the queen of the net on maximizing assets, saving lives and getting naked on the price is right
Cindy Margolis, a bodacious, blonde 32-year-old Los Angeles native, is busting out everywhere. First and foremost, Margolis appears 24-7-365 (or is it 36-24-36?) on her website: cindymargolis.com. There, with her repertoire of emoticons and perky repartee, she sidles up to her 60 million loyal cyberbuddies (59 percent male) with a diary of her doings in Celebrityville and an endless supply of cheesecake shots that, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, have made her the most downloaded woman on the Internet for four years running. Just this past fall, Margolis appeared on Suddenly Susan, Shasta McNasty, a WWF Smackdown and in the first of six E Channel specials called In Your Dreams With Cindy Margolis, in which she makes selected cyberbuddies' dreams come true. In August she'll have her own syndicated talk show. There's more: Margolis has been named one of Forbes' One-Year Wonders and one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People. Best of all, Margolis has let none of this go to her head. Sure, she's a bikini-clad role model fantasy for business school graduates everywhere, but Margolis is also genuine and sweet. She has never posed nude---not ever---and has gone so far as to file lawsuits against web operators who paste her head on naked bodies and claim that it's Cindy in the buff to lure unsuspecting surfers to their sites.
We asked Contributing Editor David Rensin---OK, he asked us---to meet the world's most downloaded woman and tell us what the fuss is about. Rensin says: "Cindy is smart and saucy and makes any clothing look good. We met at her house and talked in her living room. Then she took me on a tour that included the bedroom she shares with her husband, Guy, and the baskets in which she keeps her underwear and bathing suits. Finally, she showed me a room filled with Cindy memorabilia and the 100 posters she has done. It's her husband's shrine to her."
[Q] Playboy: More people have downloaded your Internet pictures than anyone else's. Why do so many want whatever you've got?
[A] Margolis: I'm the girl next door. I convey a healthy, sexy lifestyle. I'm confident. I'm also one of the first Internet celebrities. I was born there. Even though I was America's number one pin-up girl---my posters have sold millions---most people still didn't know me. Then Extra put some of my pictures on AOL to promote a show I was on and the response was more than anyone could have imagined. Soon I started my own site, cindymargolis. com, which is free. I feel like a pioneer, especially for women. When I first got on the web 80 percent of the people online were men. Now it's 50-50. I'm in the Guinness Book of World Records, and I didn't have to eat a hundred goldfish to make it.
[Q] Playboy: You draw the line at posing nude. Is that a moral imperative or a commercial consideration?
[A] Margolis: I have nothing against nudity. If I ever do it, it will be for Playboy. Or in a movie with Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. I'm not picky. I never say never. Right now it's a personal choice. I think mystery is better---I can be a lot sexier with clothes on. I always hear, "Everyone has done it. Why don't you do it?" Exactly. Everyone has done it, so why do I need to?
[Q] Playboy: We understand you got your start posing for greeting cards. What sentiments were you selling?
[A] Margolis: I started my own greeting card company when I was in high school. My mom and I thought it was cool to use sexy, fun sayings. On one card I posed in a cat outfit. It was so cute. At first---you're not going to believe this---it read: "Have a little pussy on your birthday." Oh my God [laughs]. Then my mom and I changed it to: "Have a little tail on your birthday." At the time I didn't know what that meant. I do now. On another card I wore a black corset. I was only 18, mind you, yet there I was saying something like, "Am I horny?" Well, something with "horny" in it. I also had my home phone number on the back. I was so naive.
[Q] Playboy: You've said your body developed early. What are the challenges of looking older than your years?
[A] Margolis: When I was in sixth grade I had high school boys trying---unsuccessfully---to pick up on me. Then I went to a private high school for my senior year. The teachers were mostly in their 20s. Once, after the female teachers had had a meeting about me, they called in my parents, sat us down and said I should not wear makeup to school because it---no, I---was distracting. What they meant was "distracting to the men teachers." But makeup, to me, is just everything, so I refused. But I agreed to cover up the rest of me. It makes me laugh now when I look at the old pictures---I guess I really did wear sexy things. Some of my dresses were so tight, sort of like Ally McBeal's dresses. But with me there was a big difference---I would walk two steps and then have to pull them down because the stretchy fabric would ride up my butt. The teachers had every right to complain.
[Q] Playboy: Define "sex symbol."
