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Tough assignment: ski with ’95 playmate

Sam Bauman

It had been along time since I skied with a Playboy playmate back in the days when I was editor of VIP magazine at Playboy central in Chicago. One of my jobs then was to interview playmates and Playboy Club Bunnies (VIP was the Playboy Club magazine) for stories and on occasion join them for photo stories at ski resorts or at Playboy’s resorts in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Jamaica.

So when I noticed that Playboy was sending playmates to Squaw Valley for the World Pro Snowboard Championships recently, I thought it might be time to try to turn back the clock. I checked with Playboy’s PR boss Liz Norris in Chicago who remembered me and set up a date to ski with a playmate.

So last Friday, photographer Jim Grant (hardship assignment!) and I drove to Squaw and met Liz and playmate Rachel Jean Marteen (August, 1995), once of Atlanta but now living in Manhattan.

Rachel was sitting in a tent autographing her photo for art collectors. She’s a chestnut-haired, slim woman of about 5-foot-8, no other measurements needed. She very much personifies how editor/publisher Hugh M. Hefner always described playmates as “the girl next door.” If you were lucky in where you lived, of course.

Where Rachel lived was the small town of Cartersville, Ga., the youngest of three daughters. Cartersville has “more churches than houses,” Rachel says.

She fell into the playmate gig when an Atlanta photographer seeking an assignment showed his portfolio to Playboy editors. He didn’t get the work, but the editors saw Rachel’s picture and cried, “Get that girl!”

They did and the rest is publishing history.

Rachel usually skis at Aspen, she confided, and this was her first time at Squaw. She’s been skiing for about 10 years after learning back East. “I’m between an intermediate and advanced skier,” she said. And trim in black ski pants and a red jacket she certainly looked like a skier without even moving. She also looked like the professional model she is.

She had just finished a swing through Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the Kalahari Dessert) and was “ready for some snow.” So, equipped with shaped skis and Squaw masters’ coach Barry Thys as a guide (and bodyguard), we hit the slopes.

Once at the base of the Searchlight lift, it was quickly clear who was going to be the center of attraction as three men leaped to help Rachel on with her skis. Barry glanced back at me as I struggled into my skis in the deep, soft snow, and asked if everything was all right, then quickly returned to attend to Rachel, who seemed perfectly capable of putting on her own skis.

On the lift, we were joined by Howard Kawitt of High Tech, one of the sponsors of the snowboard race. He just “happened” to be in line with us.

He was just one of the many who seemed to appear whenever Rachel stopped along the trail. At one point, a small slip sent her into the deeper snow on the side of the trail, and before I could even ask if she was all right, three helpful males were assisting her.

So who needs a writer when a photographer will do the most important thing?

Our ski time was short, Rachel had more autographs to sign, and coach Barry was willing to offer her a few additional tips on skiing. When last seen she was heading down Searchlight run, a posse of males in tow, making nice, tight turns with a bit of a wedge now and then. When she told Playboy her exercise routine was “full-blast 45-minute step, an hour of curls, squats and lunges” it was easy to believe her as she moved smoothly through the powder.

And you can believe that she’s well on her way to becoming a “super model” and making her own workout video.

All that from the girl next door.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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