A Toast to Melba
our versatile july playmate is an improbable amalgam of mannequin and meatcutter
When we were first told that we could find a potential Playmate working as a meatcutter behind the counter of a butcher shop, we were skeptical; and when we learned that the girl's name was Melba Ogle, and that besides being a meatcutter she was a part-time fashion model, we were downright incredulous -- and remained so, until we met Melba ourself. It was then we discovered that she's not only a meatcutter and a mannequin (her What's My Line vocation and her name, which is Swedish, are both for real), but also a delightfully feminine charmer who -- in a world where equality of the sexes is becoming more and more a reality -- has not lost sight of the fact that though there are times when a girl should be equal, there are also times when she should be different. Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, our 21-year-old Playmate moved to the West Coast as a youngster, and for the past three years has worked for Stockyard Meats in El Monte, California, graduating from an assistant's assistant to part-time manager, despite the fact that she's away from the shop several hours each day, modeling high fashions for the luncheon set at Merridy's, a restaurant in nearby San Gabriel. "I like to be different," Melba says. "A few years ago I dated a butcher, and he got me interested in the meat business. I found the thought of working in a meatshop a challenge and I answered a want ad offering a job as a counterhop, which is as menial as you can get. Much to my surprise, I got the job -- and before a year had passed, I was a meatcutter. The work, of course, is quite strenuous. That's why I'm glad to take off a few hours at lunchtime each day to do a fashion show -- and wear dresses and gowns that I would never think of buying on my own. I began modeling two years ago. Five of my seven stepsisters work in haute couture, and they're all over five feet, seven inches. I'm just a shorty at five feet, two inches, and was beginning to get that ugly duckling feeling. So I went out looking for a fashion job, mainly to soothe my own ego. Fortunately, the job I found also pays well." So well, in fact, that Melba recently purchased her own one-bedroom bungalow in Whittier, the home town of another enterprising Californian, Richard M. Nixon. "I bought a house," Melba explains, "because I loathe paying rent. And though I enjoy people, I don't care for the lack of privacy that goes with apartment living. Also, there's Chewie-Caterpillar, my pet and companion -- like any respectable Scotty, he deserves a back yard to romp in." Melba's penchant for suburban privacy doesn't extend to her social life, however. She admits a weakness for tall men ("The strong, silent type really send me"), big-city night life, and leisurely picnics a deux in the woods. In her preference in men, friendships, dress and aspirations, Melba above all respects (and reflects) sincerity. "I get along best," she says, "with people who like me not for my face or my figure, but for myself. And this is how I try to base my appreciation of others." For an appreciation of Melba, albeit confined to face and figure, see the gatefold.
Photography by Mario Casilli