Young Steve Blick has been courting a Playboy Playmate. He has wooed Miss April with flattering words, and now he kneels before her with gifts. In Blick’s duffel bag are a hundred pairs of Oakley sunglasses, with vaporized metal coatings and patented XYZ Optics. Blick does not wish to possess this woman in a physical way. He wishes to possess her in a marketing way: He wants to sponsor her bones.
The woman, 33-year-old Danelle Folta, is captain of Team Playboy X-Treme, an adventure-racing squadron that consists of 22 former centerfolds in their twenties and early thirties. Since its inception in 1998, Team Playboy has run one Eco-Challenge—the famously grueling slog across one or another of the world’s most unwelcoming landscapes—and nine Hi-Tec Adventure Races, daylong competitions here in the U.S. Unfortunately the team was disqualified in the 2000 Eco-Challenge for failing to reach a checkpoint in time, but placed second in the women’s division in four Hi-Tec races. The Playmates also compete in non-endurance events, including volleyball and golf tournaments. Regardless of their standing, the women feature prominently in television coverage of these games. To date, the team has 14 corporate sponsors, including Adidas, St. Pauli Girl, Red Bull, and Oakley. A popular ice cream brand is considering launching an X-Treme Girl flavor, despite the questionable tact of naming a lickable product after soft-porn models.
Blick, 33, has driven from Oakley’s Orange County headquarter...