Two for 2000
we searched the world for the perfect millennium playmate and wound up finding both of her
DARLENE BERNAOLA IS SCANNING HER DATE BOOK, shaking her head at page after page of appointments. "I am so busy," she says with a grin, "I have no life." She's selling herself short: At the age of 23, Darlene and her twin sister, Carol, have led extraordinary lives. From the jungles of Peru to the beaches of Miami to the pages of Playboy, they've overcome poverty, isolation, terrorism, language barriers and physical calamity to become our first Playmates of the new millennium. Now the twins are enjoying the whirlwind and taking pride in the drive and determination that got them here. "After the lives we've led, with all the hard work, everything has paid off," says Carol. "This is our dream."
Q: You were born in Los Angeles, but raised in---
Carol: Chanchamayo, Villa Rica, Peru.
Darlene: In the jungle.
Carol: It was a little town. There was one phone booth where everybody had to make calls. It was an area that had been settled by people fleeing World War II, so in one town there were nothing but German people, the next town would be all Yugoslavian, the next town Spanish.
Q: What did you do there for entertainment?
Carol: You could play with the monkeys, hang from vines, climb trees and eat the fruit at the top, go to the river or the lake, fish, hunt, ride horses.
Q: Why did you leave?
Carol: Peru had a revolution, and we fled because of that. It was too dangerous. So our mom sent us to Miami to start a new life. We were 16-year-olds, on our own, didn't know the language. We were scared. Our first job was at McDonald's. I was a dishwasher, and Darlene was a cleaner. Until they promoted us to the drive-through.
Darlene: [Laughs] We were that good.
Carol: She would take the money at one window and I'd give them their food at the next window, and people would say, "You're so fast!" I'd say, "No, that was my sister." But we have had a lot of different jobs.
Q: What brought you to Playboy?
Carol: My husband owns a nightclub in Miami, and he was hosting a party for the Playmate 2000 search. Someone said to him, "Why don't you tell Carol to try out?" Playboy West Coast Photo Editor Marilyn Grabowski saw me and said, "I'm going to make you rich and famous." And I thought, Wow, I didn't even have to take off my clothes! When I said I had a twin sister, she flipped.
Darlene: But I couldn't do anything at the time -- I was paralyzed. I was in an auto accident the day before I was supposed to get married. My fiancé passed away, and I was paralyzed. I broke my pelvis in two places, my left hand in 20 places. The doctor told me it was going to take a year to recuperate and another year to learn how to walk again. But I started walking three months later.
Q: And now you're representing Latin women in Playboy.
Carol: It's an honor to be Latin.
Darlene: I'm proud to be Latin and to be American.
Carol: Now is the time to recognize our differences. The year 2000 is not about whether you are white, black, yellow, brown or blue. It's about a mix of cultures.
Photography by Arny Freytag