When perusing the careers of Playboy centrefolds, there tends to be allot of variation of a common theme. Model, actress or dancer (Burlesque of otherwise) are very much the norm. Not to be construed as an insult or denigration of such a career choice (your life, your choice). Still sometimes, it would make a nice change to see other kinds of careers. Showing that posing for a ‘men’s’ is not reserved for one type of woman, but open to those with other aspirations and talents. One such Playmate went another way. Alice Denham.
Born 21 January 1921 in Jacksonville, Florida. Leaving her small town in 1962, against her conservative mothers objections. Utilitising her striking beauty to make her some easy money by posing as a pin-up model. Making her way to the biggest pin-up magazine in the U.S.A. Denham was Playmate Of The Month in July 1956. While becoming a Playmate of the Month was a decent achievement. Denham does not appear to have pushed a more modelling momentum. Her heart was in literature and now with her profile raised thanks to Mr Hefner, she had a better launching pad for her life with the pen.
Her debut novel was ‘My Darling From Lions’ in 1968 (she also published a novella ‘The Ghost and Mrs Muir’ that same year). Followed by ‘Adios Sabata’ in 1971 then with ‘Amo the Feminist Centrefold From Outerspace’ in 1974. Between 1974 and 2006, Denham was a literary recluse. Maybe she wanted to live a more normal life, or maybe she just had nothing to write. Thankfully, the release of her memoir ‘Sleeping With The Bad Boys’. Describing the many loves (be them long term or just a weekend romance). Befriending the likes of Jack Kerouac and Philip Roth. Romances with the likes of James Dean and Joseph Heller. Clearly Denham enjoyed herself but did it like everything else, the way she wanted or nothing. A feminist who enjoyed sex and was strong willed in how she conducted herself. Her last release was a collection of short stories ‘Secrets of San Miguel’ in 2013.
Denham died on 27th January 2016 in New York aged 89. Sadly Denham has been largely delegated to the back burner of the book world. Maybe she will be rediscovered.