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Photos: Hef’s pre-wedding Las Vegas trip for Playmate of the Year crowning

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Hugh Hefner, Claire Sinclair, third from right, and other Playboy Playmates at Ditch Fridays at Palms Pool & Bungalows at the Palms on May 6, 2011.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/ErikKabik.com

With a little more than 1 month left before the wedding of Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner and December 2009 Playmate Crystal Harris, Hef flew to Las Vegas today to crown the 2011 Playmate of the Year. The couple -- he’s 85, and she’s 25 -- will wed in a semi-formal affair at The Playboy Mansion on June 18. It’s his third marriage and her first, and they became engaged on Christmas Day.

Invitations with turquoise and fuchsia Swarovski crystals to match the wedding day colors have been mailed to 300 guests: “Crystal Harris and Hugh M. Hefner request the pleasure of your company at the celebration of their marriage,” he tweeted yesterday.

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Hugh Hefner, Claire Sinclair at Palms Pool & Bungalows

4/20/11: Claire Sinclair in Crazy Horse Paris

Bettie Page Fashion Show With Claire Sinclair

Claire Sinclair's Debut in Crazy Horse Paris

Hef, who celebrated his 85th birthday last month in conjunction with son Marston’s 21st birthday at the Palms, returned to George Maloof’s casino resort to host the season premiere of Ditch Friday at Palms Pool & Bungalows this afternoon. Tonight, Hef and Crystal name the new Playmate of the Year at a private reception at Moon.

Accompanying the very much in love couple are 2010 Playmates Jamie Edmonson, Kyra Milan, Kassie Logsdon, Katie Vernola, Shanna McLaughlin, Francesca Frigo, Olivia Page and Shera Bechard. Additional guests include 2010 Playmate of the Year Hope Dworaczyk, 2008 Playmate of the Year Jayde Nicole, January 2011 Playmate Anna Berglund and The Girls Next Door star Bridget Marquardt.

Fashion designers Phillipe and David Blond, who own the fashion label The Blonds known for dressing Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Sarah Jessica Parker, designed the two outfits for the new Playmate of the Year.

Hef told me exclusively how pleased he is that Claire Sinclair, Miss October 2010, the spokesmodel for Bettie Page and a two-time guest star in Crazy Horse Paris at MGM Grand, was selected. “Definitely the right choice! Wait till everybody sees her pictorial. It’s a classic -- for the ages. We re-created all the famous pinups through the years, and she captured them perfectly.

“I honestly would say one could hardly do better. She is so reflective of the classic pinups of the past, from Bettie Page to Barbie Benton, that whole kind of iconic imagery. She reminds me very much of Barbie. … She’s going with Marston, and when I look at the two of them, he does bare a striking resemblance to what I looked like at his age.

“She has a striking resemblance to her. Absolutely two chips off the old block, and I love that. … It couldn’t get sweeter!”

Vegas DeLuxe first tipped Claire Sinclair as the 2011 Playmate of the Year early last month. In her first interview, she told me: “It’s unreal -- right till I got on that stage to do my speech. I didn’t feel it, I heard it, I heard people saying congratulations, but it doesn’t feel real. I really can’t believe it.

“I remember last year watching Hope give her speech and thinking how must that feel to be up there and be chosen out of all 12 girls. I thought I would never get that opportunity to know because I’m only 19 and no way would they choose someone under 21 to represent the company. It’s very surreal to me.

“I’ve talked with Hope about what it entails. I’ve talked with the Playboy studio about what it means to be Playmate of the Year. I’ve figured that 50 percent of being Playmate is what you make of it as a Playmate; it’s what you find on your own. The title kind of opens doors, but you have to run through those doors. It’s not like it comes with a load of work that is guaranteed to you -- you have to venture off and find jobs yourself, too. It’s definitely an amazing opportunity -- it’s like giving you the weapons to go out and fight.

“I know it will involve a tremendous amount of traveling, even though being under 21 somewhat limits me. I have a game plan that I want to achieve the next 12 months as Playmate of the Year. I don’t want to jinx it by telling you everything, but my best girlfriend Holly Madison and I have made up a visualization board of the things I want to achieve and then put time limits on it. You hang it in your house so you see it every day, then you’re constantly thinking about it, so you put them into action.

“I did it last year, and I put Playmate of the Year on my vision board … 12 months in advance I wanted it so badly. I think I worked toward making it happen. Everything I did in my mind was working toward getting that title. I had to get every job that I got outside of Playboy. I got the MGM Crazy Horse Paris shows by myself.

“I got the Bettie Paige fashions at Planet Hollywood -- all of these things I did on my own. I met Holly through a production company, so I feel like everything I’ve done has been on my own for the most part. I put a lot of things that came to light this year on my vision board, so I’m excited to make another one.”

I asked Claire how she would deal with people taking pot shots at her, as she’s been dating Marston. She responded that voting was based totally on Playboy reader polls and added: “I felt like it was an added difficulty, an added barrier to leap over in order to achieve Playmate of the Year in a lot of ways. I feel like it also has to do with who went out and got the most publicity for the company that year, and without a doubt and with all fairness, I truly feel like I did that this year. Readers and fans did all the voting.

“However, I do believe all the comparisons to Bettie Paige and Barbie Benton helped. I think Hef sees in me what he created a Playmate to be in the first place. It’s a huge honor for him to see that in me. But it’s also the girl next door who is approachable, who you can go talk to and is a real person.

“When you look at a Playboy magazine, it’s not supposed to be somebody who is unattainable; it’s supposed to be someone who could be your girlfriend or your friend. She is supposed to have a wholesomeness about her. Hef is a huge fan of the pinup look, the retro look and Bettie Paige. I think I definitely bring that to the table, as well. All of those things came into play.”

Next up in June for Claire as the new Playmate of the Year is a trip to London with Marston along with Hef and Crystal right before the wedding to open a Playboy Club in the British capital. She summed up: “I’m definitely going to utilize this year and do everything I’ve dreamed of doing for the past four years in my modeling career. I think this is finally my opportunity to do those things. It’s the start of a great life for me. I’m very blessed.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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