Deep Inside the Bunny
Alexis, a tall exotic dancer from New Hampshire with golden blond hair that hangs seductively to the small of her back, sits at the bar of Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Club on Federal Highway, a bottle of water in one hand. It's nearing 9 p.m. on a Tuesday, and the Oakland Park strip joint is filled with U.S. Navy sailors on leave from duty in the Middle East, waiting eagerly for the featured entertainer. But Alexis has a professional interest in the show.
"I hear she's a nasty girl," Alexis says. The young woman is referring to Teri Weigel, a 42-year-old Deerfield Beach native known throughout the adult-entertainment industry as the only woman to cross Playboy Enterprises' Hugh Hefner. In April 1986, Weigel became a Playboy centerfold. In the years that followed, she worked on nude films for the Chicago-based adult empire. But in 1991, things changed. Seduced by big paydays, Weigel entered the porn industry and marketed herself as the only Playmate to go hardcore, challenging the prerogatives of the aggressively self-protective Playboy empire. Hefner has since tried to ruin her career, Weigel alleges. Whether that's true or not, dancing tonight for sailors who paid $5 to get in isn't exactly a career high.
At 9:20 p.m., the music stops and the announcer introduces Weigel: "The one, the only, Teri Weeeeeiiiiiigel!" The crowd cheers. Weigel appears from stage right, caked with dark makeup and dressed in heels and a black see-through teddy. She hops around like a bunny for a few seconds, then swings her five-foot-seven, 108-pound, top-heavy body around a silver pole.
"Fort Lauderdale rocks!" yells one of the revved-up sailors at a table near the stage.
Weigel pulls one of the plainclothes seamen on stage, unbuttons his jeans, and pulls them down to his ankles, leaving only his boxer shorts. She then takes a firm grasp of the man's hips with both hands and moves her brunet head back and forth vigorously, imitating oral sex. The crowd cheers her on.
"Now all these guys are going to think we do that," Alexis says from the bar.
"Honey, she's doing it so you don't have to," responds Robin, a friendly brunet bartender wearing fishnet stockings.
Could be. Weigel's willingness to perform the acts that most strippers won't suggests just how far the aging porn starlet's career has dipped. In the late 1980s, Weigel became one of America's most lusted-after sex symbols as Al Bundy's fantasy woman on the television show Married... with Children. But that was a long time ago. More recent for Weigel was a stint as a prostitute at Nevada's Moonlite Bunny Ranch, proving that the lines among nude modeling, strip clubs, adult movies, and prostitution are easily blurred.
Weigel's path into the sex industry began in Deerfield Beach as the middle child of a devoutly Catholic family. She and two sisters and two brothers attended Deerfield High School. Blessed with a pretty face and a petite frame, Weigel became Miss Teenage Deerfield Beach at age 17. Her crowning led to modeling gigs in Miami, posing for Burdines ads that appeared in newspapers throughout Florida. Weigel realized early on that she had a lucrative modeling career ahead. She left South Florida for New York City. "One day, someone from Paris came up to me and said, 'Hey, you'd do great there,'" Weigel recalls, lying on the floor in a backstage room at Spearmint Rhino. "That summer I moved to Paris. That's where my whole career started."
Her shots caught the attention of Hefner's operatives in Chicago. The offer was enticing. "I got to meet the editors, and they really liked my look," Weigel recalls. "They said, 'We want you to come out and shoot you for the cover. '"
Weigel became a Playboy cover girl in November 1985. Five months later -- around the time she met her future husband, Murrill Maglio, a former Fort Lauderdale musician who now also works in the adult film industry -- she was a Playboy centerfold of the month.
In addition to a recurring role as Al Bundy's fantasy chick, Weigel's Playboy appearances led to bit parts in several movies, including Predator 2 and Scarface. She cites those roles often, even though her Predator 2 appearance lasted only long enough for her, as "Colombian Girl," to let out a scream.
Still, Weigel was convinced that she was on the verge of Pamela Anderson-style stardom. Then came August 1990. Weigel suffered a severe neck and back injury in a car accident, requiring five surgeries and sidelining her career. Unable to support her lavish lifestyle, Weigel decided to do what no other Playmate had done before or since: become a hardcore porn star. Then a hot commodity, Weigel brokered a deal making $4,000 per day.
She debuted in the 1991 film Inferno, performing in a scene with Marc Wallice, star of 840 adult films to date. Weigel made a reputation for herself as a screamer, one of the most enthusiastic porn stars to grace video-store shelves. "I'm a very sexual being," she says backstage at the Spearmint Rhino, stretching one leg over a tanning bed and exposing her pierced vagina.
But Hefner was less than thrilled about the movies, Weigel claims. The X-rated films exploited Weigel's Playboy credits on box covers and in advertising materials. Since then, Weigel alleges, Playboy Enterprises has tried to ruin her career, purportedly blacklisting her from porn giant Vivid Video.
"Hef likes to control the girls," Weigel explains. "He couldn't control me."
Forget trying to get answers from the Playboy empire, says Tim Connelly, publisher of Adult Video News, the porn industry's paper of record. "They won't talk about it," he says. "[Playboy Enterprises] tried to get her not to do it. They did what they could to stop her. She was a centerfold. She was on Playboy's cover. Her going X-rated tainted their name."
"Who?" responded Playboy Enterprises spokesperson Jay Jay Nesheim when asked about Weigel's allegations. Nesheim would not provide further comment.
Despite alleged harassment from Playboy, the Deerfield Beach native has thrived in the porn business, becoming one of the best-known stars of the '90s even as she entered middle age. "She's still in the top 20," says Connelly, who estimates that Weigel makes more than $100,000 a year from the porn industry.
In her constant pursuit of additional paydays, Weigel has even exploited her home life, running a voyeur website that allows subscribers to watch her from 18 cameras set up throughout her Los Angeles house. In 2000, Playboy Enterprises sicced its attorneys on the porn starlet for using Playboy logos and images on her website (www.teriweigel.com).
As 11 p.m. approaches, Weigel stands up backstage and takes off her black teddy, exposing her expensive, balloon-like breasts and thin waistline. She then slips on a tight, zebra-striped tube top and white high heels. It's showtime.
"I came into this business because of Playboy," she explains. "There was no one who ever did adult, so I went from Playmate to immediate star. There was no starting at the bottom. Those other girls are adult stars. I'm a Playmate adult star. There's nobody like that but me."
Weigel walks out of her private dressing room, past Spearmint Rhino's hairdresser and makeup artist, as house dancers change next to lockers. She passes a security guard and ducks into an area stage right. The announcer comes over the microphone. The music starts, Saliva's "Click Click Boom."
The former Playmate dashes on stage. "Click!" the singer yells as Weigel pulls down her top to expose one breast. "Click!" Then comes the other breast. "Boom!"
It's a long way from the Playboy Mansion.
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