She's been heralded for years as the most downloaded woman on the Internet, which means ... you know what it means. People love looking at Cindy Margolis.
What it hasn't meant, all these years, though, as all those millions of lookers know, is seeing even one picture of this 21st-century pinup queen without at least a little something covering her.
Margolis, who has been titillating fans since she was an undergrad at Cal State Northridge with her own line of greeting cards, has posed very au natural for Playboy. The December issue, with her on the cover, hits newsstands Friday. The pages of pictures on the inside leave nothing to the imagination.
It was for a good cause, Margolis, now 41, explained when The Associated Press caught up with her last week, fully clothed, at her home in Tarzana.
AP: Why now?
MARGOLIS: My decision to do Playboy is literally 20 years in the making. I've always prided myself in keeping my clothes on, being the girl next door. I've had the No. 1 downloaded (celebrity) Web site, and for years I've been known as the "Queen of the Internet" in the "Guinness Book of World Records," America Online, Yahoo!, (all while) keeping my clothes on, and I've been very proud of that. Every couple years when Mr. (Hugh) Hefner would call, I would very graciously decline, because my mom would kill me, and I thought it was more mysterious keeping my clothes on.
But ... when I got the call from Mr. Hefner ... I thought, "Wow — at 40, they still want me?" And I thought it's almost an inspiration — like a "you go, girl" moment. I feel empowered that you can be married and have three children and still be sexy and confident and look great.
My mom would have killed me before, but I'm an adult woman now, and I'm ready to show the world that you can have it all at 40 — be fabulous, 40, and pose for Playboy.
AP: So, what was it like?
MARGOLIS: I made my career off posing in swimsuits and doing all the swimsuit issues and posters, but I will tell you that that little bit of material on an itsy-bitsy bikini — taking that off was very nerve-racking the first time. ... But I felt proud of myself. I worked out really hard, and the reason I wanted to do it the most is because I am posing for a purpose: a portion of the proceeds from each issue sold is going to go to my charity.
AP: That would be ...?
MARGOLIS: I am the celebrity spokesperson for Resolve, the national infertility association, and my three precious children were born through infertility procedures. I struggled for many years trying to have children. My beautiful son was born through in vitro fertilization. I had my beautiful twins via a surrogate. So I wanted to give back.
That is very important to me, to make fertility mainstream so everyone understands it. If you want to have your miracle child, there are options: adoption, surrogacy, fertility procedures. It is also, sadly, very expensive and not all insurance companies cover it.
AP: How does your posing add to the cause?
MARGOLIS: First, we're going to sell a certain amount, and then all the rest after that will go to Resolve. That was important to my husband, as well.
AP: Do you have an idea how much might be raised?
MARGOLIS: Our point is that America is so family oriented and President Bush is very pro-family, but so many people have to leave America to have their families, and that's not really fair. Our hope is to help at least 20 to 30 families out there to have their precious babies.
AP: What would those costs amount to?
MARGOLIS: Infertility costs an average of about $16,000-$20,000 per procedure, and you don't always get pregnant the first time. I had to go through it seven times. And adoption and surrogacy are not covered through insurance companies. I call my children "My Hundred Thousand Dollar Babies Before They Were Even Born"! Nine million Americans a year, that we know of, struggle with infertility.
AP: How did you become the Web world Wonder Woman?
MARGOLIS: It was just perfect timing. Back in '96, I was on "The Price Is Right" pointing at refrigerators, and "Extra," the TV show, came down. They were the first entertainment entity that put people up on the Internet, so they put my picture up, and America Online called the next day and said I got a zillion or whatever downloads. I didn't know what a download was!
I have my loyal cyber-buddies out there, and I really do answer my e-mail. I'm in my pajamas at 3 in the morning with my zit medicine on. I owe everything to them.
And I'm hoping that everyone who's come to my site over the years will be behind me in my decision to do Playboy. And when I'm asked what my girls will think when they grow up, I'll tell them that they have to keep their clothes on till they're 40. But when they're 40, they can make their own decisions.
By Susan Bullington Katz and Mike Cidoni