While she was growing up, becoming a Playboy Playmate was never one of Mei-Ling Lam ambitions. Never in her “wildest dreams” had she imagined gracing the pages of the world’s most famous men’s magazine. However when Stewart Smith, a photographer she had worked with previously, approached her with the possibility, Mei-Ling jumped at the chance for such an adventure. With exotic good looks thanks to her French and Chinese heritage and a stunning all natural body, it’s no wonder the folks at the Playboy Mansion were so eager to have her pose for them. However she still had to go through a nerve-wracking audition and trial shoot process. Mei-Ling had no problem making the cut and it was Hugh Hefner himself who gave her the nod. “I was in the makeup room and the editor Stephanie came in and said ‘you made it, you’re the June playmate.’ I was so relieved.” Aside from being Miss June, Mei-Ling holds her own special distinction among the hundreds of girls who have posed for Hef’s magazine over the decades. Born in Waterville, Maine, Mei-Ling is the first playmate ever to hail from the USA’s most north-easterly state. To her being the first Playmate from the Pine Tree State is “completely an honour.” Mei-Ling is proud of her New England routes and is a diehard Boston Celtic’s supporter. “The whole family is a fan of the Boston Celtics. I was born a fan.”
For someone who’d never dreamed of appearing in Playboy, Mei-Ling has the perfect background for it. For a start, she’s a beauty queen. “I definitely love getting dolled up. I love clothes and I love fashion.” It was Mei-Ling’s mom however that ultimately turned her daughter’s interest into a potential career. “My mom had entered me in this very, very small low budget pageant in our local town” Mei-Ling recalls fondly “that helped me build my confidence. That’s who I was as a little girl.” Mei-Ling was a natural and she got a lot out of the experience. It allowed her to travel as well as curing her stage fright. She was so successful that in 2001 she was crowned Miss Maine Teen USA. But strutting your stuff on stage is very different from posing nude for a global audience. Mei-Ling, who describes herself as a “free spirit”, was unfazed.”I wouldn’t have done Playboy if I wasn’t confident”. Even her experiences backstage at beauty pageants came in handy: “with those wardrobe changes, having to be naked in front of multiple people at a time. Yeah it helped me, prepared me for being nude.” Of course having the support of her family didn’t hurt either. “They’re one hundred percent behind me. Before I committed to do doing it, I had their blessing. I would have never done it without their blessing.” So when her big moment came she was calm and collected. “I was eating chocolates in between my shoots.” By the time her starring issue was available, Mei-Ling couldn’t wait to grab her own copy. “I went and purchased my first Playboy at the Atlanta airport. When I took it off the shelf I ripped the plastic off of it and the clerk behind the counter was looking at me like I was crazy.” The clerk was in for an even bigger shock. “He said ‘do you read Playboy?’ and I said ‘no but I am the centrefold.’ If you could have only seen his expression. It was priceless.” It’s a sure bet she won’t be the only one ripping off the plastic with such gusto.
Looking back on the whole experience, Mei-Ling has no regrets. “I’m proud that I did it and I’m happy with my decision.” And her decision has paid off. “It’s been a great experience. It’s been busy. I love seeing my fan base grow.” Coming from what she describes as a “business oriented family” Mei-Ling is keen to turn this exposure into lasting opportunity. “I’m looking into getting into new business ventures.” She is hosting a Comedy show in Las Vegas in June and beyond that Mei-Ling has also been approached about acting. “I’ve never pursued acting, but if the opportunity arises I’m jumping on the waggon.” It’s an exciting time sure, but Mei-Ling isn’t letting the bright lights and big promises go to her head. “I’m just going to roll with it” she admits “I’m just going to be myself and enjoy the moment.” So having never dreamed of being a Playmate or a centrefold, Mei-Ling’s time as one may just make all of her dreams come true. More than likely this Maine jaw-dropper will be inspiring a few dreams as well.
Photos courtesy of Playboy