our miss june left havana to become a star
Maria Luisa Gil is a head turner. When the Cuban-born 20-year-old glides through Wildfire, a Chicago eatery, in a minidress and thigh-high boots, necks crane, jaws drop and whispers fill the air. Everybody knows she's somebody. Back in Cuba, Maria knew she was somebody too, which prompted her to send her modeling photos to our headquarters.
Q: You lived in Cuba until December 1996. What brought you to the States?
A: America has so many opportunities. It's impossible to make money as a model in Cuba. Everyone is poor, except for about five percent of the population. It's sad.
Q: Was it hard being a sexy woman in a macho society?
A: Oh, yes. In Cuba, if you're sexy you're considered a whore. Everyone stares at you when you walk down the street. They say some terrible things about you.
Q: What sexual behaviors are unacceptable in Cuba?
A: Any sexual behavior! Cuba is totally repressed. Nude pictures are not allowed. Playboy is not allowed. When I saw my first Playboy, on a visit to the U.S., it had the sexiest pictures I'd ever seen. I knew right away I wanted to be a part of it.
Q: What's the difference between Cuban men and American men?
A: Cuban guys are jealous and possessive. I don't like that. I'm a liberal, independent girl. The only person I let tell me what to do is my mother.
Q: What's your definition of a Latin lover?
A: A guy who's romantic. The candles, fine wine and classical music type.
Q: Besides sexual freedom, what do you appreciate about life here that an American might take for granted?
A: Restaurants. Here, my brother and mom and I can go out to eat any time we want. In Cuba the only restaurants are elite clubs that just the rich and beautiful are allowed into.
Q: Tell us about Cuban cuisine.
A: The food there is not so good. Everything you eat in Cuba is produced in Cuba. No one has the money to grow decent crops.
Q: What are the three most important English phrases to know?
A: "How are you?", "What time is it?" and "Where's the rest room?"
Q: What's the most romantic rum drink?
A: A piña colada.
Q: Why is it that Cuban cigars are so revered?
A: Good question. I'll have to ask Dennis Rodman the next time I see him.
Q: Are you hot-blooded?
A: No, I'm just happy. I'm proud of myself and what I've accomplished. It's been my dream to come to America, and this is where I'm going to stay.
Photography by Richard Fegley