Jessica, Sunny-Side Up
it doesn't take long to learn miss august is entirely solar powered
Roam the historic streets of Tampa, Florida with 21-year-old Playmate Jessica Lee, and you'll come away thinking she'd be the funniest, sweetest kid sister a brother could have. One moment she's talking sports, telling you why she's a baseball fan ("I love men in uniform"), the next she's trading jokes with a couple of local cops. Then she's grabbing your hand and pulling you into a favorite burger joint, where she makes certain you meet everybody and everybody meets you. "I was born in New York, but I've lived in Tampa since I was six," explains this high-energy, low-maintenance woman. "I've got a lot of buddies around town." Miss August, like Florida, is solar powered. When the sun disappears, kid sister vanishes with it. Place Jessica across a candlelit table, look into those private, gold-burnished eyes and there is enough residual heat to suck the breath out of you. "My birthday's in February," she says, "but I've always been a summer girl. I love to oil up, lie on the beach and just soak it in -- the sun, the air, the sounds. My favorite time to swim is when the Gulf of Mexico gets hot, almost body temperature. I'd love to visit Alaska and see whales, but I'd have to wear about ten layers of clothes."
Jessica has always been too busy to be a full-time beach girl. In elementary school and high school she studied ballet. "I liked the discipline," she says, "but what I really enjoyed was creative dance, making up the moves on my own." These days, Jessica moves faster than ever. In the space of one afternoon, we followed her to Ybor City, where she did a business lunch at Cherry's, then to Bennigan's for a beer-tasting session, then off to her old elementary school to watch friends play softball. Later, at the team's victory party, she told us, "My schedule has been wild ever since I was named Miss August. The only time I get home is to sleep!" Even so, home and family are priorities. She lives with her mother, who's a registered nurse, her bass-guitar-playing brother and a basset hound named Sabrina. She is also close with her father, a Tampa land appraiser. "I have the most awesome family," Jessica says, producing photos from her wallet. "Isn't my mom gorgeous? When we got the call from Playboy, I think she was more excited than I was. It's going to be hard to move to Los Angeles -- I've never been away from here. But I'm determined to study acting. Besides," Miss August adds, flashing her smile, "there's lots of sun there. I'll feel right at home."
-- Randy Wayne White
Photography by Arny Freytag