[A] Margolis: In Raquel Welch's time it was a stereotype based on the size of your breasts and the notion that the bigger your chest, the smaller your brain. It was completely Hollywood. When I watched Raquel's biography on A&E, I could (continued on page 138)Cindy Margolis(continued from page 123) tell that she hated that, but it was too hard to get out of. Now, being a sex symbol is something that you can be proud of: You're sexy, confident, smart, competent. And your look can be anything that someone else considers attractive. There's nothing wrong with using your physical attributes to get started. Most women in the business do. But most also have more than just their looks and they want to grow. Now maybe we have that chance.
[Q] Playboy: You're a self-made woman. Give us your rules for success.
[A] Margolis: Get noticed. Use your brain. Nothing is more important than eye contact and a great smile. There are a million beautiful girls who get off the bus every day who are prettier and smarter. Use your mind creatively. You have to be out of the ordinary.
[Q] Playboy: Explain your online investment strategy.
[A] Margolis: I invested in America Online, but my overall goal is not to invest but to be invested in. I want to take my company public. I remember when I was in Forbes, as a one-year wonder. I said, "Why now? Wait until I go public. You'll dedicate a whole issue to me." If anyone can ride the Internet wave it should be me. I'm working on that now. I'll need good partners; I can't just traipse over to Wall Street by myself. Someone's got to put together the revenue model and all that stuff, which is boring. I want to get into e-commerce with a Cindy Mall. I want to have a lifestyle section and a celebrity section. My millennium calendar is out, and I'll also have Cindy products like mouse pads and computer accessories. But it's much broader than that. I want to be an Internet portal. I mean, if you're going to go online to shop, why not do it at my site? I'll offer the best deals. And I also want to have live, streaming celebrity interviews. Fashion shows. My own swimwear and lingerie line. It's going to be exciting, and I believe I can actually do it because I've got the eyeballs---the traffic at my site---to make it happen. I have 60 million fans I call cyberbuddies. Another good thing: When you go to Amazon.com or wherever, you don't know who you're interacting with. I'm an actual person. I can generate millions of dollars' worth of publicity because I can go on shows and promote things. And I answer my e-mail.
[Q] Playboy: What common misconceptions shared by your cyberbuddies would you like to clear up right now?
[A] Margolis: That I sit at my computer e-mailing in my lingerie. The computer and e-mail part is true, but at three A.M. I'm in pajamas and flip-flops, or a T-shirt, with my hair up. People also think I get off-color e-mail because it's basically anonymous, but that's rare. Maybe, just for the hell of it, someone should occasionally tell me they're doing something while looking at my pictures. Just let me know! [Laughs] I love getting e-mail. My time's no more precious than my cyberbuddies' and I appreciate their taking the time to write.
[Q] Playboy: Cybersex: good or bad?
[A] Margolis: Definitely good. But I've never done it, because I hear you have to type with one hand. That leaves me out because I hunt and peck.
[Q] Playboy: What do you see when you look inside your computer? With what knowledge can you dazzle your non-wired friends?
[A] Margolis: I've looked inside when the repairman is working. Otherwise, I'm like a TV doctor: I play this computer-savvy genius, but I'm really not. People say, "Help. My computer froze." I say, "Get it a sweater."
[Q] Playboy: In August you will graduate from the world wide web to television when your syndicated talk show debuts. How will it stand out from the pack?
[A] Margolis: First of all, it has me. And it will be hooked up interactively with my website. We did the pilot in Miami, on the beach at night. How often has that been done? The best way to describe it is like Ricki Lake but with young, good-looking, hip guests, and no weird, trashy topics. We do things like "Teach Me How to Be Sexy" and "You're Not Wearing That to the Beach" and "Marry Me or Else." My favorite is "Obsessed Fan." It's based on my biggest website fan. He's always first in my online chats. He e-mails me every day. He has all my posters hanging in his house, some in his bedroom. His girlfriend finally got jealous---I didn't even know he had a girlfriend. We brought them on the show. At first she didn't like me. To her I was the perfect poster on the wall while she woke up next to him with her hair a mess and crust in her eyes. I told her I'm like that, too, and said, "Still, you have every right to be mad. I'd be mad." Then I told her boyfriend, "You've got to stop spending time on my site. Come on." That won her over. Finally, she said he could have my posters in the garage but not in the bedroom. I said, "I'm married, so you're never going to have a chance with me. But you have a beautiful real-live girl here. We can stay cyberbuddies, but get a life or she's going to leave you." Then all of a sudden he proposed to her. That was a complete surprise to me---and a huge relief that she accepted.
[Q] Playboy: When you and a girlfriend appeared on Howard Stern's radio/TV show, stripped down to your underwear and poured water on your T-shirts, he got his highest rating ever. How does Howard get so many fabulous women to do so many outlandish things?
