the making of miss august
Things have a way of happening to Rachel Jeán Marteen. Wonderful, lucky things, such as dining at one of Chicago's most expensive bistros and having the manager insist on picking up the tab. Or having a casual chat on a plane with a businessman who ends up giving her his fifth-row Bulls tickets -- on the night that Michael Jordan returns to action on the home court. Or try this scenario: An Atlanta photographer approaches Playboy about doing some work, and though he doesn't get the job, staffers spot her picture in his portfolio. She is flown in for a test shoot and suddenly, she is Miss August. "It all happened so quickly!" Rachel says, smiling. "And it was just luck. But that sort of thing happens to me all the time." Much of Rachel's good fortune can be attributed to her friendly disposition. This is a woman who's on a first-name basis with hotel doormen. She's the kind of person who interrupts an interview to say, "We keep talking about me. I want to hear about you."
"My parents taught me to be open and honest," she explains. Rachel, the youngest of three girls, grew up on a farm outside Cartersville, Georgia, in a family that made the Waltons look like a gang of hedonistic delinquents. Sundays were spent at the Baptist Church. According to Rachel, Cartersville has "more churches than houses. It's very conservative." Rachel's folks also taught her the value of hard work. To pay for college she worked an eight-to-four job, then taught aerobics, all before spending four hours in class. Weekends and vacations were reserved for modeling gigs. "I work hard to get where I want to go," she says. And where might that be? "I really want to be a top model and then start a career in movies," says Miss August. "I dream a lot about my future, and lately I've had dreams about being an actress and accepting an award." The way things happen to Rachel Jeán Marteen, don't bet against it.
-- Bob Daily
Photography by Richard Fegley