Thrilla From Manila
it's pia reyes, the philippines' gift to the mainland
Miss November is Filipino / Spanish / Portuguese / Chinese. Her eyes are dark as the South China Sea. "I am an ethnic jumble," says Pia Reyes, with a grin that's all-American. Born in Manila, the fifth of eight children -- her siblings called her Number Five -- Pia grew up in Havertown, Pennsylvania, with little ethnic consciousness. "My parents had their Filipino friends -- my Mom was always cooking this smelly fish -- but I grew up like a white suburban kid. I played lacrosse, basketball and tennis. I was a jock -- I never wore make-up until college." At Penn State, she played wing for the national-championship lacrosse team and blossomed into a bronze beauty. After stultifying stints as a waitress and a file clerk, Pia sent her photo to Playboy "on a whim." Now Number Five is Miss 11/88. "I still don't believe it," she says, "but I guess a jock with the right make-up can look pretty good." This year, Pia moved 3000 miles closer to her homeland -- to Los Angeles. "I'm like a tropical fish -- I need the warmth." An unaffected beauty who only recently decided to concentrate on her career, she has already done a Coca-Cola commercial, danced in a Joe Cocker video and played a bit part in The Young and The Restless. "If they want a blonde, they get a blonde," says pragmatic Pia. "If they want an Oriental girl, here I am." Acting lessons are next -- she would like to break the Hollywood mold and play parts "written for white girls, brown girls or yellow girls -- for any kind of girls." Pia Reyes is living proof that the American dream comes in many appetizing flavors other than plain vanilla.
Photography by Arny Freytag