just plain jennifer
miss july wants to celebrate her independence
She shows up at a West Los Angeles restaurant the way she shows up most places these days: dressed down in a T-shirt and denim overalls and accompanied by her best friend and roommate, Stacy Sanches. The two women share a wicked but inscrutable sense of humor and are convinced they'd make great MTV co-hosts. But first, Miss July, Jennifer Rovero, has to learn the Playboy ropes from Stacy, the 1996 Playmate of the Year. It's a new world for Jennifer, who spent her childhood traveling between Venezuela (where her parents lived, though her mother is English), Texas, California and Florida. Evidence on these pages to the contrary, Jennifer says she's "just an average girl from Jacksonville who got lucky." But when she adds that she feels uncomfortable signing autographs, her friend laughs. "You're a Playmate now," Stacy reminds her. "Get used to it."
Q: Are you ready for the attention?
A: Well, I've always been an actress. Growing up, I acted out things at home, always liked attention. When I was 13, I started entering beauty contests. They were nothing big, just little local pageants, but I went from contest to contest, picking up $500 here, $500 there. [Laughs.] I've been in bathing suits way too long.
Q: And now you're in less than that. Are your friends in Jacksonville surprised, or did they expect this?
A: My friends in Florida always knew I wanted to get out of there, so they're excited for me. My guy friends are freaking.
Q: Why did you want to leave Florida?
A: I like a fast-paced life, and Jacksonville is sort of a business town. I still love it because of my friends, but I don't really fit in there anymore. Everybody there says I've gone Hollywood, but I haven't. I have just learned a lot of new things, and grown up a lot.
Q: How did you hook up with Playboy?
A: I was at a Hawaiian Tropic International contest, and I went up to the Playboy people and told them they ought to shoot in Venezuela, because it's so beautiful. And Arny Freytag, the photographer, said, "Why don't we shoot you there?" So it was like a Forrest Gump thing -- I just wandered into it. At first I didn't take it seriously. Anybody who knows me will tell you I don't take anything very seriously. But then I realized that it's really hard to be chosen by Playboy, and I should be proud of it and get serious about it.
Q: Where do you want to go from here?
A: My goals are to be an actress and a model. But when it comes down to it, nothing is as important as being a mom. Family is really important to me. I keep forgetting that I'm only 20 years old -- I guess I don't need to rush things.
Photography by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda