By Tony Lovitt
Photography by Carlos Nunez
Styling by Amanda Thorne-Pritchard, Thorne Artistry
Hair by Maegan Cooper, A Robert Cromeans Salon
Makeup by Erica Franksen, Walk In Salon
Photographer's Assistant: A.J. Cronk
Floral Arrangements by Leaf it to Lexi
Grin & Bare It
Peeling back the layers with Kayslee Collins, Playboy's February 2015 Playmate of the Month
Since Playboy magazine's inaugural publication in December 1953, nearly 750 women have graced its pages as "Playmate of the Month." The newest member of that club, Miss February 2015, is Kayslee Collins, a native San Diegan who projects a far different image from the vast majority of her wholesome, girl-next-door predecessors.
"Bad girl," "edgy," "hip" and "street smart" are among the adjectives that have been used to describe the multi-talented Collins, who used to hang with Leonardo DiCaprio and is already an accomplished actress and model, as well as an up-and-coming singer/songwriter.
"I like those words. Those are cool," says Collins of the descriptors. One online bio describes her as "the seductive, blonde-haired black widow with the Midas touch." And yet...
"What I post [online] or my creative direction isn't what I am every single day. I'm not this edgy bad-ass girl running around on a motorcycle in a leather jacket every day," says Collins, 23, who grew up in San Marcos and Poway, and attended Twin Peaks Middle School and Poway High. "What I like to create does come across a little bit edgier than most people would put out there. But I'm still, at the end of the day, from San Diego, born and raised, a regular girl."
At the age of 3 or 4, Collins remembers being infatuated with a photo of Marilyn Monroe she saw hanging on the wall of a local Applebee's restaurant in which she dined with her family. Although Collins was far too young to have any knowledge of the iconic actress (who, coincidentally, was Playboy's very first "Sweetheart/Playmate of the Month"), there was nonetheless something about her that influences Collins even today.
"[Marilyn Monroe] is a big part of my life," says Collins, adding that she continuously researches Monroe's life and work. "It's not that she's all over my house or anything. It's more that I feel that she just had this way about her that is so mesmerizing, and I think that is definitely something that I've brought into my art and what I'm creating now as an adult."
Early on, it was evident that Collins was born to be a performer. As a child, she put on shows for visitors to her family's home. At the age of 7, she landed her first commercial (for Sprint) on her very first audition. By the time she was 12 or 13, she was a "veteran" of more than 30 commercials.
"And it was just something that I always loved and, honestly, I always knew I was going to be doing in some way. I consider modeling a performance, as well," says Collins, whose mother was a Ford Model and whose two older sisters were musically inclined.
Being a singer/songwriter is the newest jewel in Collins' professional triple crown. She has released a three-song EP, Girls Night In, and two music videos, "Mulholland" and "Fearless." Another EP is forthcoming, and Collins says its songs are "the closest thing to what I've wanted [to achieve musically] for so long."
"I like to bring this dark realness to my lyrics. It's not that I'm unhappy, but the artistic side of me... there's just this trueness and realness that I want to bring to life, and I want other people to relate to," she says. "And I'm not afraid to say there's bad in my life and I'm not afraid to talk about the f***ing failures that I've had. I'm more attracted to people who write like that as well."
Collins' lyrics may be dark, but her future is bright as she builds on a triumphant 2014.
"I'm happy now. It's been a really good run," she says.
"So I'm just going with the flow. I know where I am now and the happiness that I'm feeling now and the things that I'm accomplishing now. [The future will] be probably times ten. [My career] is always bringing me new surprises. And I think that's why I love it so much."