Playboy, the Hugh Hefner-created magazine empire known for its bunnies, mansion, and reality TV show (E's "The Girls Next Door") has either figured out an ingenious strategy to recruit and photograph new bunnies in a cost-effect manner, or they've crossed the boundary into creepy.
Depending on your comfort level, I'll let you weigh in and decide.
Playboy's Brazilian office introduced a means for young women with big aspirations to easily slip between the magazine's covers -- or on its cover -- via an Internet photo shoot. Women who feel they've been blessed with the physical-and-personality traits that Playboy desires are encouraged to visit the Playboy Brazil site.
Once there, interested parties can engage in an online photo shoot with a professional photographer via a personal webcam. One or more of the entrants will have a chance to grace the pages of Playboy Brazil.
The brainchild of Grey, an agency based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Playboy requires all models must be at least 18 years old. Nudity is prohibited; Playboy suggests a bikini or underwear for the photo shoot. Once completed, the applicant can create her own portfolio using what she considers as her best photos.
The portfolio is then posted on the site, and the candidate can lobby family, friends, and acquaintances to vote. According to Playboy Brazil, the winner will be chosen by the public. This isn't just a contest for Brazilians; any woman can submit photos. However, the site is in Portuguese, so a knowledge of Portuguese or Spanish would make the process easier.
It's suggested by ex-Playboy Bunnies that an applicant's weight should fall in the range of 98 pounds to 140 pounds, and if chosen, a woman is expected to maintain her weight, as regular weight checks ensue.
A height requirement does not exist, and despite public misconception, no other measurement requirements exist either. According to former Playboy Bunnies, the most important quality is a "cheerful disposition."
What possible snags exist for Playboy Brazil? The age-verification process comes to mind. If everything is completed online, does the aspiring model show her identification in the webcam for verification? This seems like a flaw begging to be abused.
Also, many webcams don't have the resolution necessary for even a skilled photographer to discern clearly. A webcam doesn't seem like the best choice for taking clear, distinguishable images over an Internet connection.
Brazil is a growing online market, but in December 2008, Internet penetration was about 34 percent or one-third of the population. Broadband was just 10 percent or 3.5 percent of total Internet penetration
While technology has improved, other elements to consider are both technological and situational: lighting conditions, background setting, quality of online connection, use of a flash (as far as I know, webcams don't have a flash), a camera's low-light capability, and the program used.
Even if a photographer was able to work a great feat of digital magic, pixels are pixels. No matter how hard the photographer tries, he or she can't polish a lump of coal.
The success or failure of this endeavor will undoubtedly fall upon how it's marketed and promoted. It's difficult to imagine this "contest" as a raging success; however, it's a new idea that can be improved upon by modeling agencies, for cost savings may make it possible to "loan" webcams to prospective models.
Furthermore, the public will be the deciding factor as to which model is chosen, removing all professional insight from qualified judges as to what works and what doesn't. Illegible pictures and mob-rules-voting tactics might render what could be a cutting-edge idea into little more than a popularity contest.
I suppose for some women, Playboy's online photo shoot could be a quick-and-painless route to semi-stardom. It could also be like politics with less clothing.