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NewCityNet Penthouse Party

Heavy--but not too Heavy--Petting

By Ellen Fox

JUNE 19, 2000:  "Bob Guccione has a very good saying, and I'll steal it from him," says Dottie Meyer, director of corporate pet promotions at Penthouse magazine. "Playboy is the girl-next-door, and Penthouse is the girl-who-grew-up. We're the woman of the magazines," the 53-year-old (and 1979 Pet of the Year) explains.

Really? Looking at this year's Penthouse Pet of Year--Juliet Cariaga, who was in town at the Leg Room last week for a promotional party--it seems Y2K's pick of the litter is a surprisingly more girlish choice than pets of years past. Twenty-two-years-old (and looking like it), Cariaga (nee Erica Lookado) sports a dark-haired, bewitching-eyed, Catherine Zeta-Jones look. Think a teenage Linda Carter, even, or Sherilyn Fenn. And unlike raunchy tan-blonde predecessors like Niki St. Giles and Elizabeth Ann Hilden, Cariaga has not had her breasts augmented.

They're refreshingly nice C-cups, but not, ya know, like, BANG!

"I'm actually very pleased that me, the runner-up and the second-runner-up all have natural breasts," Cariaga says between posing for Polaroids on a Harley-Davidson with ad-yuppies. "I think it's a great thing that Penthouse did, because it kind of gives hope to girls, ya know, that magazines can actually have natural breasts." She motions to nearby runner-up Alexus Winston (who I presume will step in if --in some reverse Vanessa Williams-scandal--Cariaga is found to have won the Miss America pageant). "She's not huge," she says of the B-ish Winston, "but she's still beautiful."

Though the demand for breast implants is, um, bigger than ever, it seems notable that both Penthouse and Playboy (with Jodi Ann Paterson) chose to start the millennium by crowning centerfolds who first appeared in Perfect 10 magazine, a 3-year-old upstart that boasts only "natural" women.

It may well be that, given the ease with which just anybody can get implants, Penthouse and Playboy are perhaps considering non-augmented models as more of a rare find. With competition from Internet and video sales cutting Penthouse's circulation from a high of 5.3 million (the Vanessa Williams issue) to just 2.5 million, it may also be more important than ever for your father's girly magazine (or, at least my father's) to distinguish itself in some way.

Could that mean more natural breasts? "I don't know, I hope so," says Dottie Meyer, who, as Pet Dominique Maure, never bothered with surgery. "I don't like to see anybody add anything to their body that they don't need. And I still don't know if they're all that healthy. So, I would rather most of the girls didn't, but I can understand."

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