admit that I made best friends with a Stanford student. Now, before Berkeley folks get all riled up and start calling me a traitor, make sure you look at the photos of us posing together online when they come out. You will see that I represented Berkeley well. Wink!
3) What was your thought process deciding to go forward and pose for the magazine? Did you talk to classmates, your significant other, your family? Did you, or them have any reservations? What does it mean to you to be in the magazine and are you nervous at all about Friday's release?
My thought process went something like this: excitement, possibilities, incredulity, caution, research, consorting with friends, affirmation, decision, return of/full force explosion of excitement. As I mentioned above, I spoke to my boyfriend, and also one of my best friends. They both were extremely supportive. I had some reservations at first.
However, girls featured in Playboy have historically gone on to very successful careers. I've never heard of anyone being rejected from a job because they posed for Playboy - in fact, quite the opposite. People recognize that Playboy is the classiest, most sophisticated magazine of its kind, and arguably the only one of its kind, on the market. No other "similar" magazine (and I use similar very loosely here) can boast such high standards Playboy carries for its models.
I am lucky enough to be friends with several Playboy models besides Kristen Elizabeth Gura (Stanford representative), and I can definitively say that they are the sweetest, strongest, most intelligent and powerful women I know. Thus, I am confident that my choice to be in Playboy was a good one.
That being said, I am a little bit nervous for the release of Playboy on Friday, only because I know that all of my friends will be waiting patiently at their local newsstands, as they have intimated to me frequently in the last couple of days. I feel a little bit awkward at the thought that everyone and their mother will look at me and know what I look like naked. However, it is also empowering - I have nothing to be ashamed of, I work hard for the body I have. I am proud to know that I am representing a very special side of UC Berkeley, proving that nerds can be sexy too!
4) What does it mean to be chosen as one of the Girls of the Pac-10? Do you plan to do anything special with your copy?
For me, to be chosen as one of the Girls of the Pac 10 means that I am representing the best public university in the United States in the best magazine in the world. I have the entire collection of Playboy magazines from issue 1 until present,( which I inherited from my grandfather interestingly enough), and I plan to add my magazine to that collection. I am thrilled that I get to join a collection of beautiful bodies and souls which includes such greats as Marilyn Monroe and Pamela Anderson.
5) Berkeley is known as a pretty liberal, politically correct campus, what do you anticipate the reaction will be from your classmates? From feminists on campus? Do you think classmates will treat you differently when you walk into class Monday?
My classmates do not seem the type to purchase Playboy, but I'm not going to make any assumptions! I don't feel as if my classmates will treat me much differently. I have already had experiences with some of what might be called "feminists" on campus, questioning the way I dress or why I elected to get breast implants. However, I feel that Berkeley students are the best and brightest in the world, and that any questions they have are merely in pursuit of knowledge.
I love to hear different views on issues, and I love a friendly debate. I feel as if Berkeley is very unique in that diversity is embraced and valued above all else. I have friends who are in the military, going to Berkeley on their GI Bill, who are best friends with those most vehemently against the military.
They are able to express their views in a mature and eloquent manner, without resulting to name calling, violence, or other forms of immaturity. Thus, I feel that any difference in epistemology will be dealt with in a manner befitting the aptitude for tolerance found at Berkeley.
If you want to see Shallot and Gura in all their glory, you will just have to buy the magazine, which we hear is filled with several great articles.