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The Lady Loves Cigars

India Allen, the 1988 Playboy Playmate of the Year, is looking for a breakthrough movie on her terms.
Mervyn Rothstein
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95

Featured in our Women of CA gallery

The hair is alluringly dark, the face stunningly beautiful, the body long and lithely sensual, the legs a seemingly endless expanse of ivory, the eyes a bewitchingly intelligent brown.

India Allen--1988 Playboy Playmate of the Year; sex-symbol actress and producer of erotic movies; daughter of an Anglican minister; dedicated churchgoer and faithful volunteer; five-foot-eleven-inch, 134-pound, 37-25-35 beauty--exudes the essence of modern femininity: sexuality and seductiveness wrapped around a core of independence and individuality. For India, business is definitely business, but men are also most certainly men. Her words, her smile, her laugh, the amorous twinkle in those eyes leave no doubt that what she enjoys, above all, is the excitement of being a woman.

So what's that cigar doing in her mouth?

"I love cigars," says the 29-year-old resident of Pacific Grove, California. "I've been smoking them for eight years. I love them for the same reason I love being an Episcopalian: the tradition and the ritual. I love the company it puts me in. And I also love the smell of a cigar, the smell of fine tobacco, because I grew up around it. And the smell of rich leather, like in a man's library. That's my most treasured memory of growing up: the smell of leather, horses and tobacco."

Indie ("All my friends call me Indie; you can call me Indie") grew up in the South--Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina--but her accent and manner, her relaxed confidence and easygoing extroversion, are pure California. She moved with her family (her father is of English extraction, her mother Irish and Native American) to the Monterey Peninsula, on the cutting edge of the Pacific, when she was 12. She left for college, career, marriage and divorce but recently returned with her five-year old daughter to live in an aqua-and-white Victorian house in that part of the world whose inhabitants have ranged from John Steinbeck to Clint Eastwood. Her parents and family friends live nearby. Her dad heads a congregation; her godfather is chief of police down the road in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

She is sitting at a table in Pasta Mia, a restaurant on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove that the peninsula's residents say serves the best pasta in the region. She will finish every last bite of the magnificent agnolotti con pollo (half-moon pasta stuffed with pesto in lemon-zest cream sauce with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes) that has been placed before her, but she will do so very slowly. For a new acquaintance, it becomes clear almost immediately that more than just about anything--there is perhaps one exception--Indie loves to talk. She is a born storyteller, never at a loss for words, many of them passionate. She will talk about Playboy, and modeling, and posing in the nude, and men--their pluses and minuses--and sex, and feminism, and movies, and religion and her conservative politics. And for the moment, about cigars.

Indeed, if India Allen were herself a cigar, she would be the top of the line: a Cuban double corona, elongated and slender, luscious and strong, with an intense flavor of spice. Indie is not your run-of-the-mill sex goddess: she most definitely undresses to a different drummer.

"All the men in my life, all the ones I admire or desire, all the ones I respect, smoke cigars," she says after washing down a saucy agnolotto with a sip of iced tea. "I'm sure that's how I got into it. Actually, when I was about 20 I started by smoking a pipe. My mom smokes a pipe. As a child, I would sit at my mother's feet while she smoked, and she would rub my head. It was one of my favorite things. My dad and my godfather would be sitting out on the porch smoking their cigars, and I always wanted to go out there, hear what they were talking about, be out there in the middle of it all. So now, my dad and my godfather and I get together about once a week and we light up our cigars."

Indie's first cigars were Ashton Coronas. These days, she says, "My taste has gotten a little more sophisticated, but the Ashtons are still very reliable. I like the Davidoff No. 3 a lot and also the No. 1s, the big ones. Occasionally I go for the Macanudo Maduros. But my favorite cigar is the Cohiba Robusto. I like the size, the draw, the flavor--everything!" Indie also enjoys dipping her cigars in Port. "It's a very British thing to do," she says. "I picked it up from my dad."

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