Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Candace Jordan: Playmate Perfection

The Glamazon

Sitting at a private table in Nookies in Lincoln Park, a woman with an extreme coif and feline-shaped eyes is speaking excitedly into her cell phone about a theater script she’s been asked to write for Victory Gardens Theatre. Dressed minimalistically in head-to-toe black with an exquisitely-cut Lester Lampert diamond ring winking from one manicured finger, it is easy to understand why Candace Jordan is considered one of Chicago’s most glamorous socialites.

When Luxe File Chicago first approached Jordan for an interview, we imagined a meeting spot that would effortlessly combine her ultra-sophisticated, jet-setting lifestyle and her Playboy centerfold past. Agent Provocateur? La Perla, perhaps? However, when Jordan suggested the popular breakfast spot, the idea of munching on fluffy omelletes and pancakes sounded a lot more delicious than modeling sexy lingerie with the former Playmate.

In between coffee refills and a steady stream of calls and text messages, Luxe File Chicago learned why she’s so sweet on 50 Cent, her non-sexual fascination with Sandra Bullock and what really keeps her 20-year marriage to Chuck Jordan on the steamy side.


Luxe File Chicago: You have worn many interesting hats in your life – model, actress, wife, blogger, philanthropist, society maven. What other goals would you still like to achieve?

Candace Jordan: I have accomplished a lot of things in my life and I’ve realized it is so important to be open to new things and ideas. Sometimes it amazes me the wonderful opportunities that fall into my lap, especially when they're from unexpected sources. Recently, Lucinda Hahn (Chicago Magazine) called to tell me the editor thought I would make a great subject and wanted her to write a profile about me (“Belle of the Blog”, March 2010 issue). And I just received a call from Victory Gardens – they invited me to write a short play which will be featured in this year’s “Chicago Stories”. I certainly never thought I would ever be a playwright!

"Belle of the Blog"

LFC: Describe what a typical day for you is like? Is your calendar filled with fabulous fêtes, photoshoots and philanthropy?

CJ: There are no typical days, which is good because I get bored easily. This morning, I attended a philanthropic grant meeting and will spend the rest of the afternoon working on my blog and editing pictures from a party I attended last night. Yesterday was completely Joffrey Ballet-related, from dawn to dusk. At night, I go to a lot of events. I love to do that.

LFC: How does your husband, Chuck Jordan, handle your hectic lifestyle? He seems like the perfect partner-in-crime.

CJ: (Smiling) He is the perfect partner! I couldn’t do this without him. He is the most supportive person. Some events he attends only to be supportive but mostly he goes to the ones he knows will be fun for him.

LFC: How did you meet your husband and what is the secret to your marital bliss?

CJ: Chuck and I met through a mutual friend. We got married six months after we met at the Drake Hotel and honeymooned in Paris. Our secret is that we communicate a lot and we know everything there is to know about each other. I admire him to no end. He is the kindest person I have ever met.

Candace and Chuck - how love looks after 20 years!

LFC: What social boards, charities and organizations are you a member?

CJ: I am on the Women’s Board of the Joffrey Ballet Company, the Board of Directors of Common Threads, the Service Club Board of Managers, Parkways Foundations, PAWS Development Board and the Costume Council.

LFC: What Chicago woman do you most admire?

CJ: While I couldn’t name just one, I can say that Chicago is well-known for its common sense and hard work ethic. A woman who has both is the perfect person. I know a lot of women like that.

LFC: Who is your favorite Chicago guy?

CJ: (Laughing) My husband, Chuck! I love Mayor Daley, too. I think what he’s done to Chicago is nothing short of a miracle. He’s made us into a world-class city.

Candace with Mayor Richard Daley

LFC: What are some of your favorite things about Chicago?

CJ: The lakefront. There’s no other city I know of that has a beautiful lakefront with a beach.

LFC: Tell us about Playboy! What was it like to be a Playboy Bunny and centerfold?

CJ: When I was 19, I was hired as a Bunny at the Playboy Club in St. Louis. Then I moved to Chicago to work and lived in the Playboy Mansion. I was more a service kind of Bunny. I greeted people at the front door so I was the first face people saw when they came in. That’s how the art directors came to know me. I was also very photogenic and they requested me for ads including the life-sized posters that they displayed at the Playboy Clubs. Then they asked if I would like to test for Playmate. I agreed. I really knew these guys and it felt comfortable. I did the test and it was accepted. That’s how I became a Playboy Magazine centerfold in the December 1979 issue. It was such an incredible experience.

