Karen McDougal and Katie Lohmann

/ Posted 07.23.2010

Karen McDougal and Katie Lohmann

Karen McDougal and Katie Loh­mann may appear to be extreme opposites, but they have a lot in common. For one thing, as former Playboy Playmates of the Month—Karen for December ’97 and Katie for April ’01—they belong to a special sisterhood. For another, they’ve both been on the cover of IRON MAN, becoming part of an even rarer sisterhood: hot mainstream models who have transitioned to fitness.

For both women the Playboy connection came early in their careers. Karen, who was named the Playmate of the Year for 1998 and was runner-up in a 2001 readers’ poll of the Sexiest Playmates of the ’90s, was a cheerleader and played volleyball and softball as a kid, but for the most part, she says, “I was a prissy girlie-girl.”

Though the 5’8” Indiana-born brunette always wanted to be a model, she says, “I didn’t think I had what it takes.” She was a preschool teacher in Michigan when she won a swimsuit contest and was spotted by a Playboy photographer.

“Playboy gave me the confidence. It opened up doors for me,” she says, “everything from modeling to acting, if I wanted it, to hosting events to charities.”

Her migration to fitness modeling was not intentional. “It just so happened that I was in great shape, so they started using me in fitness magazines.” McDougal was IRON MAN’s featured Hardbody in the January ’06 issue and appeared on our June ’07 cover with Sebastian Siegel. “I think it’s great that at 38 I’m capable of doing fitness stuff,” she says.

Katie’s career was anything but accidental. She discovered performing at an early age and admits to being a natural-born ham.

“I always loved the camera,” she says. “My mom used to sew little blankets and sell them, and I would always want to take pictures with the blankets because I thought it would help them sell.”

The 5’4” hazel-eyed blonde, who grew up in Arizona, started putting together her modeling book at about age five. After high school she moved to Los Angeles, the Playboy shoot already secured.

“I was lucky because the first place I lived in Los Angeles was the Playboy Mansion,” she says. “They set me up with agents, I got to go to parties—like Madonna’s album-release party. I got to have tea at Rod Stewart’s house. I’ve been here about nine years, and it’s been an incredible ride.”

One particularly intriguing gig Lohmann had was playing quarterback for Los Angeles in the 2006 Lingerie Bowl.

“I was always very athletic, played every sport you can imagine, but never football because that was for the boys,” she says. She got to be the quarterback because, “at the tryout I actually intercepted the ball and ran it about 10 yards.”

As with Karen, Katie’s entry into fitness modeling happened by accident. On a casting call several years ago, she was told she didn’t have the right look for fitness. Out to prove the photographer wrong, she earned shoots at a slew of mags, including appearances on IM’s cover in July ’05 and July ’06. Both she and Karen work out regularly, with Karen training five days a week for one to 1 1/2 hours and Katie taking a boot camp class three times a week and working out in her home gym.

Karen McDougal and Katie Lohmann are good friends. “Katie is very easy to work with,” says Karen. “People love hiring us together because we’re the yin and the yang—the blonde and the brunette—and we come across very well together.”

“We’re similar but we’re also very different,” acknowledges Katie. “We have the Playboy thing in common. We both have a good head on our shoulders. We both love to stay in shape and shoot beautiful pictures.”

The differences—other than the blonde and brunette thing? “I’m a little bit more outgoing than Karen is,” Katie says. “Karen is more reserved. She really has a true model presence—and when she walks into a room, she probably intimidates a lot of people.”

One reason the two click so well is their shared sense of humor. “We’re both funny,” says Karen. “We like to laugh and make people feel good. Also, she says, “We talk a lot—we don’t shut up.”

One senses that when Neveux got the two together to shoot the beautiful photos that appeared on these pages, there was a lot of talking, laughter—and sizzle—on the set.

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