Lonely ladies

Former centerfold Neriah Davis was here for you, but where were you?

When a chicken lays an egg, it actually comes out soft. The hard covering you crack on the frying pan is the result of a chemical reaction between the surrounding air and calcium in the shell.

Probably the last mouth one would expect to hear such trivia from is that of Playboy's Miss March 1994. But then, Neriah Davis had reason to have egg-laying on her mind when she came to Dallas last week. She was the main attraction for a traveling sideshow of former centerfolds that recently kicked off its world tour in Dallas. But it may be a small world after all, since the tour has been postponed indefinitely.

Models Expo was one of those ideas that looked great on paper, or at least it would have in 1970, before the age of Internet porn and proliferating strip clubs. Twenty-five former centerfolds flew to Dallas from all over the world, but mostly Los Angeles, and set up shop at the Adam's Mark hotel from June 2 to June 4. Their sole purpose was to hang out and sell naked photos of themselves. That's it. You could have bought them drinks or whatever icebreaker one uses with a centerfold and then casually gazed, with them watching your reaction, at airbrushed pictures of their bodies. For $17 at the door, men could walk from carnival booth to carnival booth gawking at the pictures. The wealthier--or more desperate--could pay $100 to dine with some of the world's most buxom blondes. Granted, you didn't have a shot in the world with any of them, but it's easy to get swept up in the moment.

At least it might have been, if anyone had bothered to show up.

Models Expo was the dream of 40-year-old David Williams, whose career began at St. Cloud State University in Minneapolis in the late 1970s. Williams, who was something of a player then, says he used to saunter up to beautiful Nordic women on campus--women he wouldn't ordinarily be able to land--and tell them that he was producing a fashion show and that he'd love to use them. He'd wine and dine them, feeding their mouths and his ego. Eventually he had to produce, so he did a makeshift fashion show for the college that was a surprising success. He dropped out of school and headed out West. Now he's living in North Hollywood, having power lunches at the Beverly Wilshire, and producing conventions in Los Angeles. He has done Amway conventions in the past. This, one assumes, was going to be different.

"My goal was to create an ongoing event," Williams says. "Remember when you saw your first Playboy? I'll bet no one ever had to tell you what a Playmate was again. I don't know. I have a ridiculous sum of money tied up into this, probably in excess of $200,000. I paid for every dime of the damn thing."

Williams calculated that not many in Los Angeles would pay money to see these women when they could stalk them for free on Malibu Beach. But Williams loves Dallas, or did before he did a belly flop out of the Presidential Suite window at Adam's Mark, and decided this would be a good place to get started. According to him, the town is trendy, big, and rich. Unluckily for Williams, what Dallas isn't is hard up for attractive women. The Playmates outnumbered the patrons 2-to-1 at any given time during the weekend's festivities.

The main attraction, Neriah Davis, sat alone at her booth, nudie pics strewn across the table. Maybe 100 people showed up total. Williams was expecting numbers in the thousands each day.

Several factors could have contributed to the absence of metroplex testosterone. The Stars had Stanley Cup games both Friday and Saturday nights, and heavy rain menaced North Texas with flash floods. Or maybe it was because for the same price a guy could have gone to a topless bar and seen real boobs in the flesh.

Whatever the case, here's what you missed:

The night before the expo, Williams, Davis, and Cathy St. George, who was one of the promoters and Miss August 1982, sat at a window seat in the Chaparral Club on the 38th floor of the Adam's Mark. Davis sipped $21-a-glass Chardonnay while St. George ordered a martini with a twist of lemon and powered sugar around the edges. Very L.A. That was the theme of the weekend: Los Angeles pop scene invades Dallas. Williams leaned back in his chair and admired his investments. They expected the best. The moment disagreeable words were uttered--a "what if" as to potential problems--Davis spoke up.

"Ugh, buzz kill, be gone."

And it was so.

They talked of trendy restaurants and boutiques and threw out names of trendy L.A. people. First names only. Angelinos apparently have done away with surnames. After the names, discussion shifted to recent parties.

"Omigod, remember Evan's party? Omigod, I was so F-Ued!" (Fucked up. People from L.A. also talk in abbreviations.)

The ladies kept drinking and ordered four appetizers: Beluga caviar on nine-grain crackers, sautéed shrimp tails (but the heads were left on the shrimp, making them unappetizing to the Playmates), stuffed mushrooms, and carpaccio. They passed the plates between each other, took little nibbles of everything but the shrimp, and let it be. Williams ended up eating it all--literally and figuratively.

"This weekend cost me some fucking bread, let me tell you," he says. "These girls are not the Howard Johnson type. They're used to getting pampered." Pampering in this case included four bottles of Champagne chilling in the Presidential Suite, the women's wardrobes, and the Presidential Suite itself.

More drinks. The waiter at this point was making every possible excuse to hang out around the table. He refilled water, ice, booze, offered dessert three different times, swept away crumbs that weren't there, commented on the beautiful skyline, and shooed a bug off Davis' neck. The bug was actually a tattoo of a bunny. It didn't go away.

Two hours of this, and the L.A. stories started. St. George talked about a party at a very famous Hollywood director's house. She won't name names, but assures her audience it is someone who is a household name. She was a little bit toasted at the party and says the director started mouthing off to her because she was being drunk and obnoxious.

"I'm Italian, and we have bad tempers," she says. St. George, a Southern girl by birth, is not used to being disrespected. She asked the director, "Do you know who the fuck you're talking to?" Apparently the Italian in her showed through, and the director, or so she says, spent the next two years under close watch of bodyguards. It's all in a book, she assures, but can't remember which one.

This friendly evening was the calm before the storm. The next day, Williams wasn't so jovial. His buffet and Polaroid party with the Playmates was a bust. Maybe 20 people showed up.

"See that huge crowd down there?" he asked, trying to mask the panic that was setting in. "Jesus, I have balls the size of a fucking elephant."

And that's that. Davis tried to console him throughout. Dallas could have been the start of a beautiful empire. But it's just not in the cards anymore. Williams lost his shirt. Davis might have lost hers, but you wouldn't know. You weren't there.

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