Playboy Magazine - February 1979

Note: In addition to being a centerfold, Candace Jordan shot seven covers for Playboy Magazine and was named Chicago’s “Playboy Bunny of the Year” in 1976.

Playboy Magazine - February 1980

Playboy Magazine (Spanish) - September 1986

Playboy's "Bunny of the Year" - Chicago, 1976

LFC: What is Hugh Hefner really like?

CJ: He is a very sentimental, old-world gentleman with wonderful values. I think that is why all these young girls are so attracted to him!

Then: Candace with Hugh Hefner

Now: Candace with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion

LFC: You lived in the Playboy Mansion. Any interesting stories you can share?

CJ: The Chicago Mansion was a lot of fun. Celebrities were always coming to visit. Hugh enjoyed throwing fun events and parties. I remember one, we each got a note under our door that read: “Mr. Hefner would like you to join him for his birthday for cake and ice cream tonight at 9:30 p.m.” Absolutely charming! There were other perks like ordering lobster at 3 a.m. or we would sunbathe on the roof and toss water balloons down on State Street. It was a riot.

Nobody "rolls" like Candace in purple skates!

LFC: Speaking of Playboy, have you seen the E! Channel’s hit reality TV show, “The Girls Next Door”?

CJ: I was on it! In one of “The Girls Next Door” episodes, Holly organized a luncheon for Hef with the Playboy Playmates from the 1970’s which included Patti Connors, Sondra Theodore, and myself. We were talking and reminiscing about our Playboy pasts. It was so cute because Hef sent us copies of the show.

LFC: What was your greatest model moment?

CJ: My JVC billboard in Times Square. I didn’t even get to see it so the art director sent me a Polaroid of it.

LFC: What were some of the best perks you enjoyed as a model?

CJ: They really took care of us. We were chauffered everywhere, went to the hippest clubs and dined at the best restaurants.

LFC: You have one of the chicest, most recognized coifes in Chicago. Who styles your hair?

CJ: Charles Ifergan has been cutting and styling my hair since he was a baby. I adore him. I style my hair this way because when I was modeling, they would always slick my hair back. Over the years, I kept cutting it shorter until I got it this way. It’s so liberating.

LFC: Favorite travel destination?

CJ: St. Tropez. We’ve been going for seventeen years and I celebrated my 50th birthday there. It’s the chicest place in the world and the people there are so gorgeous. Even the music is ground-breaking. It’s where I first heard “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent. At first, the lyrics made me want to scream but now it’s one of my all-time favorite songs!

LFC: Most romantic moment?

CJ: On one of my birthdays, I woke up in the morning and found a trail of paper my husband had left with little words of love that led down to our kitchen which he filled with balloons and pictures. I took photos which I keep in my dressing room at home to remind me of it. I feel so lucky to have a guy who thinks like that.

LFC: Most cherished possession?

CJ: My photos.

LFC: Favorite words of wisdom?

CJ: “When one door closes, another door opens wider”.

LFC: Favorite way you de-stress?

CJ: I love scented candles. I also like to sit in the atrium and watch the birds in our backyard. It’s so tranquil and idyllic. Sometimes Chuck and I sit in there in the evenings with our two chihuahuas, Mickey and Rooney, and drink wine and play music from the 1940s.

LFC: Who are you wearing right now?

CJ: Donna Karan cashmere sweater, black tights and a Lester Lampert diamond ring.

LFC: In Chicago, where is your favorite place to dine?

CJ: I love RL! It’s a wonderful restaurant for lunch or dinner. The staff is incredible.

LFC: Favorite place to shop?

CJ: My last shopping excursion was at Jolie Femme in Winnetka, Illinois. I love it because it’s very European, chic and affordable.

LFC: What advice would you give young people who’d wish to follow in your footsteps?

CJ: So many young people try to pattern themselves off of somebody else. Instead of looking outside for the answers, I would urge them to look inside to find out who they truly are.

LFC: If your life was made into a movie, what would the title be and who would play you?

CJ: “Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative” (a Johnny Mercer classic) and Sandra Bullock. Her spirit and compassion, not to mention her humor, inspire me.

Sandra Bullock - Candace's hot crush

LFC: Luxe File Chicago has dedicated its site to the "love of living luxuriously". Finish this sentence, "When it comes to living luxuriously, always..."

CJ: Be true to who you are.

Story by Sally & Kerry Shorr

Photos courtesy of Candace Jordan