when pam stein enters a contest, watch out
Pam Stein has a thing about contests; she entered her first beauty pageant at 12. She has won more than 60 trophies and 15 crowns in the intervening years. She has accrued her share of prizes: "I haven't had to shop for clothes for three years." Pam likes the competition. She's not one to get by on looks alone. On her Data Sheet, under "Goals and Aspirations," she wrote. "To find the largest cockroach in Florida."
You see, there's this contest for, yes, the largest cockroach, and Pam has her eye out for likely candidates. "But don't put that in the magazine or people will be sending me their cockroaches. I want to win fair and square." Is she serious? We don't know. But just in case, send your cockroaches to Jerry Falwell's PTL Club. Pam told us with a completely straight face that if she couldn't land a role on a TV soap opera, she'd settle for the job of being Ollie North's next secretary. As we walked past a construction site to a chorus of whistles, she expressed gratitude that "someone [was] upholding the traditional values." These lines were delivered with a megawatt twinkle that could stand up to hours of interrogation. At one point, she discussed the major setback in her life: her height. She is (barely) 5'5."
The New York fashion world has a height requirement only this side of the N.B.A.'s. Pam wanted to be the Spud Webb of beauty, but no such luck. It doesn't help a model to have a vertical jump of 45 inches -- if she isn't at least 5'8", there is no work. "It strikes me as ridiculous. A magazine cover is a foot high, right? By the time they shrink your image to put you on the cover, who knows how tall you are?" Right.
Currently, she is modeling in Florida. "I get the apple-pie jobs. I never get to look glamorous." She did two McDonald's ads; her friends assumed she was working for the local franchise. "Sounds like an exciting life, doesn't it? Now you know why I answered the call for Playboy." Pam already knew a couple of Playmates: "At least once a week, there's a bathing suit contest in Florida. I competed against Lynne Austin [Miss July 1986] and Hope Marie Carlton [Miss July 1985]. I won the Tampa Bay Bandits Centerfold Pageant the month Hope's gatefold came out." She approached Playboy when we came looking for Women of Florida (August). One look at the photos and we flew her to Chicago to pose for the gatefold. Clearwater, Florida, can celebrate the results: It was no contest.
Photography by Stephen Wayda