Published May 04, 2009
For the first time in Playboy's hedonistic history, the iconic "Playmate of the Year" celebration was moved from Hugh Hefner's iconic Holmby Hills mansion to the glamorous grounds of the Grand Ballroom in Sin City's Palms Place Hotel & Resort on Saturday evening.
But even though he was surrounded by over 50 playmates from years gone by, Hef's face lit up like a kid in a candy store and he uttered a flabbergasted "wow" as he greeted 2009's recipient, the 50th Playmate of the Year and the first ever African-European to take the honors, Ida Ljungqvist.
Donning a form-fitting white wedding-like gown to accentuate her ultra itty bitty waist, the 27-year-old Swedish/African stunner revealed exclusively to Pop Tarts her secret to being super slim and maintaining the body that millions of men (and women) have been drooling over since she became 2008’s Miss March.
"I'm a size zero. But I carry my weight in the lower body, so I exercise moderately and I'm a vegetarian," she said. "I take Bonnie my Chihuahua hiking with me a lot and I do lots of walking. But I've never believed in pushing it too hard. It should never be a chore to exercise; you have to enjoy it or else don't do it all."
And even though Ljungqvist (who dedicated the honor to her late mother) has what most was consider to be a flawless figure, it turns out that she is pretty self-critical and almost turned down the initial offer to shoot for the men's magazine.
"This was never a dream for me; I didn't even know what Playboy was and I was scared at first," she admitted. "I have a lot of over-achiever in me so I am self-critical. But after I met Hef and saw how beautifully they portray women I was really excited. This experience has inspired me to broaden my horizons, to take chances in life."
Meanwhile Holly Madison, the only of Hef's former "Girls Next Door" to attend the busty and bountiful bash, seemed a little anxious to be standing so close to her ex and his new number one, Crystal Harris on the red carpet (she often speaks of her friendship with his other leading ladies, the Shannon twins, but doesn't seem to have built up much of an association with Harris) but we couldn't help but wonder about the PETA "Go Naked" ambassador's wardrobe selection.
"It's made all of little feathers," Madison quipped happily as we touched the unique skirt. "I can't believe I just let you touch my butt in front of everyone."
But Holly wasn't the only one with a good sense of humor, the ultimate playboy himself Mr. Hugh Hefner proved that 83 years epitomized by perennial partying and big-breasted blondes truly is the nexus to never-ending juvenescence.
"Iva is truly unique. She was born to a Tanzanian mother and a Swedish father and she traveled the globe while her father worked for UNICEF. She is fluent in three languages -- English, Swedish and Swahili," Hef told the crowd as they noshed away on the finest delicacies from chef Kerry Simon of Simon Palms Place. "Yes, a lot of us speak Swahili."
Although it turns out that the consummate sexual revolutionist almost didn’t board his private jet to Sin City and the consequences could have been brutal.
"I was feeling under-the-weather this week and nearly didn't make it here," Hef added. "But I would have killed myself if I didn't make it. This (event) tops them all; this is a special, special day for me."
Musical Artist Chaka Khan and Marc Friedland, President and Founder of Creative Intelligence, Inc. joining forces for the WRITE ON! project (to teach kids about letter writing as an art form) at the at the Creative Intelligence, Inc. studios in Los Angeles last Thursday.
Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and Taylor Hansen hanging out together poolside at L.A's The Standard last Sunday, talking about the possibility of starting a new band ...
Sporting dark designer shades, black denim shorts and a white top, Kelly Monaco spotted enjoying a cocktail at Palms Pool & Bungalows on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the "Peep Show" starlet was soaking up some sun at Bare pool lounge at The Mirage on a luxury day bed with a few friends. Next to them in VIP was R&B singer and producer, Ray J.
"Twilight" hottie Peter Facinelli on the pool deck at West Hollywood's Skybar in The Mondrian Hotel having a few rounds of drinks with a pal on Tuesday night.
"The View" co-host Sherri Shepherd at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night dressed in a feathered wrestler’s robe all ready to protect her "man interest," WWE Superstar MVP during the taping of WWE’s Friday Night SmackDown.
Musician Maxwell making sure his manager saved him a Sony Cierge gift bag (meant for the guests!) at his long-awaited album release party at the Sony Club on Tuesday night.
Audrina Patridge sporting Tarah Smith's black suede Trippy Hippie handbag www.tarahsmith.com while hanging out in West Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Mel B. enjoying some sun over at the Palms Place pool on Wednesday.
Bruce Willis hitting the streets of Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday for the first time since getting hitched, hydrating with vitaminwater essential, while locking arms with his bride Emma Hemming.
Beauty queens Shanna Moakler, Tamiko Nash, Raquel Beezley and former Miss Universe Brook Lee at the Hamilton Selway Fine Art Gallery in West Hollywood on Wednesday evening for the NO H8 Campaign Private Gallery Show.
Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Jane Krakowski, Elizabeth Hurley, Christian Siriano, Liza Minnelli (who performed) and Sir Elton John (who was also booked to perform but wasn't feeling well) at the BlackBerry and Verizon Wireless's The Breast Cancer Research Fund Hot Pink Party at the Waldorf Astoria in NY Wednesday night.
Eric Bana, Zachary Quinto and Brian Cox drinking Heineken at the Tribeca Film Festival after-party for Love The Beast at NY's East Village ACE Bar on Wednesday night.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Luann De Lesseps joining Lilly Pulitzer to unveil her "Colorful Cause" collection to benefit EBMRF at NYC's Bloomingdales on Thursday evening.
Jaime Pressly, Vanessa Minnillo, Kelly Slater, Brittny Gastineau, Kelly Hu, Willa Holland and CariDee English at the Catch Boutique Launch in partnership with Operation Smile and HOPE in LA on Thursday evening.
Alan Thicke enjoying dinner at N9NE Steakhouse inside the Palms Resort & Casino with two guests on Thursday night. Sitting at a table nearby was MTV skate boarder, Ryan Sheckler.
Perez Hilton and Aubrey O'Day at West Hollywood's Key Club for Monster Energy Drink's 4th Annual Music Saves Lives event on Thursday night.
"Twilight's" Ashley Greene helping LA designer Joseph Agi launch his For Joseph 2009 Spring/Summer Collection with a private party at the new Kitson Melrose store on Thursday night. Kellan Lutz stopped by with his brothers and some friends to support his on-screen sister while "90210’s" Jessica Lowndes, sporting the signature For Joseph signature leather jacket, chatted with upcoming "Fame" star Kherington Payne.
Lindsay Lohan at the launch of her tanning line Sevin Nyne at Sephora in Santa Monica on Thursday evening. She was later spotted nearby at the Fairmont Hotel.
Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey celebrating their one-year anniversary at the Palms Casino Resort on Thursday. The night started out with dinner for 50 family and friends (including Antonio "LA" Reid, Steve Bartles, Tyrese Gibson, Sanaa Lathan and Floyd Mayweather) at Simon at Palms Place. After midnight the party moved to Moon Nightclub inside the fantasy tower at the Palms where Mr. Mariah, aka Nick Cannon, surprised his wife with a video presentation of great moments from their first year of marriage. Everyone in the club toasted them while Nick and Mariah cut into a towering white Duncan Hines cake just as 1,000 Balloons were released into the sky when the Moon roof opened. Nick then took over the DJ booth and spun a special mix for the packed club.
DJ AM (Adam Goldstein) spinning at The Palms Rain nightclub on Friday while Holly Madison danced in the VIP.
Actress Jenna Elfman on board a Virgin America Express flight from Burbank to Vegas on Saturday afternoon.
DC Motocross team riders Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Robbie Maddison, Nate Adams, Adam Jones, Dustin Miller and Davi Millsaps at the grand opening of their newest store inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Friday.
Mario Lopez dining in Strip House at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Las Vegas on Friday night.
David Arquette (who was in town for the big boxing match) at the bikini tops-optional Bare pool lounge at The Mirage enjoying a late lunch on Saturday.
"Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis hanging out poolside with a beautiful blonde at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday.
Mark Wahlberg staying in a penthouse at Palms Place Hotel & Spa in Sin City on Saturday night.
Ben Stiller and wife Christine Taylor enjoying a romantic dinner together at Nobu West Hollywood on Saturday night.
Alex Rodriguez dining at Abokado Mary Brickell Village in Miami with friends while watching ESPN on Saturday night.
Holly Madison and over 50 playmates joining Hugh Hefner and his three current girlfriends for the Playmate of the Year dinner at Palms Place in Las Vegas on Saturday evening.
Jeremy Piven dining in Strip House at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Saturday.
UFC champ Chuck Liddell dining at Nove Italiano with eight friends on Saturday. DJ Paul Oakenfold noshed nearby before spinning at Rain nightclub where he entertained retired basketball player Dennis Rodman.
The cast of HBO’s "True Blood" including leading lady Academy Award-winning actress Anna Paquin, her on- and off-screen beau Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Alexander Skarsgard and Kristin Bauer Tabu Ultra Lounge at MGM Grand on Saturday night.
Benji Madden spinning a special DJ set at Wasted Space at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday night. Also spotted at the club was Supercross star Chad Reed.
Benji Madden, Frank Marino, Mario Lopez, New Playmate of Year Iva Ljungqvist and Guy Savoy all enjoying Sunday brunch at Simon Palms Place.
George Clooney at the Delano, Miami on Sunday.