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 A Special Interview

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with Cynthia Kaye

Cynthia, you're originally from Alaska. Tell us where and what your childhood was like. What did you like most about living up there, and what was the downside? I grew up in Alaska and stayed until I was in 4th grade, but I always went back as often as possible. At the time my family was in the travel business and working for Alaska Airlines. I never really thought about the difficulties of life up North, but the 60 below zero weather and walking home in pitch dark were probably the downsides. I miss the incredible beauty of the landscape there. I had moose in my backyard, went dog-sledding often, made snow angels, and had lots of fun skiing and enjoying other winter sports. I also loved traveling to remote areas such as Nome, Kotzebue, Barrow and Glacier Bay, all amazing places to see.

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What brought you to the Atlanta area? I came to Atlanta when my daughter was 2 years old. I have some relatives here, and I'd never been anywhere in the South. I knew the market was very good here for full-time modeling. As Atlanta has continued to expand in the areas of film and publishing, I had plenty of work. I was also able to use my experience in doing make-up and hair for major catalogs. So I just packed up and here I've stayed for 14 years.

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The Most Asked Question: How did you become a Playboy Cover Girl? I had been modeling for a jewelry designer named Go-Go Fuller, who is quite famous for her exotic, nature oriented designs. She works with shark vertebrae, armadillo and all sorts of natural items she turns up on Cumberland Island, Georgia. She designed the wedding rings for JFK, Jr. and Caroline, who were good friends of hers and were married on Cumberland Island.
  When Go-Go was written up in an article in People Magazine, she decided she would submit her work to Playboy. Jeff Cohen, Publisher of Playboy Special Editions called back to ask who the model was. I submitted my portfolio and was soon flown to Chicago to shoot the first of my 4 Playboy Covers in 1987. The first Playboy cover was called Working Woman, plus I did 3 International covers. About a year later Playboy called again, and asked me to come shoot the March/April Lingerie Cover, as well as several more International covers. I decided to go forward with my idea of producing. I knew I had the talent and the experience in make-up, hair styling and production, so I presented the idea to the Vice-President of Playboy, at that time Pat Pappengelis. I asked to produce the Southeast. She gave me a shot at it and I'm still producing 13 years later.

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In addition to being very beautiful, you're obviously an extremely talented woman. You shoot deliciously sexy photos for Playboy's NSS editions, you are famous for your hair styling and make-up artistry, and you always seem to have several other projects happening. How did you become such a pro at all of this? I graduated from a Fashion College in the Northwest, where I took make-up and hair styling classes from renowned people in the industry. I also modeled for many years, and after a while you just learn from doing. Working with so many different people helps keep your work fresh, and lends artistic creativity to the whole picture. Of course, keeping up with the trends is important, as is practice, practice, practice. And I'm I high-energy woman, so working on several projects at once is no problem for me.

Cynthia, tell us about the funniest or most embarrassing thing you ever witnessed on a Photo shoot. Actually this was pretty scary at the time, but in retrospect it's kind of embarrassing. We were shooting in Banff, Canada, doing a campfire scene and everything was all set up for the shoot. Suddenly a huge black bear came roaring out of the woods and chased up all the way to the highway! Fortunately, our real-life cowboy, hired as a background person, saved the day. But later, we decided that the funniest thing had been watching Playboy Photographer David Chan scrambling up the hill as fast as he could go!

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If you were in charge and had all expenses paid, where in all the world would you chose to shoot a Playboy or NSS segment, and what would it look like? Hard to decide. I've been to so many places working for Playboy. Greece was fabulous, Canada was great, and I would still love to go back to Alaska and shoot up close to the Glaciers. I know Playboy has done "Girls of Alaska", but I would love to have an opportunity to work in Alaska again.
  I loved Hawaii, where I shot from a helicopter, touching in and out of waterfalls. Jamaica was beautiful and the sunsets were amazing. Maybe I need some travel literature to help me pick out a new and exciting destination.

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How do you manage, with all the traveling you do, to raise your wonderful and lovely daughter, plus take care of your four dogs and your home? My daughter is very responsible and always has been. When she was growing up I had a regular babysitter who would live in the house with her when I was gone. I always try to take a couple of dogs with me and leave the other ones in a doggie day camp. I have a wonderful neighbor who always lends a hand as well. It is not always easy as a single mother but I have managed well, and now my "baby" has graduated from high school, and her goal is to become a psychologist.

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Tell us about "the shoot from Hell". Everybody has one. Where was it and what made it so awful? A typical shooting from hell would have to be when the lights aren't firing properly or power goes out and wrecks the day. One time a light fell in the water and blew out all the other lights. Luckily the model wasn't in the water! I guess I've been pretty fortunate, because in all the remote places I've shot I've never had anything really terrible happen. The models are always really pleasant and helpful to work with, since they're so excited about shooting for Playboy, so they're the easiest part of the shooting.

When your daughter is completely grown and settled, where would you ultimately like to live, and why? I'd like to have a lot of property with lots of horses running around to watch. I'd really like to have a view of the water too. I'm not sure yet where this lovely spot exists. But then, I'd also like to have a high-rise condo maybe in New York, so I can watch the lights of the city at night. Luckily, I don't have to decide just yet!


When you're not zooming around the world shooting or producing, what does Cynthia like to do to relax and have fun? I'm a movie buff, so fun is getting movies and curling up in my big soft bed with all my dogs all around me. My daughter and I love to cuddle, and when she's around we share popcorn. When her girlfriends come over, the bed can get pretty crowded! I also love musicals, fine dining, and going to the mountains to rent a cabin, and just chillin' out!

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Thank you Cynthia, for taking the time to visit with me and with all your fans. You are one truly remarkable woman.
         -- Dianne Chandler

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