[A] Margolis: Howard's a charmer, a sweet-talker and a great friend. When we got there he said, "We're playing a strip game! Every time you lose you have to take off something." At first I didn't want to, but Howard said to the audience, "Oh, Cindy thinks logically. She's not just going to play the game. I have to do something for her." I said, "Howard, there's nothing you can do. I don't mind appearing in a swimsuit because I made my career posing in them, but stripping is not me." Then Howard said to the audience, "Cindy thinks in dollars and cents. So this is what we'll do: Cindy, if you play this game I will promote you, your website, whatever you want, every 15 minutes for the rest of the day and the rest of the week. You can call in any time and I'll put you on. You can say anything you want." I probably shouldn't have said OK, but I have this excuse: Details magazine had named me one of its ten sexiest women of the year. I was thrilled. I went to New York to do the party and I took my girlfriend because she lives in town. The party was over at two in the morning, which is way past my bedtime, and I had to be at Howard's show at four in the morning. I don't drink coffee, but maybe because I was on that wonderful high of having had a great time and getting the red carpet treatment, I decided to stay up. I guess my brain wasn't functioning clearly. I said OK because I figured you can't see anything on the radio, and not much more on TV. But as we were pouring water on our T-shirts I was thinking, What the hell am I doing? I also gave Howard a kiss, which I'm not supposed to do. Fortunately, it wasn't only me. Howard was in his underwear. Robin showed her bra: She's never done that before, so that was a huge thing for the audience. Baba Booey was in his underwear, too. Now the show has rerun like 27 times. It's part of what made CBS sit up and notice me for my own show.
[Q] Playboy: Some sociologists believe that the expression of cultural-economic power in the first half of this century resided mostly with WASPs, and that in the second half the Jews had it. You're Jewish. Care to comment?
[A] Margolis: Not really, but I did play the Jewish card with Howard Stern the first time I went on. I knew he was going to give me a hard time, so I wore a bikini top and pants. I didn't even put on the full bikini, which I do on shows all the time. When I walked in he said, "Oh, I'd like to bang you!" He tried so hard. I said, "Howard, I'm looking for a nice Jewish boy." When I said Jewish, he all of a sudden turned nice. Everyone in the studio thought, God, Howard's like putty in her hands. He saw me differently. Apparently so did whoever was listening. I got so many marriage proposals, even from rabbis. I also made a Jerusalem newspaper.
[Q] Playboy: Then you married a nice Jewish boy named Guy. How did you know Guy was the guy for you?
[A] Margolis: He knew my former manager and wanted to meet me, but I said no to a date about nine times. I'd just gotten out of a relationship. Then one day I had to sign something at the office, and my manager suggested we go to lunch afterward. When we pulled up in front of Jerry's Deli---which Guy owns---I said, "I will kill you if that guy Guy is here! If he is, I'm not going in!" My manager said, "Cindy, he's not going to be there. This is the closest restaurant and we're on a schedule." So we go in and, of course, Guy was there. [Pauses] I liked him immediately. Afterward, he walked us to the car. But he didn't ask for my number or anything. Then I figured, "God, after all that and he didn't even like me." I kept asking my manager, "Did he ask for my number?" He'd say, "No, but I'm sure he will." Four days later I got a message that Guy had called. That was really smart of him. It got me interested. Our first date didn't go so well, but our second date was a Lakers game, and I'm a huge Lakers fan. He has season tickets. After that, I saw him every single day. Later I found out that Guy had been looking for a nice Jewish girl.
[Q] Playboy: What kind of behavior or procedures that are perfectly OK in a restaurant kitchen would you not tolerate in your kitchen at home?
[A] Margolis: Everything, because I don't tolerate cooking in my house. That's right: I don't cook. I don't even know what that thing with the burners is called. I supposedly have a good refrigerator, but there's only water and Diet Coke in it. It's pathetic. My husband likes fresh food and no leftovers. I think food tastes better the second day. To compromise we just order in and toss what we don't eat.
[Q] Playboy: What's in the top left drawer of your dresser?
[A] Margolis: I don't have a dresser. My husband has a walk-in closet in which he's let me put a bit of stuff. I have an underwear basket, a swimwear basket, a lingerie basket, a bra basket. I wear my husband's socks, so I don't have a sock basket. [Cindy takes me upstairs to the bedroom and shows me.] I have a closet in the guest bedroom and a little closet in the bathroom. My clothes are all over the place. Guy gets the closet because he is the woman in our relationship. He will kill me for saying that, but he just has better taste than I do. He loves to shop. He wears suits and white shirts to work. He picks out all my clothes. Obviously, my wardrobe is minimal.
