february's cyndi wood finds a modeling career fulfills her showbiz ambitions -- for now
"Can you sing? Can you dance? Can you hot-cha-cha?" asks the Hollywood producer in a vintage comedy routine. We can't vouch for the hot-cha-cha, but when it comes to song and dance, February Playmate Cyndi Wood certainly has her act together. It's not surprising: her mother was an actress, her father a recording-company executive and, as a Hollywood native to boot, Cyndi naturally gravitated to the entertainment world. "My parents' friends were actors, producers and directors; my friends were their sons and daughters. For as long as I can remember, my life was nothing but lessons." Cyndi admits that there were times she felt pressured. "Whenever there was a school play, I'd try out for it. Whenever the chorus auditioned, I was there. Between those activities and my dance and music instruction, I had little time to think about what I wanted to do." But she's far from bitter about the experience. "I've always liked being in the spotlight," says Cyndi. "When my parents stopped prodding me, I picked up where they left off." She got her first break as a professional -- while still attending high school in Los Angeles -- when she was asked to sing backup for a local rock group at a recording session. For three years she sang "a lot of doo-wah stuff" for other local artists. That led to the formation of Collage, a studio group that recorded for Mercury Records. "With Collage," Cyndi recalls, "I was given the opportunity to sing lead. But except for a couple of weeks when we played the dunes in Las Vegas, we performed only for the microphones. After two years of that, I knew I wanted something else." For a while, our Playmate tried her hand at fashion designing ("just for myself"), songwriting and even sound engineering ("I do some great mixing and can work off any 16-track"). But, in time, Cyndi decided those pursuits were only hobbies and resolved that the best way to further her musical ambitions would be to continue her education. In 1969, she enrolled as a music major at Los Angeles City College, transferred to Los Angeles Valley College and began augmenting her composition courses with dramatic studies. Says Cyndi, "It seems to be a pattern with me that when I finally get committed to something, another interest comes along and I'm torn between the two. In high school, I was hung up between medicine and music. When I finally abandoned the thought of become a doctor, I discovered I liked acting better than music." Soon Cyndi found her theater arts courses taking up more time than her music classes. "I couldn't find a direction," she says, "so I concluded that rather than spend years with a lot of required subjects for a diploma, I'd simply learn about what I wanted to learn about." By late 1971, she had dropped out of college, though she continued to do occasional recording dates. She was even offered a film contract; but she turned it down. "I didn't feel confident about acting, because I hadn't enough experience." Just when her life seemed to be "settling into a state of terminal disorder," Cyndi thought of modeling. "It just seemed the perfect answer. I thought I'd just have to see an agent and all kinds of offers would come my way." It didn't work out quite that simply. "Most agents are a waste of time," she says. "It's only common sense that you're always going to work harder for yourself than an agent will." So, after initial setbacks, she sought -- and won -- her own modeling assignments for TV commercials, fashion shows and industrial conventions as a free-lancer. "I love being in front of people," Cyndi says. "I suppose it appeals to the actress in me. In fact, much of my work in commercials calls for acting. Sometimes I even get a chance to sing and dance, too, and that's great." Obviously, Cyndi believes such assignments provide her with wonderful opportunites to polish her performing talents. And with a recording contract as a possibility and a film script already in the offing, Cyndi may have all the more reason to sing her favorite song, It's Gonna Be All Right.
Photography by Pompeo Posar