For Playboy’s reigning Playmate of the Year, Raquel Pomplun, the adventure of appearing in one of the world’s most iconic men’s magazines started before she was even granted a tryout.
The magazine’s famous founder, Hugh Hefner, had seen photos of the 23-year-old biochemistry major, and invited her to the weekly “fun in the sun” party at his also-famous Los Angeles home.
“Every Sunday, girls go over to the Playboy Mansion and get in the pool and Hef is there,” Pomplun, now 26, said while calling from California. “He has to see you and say, ‘OK, she’s good for a test shoot.’ He’s 87 years old, but he’s still approving every playmate. He’s still that involved.”
Pomplun, along with Miss April 2010, Amy Leigh Andrews, will visit Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock casino Feb. 19 to meet fans and take free photos near the Center Bar from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Pomplun said she was intimidated to meet Hefner that day at the mansion, but he put her at ease.
“He’s a gentleman to an incredible level, but he is the man who has seen and done everything, so what can you possibly tell him? It’s better to not even try too hard to impress him,” Pomplun said.
But Hefner, apparently, was impressed. Pomplun landed a spot as Playmate of the Month for April 2012, and eventually was named Playmate of the Year for 2013.
It has been a whirlwind experience for the San Diego native, who spent the past year traveling the world to promote Playboy. One memory that stands out in particular, though, involves the most recent Super Bowl halftime performer.
“I was on the cover of the music issue with Bruno Mars, and I was a bit nervous about the shoot,” Pomplun said. “It was a 10-hour day, and he started singing to me. He was singing to me the whole day. I had my own private concert.”
Pomplun is the first Mexican-American woman selected as Playmate of the Year — a point of pride for her and a big deal for a magazine based in a city where nearly 40 percent of the population is Hispanic. She said the decision to pose nude came with encouragement from her husband and parents.
“I told my husband jokingly, because a co-worker suggested it, and he said, ‘You should totally do it’,” Pomplun said. “I said ‘this is crazy,’ so I told my mom and dad, and my parents were stoked. My dad has been a Playboy fan since I can remember. That’s where I saw my first Playboy, was seeing his on the kitchen table.”
As for what she’ll do once the next Playmate of the Year is announced this spring, Pomplun said she’ll continue co-hosting “Mansion Mayhem” on Playboy Radio, and she’ll continue as a host for the Blackbelt TV network. It could also mean a return to where her Playboy journey began.
“This whole thing started because I was looking for a way to pay for school. It might be time to finish that.”