Photography by Grey Lockwood | Styled by Kristi Brooks | Makeup by Libbey Lazarus, Kiss and Makeup Now | Hair by Rochelle Sunglao, Bluxom Salon | Photographer's Assistants: Justin Galloway, Daniel Cartier
Dani Mathers adores a good slasher flick - the spookier, creepier and bloodier, the better. "I just love the blood and guts," she says with a laugh. "I don't know what's wrong with me or why I like that, but I just always loved horror films."
Movies aside, Mathers' biggest scare came about a year ago, when she was summoned to the office of Stephanie Morris, then the West Coast photo editor for Playboy magazine. "If she's calling you and she shouldn't be, you're most likely in some sort of trouble," says the 5'-2", 33D-23-31 Mathers, who was Playboy's Miss May 2014.
The news Morris imparted was anything but horrific. Danielle Jenee Mathers had been selected as Playboy's 56th Playmate of the Year. She was honored with a special event at the Playboy Mansion and awarded $100,000 and a lease on a Mini Cooper convertible.
"It was a bucket-list moment that I never thought would happen," says Mathers, 29, a bona fide Southern California girl who was born and raised in Westlake Village (near Los Angeles), attended Cal State Northridge and grew up surfing, playing volleyball and riding horses.
To Mathers' delight, part of her Playmate of the Year photo shoot took place at the abandoned Four Aces Motel in Lancaster, California.
"Super creepy. Rob Zombie has filmed a couple of movies there," she says. "I automatically felt in my zone.
It was totally accidental, and the only other people there that could really kind of nerd out with me, so to speak, were a couple of the grips and the lighting guys who were obviously into (horror) films, also."
Modeling and performing came naturally for Mathers, who is related to neither of the better-known Matherses, Jerry (The Beaver) nor Marshall (Eminem).
"(Acting is) really what I wanted to do from the get-go," she says. "(My friends and I would) actually sell tickets in our neighborhood when I was a kid and throw little two-(person) shows in our living room."
Her first big acting break came when she joined the cast of The Bold and The Beautiful, her mother's favorite soap opera, when she was 17 years old.
"It was awesome," says Mathers, who, for eight years, played Danica, a fashion reporter. "(It was still my mother's) daily-regimen show, but it was just a little bit more exciting for her (with Mathers in the cast)."
Mathers cites Audrey Hepburn as her favorite actor and says she has an affinity for Wait Until Dark, a film that has a climactic scene ranking 10th among Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments."
Meanwhile, her Playmate of the Year title has opened several doors for Mathers, who now hosts a morning show on Playboy Radio (playboyradio.com) and is featured twice weekly in Los Angeles on KLOS-FM's "Put Your Man Where Your Mouth Is."
She's also high on another budding professional endeavor.
"I have a product that's called CannaPro, and it's basically just a completely pure, powder version of medical marijuana, whether you want THC or CBD, which is non-psychoactive," she says. "You can eat it as-is, you can put it in your protein shake, you can can cook with it, you can bake with it, you can put it in your cookie dough, you can really do anything with it."
While Mathers' career is smoking, Playboy is in a state of flux. The Mansion is for sale (price tag: $200 million, along with the caveat that Hef gets to live there until he dies), and the magazine recently announced it will no longer publish nude photos - making Mathers the final Playmate of the Year ever to grin and bare it.
See Dani Mathers at the PACIFIC Love Party on Saturday, Feb. 27 (starting at 8 p.m.) at Rooftop600 at Andaz Hotel San Diego. Tickets available here.
Fashion credits (clockwise from top right): Romper by H&M ($30), hm.com. Lace bra by Free People ($38), Bloomingdale's Fashion Valley, bloomingdales.com. Amelia necklace ($80) and Willow bangles by Double Happiness, doublehappinessjewelry.com. Geneva bondage bralette ($92) and high-waist panty ($75) by For Love and Lemons, Van de Vort, shopvandevort.com. Talking silver necklace by Double Happiness ($140), doublehappinessjewelry.com. Geneva fringe heels by Kenneth Cole ($175), Bloomingdale's Fashion Valley, bloomingdales.com. Isabelle bodysuit by For Love and Lemons ($234) and Garden Robe by Stone Cold Fox ($187), Van de Vort, shopvandevort.com. Nayz heels by Vince Camuto ($129), Nordstrom, nordstrom.com. Odin earrings by Double Happiness ($140), doublehappinessjewelry.com. After Midnight sheer bodysuit by Hanky Panky ($96) and Hettie heels by Ivanka Trump ($175), Bloomingdale's Fashion Valley, bloomingdales.com. Zaharis earrings ($140) and Quinn ring ($140) by Double Happiness, doublehappinessjewelry.com. Bra by Hanky Panky ($62) and lace panty by Leg Avenue ($22), Jolie Femme Boutique, joliefemmeboutique.com. Fringe jacket by Alice + Olivia ($278), Bloomingdale's Fashion Valley, bloomingdales.com. Slithur heels by Steve Madden ($110), Nordstrom, nordstrom.com. Earrings by Double Happiness, doublehappinessjewelry.com. Necklace by Frasier Sterling ($80), Van de Vort, shopvandevort.com.