Playboy's 50th Anniversary Playmate
colleen shannon turns the beat -- and heads -- around
The exhaustive search for our 50th Anniversary Playmate took us all over North America, as we feverishly collected test shots of nearly 10,000 hopefuls. This Miss January not only needed to shine alongside the classic beauties of Playboy's past but also had to represent the ideal for the next half century of Centerfolds. Three lucky screeners picked the finalists, leaving 50 gorgeous ladies for Hef's perusal. When we finally tell 25-year-old Alaska native Colleen Shannon that she has won the title, she responds with gracious words: "I feel blessed, because I wanted to be a part of Playboy for the longest time," she says. "I had a friend whose dad collected all the issues from the 1970s and 1980s. The girls in them were so beautiful, so classy. Now everything that I wished for has happened. It's so surreal."
Colleen moved to California 10 years ago after a childhood spent on one of Alaska's tiny Aleutian Islands. "I lived on a fishing boat while my dad built a beautiful house for us on Pelican Island, where about 300 people live," she says. "There were no cars, no fruit -- we had to drink Tang and powdered milk. It was wild."
Though Miss January now resides in more cosmopolitan Los Angeles, she hasn't necessarily given up the wild life. You may recognize Colleen from music videos by Crazy Town, Blues Traveler and Smash Mouth. She also keeps the music pumping as a DJ spinning at L.A. clubs and as a guest DJ at events like MTV's spring break special in Cancún. "A few years ago my boyfriend at the time gave me a hundred records, and I borrowed my friend's turntable and started playing around," she says. "Music is the only thing that has ever given me chills through my body. I change my style every year, so I don't specialize in one type of music. I've done hip-hop, jungle, disco, reggae and techno. There are so many different ways you can blend music. If you feel it, the people on the dance floor are going to feel it."
Colleen is taking psychology classes, and in her spare time she likes to wakeboard and snowboard or comb vintage record stores to add to her formidable vinyl collection. She's got the beat, and she wants her men to pick it up, too. "If a guy doesn't like music, it kind of puts a damper on things," she says. "It's nice to sit in someone's room and play records for a guy who is going to like them. I'm looking for a man who is fun and spontaneous -- someone who won't take me out on a date and make me think about where to go. I like a man with a plan, for sure."
As the 50th Anniversary Playmate, Colleen's plan is to keep dancing to her own rhythm. "Everyone is put here to do something," she says. "Your subconscious tells you the things that you love to do, but a lot of people put those things aside. I think if you stick to the things you love, nine times out of 10, circumstances are going to go your way and you will live a happy life."
Photography by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda