alicia rickter's a natural wonder -- on any scale
Meet the modern Playmate. She paints. She reads philosophy. She ponders the meaning of life, the meaning of sex, even the sociopolitics of appearing in Playboy - as the historic 500th Playmate. Of course Alicia Rickter also looks super in a bikini - or better still, dressed in that important Sartrean concept: nothing. She's no ordinary 23-year-old; then again, the ordinary doesn't really register on the Rickter Scale of Being. What matters to Alicia is testing life's limits -- shaking up the world a little, taking chances. These days that means transforming from jet-setting model to night-school student at Cal State, where tonight she's late for psych class. She flew home earlier in the day from a swimsuit-modeling gig in Cancún, then sped straight to school. That beep in her purse as she tries not to be noticed? Just her modeling agency paging its prize offering. "I asked them never to do that," she protests. "I haven't told anyone at school that I'm a model, much less a Playmate. I don't want any special treatment. I just want to be Alicia the student." Good luck Ms. Rickter.
Relaxing on the floor in her bedroom, Alicia listens to a Sting CD. Around her is a gallery of Rickterabilia: a century-old antique bed, texts on art and psychology, the dolls of a little girl, the cellular phone of a businesswoman. Sting sings a bit, then Alicia talks about being stung. "I've had pain in my life," she says softly. "My mom and dad split up when I was little, so I was always envious of kids with whole families. That sort of thing stays with you." Her prescription for the hurt: She often foots the bill for her parents to go with her on modeling jobs all over the globe. "I think a person's job is to improve the hand she's been dealt in life," she says. The ever-improving Alicia then stretches and declares: "Doing Playboy is an experiment. I was dying to see if I would be selected - I'm very competitive. Now, is it socially correct? How far should a woman push her sexuality? I don't know. But I'm enjoying finding out."
Late at night, when work and school are behind her and she has returned her phone calls, Alicia moves upstairs to an outdoor Jacuzzi. There she can see the stars and lights of Los Angeles while she plots her life's course. "I don't know what I'll be, but it will be very different from what I am now," she says. Then she stares at the brightest star and tries to predict the unpredictable. By the time she turns 30 in 2002, Alicia speculates, she may be a fashion mogul, draping other women in her own designs. She may also be a wife and a mother - all that's missing in that plan is a man. "I haven't been madly in love yet," she admits, "but a life without that would suck. It's bound to happen sooner or later, and I can't wait."
-- Ralph Marino
Photography by Arny Freytag