Kimberly Phillips needed a break, damn it. The 22-year-old from Corona, California had been working her perky butt off ever since she could remember, earning A's in high school, paying for a car through a slew of waitressing jobs and scoring a liberal arts degree as she slaved away full-time at a Montessori school. "I was just exhausted and couldn't get myself out of debt. So one day I said to Natalie, my best bud since the fifth grade, 'I want to try something different. I want to be something different.'" She and Natalie downed a bottle of wine, snapped some sexy photos and sent them to Playboy. "Then we figured we'd just forget about it," Kim says. "If it happens, it happens." Two days later the phone rang, and voilà – it happened. "It's so crazy," she says. "I still don't believe it. This experience is a million percent different from what I'm used to, because I'm so shy; I'm so not an L.A. girl. But I now have a whole new sense of ambition and confidence. I'm, like, Dude, if I can be a Playmate, what else can I do?" Has Miss September learned any lessons from her overnight success? "Stay positive," she says. "Never in a million years did I believe I'd be a Playmate, that this would turn out to be my fresh start, my big new year. You gotta keep the faith."
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