Sylvie Garant is not your typical girl next door, unless you grew up in a small industrial town outside the city of Quebec. Our Miss November is French Canadian. When she was in her early teens, her parents sent her to a summer camp run by nuns near Boston to learn English. "I remember walking into my first McDonald's. I said, 'What's with this place? No hot dogs?'" She attended a convent school until she was 12. Did that affect her sex life? "It's not like I missed anything, you know. When I started attending public school, I discovered boys. I got crazy like everyone else. I wore my tight pants and T-shirts."
You listen to her accent during a light lunch and suddenly you are in a French movie - one of those charming comedies with no plot. You keep looking at the tablecloth for subtitles. Sylvie stops the conversation to ask if she is making sense. "When you speak only a little English, you can get away with a lot. Someone tells you to do one thing and you do just the opposite. But sometimes it gets you into trouble. Once, I found this T-shirt: It had a little Tweety bird saying, 'Even I like a little pussy.' It wasn't until I got to Toronto that I discovered that meant something else." Her eyes sparkle and she ends the anecdote with a delightful laugh. She is getting away with something again. Toronto, where she lives now, has taught Sylvie a great deal about . . . oh, whatever. "I grew up in a very small town. When you went on a date, you counted kisses. Twenty kisses in one night was serious business. I wanted something different. When I was 15, I spent the summer in Toronto baby-sitting two young boys. When I got out of school, I decided to come back here." Sylvie found a spot in the very competitive modeling business almost immediately. As she takes you on a walking tour of the Yorkville section of Toronto, you see her picture in the windows of jewelry stores, fashion centers, in magazines on the racks of bookstores. She is obviously well known and well liked: Friends having lunch at outdoor cafés wave to her. As we walk along, she points out apartments she has lived in - a small room over a photographer's studio, a high-rise. This is her turf. It is not the kind of place we usually look for a Playmate. How did a nice girl . . . ? "Oh, one of my boyfriends read about the hunt for the 25th Anniversary Playmate. We do read Playboy in Canada, you know. He suggested I try out. When I saw the first shots, my heart went" - Sylvie's hand makes a fluttering gesture against her breast. "It was the most insane thing anyone could do. But now that I've done it, I feel great." You've come a long way from the convent, Sylvie.
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