[Q] Playboy: Bikini waxes: Have they gone too far? Is pubic minimalism here to stay? Should men follow suit?
[A] Margolis: To answer the last question first: Yes. Men should definitely follow suit. Pubic hair is an important thing, and you have to take care of it. It has to be groomed. It's part of your body. You shave your legs every day, you wash your hair; why leave out that little area? How you do it is your choice, but women can't just let it run wild anymore. This isn't the Sixties. A trimming service should be offered in more salons. A lightning bolt would be a good design. Or your initials. I think it wouldn't be hard to do a C. And a G might be a little hard. M would be tough. But a C would be pretty easy. I think bare is cool, though it's hard to maintain. So just do bare for special occasions like on a date night.
[Q] Playboy: You worked on The Price Is Right. Give us the short course on the fine art of game-show hand gestures. Who teaches you the tricks? Is there a display you wanted to work with but didn't get the chance?
[A] Margolis: It's more difficult than you think. Two hands from the hips to a flip, ending with the palms upward, is the grand gesture. It's used for boats and cars and anything over $10,000. Smaller items---cups, toasters, etc.---are handheld. The camera pulls in for a close-up of your face, smiling, then the item you're holding. There's also the hand gesture for medium-priced stuff. I got to do most everything, including the items for which you wear only a towel. Unfortunately, I lost my towel. Because everything's live, you're running for your next move, there are things flying around and my towel got hooked on something. I was exposed. That'll probably be the one nude video that will turn up somewhere: Cindy naked on The Price Is Right. Oh, and once, I came out in a swimsuit just as someone in the audience had a seizure, and forever after I was teased about having caused it.
[Q] Playboy: On the other hand, it's rumored that one of your posters brought a dying young fan back to life and complete health. Explain.
[A] Margolis: I take no credit for that. This poor little guy, Tommy, 13 years old, in Michigan, was deathly ill. He lived in a small town. They had to airlift him to a hospital in Detroit. He was hooked up to all these machines. They brought in specialists. They couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. The only thing left to try was a procedure to rejuvenate his blood, but even that only gave him a five percent chance of living. It was around Christmas and the doctor told his family, "You really should stay at his bedside." He also asked them to bring some of the boy's favorite things from home. One was my poster. The kid had saved up his allowance to buy it. Because 13 in a small Michigan town is not like 13 in LA, his mom had given him a really hard time about it. But they brought the poster to the hospital and stuck it on his oxygen tank with surgical tape. He was in a rotating bed so if by chance he opened his eyes, he'd see me posing in a bikini. Miracle of miracles, the night my poster was hung above his bed he opened his eyes and was completely fine. It totally baffled the doctors. They started calling me Dr. Cindy around the hospital, bought a bunch of my posters and gave them to everyone in the ICU. The local news did a story.
The world found out about it because Joan Rivers saw the news story when she was in Detroit. She wanted to bring the boy and his family and me to New York. I had already gotten a tearjerker letter from his mom, Kathy, saying: "Thank you for saving my son," but I didn't know it was real until Joan called me. We all met for the first time on the show. Since then, we've become best friends. They're like my second family. His mom is my second mom. She's my webmaster. I see Tommy all the time. He comes to my shoots. He's like a young Steven Spielberg. Last year I went with him to his senior prom. He's six feet tall now. When we walked in, there were TV cameras everywhere. After that, all the girls were totally in love with him. Not only did I save his life, but five years later I think I helped him make it with the prom queen.
[Q] Playboy: We always hear from beautiful women that the men who make them laugh get the gals. That seems false to us, possibly even destructive. When we think of Leo and Brad, do we also think of women laughing? Are you just trying to let men down easy?
[A] Margolis: I always say that if you can make me smile I'm yours. Looks are only good for the first month or two. There's that initial passion and stuff, but afterward what are you left with? When I was single I dated models and actors and, believe me, I cannot be with someone who spends more time than I do looking in the mirror. Of course, I have to be attracted to a man in the first place. Chemistry counts, but laughter is definitely something women respond to. I admit you sometimes think sex with the stud may be better. But once you've been there and done that, I think you can move on. All women have to have that stud guy in their life once, to try him out. But in the long run, the nice guys who make you laugh are going to win out. Nice guys do not finish last.
I play this computer genius, but I'm not. People say, "My computer froze." I say, "Get it a sweater."