Named for Ava Gardner, whom she resembles as much as Dad must have hoped she would, Ava spends the night of her birthday dancing off some of the energy that she thinks will make her one of Hollywood's irresistible objects. Don't bet against her.
Seventeen years ago, Ava told her first-grade class that she wanted to be a Playboy Bunny. The principal wondered what was going on in the Fabian household, but little Ava was on the level. Her dad had a gold Playboy Club Key and used it when he wasn't running Joe Namath's ill-fated New York saloon, Bachelors III. He liked Bunnies, hung around Joe and knew a cute girl when he saw one. So did Ava. Looking in the mirror, Ava fancied herself on Broadway Joe's arm. "It broke my heart when Joe got married," Ava says.
Poppa Fabian thought his tomboy had what it took for Bunnyhood, and Ava's course was set. Although she never actually worked as a Bunny, she was named Most Beautiful and Best Body in her high school class. Later, she did some modeling, "just so I could pay my rent in New York City. I modeled fur coats for the JC Penney catalog. It was in the summer, about 95 degrees, and under the coats - naked. I don't know about the other girls, but I was." She went on to study dance and theater in the Big Apple and eventually, like many aspiring actresses, ended up in Southern California, where she got an agent. Early this year, looking for something to read in her agent's home, she picked up a copy of "one of those really dirty girlie magazines." She nearly retched with the agent asked if she'd ever pose for it but said she'd always had this thing about Playboy. . . .
"I knew you'd do that," her mother said a few weeks later, when Ava told her who was going to be Miss August 1986. "Your father put that idea in your brain when you were a kid."
A New Yorker in Hollywood, Ava misses taxicabs and night clubs that stay open late, but she knows that L.A. is the place for an actress on the cusp of success. "I'm strong, I'm a survivor and I have a very good agent," she says. "You're going to be seeing me in the movies."
If you get cable, you have already seen her on VH1 or MTV, in Olivia Newton-John and David Foster's video The Best of Me. Livy gets the guy, but Ava, Foster's fantasy girl, makes a fantastic impression.
"I'm a New York girl and I miss my Sabrett's hot dogs," she says, "but there's a lot to do out here, money to be made, and I want some. I want good movie roles; I want the ranch, the boat and the private jet. I'll work for them."
She calls herself "a big ham" and admits that she sizzled during the shooting of her Playmate pictorial. "Arny Freytag and [make-up artist] Clint Wheat made me look beautiful, threw me on the couch and, yeah, I felt real sexy," says Miss August. "Exposing myself in front of millions of people was an experience I'd been thinking about. I felt sexy and I wanted to share it."
Beautiful, talented and real sexy, Ava can't be certain she'll succeed in the business that made her namesake famous. But she won't rest until she finds out.
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