be it on roller skates or motorcycle, missy cleveland likes to keep rolling
Missy Cleveland likes to keep up with the times. She starts each day with coffee and the morning newspaper; every evening she watches the national news on television. About a year ago, she happened to catch Playmate Promotions Director Miki Garcia on the local news in San Diego announcing the Great Playmate Hunt, the search for the ladies who would grace the gatefolds of our 25th Anniversary year. Missy's mother happened to catch the same newscast. She encouraged her daughter to "go for it." Thanks, Mom.
Missy showed up at the hotel in San Diego just as a TV news crew arrived to film the proceedings. She was struck speechless, but then, so were we. Our first impressions were of a wholesome, somewhat shy young girl, who, having just spent a day at Black's Beach, San Diego's famous stretch of liberated ocean front, seemed to be sunburned in the most unusual places. Her shyness was just audition jitters. Over the next few weeks, we discovered Missy to be a bundle of congenial energy, with a Southern accent that definitely was not Southern Californian. She had just completed a cross-country trek from Jackson, Mississippi, with a side stop in Denver. ("I lasted a week in Denver. Then it snowed. My dog wouldn't go out in the snow, so I packed up and kept going till I reached California.") At least she made the trip in a car. As we learned more about our Miss April, we discovered that she was a diminutive daredevil. When she was a high school senior, she took off with a boyfriend for a two-wheeled tour of the South. "We took turns driving the motorcycle. Sometimes he needed a rest, so I would take over, riding along in my bikini, trying to get a tan. He didn't mind." Neither, we imagine, did the other drivers in Florida. "When it was my turn to ride in back, I'd read, or keep notes in my journal of the things I liked. There was one night when we were down in the Keys, on a dark highway with water on both sides -- it was magic." Missy brings some of that wide-eyed innocence to California. She roller-skates every day on the boardwalk by the beach in San Diego. She has visited Las Vegas and won at blackjack ("It's easy to double your money, just smile at the dealer"). She has driven a Rolls-Royce and visited Hef's Playboy Mansion West. "I was so excited. The Jacuzzi, the game room. You couldn't chain me down." We wouldn't try.
Photography by Mario Casilli