seattle's arlene baxter has nothing to hide
At first, I wasn't sure about posing nude. It's a pretty personal move," says Miss December. As a jet-setting professional model, Arlene Baxter -- just "Baxter" to friends, though her dad calls her Motormouth -- has been personal with cameras all over the world, draping her 5'11" frame in next to nothing for swimsuit and lingerie ads. That's what makes "the Baxter bod" renowned in modeling circles from Tokyo to Milan to Paris. But this Playmate pictorial was something new. Even Baxter hesitated before making her move. "I finally decided that if people wanted to see my body, they could just check it out. When I dropped my robe, it was like saying, 'Here it is. Take a look, enjoy it.'"
Her life has been a nonstop sprint toward the pleasures of what's next. The daughter of a Marine jet pilot, Baxter grew up as "a southern California brat" in Mission Viejo. "So my parents decided to humble me. They bought a 40-acre farm outside Seattle and pretty soon I was milking a goat, crying." She adapted quickly enough to be voted "Friendliest Girl" at Maywood Junior High in Renton, Washington, where classmates called her Birdlegs. Soon, posing nude before a mirror, "I started liking my body for the first time. I was getting a little butt, a little bit of breast." A few local modeling jobs led to a career that found Birdlegs earning up to $8000 a day. She lived in Japan, Germany, France and Italy, where a towering blonde is sure to get pinched. "Over there, it's like every man is a construction worker. It's 'Oo-la-la' and 'Come on, ba-bee' and a lot of touching. I kicked a few guys." She didn't kick about one Continental phenomenon: "Europeans aren't puritans. If you're nude at the beach on the Côte d'Azur, nobody's yelling, 'Look at that, you can see her breasts and her downtown!'"
Now Baxter's back in Seattle, pleasing cameras up and down the West Coast. She keeps warm in a cozy apartment with views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. The place is full of candles. The fireplace crackles constantly. There are no mirrors or satin sheets in the bedroom, just "a comfortable bed," most notable for "the interesting things you can do in it." Since tan lines are verboten in her business, she sunbathes nude on the terrace, occasionally apologizing to her scandalized neighbors: "Oh, I'm sorry. I'll cover up if you want."
After years in the limelight, she's a little cynical about glossy images -- even the ones you see here. "Posing nude was wonderful. I'm a sensuous girl and that's going to emanate from these pages," she says. "Just don't forget that this is fantasy. Honey, when we're making love I won't be wearing the things you see here. I might have on an old T-shirt. Let's hope that's off in five minutes. We'll see what happens then."
-- Ralph Marino
Photography by Stephen Wayda, Arny Freytag