Lone Star STUNNER
meet the best thing ever to come out of mexia, texas: miss may, vickie smith
As earthy and wide open as the North Texas spaces Vickie Smith hails from (she grew up in Mexia -- pronounced Ma-HEY-YA -- pop. 6933), she tells the truth no matter how uncool it may sound. Her biggest fear, for instance: "Water! I feel foolish admitting this, but it scares me when there's any more of it than you can fit into a bathtub." She doesn't like showers, either -- maybe because Vickie, who devours horror films like so much buttered popcorn, has seen "Psycho" one time too many. Two things she's not crazy about, she volunteers, revealing her old-fashioned sensibilities, are men who do drugs and men with long hair. She saw a lot of both on the streets of Los Angeles during her recent visit there. Otherwise, the California trip, taken at Playboy's behest, was, in a word, "fantastic! I stayed at Playboy Mansion West, which was incredible. Tony Curtis was visiting the Hefners one evening" she recalls, sitting cross-legged on the black leather sofa in her Houston apartment, "and he sketched a little picture for me." Grabbing a black leather datebook from a black lacquered coffee table ("Black is my favorite color"), she proudly shows off Curtis' autographed sketch, a whimsical pen-and-ink drawing of a cat atop a piano, eyeing a goldfish whose days seem numbered in seconds. As Vickie recounts her L.A. trip -- her first foray outside Texas in her 24-year-old life -- we are sitting in the tidy studio apartment she has shared for the past five years with her six-year-old pixie-faced son Daniel. Living-room and stairwell walls are adorned with some 20 framed photographs of Vickie's idol, Marilyn Monroe.
Another woman that she greatly admires is Christie Brinkley. "Not only is she incredibly beautiful but she is where I would like to be." The trip to L.A. having whetted her wanderlust, she's itching to escape "to Paris for the fashions and to the Cayman Islands for the sun. Actually, I'm eager to go anywhere that isn't Texas!" Being chosen as a Playmate, says Vickie, is "a dream come true, and it makes me feel that my other dreams are possible, too." Like what? "Oh, like breaking into movies or appearing in an MTV video." She would also like to do some video modeling to upgrade her far-from-steady income doing newspaper ads and promo work for Houston businesses -- including an upcoming stint for Costa Spa, the health club she frequents to keep her astounding figure in fighting trim.
"The people in Mexia won't believe it when these pictures of me hit the newsstands," she predicts, "because I was considered a goody-two-shoes nerd back in high school." When pressed, Vickie concedes that her naturally pretty face may have made the other girls jealous. As for the boys, they had to feel overwhelmed by her then-gawky 5'11" frame, unbalanced by the ample bust she developed much later.
Shortly after that pleasing anatomical development occurred, Vickie married her high school sweetheart. A year later, they had a baby, and while the marriage didn't last, her love affair with her son continues unabated.
"My mother was a career cop and she was pretty tough on me," Vickie admits, "so I've leaned in the other direction, almost never saying no to Daniel and spoiling him a lot. Still, he doesn't take too much advantage of me."
Other people, she says, sometimes have. "I'm such a soft touch and so trusting that people-not just men-tend to use me." That worries some people, notably David, the brother to whom she's closest. "He's always been my protector and now he's an FBI agent!" She considered getting a watchdog but figures her cat, Booger, her cockatoo, Gizmo, and her Vietnamese potbellied pig, a female inexplicably named Madison, are about all the wildlife she can handle in addition to her rambunctious little boy.
It's an unusually cold day for Texas, but the sunshine blasting through the windows is too compelling to resist, especially after weeks of rain that have turned this area of Houston into a bog.
"Let's go roller-blading," Vickie suggests. "I'm a good skater, but this is supposed to be a lot harder," she warns. Pulling off her black cowboy boots, she straps on brand-new Flash Gordonesque blue-and-white blades. In tight blue jeans and a denim jacket, she's ready to brave the cold and the concrete.
At first, this long, tall Texan is as wobbly as a newborn colt. Twenty feet from her doorstep, her feet fly out from under her and Vickie's trimly upholstered behind hits the pavement with a resounding whump! But seconds later, grinning, she pulls herself up by her skate straps and glides gracefully down the street and right onto a broad boulevard, blonde ponytail billowing behind her. Traffic slows down noticeably as a succession of rubbernecking good old boys hoot and holler at the sight of this Amazonian urban cowgirl whizzing past like a fantasy on fast forward. Clearly, this girl is on a roll.
Photography by Stephen Wayda