The Lady Loves Cigars
India Allen, the 1988 Playboy Playmate of the Year, is looking for a breakthrough movie on her terms.
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95
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She went off to college at the University of Texas at Arlington but in the middle of her freshman year decided to transfer to Louisiana State University "because I wanted to be a veterinarian. I've always loved animals." One day, however, while she was working part-time for a rental agent at an apartment complex, a different kind of agent showed up looking for a place where four of her models, all from Norway, might bed down while they were in town.
"The agent saw me behind the counter, took one look at me and said, 'Wow, you're built,' " Indie recalls. "She said the Italians would love me. It was the '80s, and back then there were no really tall models who were built like me. It was before boob jobs really started. People weren't getting them yet, and I was real. She gave me her card and asked me if I wanted to test. I never thought I would be any good, because I thought I was really rather plain looking in real life. I had a great body. People would always comment on my figure. But they never said I was a real beauty. But I went and did the test pictures, and I didn't recognize myself. I said, 'Oh my God, I'm gorgeous.' It was amazing. And the next thing you know, I was on a plane for Italy. I was just gone. I left school. I called my parents and told them what I was going to do, and they said, 'You can't leave school, you need the education.' And I said, 'Nah, I'm going to Europe.' So I did. I guess they raised a very confident individual. It didn't even cross my mind that I could not do this, that at age 19 I couldn't just take off and go to Europe on my own. I did it, and it was a lot of fun. I had a blast."
Indie modeled for three years, specializing in swimsuits. "I was the swimsuit queen," she says. "I made a good living, but I never really made it into the big time, so I was considering retiring, getting married, having babies and getting fat. I was 22. I don't know what I was thinking. I was just tired of traveling. And that's when Playboy came along."
She was booked to be part of a skit on "Saturday Night Live," a spoof of Beverly Hills Cop II in which she was going to play, of all things, a playmate. While she was on the set, a former Playmate of the Year, Monique St. Pierre, who was working for Playboy, came by to watch. "She saw me," Indie recalls, "and she came over and said, 'I think you should go see the editor.' I said I didn't know if I could do that. And she said she thought I should and that she would take me down there in the morning. And I went down the next morning, and I was shooting within an hour. Before long, they had me doing two layouts: one for Playmate of the Month and the other for Playmate of the Year. That seems to be the way things happen in my life. I can slave away and work for something really hard, and it won't happen, and then I'll turn around and bam!, something big will happen in a completely different direction. You can't control fate; it works in very funny ways."
Her reign as Playmate of the Year led to a career in B movies, erotic thrillers in which she specialized in taking off her clothes. Some of the movies she is proud of, others she is not. About a year ago, though, she got fed up with what she was doing and moved back home to start her own film company, Car Crash Pictures.
She had been very much a part of the fabled Hollywood nightlife, the glitz and glitter, the parties and restaurants, the stars and starlets, the blond of the year and the hunk of the hour. "I was in the same little community down there forever," she says. "Everybody's the same. I realized I could wake up 10 years from now and be walking into Spago on a Wednesday night, and there they'd all be. And I said, 'Oh God, no.' "
Enough of pretending to be a bimbo, she thought; it was time to be herself. "My real hair color is strawberry blond," she says. "I started to dye it black because I needed to have my I.Q. go up a couple of levels. And it did. I'm ready for that now. I'm at the age where instead of using my giggle routine and getting everything I want, it's time for something different."
The something different is to be her own businesswoman, to control her own destiny. She has coproduced one film, Almost Hollywood, a sexy parody of the movie business in which she also starred, and is looking for a major investor to bankroll others. She wants to stay an independent producer, making small films, but small films "that make money."
"Being a single parent, I can't just go out there and be a big mogul," she says. "Successful, yes. I can be that. But a mogul? No. I'm not sure I want to be a mogul anyway."
Indie has five scripts in development, one of which is finished. It's called The Raven, and she describes it as a "sexy, supernatural thriller."
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