Taylor, Karin 1971–
Karin Taylor 1971–
Karin Taylor is a mistress of reinvention. With Brazilian, Jamaican and Chinese roots, her exotic good looks propelled into the world of professional modeling when she was eighteen. She spent several years traveling the world as a top fashion model, however it wasn’t until she was selected to be a Playboy centerfold that she gained popular celebrity. Soon she was tapped to audition for a spot on the wildly popular television show Baywatch. She also became a spokesperson for Playboy Television and a guest host on Entertainment Television. Settling in Los Angeles, she took acting classes and seemed destined for a career in Hollywood. However, in a dramatic shift of pace, she moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, married a prominent businessman, and launched one of the most successful boutiques in the region—Style House—a mecca for interior design, event planning, and catering. “I love the creativity of my career now,” she told Philadelphia Magazine. Explaining the allure of the switch from model to entrepreneur, she continued “It’s a lot nicer when the product isn’t you. If someone doesn’t like this sofa, that’s okay.”
Though born in Kingston, Jamaica on November 28, 1971, Taylor and her family moved to Orlando, Florida when she was a child. There she attended Catholic school and became an altar girl in the church the first year that the Pope allowed females to serve in that capacity. “I was very proud of myself (I actually still am),” Taylor wrote in her biography on www.karintaylor.com. She later attended a public high school where, according to Taylor, she “spent four dateless years. My dad had to have one of his employees take me to my senior prom!” She felt the first flush of success when she made her school’s popular dance team. “It was the highlight of my entire high school life,” Taylor wrote. Summers she worked as a lifeguard at Wet N’ Wild, an Orlando water park and later had her first taste of professional performing when she became a dancer in Walt Disney World’s Electric Light Parade.
After graduating high school in 1989, Taylor promptly left her parents’ home for Miami Beach. There, at age 18, she was discovered by the Ford Modeling Agency. She was soon traveling the world as a model, including stints in Denmark, South Africa, and Greece. She enjoyed the jet set lifestyle—experiencing new cultures and meeting people from around the world. However, by 1995 she was becoming disillusioned. “I wanted
At a Glance…
Born November 28, 1971, in Kingston, Jamaica; raised in Orlando, FL; married Bill Weinberg, 2001.
Career: Ford Modeling Agency, model; Miss June, Playboy, 1996; Actress, appeared in Baywatch, Malcolm & Eddie, and The Weird Al Show; host/ spokesmodel, E! Gossip show and Playboy Television;Style House, Haverford, PA, owner.
Memberships: Spokeswoman, POWARS (Pet Owners With Aids Resource Service); supporter, AIDS Projects Los Angeles.
Addresses: Business —Style House, 20 Haverford Station Road, Haverford, PA 19041-1507, (610) 642-6828. Website —www.stylehouseusa.com.
what my friends had—husbands, children, homes, and roots,” she wrote on www.karintaylor.com. Her next step, however, was seemingly a move in the opposite direction of those dreams. Instead of leaving the modeling business, she auditioned to be a Playmate for the infamous men’s magazine, Playboy. “Thinking only of the money, which I would use as a nest egg when I quit modeling, I decided to go for it. I expected that this would end my modeling career with a slight bang and I would move on. Little did I know that life (and Playboy ) had more planned for me!” she wrote on www.karintaylor.com. Taylor became Miss June 1996 and the career she was thinking of abandoning skyrocketed.
Though Taylor’s first television exposure had been on Star Search, a talent show program in which Taylor competed in the spokesperson category, her centerfold appearance in Playboy served as the platform that launched her acting career. David Hasselhoff, star of the internationally syndicated television show, Baywatch was immediately captivated by her Playboy appearance and invited her to audition to become the first African-American actress to don the infamous red Baywatch swimsuit. Though she wasn’t selected for the role, the producers were impressed enough by her to create a guest appearance for her. She appeared as Taylor Johnson, a former model turned shelter worker. Despite her glamorous background—and the fact that she is an expert scuba diver—Taylor did not wear a swimsuit or even get wet in her appearance. Taylor explained to the New York Post ,‘I’m definitely not a “Baywatch babe”…. They have me in jeans and men’s shirts and Keds. I’m just a total mess.’
Her experience on Baywatch sparked a desire to act and Taylor decided to shelve her domestic dreams to pursue a career in Hollywood. She began by immersing herself in acting classes. “I threw myself into my studies by working with private coaches, working on scene study and dialects, and taking improvisation workshops to work on my shyness,” she wrote on www.karintaylor.com. Soon she racked up onscreen credits with appearances on the television shows Malcolm & Eddie and The Weird Al Show. She also became a regular guest host on the E! Gossip show and became one of Playboy Television’s most popular spokesmodels.
Though it was her looks that first attracted the limelight, Taylor proved to be savvy at keeping that attention. She launched a website, www.karintaylor.com that offered fans a glimpse into her life. Her photos soon became some of the most downloaded on the internet. Once again plagued by a lack of dates, Taylor managed to turn that into a public relations coup by writing to Elle Magazine’s famed advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. The Playmate that couldn’t get a date became a hot topic for the international tabloid press. London’s Sunday Mirror quoted Taylor’s letter, “I’ve lived in New York for two months and haven’t met anyone unless you count my doorman. My most recent boyfriend was a pilot. I thought we were an ideal match—but he flew away. Am I to remain dateless and single?” She got additional attention as a member of the Playboy X-treme Team, an exhibition extreme sports team made up of Playboy centerfolds.
On a flight to Chicago she met Bill Weinberg, a native Philadelphian and CEO of a supply company there. By 2000 she relocated to Philadelphia and in December of that year opened Style House, a boutique in the posh suburb of Haverford. Using her talent for design honed through years of working with set designers, photographers, and art directors, Taylor set out to create an enclave of style and taste with her shop. However, she didn’t stop there. Rather than settle for a mere shop, Taylor turned Style House into a ‘lifestyle boutique,’ providing not only beautiful objects but personalized services as well. Her eye for marketing helped her find a gap in the retail industry and with Style House, she worked to fill it. According to the company’s website www.stylehouseusa.com, “Karin Taylor has also brought service back to the retail environment. Not just any service, but the type of service that celebs are used to while the rest of us read about it.” Featuring a catering department, an in-house graphic designer, and a full-scale event planning service, Style House has not only become a favorite of Philadelphia’s movers and shakers, but—thanks to Taylor’s knack for public relations—it has also become a favorite topic for the local the media. Taylor’s June of 2001 wedding to Weinberg, produced by Style House event planners, was heavily covered in Philadelphia’s social press—garnering great exposure for the boutique. Her earlier dreams of husband, home, and roots seemed to have finally come true. “I’ve lived in so many places,” she told Philadelphia Magazine “but I never imagine myself so at home in Philly.”
New York Post, February 10, 1997.
Philadelphia Magazine, May 2001.
Sunday Mirror (London, England), September 15, 1996, p. 5.
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