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The Most Incongruous Nude Celebrity in 'Playboy' Magazine History

By Dustin Rowles | Case Study In Hotness | September 13, 2016 |


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I grew up in a spectacular weird home with a self-hating closeted gay father who was so afraid of being outed that he attempted to obscure his homosexuality behind Playboy magazines. He was a subscriber, but unlike most fathers who kept their Playboys stashed away from the kids, my father proudly displayed his around the house. We had Playboy magazines in the bathroom, on the coffee tables, and in between couch cushions. My father even plastered his own bedroom walls with Playboy centerfolds. It was impossible to escape tastefully nude women in my home.

I had no idea what this meant (until I found the Playgirl magazines stashed away in a locked drawer of his desk). I thought it was weird, my friends thought it was cool, and — I suspect — adults would’ve found it troubling, had any adults ever come inside my home.

Point being: In the 80s and early 90s, I was intimately familiar with Playboy. I guess, in a way, it normalized female nudity, though I suspect it also built in unreasonable expectations. I have not found, however, that my life or my perception of women has been shaped by any of this. It just wasn’t a big deal in my home, except for how it made me popular within a particular circle of dudes whose only access to naked women was through my father’s Playboy collection (he also had Hustler, but those were not so tasteful, and fortunately, he kept those off the walls in our home).

(Aside: When my father died, the ONLY thing he left his children besides a stack of bills we would never pay was a box of Playboy magazines. It was his only goddamn possession.).

Anyway, I saw a lot of Playboy magazines growing up, so I also saw a lot of nude celebrities: Madonna, Sherilyn Fenn, Jessica Hahn, Sharon Stone, Stephanie Seymour, Kim Basinger, Robin Givens, Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford, etc. With a few exceptions (Madonna, and Jessica Hahn because of that Sam Kinison music video), these women didn’t really register with me as famous. If Kelly LeBrock or Alyssa Milano weren’t on the pages of Playboy magazine, I didn’t much care.

Except for one.

The one celebrity who appeared on Playboy that absolutely blew my mind, both then and now, because she’s the last person I would ever expected on Playboy. I speak, of course, of Vanna White, Wheel of Fortune letter turner and the subject of the Weird Al song, “Stuck in a Closet in Vanna White.”

Vanna White appeared in Playboy in 1987. There may have been some controversy surrounding it (I believe the photos were from her pre-Wheel of Fortune days), but whatever it was, it blew over quickly, and I don’t recall anyone protesting Pat Sajak’s game show because of it.

But I do remember the photos.

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Vanna White, folks. The picture of wholesomeness! To this day, I still can’t see her without thinking about her reaching into her refrigerator to get something to drink (there was also some NSFW photos, not included here).

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