FAIR AND WENDY
the motor city gives us one of its best models as miss december
This month, even more than usual, we feel lucky. We love meeting some of the world's most beautiful women and introducing them to you each month, but Wendy Hamilton is special. She comes from Detroit by way of the Twilight Zone. A Motown girl who liked to drive fast, Wendy nearly sped off the face of the earth three years ago. Entering the intersection of Garfield Street and Seventeen Mile Road outside Detroit, she hit another car. Wendy was thrown through the windshield. Exactly one week and 180 stitches later, at the same intersection, it happened again. "This time, I was wearing my seat belt. It kept me in the car," she says, "but I got a case of whiplash." After all that, you might expect Miss December, who spent an awkward adolescence down in Florida dreaming of becoming our Playmate of the Month, to make her Playboy debut in a full-body cast. Think again, and thank your lucky stars.
Wendy's dad raced Corvettes on land and tested high-performance boats on sea, which explains her taste for high-speed thrills. Her mother was a fashion model -- "She was a knockout," says Wendy -- who consoled her precocious daughter when a sixth-grade photo showed the shape under her schoolgirl sweater. "I was ashamed," Wendy recalls of her girlhood on Florida's Gulf Coast. "Puberty was awful. I was taller than all the boys, and I had these embarrassing breasts." Mom insisted that Wendy was becoming a pretty woman. Looking at Dad's Playboy calendars helped, too; a buxom teen could at least imagine being one of those beauties. Still, the boys wanted no part of this gangly girl. "I never had a boyfriend." Wendy felt like such an outcast that she wished she had braces on her perfect teeth, like so many of her classmates, "just to be like everybody else." Her height led to a captainship of the Manatee High School Hurricanes basketball team in Bradenton -- stardom of a sort, but it was modeling that saved her self-image. As she grew into her 5'10" body, Manatee High's storky center turned into a graceful swan. Suddenly, like the women on Playboy calendars, Wendy was sexy. Miss December had modeled swimsuits at the age of 12 -- her debut was at a mall in Bradenton, Florida, in 1979 -- but things were even better ten years later. Being tall was good. All the top models were long and lean, and Wendy stretched a swimsuit with the best of them. In Detroit, the town she adopted after high school, she entered a number of modeling contests that preceded an appearance in "Vogue." Wendy had survived a painful puberty and two frightful crashes; now she wanted to fulfill a dream: to be in Playboy. Suckers for a pretty face and a body to match, we said yes.
An ugly duckling no more, as you can see, Wendy is ready to take on the world. Her first task, she says, is to represent the Motor City as "Detroit's Playmate of the Month." Next up is a bigger pond. Last summer, she hooked a U-Haul to her Jeep -- only American cars will do for this Michigander -- and sped west to Los Angeles, where modeling jobs beckoned. On the way, she stopped in the desert and saw the sky as she had never seen it before. "The stars looked so close you could touch them." Here's to Wendy, Playboy's latest star.
Photography by Stephen Wayda