I started collecting stories about twenty years ago from my sister “Centerfolds.”

I have always thought our Centerfold stories – not the manufactured ones from PR – are so much more interesting and real. The experiences of the Centerfolds reflect the era they lived in and the changes society went through. In the 1960s Centerfolds posed topless. By 1970s frontal nudity was in vogue in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world.

Centerfolds became as iconic as Playboy magazine. Both were part of the vernacular and culture. Soldiers took our pictures with them into battle; astronauts walked on the moon with pictures of us on their sleeves. The biggest names in Hollywood and Washington courted us, dated us and had sex with us – or at least tried. We travelled the world in private jets, or at least flew first-class.

Most of us were just out of high school and naive when swept into this world of the rich, powerful and famous. Being shy wasn’t an option: we all had to learn very quickly how to cope and how to handle ourselves. Fortunately, most of us had a very strong support from other Centerfolds or staffers from the vast Playboy network. Hef used to call it the “Playboy family,” and to some extent he was right – we were family, a wild, crazy family.

Most of us grew up very fast and learned to distinguish between the good guys and the not-so-good. Some of the big names we encountered were gentlemen and some were jerks, and it didn’t take long to learn who was who. We were professional partiers, but we were also people with feelings, broken hearts and a desire to be good citizens.

For most men in America we were simply “Girls Next Door,” the voluptuous, smiling beauties they fantasized being with. Our stories, along with those of some of the famous photographers who photographed us, provide a behind-the-scenes look at our lives as Centerfolds. You’ll see us in our primes, coming up through Playboy and into stardom. But you’ll also see us as career women, mothers and citizens with a desire to make people smile and do some good.

I decided to assemble this collection of stories because, at its essence, it is a slice of Americana. Being a Centerfold is a membership in an exclusive sorority, partly because there are only twelve of us a year. Moralists or the prudish may condemn us, but no one can deny that our lives, and the paths we have travelled, have provided a rare view of life. We have stepped through doors and been in places few can imagine.

The stories included here were told to me, or written for me. Each story reflects first-hand accounts and personal experiences, as recalled by the storytellers. Each story is, to the best of the storyteller’s recollection, factual and accurate. None are based on second-hand accounts or hearsay, and none are intended to do anything other than share these remarkable experiences of life in the fast-lane. Some are tragic and some are funny, but all come from the heart.

This book has been a labor of love and honesty from these Iconic Centerfolds, Photographers and Celebrity Models. Our stories range across the spectrum of our younger lives, Playboy, and beyond. Centerfolds are true Americana as we have grown with America for seven decades. These are true stories from our lives. So get ready for the real “girls next door.”

Charlotte Kemp – Miss December 1982