this butler did it -- for us
Cher Butler's eyes change color from green to blue, depending on her mood. She was in a good mood the day she visited us in Chicago: One eye was green, one blue. She spoke in a tiny voice that seemed to fit perfectly the miniature tape recorder on our desk. "I've wanted to be a Playmate ever since high school, but I never told anyone about it. I was afraid that if I failed, I would disappoint people. I saw it as a lot of attention. I wanted the attention. I was kind of an ugly duckling in high school, a string bean, without much self-confidence."
We found it hard to believe that this poised young woman had ever had a crisis of confidence. So we offered her some second-rate editorial coffee in our "Trust Your Lust" mug. She laughed. "Were you saving this for me?" We wondered if her self-assurance had come from a life on the road. A lot of Playmates have been Army brats, raised around a succession of strangers. We were close. "I come from a family of gypsies," she said. "We moved every few years to keep the boredom threshold low." Cher was born in Texas but made stops in Nevada, British Columbia and New Mexico (where she finished high school) before settling into her current address in Washington, D.C. She got off the bus just about the time her family finished building theirs. Her mom and dad took Cher's younger sister and hit the road in the Candy Ark, a rolling home built by her dad. "Sometimes I don't even know where they are for months at a time, but then a postcard arrives." We asked if there were any plan to these travels. Cher told us her mother reads tarot cards and consults astrology charts. Had Cher inherited a reliance on things astral? "Well," she replied with a smile, "don't even talk to me during a full moon. I warn everyone to lock me in a closet. It's a very emotional time." What Cher does with all that extra emotion is turn to her journals. These aren't diaries. She doesn't write every day. Instead, the journals are an interior conversation. "Writing keeps my life in perspective. I only write about conversations that really strike me or my impressions of things. I'm essentially an observer. Maybe it comes from all that moving around. I kind of envy people who can just dive in. I can't do that. I have to sit back."
You're probably wondering what kind of guy can make Cher Butler sit forward. We were. He's not what you'd expect. "I can't explain why I'm attracted to feminine men. No one can explain physical attraction. I love sensitive men; they're more attuned to music, writing and the emotions of women. I relate to them better. I don't like tough guys. They're hiding a bunch of things inside. I value dialogue." Does she often run into this sensitive guy among the men in her generation? She gave this some thought before she replied, "I find that the men in my generation are full of questions but not answers. Some of them want to be rich, some want to be famous and some just want to express themselves without being criticized. Mostly, they want to be loved."
Lest you think Cher is all introspection and not really of this world, let us set you straight. When she comes home from her job at an animal hospital, Cher has been known to scout the town for a competitive game of handball, to search out really experimental rock music (and drop the band cold if it gets too mainstream) and to check out antiques stores in the hope of adding to her green-plastic-plate collection. But if you want to catch her, you'd better hurry. The wanderlust is still upon her. She dreams constantly of travel and opportunity. Right now, she's thinking about a move to California. She's not looking for a career so much as hoping to fall into one. She believes totally in serendipity, in the thing just around the corner that may happen if she's open to new experiences. What's next? "Australia and Africa are on my mind. Places with no technology and not too many people. I'll go with my lover and we'll make love with just the animals for company." How can she do that and fulfill her Playmate obligations? Easy. "I want this experience to take me somewhere, but I don't know where yet." We don't mind being left in her dust.
Photography by Richard Fegley