Santa Barbara Siren
she's shy, beautiful and multitalented, and if you need a good reason to visit santa barbara, kym herrin is it
If you ever strolled with your lover along Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara around sunset, chances are you were treated to a one-woman concert by Kymberly Ellen Herrin. "I used to ride my bike down there when I was a student at Santa Barbara City College and park beside a fiberglass tunnel. I'd sit there, where I could watch the sun set on the Pacific, and aim my flute down the tunnel. People walked by, different couples, and I'd play music to fit them. If it was an older man and woman, maybe in their 50s, I'd play something like Moon River. When a young couple passed, or maybe a girl walking alone, I'd play something contemporary like The Girl from Ipanema. I like to be alone with my flute. People who play music are never really alone." Kymberly also plays guitar, harmonica, piano and a dab of sax. She surfs like a water sprite. She's a licensed real-estate agent. She lives in a rented house near the ocean where she shares the space with a family of rabbits ("The seven new babies are so cute. They look like little Volkswagens"), a collection of rare birds and a parrot named Paco who dive-bombs her in the kitchen, lands on the computer and says, "C'mere baby." Kymberly's shy. "I feel even shier if I really like a person. If it's a man, I get very nervous. It's hard to look him in the eyes. I always lose the staring contest, because I think he'll see the lust in my heart." You might say she's unusually shy for such a beautiful and talented woman, but then, she's a late bloomer. She's spent more of her life being awkward, tall and skinny rather than graceful, leggy and, uh, just right. "It all happened during one summer when I was in high school. My mother was away for two months, flying her airplane in various races like the Powder Puff Derby, and in that two months, I gained 20 pounds in the right places. The day she came home, I was sitting on the front porch, and she got out of her car, came over and said, 'Kym?' She barely recognized me. When I was a scrawny little nothing, I could stay out past 11. Suddenly I had a ten o'clock curfew." Kym's mother has been the primary influence in her life. Her parents divorced when she was in grade school and her mother, a successful real-estate marketing developer, raised Kym, her older brother and two older sisters. Kym admits that she very nearly idolizes her mother, and it's easy to see why: "My mother is dark-haired and very beautiful. She's half Filipino -- my father was Swedish-French -- which gives her beautiful skin and eyes. Aside from running her own business and raising her children, she plays piano, she's a great cook, she flies and races airplanes and owns her own. Right now, she's building herself a new house. You might say that she's my inspiration. Everything she does, she does well." Obviously, Kym is her mother's daughter. Aside from her culinary skills, her musical versatility and her unquestionable physical beauty, she's also goal-oriented. The first thing she intends to do with the check she'll receive as our March Playmate is "invest in some property with my mom." Kym also plans to build her own house one day. "I've already designed it in my head a million times," she laughs.
One reason Kym may never leave Santa Barbara is the surf. She learned to scuba-dive when she was 14. ("Me and one other girl in a class with all men. Our boobs kept falling out of our bathing suits and nobody told us. But we passed, and by 15, I was diving 160 feet.") At 15, she climbed up onto her first surfboard, and she's been getting better ever since. We took a few photos of her riding the waves and, shy though she is, she asserted herself enough to ask that we include at least one of those shots in the layout. "It seems like whenever they have a surfing Playmate, they never show her surfing. I just wanted one picture of me on those waves in Hawaii (where she visited with Staff Photographer Richard Fegley). They were really good, over my head."
Kym's immediate goal is to travel as much as possible, to places like Australia, South America, Micronesia and Africa, to see the fantastic wildlife, "especially the birds. There's so much beauty out there," she says. Not to mention here.
Photography by Arny Freytag