With a hand from Howard Stern, Miss March's wish comes true
Last year Katharine Walter, mother of beautiful 19-year-old Jillian Grace, wrote a letter to Howard Stern. She told him her daughter's dream was to be a Playboy Centerfold and asked him for an evaluation. Stern did not become America's favorite shock jock by being slow to seize opportunity. "I've got to get this broad on the phone, at least," he said. "My dream in high school was to do tons of coke, but my mom didn't go out and score for me." Stern was joking about the last part (we think), but soon Jillian and her mom had trekked from Washington, Missouri to the Stern show in New York. Almost immediately everyone in the studio--including Playboy Senior Photo Editor Kevin Kuster, who also flew in for the occasion--became enamored with Jillian's radiant smile, knockout natural body and softspoken, girl-next-door appeal. "Most women who come in here never end up in Playboy," said Stern. "They think they're hot, and they're not. Jillian looks like a Playmate to me in every sense of the word. Boom!" Hef agreed, and Stern got dubbed Deputy Editor for his scouting skills.
"Howard is my favorite comedian and one of my heroes, and I'd like to thank him for having faith in me," says Jillian, noting that when she moved from the more populous Springfield, Missouri four years ago, listening to Stern helped make her new rural surroundings more tolerable. Now she has adjusted. "Everyone in California asks me what we do in Missouri," she says. "Well, we have fun. There are a lot of open fields in the area, and we build bonfires in them. Everybody parks their trucks close together and turns on their stereos, and we have a great time. Nobody can break anything in a field."
Breaking, as in into a sweat, is something Jillian knows a lot about. She's a certified personal trainer, a career that has definitely influenced her views. "A big muscular back is my favorite part of a man's body," she says. "But looks aren't really important. Attraction is more about having fun with a guy, and kissing is a big part of having fun. That's going pretty far on a first date, though. I still have small-town-girl values, I guess."
Nothing wrong with that, particularly when the small-town girl possesses an intoxicating sweetness. Jillian even blushes when we ask about the naughty Girl Scout costume she wore to Hef's Halloween bash. "It was a green midriff shirt that tied in the front, with thigh-high stockings and a short skirt with patches sewn on," she says. "One patch had lollipops that said LICK ME underneath." She bites her lip as she mentions this detail, as if she's wondering whether she's being indiscreet. The look deepens when we ask if this playfulness translates to her real love life. Then she laughs. "It's like that song that goes, 'They want a lady in the street but a freak in bed,'" she says. "I think that plays true for everyone."
Although Jillian is considering moving to a city for a few months, she isn't likely to surrender her small-town charm. Miss March is, after all, a girl whose enthusiasm for her new Honda Del Sol ("I don't know anything about cars, but they're so cute!") is eclipsed only by her fondness for yodeling. "It started out as a joke, but I started enjoying it," she says with a laugh. "I'm on lesson five, but the sound gets too high-pitched for my speakers, so I'm kind of stuck at that stage." As she tilts back her head and starts to yodel, it becomes clear that someone with such lungs would never let success go to her head. "I'm feeling pretty grounded," she says. "I'm a Midwest girl, that's for sure."
Photography by Arny Freytag