Men on this side of the pond possess an almost mystical reverence for Sweden. There are those meatballs and aquavit. There's the postcard scenery, the frozen tundra and the alpine wonderland. Don't forget Ikea. But Sweden's exotic women are what kick the imagination into high gear. Unforgettable Bond Girl bombshells Britt Ekland and Maud Adams and screen sirens Ann-Margret and Ingrid Bergman all hail from this northern promised land. Anyone who ever strode the streets of Malmö and Stockholm knows the women of this country live up to their rep.
Allow us to introduce you to the next great Swedish import, Miss January Sandra Nilsson. The 21-year-old model grew up in the village of Ystad and lived in Sweden with her family for 19 years before moving to New York City, where she resides today. Of course you know Ystad as the setting for crime writer Henning Mankell's novels featuring police inspector Kurt Wallander. (Mördare Utan Ansikte is our fave.) "My village has one traffic light," Sandra says. "It has a very different pace, a completely different style of life than that of America."
Sandra started modeling at the age of 18. She entered her first beauty competition and was soon working full time. A rising star, she knew it was time to go in search of bigger and better things. She left her Abba records behind and took the plunge, making her home in glamorous Manhattan. She has since modeled swimsuits, walked the runway and worked as a spokesmodel for Hawaiian Tropic. (You'll notice the deeply tanned skin, so healthy it glows.) "I was so scared when I first came to America, because my English was basically limited to 'Hello, my name is Sandra, and I'm from Sweden,'" she tells us in her adorable accent. "But I'm getting better and better every day." Clearly. When you start chatting with Sandra, she only gets hotter. She has a degree in education – plenty of brains behind all that beauty. When she's not working she likes to ride horses or cook.
Hef's brother Keith Hefner can take the credit for spotting Miss January. He discovered Sandra at the Cannes Film Festival and invited her to Los Angeles for a test shoot. Suffice it to say Sandra's session went well. She was a hit. Her incredible sex appeal nearly melted our photographer's camera lens. "I'm very glad I made the decision to pose," she says. "So far it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. It has already opened so many doors."
Does Sandra plan to stick around the States forever? "My country is beautiful," she says, "but I couldn't live there right now. It's too boring. For now I want to focus on modeling and charity work for homeless children here in America. Maybe when I get older I'll want to move back." Does she go for those famous Swedish meatballs? "I've been a vegetarian for 11 years," she tells us. Her taste in men? "It doesn't matter what country a man is from or what industry he's in, as long as he has a good personality and he trusts me," Sandra says. "You need trust for a relationship to work. When I was younger I liked beautiful model-type guys, but I don't think that matters anymore. What is inside is the most attractive."