All photos © 2009 Bullz-Eye.com, LLC
Mr. Maloof sure knows how to throw a party. Viewing the expansive ballroom at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, I knew immediately that this was not some Shriners’ convention of years’ past. Six-by-eight-foot photos of the queen-in-waiting adorned the walls on all sides and klieg-like spotlights scanned and stopped with computer precision on the beautiful images. The lovely lady on the wall was the new 2009 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Ida Ljungqvist. Hef himself was in attendance, showing up like a proud papa to announce to the world press the super bunny of all the super bunnies, and he didn’t disappoint once again.
Each year Hugh Hefner, founder of the iconic Playboy magazine and multimedia empire, hosts a gala press event to present the new Playmate of the Year. To be selected from the previous year’s roster of stunning playmates is arguably either the most difficult task known to man or the most enjoyable, depending on your point of view. This year, the venue was moved from the Playboy Mansion to the hip and trend-setting Palms Casino and Resort, home of the world’s only Playboy Club, and Palms co-owner George Maloof (below) presented a lavish reception and showcase. The field of 2008 Playmate candidates was world class and several of the girls were in attendance that night, lending support to their friend and newly-crowned winner. Hef to his credit and impressive wisdom made an amazing choice in Miss March 2008 Ida Ljungqvist. The word “stunning” fails to adequately describe this Euro-African beauty, more like “hypnotically unforgettable” came to mind as I sat down for our Bullz-Eye.com interview.
Born to a Tanzanian mother and Swedish father, Ida traveled the globe while her father worked for UNICEF. Discovered by 2007 Playmate of the Year Sara Jean Underwood, Ida was working in management training at Bebe of Beverly Hills. Sara soon brought down then-Playmate photo editor and star of “The Girls next Door” Holly Madison to the store to meet Ida. This quickly led to her landing the title of Miss March 2008. Along with her new PMOY title, Ida received $100,000 in prize money, a 2009 red Mazda6 sports sedan and a special one-of-a-kind engraved bottle of Patron Platinum.
Rob Hilburger, Playboy’s West Coast publicity director, and his staff were kind enough to arrange interview and press access for Bullz-Eye, as we were one of only a selected few online media outlets invited to this exclusive event. A red carpet presentation was in order and, after a showing of several dozen playmates from the years and decades past, Rob announced the winner Ida Ljungqvist. Ida walked out to a blitz of camera strobes and news anchors waiting with microphones in hand. She politely posed and then did interviews with all the media, answering a host of questions with remarkable confidence and poise. This exotic brunette voiced excitement in Bullz-Eye and its huge readership base, and was eager to discuss her very active participation in the philanthropic group, Empowerment Works.
“We go into African countries and locate the resources that are already there and the people that are willing to work on them, and we teach the people to use the resources that they already have, to empower themselves, start agriculture, industry, and schools.” Ida enthusiastically stated that evening. “So than rather than waiting on donations all the time, they can do it on their own…” Having a father whose life work was in global charity, and with her childhood growing up in more than 12 countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, France, the U.K., Sweden and Denmark has seemingly had a powerful and positive influence on her. We at Bullz-Eye wish her the best of luck and success in all her endeavors throughout her reign as The 2009 Playboy Playmate of theYear.
Those wanting to see highlights of the event can catch the "Playmate of the Year 2009 Party Special," airing exclusively on Playboy TV throughout the month of June. This half hour special is hosted by 2008 Playmate of the Year Jayde Nicole.