If Jennifer Lavoie's looks weren't quite so unforgettable, she could be an undercover cop. "I could do stings, drug busts, anything," she says. "I wouldn't be scared. I may be little, but I'm also a little crazy." Working in a clothing store, Jennifer has developed a mental radar for shoplifters. She has nabbed about 50 of them. "I'm always running down the aisles after somebody," she says with a laugh. An occasional fisherwoman, she's also landed her share of trout. "I just catch them," she says, wrinkling her nose. "I don't take them off the hook - that's a man's job." Otherwise, Jennifer is pretty tough. "I don't know where I get that," she puzzles. "My parents are so sweet." As a Playmate from New England, she may draw it from the region's unyielding ways. Life isn't easy in Hudson, New Hampshire, and it hasn't been easy for Jennifer. Her parents divorced when she was eight, and she was raised partly by her father, a mechanic who was injured by a fall when Jennifer was barely a teenager. College for her was out of the question, but Jennifer was never very high on school anyway. "The only subject I liked was psychology," she says. "I loved trying to figure out people." After graduation, she went to work at the clothing store 5-7-9 and quickly made manager, in charge of people more than twice her age.
Her mother got her started in modeling, and once she developed her voluptuous figure - which happened almost overnight at the age of 18 - she aced that, too. "In thirty days my bra size went from a B to a D," she says, still amazed. "And I lost four inches off my waist. I don't know what happened. It's not like I suddenly started eating right. All I could think was, Thank you, God." She entered local beauty pageants and bathing-suit competitions and she routinely cleaned up. It got so that when the other girls learned Jennifer Lavoie was in, they were out. Of 20 competitions, Jennifer won 17 and was runner-up in two more. Did she cry when she lost? "God no," she says. "I hate that." A New York City photographer named Mishka saw a picture of Jennifer and offered to put together a portfolio for her free of charge. "I'd never posed nude before," says Jennifer. "When my boyfriend suggested I take off my top while sunbathing in Cancun, I said, 'No way!'" When Mishka first mentioned nudity, she told him the same thing. But she saw some of his nudes and thought they were "kind of arty," so she finally agreed. "It was fun. My mother went with me and sat through the entire session reading magazines. Mishka suggested I send the shots to Playboy, and I guess the rest is history."
Jennifer is thrilled that it worked out, of course, but she has kept a good grip on things. "People have told me that I should move to California to try for a part in a soap opera or a movie. But I'm happy doing what I'm doing." Unattached now, she's grateful to Playboy in another way. "Doing this pictorial made me realize I don't need a man in my life. I can be my own person." All the same, she wouldn't mind if a good man came along. What type would she prefer? "Somebody who is sincere, confident and sensitive," she says. "I'm a Pisces, I'm into emotion." Looking at you, Jen, so are we.