Playboy, adult entertainment's most iconic publication since Marilyn Monroe appeared as its inaugural centerfold in 1953, on Wednesday named its first Playmate of the Year since doing away with full nudity.
Eugena Washington, a model and actress from Palmdale, California, was unveiled at the opulent Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, posing for the world's media in front of her prize — a Fiat 124 Spider sports car.
The 31-year-old, who also gets $100,000 to spend, is featured on the cover of the June issue — the fourth since it eradicated full-frontal nudity from its pages.
"It's a great time for this. The world is changing. I hope this brings different eyes to the magazine and new audiences," Washington said.
Washington, who first appeared in Playboy as the magazine's December 2015 Playmate of the Month, is only the third black model among 57 to be named Playmate of the Year.
"This is a story and a chapter in my life to build around. I'm enjoying the ride, and right now I'm doing whatever I want to do, day by day," she said.
Washington's career began in 2006 when she appeared on Tyra Banks' "America's Next Top Model," finishing in the top three, and she has since played a recurring part on daytime soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" and appeared in rom-com "The Perfect Match," released in March.
Playboy Enterprises, the company which owns the magazine, announced in March it had hired an investment adviser to look at offering itself for a possible buyout.
The sale is expected to be worth a potential $500 million while the iconic Playboy Mansion, put on the market earlier this year, could fetch some $200 million.
The magazine has been pursuing a new image in an age of easy access to online pornography, and has already toned down in order to be allowed on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Its circulation peaked in 1972 at seven million, but stands at around 800,000 now, editorial director Jason Burhmester told AFP.
"It has sort of balanced out. There were older readers who wanted the nudity who dropped out," the 42-year-old said.
"And at the same time the news stand sales — because we're not in a poly-bag anymore and we're on all the cash registers at Barnes and Noble — has really helped attract a reader who didn't think about us."
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