A New Yorker, Naturally
Miss April is a psychology student, but she prefers turning heads to shrinking them
Many people will tell you that family is the key element in their life, but when Courtney Rachel Culkin says so, the lovely blonde with the dark, inquisitive eyes isn't merely mouthing a convenient cliché. Courtney lost her mother when she was 10 and was raised by her grandmother and her aunt in Shirley, New York with a houseful of cousins who were also tragically bereft. "My grandmother really helped me keep my head screwed on straight," says 22-year-old Courtney. "Her home was like a halfway house for a lot of us, and she and my aunt took care of us. I honestly feel luckier having been raised this way rather than in a traditional family. We all have each other's back. My family is the most important part of my life."
Courtney first appeared in Playboy for our 50th Anniversary Playmate Search in 2003 and is happy to be back. "I feel totally comfortable in front of the camera," she says. "I hate clothes. I really do." Since that appearance she has been pursuing a degree in psychology and is now just two semesters short of graduation. When asked to analyze her own personality, however, she manages to avoid shrinky jargon. "I'm definitely an outgoing person," she says. "I like to make jokes, even when I'm under pressure. Whenever people are unhappy--say, at a funeral--I'll try to make light of the situation. I have a joke for anything."
As apt a self-appraisal as that may be, Courtney says she's even better at analyzing another group: men. "I know their game better than they do," she says with an assured laugh. "I can figure any guy out--I don't even have to date him." Though she feels she can tell whenever masculine wheels have started spinning, Miss April has no appetite for the kind of mind games some men and women like to play.
"No, I don't like to play games," Courtney says, "but if you're going to play games with me, then I'll beat you. I'm very competitive." This tendency, she admits, affects her romantic relationships. "Oh yeah, I'm the boss," she acknowledges, "or maybe my boyfriends just let me think I am. But what I say goes. I need a lot of love and attention. It's how I was raised. My grandma always tried to compensate for our losing our parents by giving us love, love, love, love, love. That's what I'm used to."
Growing up a stone's throw from the beach has left Miss April with a deep appreciation for the life aquatic. "On weekends we always take a boat out and go riding on a Jet Ski," she says. "Then we anchor the boat, lie out, blast music and dance on the bow. Sometimes we'll look at other boats and see people staring at us through binoculars." But she also has a fondness for artistic, more landlubberly activities such as painting and photography. "I'm basically a flower child who was born in the wrong decade," she says.
Courtney knows new worlds are opening for her and more await; she hopes one day to get a doctorate in child psychology. But she's sure she has a good foundation for what lies ahead. "I'll never think I'm better than anyone," she says. "I'll always be that poor girl from Shirley. My family is my strength. There's nothing that can bring me down."
Photography by Arny Freytag