The first thing - well, maybe the second thing - you notice about Playmate Rita Lee is that she's tall. The first thing is that she's blonde and beautiful. But she is right up there, standing over six feet in her three-inch heels. Her voice is just what you imagine a tall, sultry blonde's ought to be: breathy and full. The little-girl quality is there, too, mixed in with the femme fatale. Her big eyes blink with sincerity, her fingers - accented by long, bright-red nails - adjust the flower in her hair, as her pouting ruby lips tell you she's "very insecure."
"I used to read about Marilyn Monroe. I felt as though I could identify with her. I learned something from her. Her suicide was like a warning for me."
Rita grew up in a close-knit, conservative Catholic family in St. Paul, Minnesota. She says her parents tried to shelter her from the dangers of being young and extraordinarily lovely. But at the still-tender age of 17, she declared her independence and, much to their chagrin, moved out.
"I learned later that my parents were right about so many things," she says, the 17-year-old entering her voice, "but I had to find out on my own. I was very naïve and men took advantage of that. I always worried about what other people thought of me, and I was only secure about my looks. I realize now that you can't put your values in looks or money, because when you lose them, you won't have anything."
Now, at 24, Rita is somewhat reserved, almost shy. She says she would never have considered posing for "some of those other magazines" and that she was surprised that the Playboy people were so professional. "I didn't know what to expect. I'd heard all sorts of things, like they photograph your body and put another girl's head on it, and that none of the information on the girls is real. I was afraid that maybe after all the preliminary shootings they would decide my breasts weren't big enough or something and ask me to have plastic surgery."
Rita was happy to discover that none of the above held true.
While discussions of her beauty put something of a strain on her, Rita is relaxed when she talks about her love of the outdoors. She enjoys biking, camping and fishing.
She also loves to cook. There's a faithful homebody waiting within Rita for the day she decides to settle down.
"I have this inner desire to be a mother," she confides, "because that's very precious. I would have to have that in my life. One day, I know I'll have a home and just center myself on my kids and my family."
Right now, she's living in her own apartment in St. Paul and working as a model, and marriage is still a fantasy. But she guarantees that whoever she does marry will have to be one hell of a man.
"I've learned to be very picky about my relationships. I have to have a man who can teach me. He has to satisfy more than my physical need. And he's got to have the same interests I have. He has to like outdoor sports, keep his body in shape and yet not mind just sitting home and looking at television."
With Rita, who'd have time for television?
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