Friday, May 19, 2006

health magazine: Neighbor is a centerfold

Locals line up to meet Playboy’s ‘Miss June’ – a ’99 Carroll graduate

A column by Kevin Leininger


“I’m just trying to build a relationship with her first,” 20-year-old Zach Jarrett said as he stood in Riegel’s Pipe & Tobacco Shop, studying every detail of Playboy Magazine’s centerfold.

Less than an hour later, 25-year-old Stephanie Larimore was there – in the flesh, so to speak – fulfilling fantasies and talking about what it’s like to be Fort Wayne’s first Playmate.

She likes it.

I would prefer to end this column right there because, frankly, it’s possible to get tired of anything – even writing (or reading) about our fascination with sex. Recently, I’ve done columns about the Men’s Health Magazine survey listing Fort Wayne as one of America’s “limpest” cities and the opening of Priscilla’s, an adult toy store. I’ve also written about Fort Wayne’s biggest, newest strip joint.

Three times.

“No more women in G-strings!” I pleaded with my editor this week. I have a reputation as a judgmental, repressed Christian right-winger to protect. Not only that, people at church are starting to talk.

But my boss prevailed – maybe because Larimore wasn’t wearing a G-string in her photos, or much of anything else.

But Miss June, a 1999 Carroll High School graduate now living in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, is thrilled with her exposure. And so were the scores of admirers who crowded into Riegel’s, 624 S. Calhoun St., between noon and 2 p.m. Wednesday.

“This has been my goal for a long time,” said Larimore, dressed in blue jeans and a white T-shirt emblazoned with Playboy’s famous “bunny” logo. “I checked out my first Playboy when I was 10 years old and found a copy under my dad’s bed. They have the most beautiful women.”

The long line of admirers waiting for a picture, autograph or conversation clearly agreed.

Tim Wilhelm wore a Carroll T-shirt, but the two Chargers had never met before. “She graduated when I was in the seventh grade,” said Wilhelm, 19. “But it’s pretty cool Miss June is from Fort Wayne.”

Michael Brust, 46, came wearing a string of Mardi Gras-style beads around his neck – the kind often traded for a flash of skin. Having read in Larimore’s “Playmate Data Sheet” of her love for the Indianapolis Colts, he donated his silver and blue beads – Colt team colors – but got only an autograph in return.

Like the photos themselves, a Playmate’s comments are carefully composed to avoid revealing too much. Larimore, who previously appeared in the online version of Playboy and in several special editions after submitting photographs to the magazine, said she still has relatives in Fort Wayne, but would not name them. “My family and friends are very supportive of what I’m doing,” she said.

And Lee Waedekin, Playboy’s newsstand operations director, wouldn’t discuss how much Larimore was paid for her appearance at Riegel’s or for her reign as Miss June. Various reports, however, put a centerfold’s salary at about $25,000.

Larimore, whose magazine profile lists her as a 105-pound, 5-foot, 4-inch former go-go dancer, currently does some modeling but would like to become an actress. Judging by her performance Wednesday, she knows how to please a crowd – a young, male crowd, at least.

Riegel’s, which normally receives 80 copies of Playboy each month, quickly sold out once word spread of Miss June’s local connection. Another 400 were ordered for Larimore’s appearance – most of them autographed on the centerfold . At least half of those sold, for $6 each.

According to her data sheet, one of the things that turns Larimore off most is smoking – although she does like cigars. So why was the city’s premier tobacco shop chosen to host the city’s latest celebrity?

“We did this with some hesitation,” said Frank Bougher, assistant manager. “They offered this event to us because we’re one of their oldest distributors and are an over-18 store, but we got rid of most of our adult magazines years ago because they were getting raunchy. But Playboy has stayed true to its origins.” That origin, as founder Hugh Heffner has said, is to present tastefully revealing photographs of “the girl next door.” In Fort Wayne, for the first time ever, that could literally be true.

“But I wouldn’t want any of my four daughters to do this,” Bougher said.

Kevin Leininger’s column appears in The News-Sentinel every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The column reflects his opinion, not necessarily that of The News-Sentinel, and discusses issues affecting Fort Wayne. To pass along ideas or feedback, contact him at, or call 461-8355.