KL: It just became an editing thing. I did give my teammates a heads up because it was the first time I had really tested myself – emotionally, physically, mentally. I didn’t want anyone treating me any differently though.
RC: I could not tell that you had been going through so much. How did you keep yourself on track & get through those hard times.
KL: For me, it did show. I could tell physically, looking at promotional photos of myself, that I looked like a sunken in remiscence of who I was. During the Trina Turk bathing suit challenge, which was the 2nd episode, I was sitting with Jenn and everyone around me was having a meltdown. I just looked at Jenn and said, “Are you kidding me?” At that moment I thought, “If I’m doing better than them, then I’ll be okay.”RC: You have had a long-standing relationship with Playboy, having negotiated contracts for Pamela Anderson & Deborah Gibson. Did you ever think that you would grace the pages of the magazine?
KL: Maybe 15 years ago! I’m an old hag now. It never considered my mind during my professional career. There was always a discussion of me joining up with Playboy in one sense or another. Marilyn Grabowski, the West Coast editor, had been telling me for the last 7 years she was going to get me in Playboy. She just retired Friday after 43 years of working on the magazine – the day after my issue hit stands.
RC: I heard that Hef called you himself to get you do the shoot. Were you surprised?
KL: I didn’t even believe my secretary when she told me he had called. But he left me a voice mail and everything!
RC: By posing for Playboy, what were you hoping to accomplish?
KL: There are multiple facets to posing for Playboy. Cancer awareness was definitely part of it. When you get diagnosed with cancer and lose the only organ that really distinguishes you as a woman, it really is a mind twister. It takes a while to understand – am I still a woman? Will my husband still love me even though I can’t bear his children? What I wanted to get across was: you ARE still a woman. I hope that sends a positive message. Go back to your lingerie, do it for yourself, you are still a woman!
RC: You are not the first reality contestant to pose for Playboy. What was Trump’s reaction?
KL: He knew at the finale. He came up to me and said, “I kept telling you – you had potential!” He was always talking about my body! He was great, completely supportive.
RC: What has the reaction been from your fans?
KL: It’s really been 98% positive. There’s that 2% of people who just like to be mean. A lot of people didn’t know I had had cancer. It just didn’t come up. I didn’t go to the hospital during the shoot so it became very non-factor. When I really started talking about, it was already week 10 and to introduce it at that point is sort of too late. I was 100% comfortable talking about it but I wanted it to come from a point of strength & knowledge, not from a point of wanting people to pity me.