Christina Leardini was a natural cnadidate for Operation Playmate - a letter-writing campaign to cheer soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia. For one thing, a career in modeling (including a stint with our lingerie specials) has turned her into a compulsive correspondent. "I have pen pals - photographers, models - everywhere. I write to keep in touch, just little notes, maybe quotes from the Bible or a book I've enjoyed." But there are other reasons. For one thing, Christina's exotic beauty is the result of a Saudi-American alliance that occurred some 22 years ago between her U.S.-born mom and a Saudi doctor. The union was short-lived, and her father moved on. "I have stepbrothers and stepsisters I have never seen, who may not be aware that I exist. I wonder how they'd feel about me, what they look like." Although she has Arab blood, the letter-writing campaign is her first real contact with the strict world of Saudi culture: "We can't be sexy or we could get censored. Obviously, we can't send copies of Playboy. I hope by the time this issue comes out, the boys I've written to will be home to see it." (Not that her letters would have been all that sexy - she is a happily married mom.) Letter writing suits her in another way. "I'd love to be a comedian," Christina says. "I would like to play the funny, stupid characters on Saturday Night Live, but I don't have the guts." When we got a chance to watch Christina in action, we saw what she meant. She is more at home with Willy the hotel doorman than she is with crowds of admirers. She is not interested in celebrity or popularity but in one-on-one impact. She wants to be remembered as special, one person at a time. Indeed she will be.
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