Like thousands of girls before her, Bronx-born Karen Hafter decided one summer day to cast her fate to the wind and go out to Hollywood. It was an impulsive decision at best. "Hollywood just seemed like such a strange, exciting place," says Karen. "A new frontier." She'd been working as a cook in a bar and grill in New Paltz, New York, to finance her college education, and the prospect of another term of dull classes and then hunting for a dismal nine-to-five job in Manhattan didn't exactly fill her with unrestrained rapture. So Karen packed up her troubles, plus a change or two of clothes, and caught the first train to Los Angeles. She would have taken a jet, except that she's terrified of flying - and, besides, trains are infinitely more romantic - they give a girl a chance to think, to dream, perchance even to fantasize. The journey lasted four days. "I felt a mixture of things during the trip," Karen reflects. "Excitement at the prospect of approaching a new life and emptiness because I was leaving home for the first time." Again like thousands of girls before her, Karen Hafter, upon arriving in Tinseltown, took a whirlwind tour of the place and, thereupon, decided that if a girl wants to be seen, Sunset Boulevard is the place to be. So, without much trouble, she landed a waitressing job at David's Potbelly, a restaurant on - you guessed it - Sunset Boulevard, where who should stroll in one day but Anne Randall (our May 1967 Playmate). "She was staring at me from the moment she walked in," says Karen. "Finally, she came over and asked me if I'd be interested in trying out for a Playboy centerfold. If she'd been a man, I would have said no - for obvious reasons." The rest, as they say in showbiz, is history. Looking back, Karen seems a bit awe-struck by her own rapid success: "I never thought I'd be a Playmate, never in my wildest dreams," she says. "I was always a tall, scrawny kid. Everybody was wearing a bra before me. I didn't start to fill out until I was 16." Better late than never.
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