If you should meet her, the first thing you'd notice is Julie's voice: deep, with soft, husky undertones like those you want to hear on late-night radio when you're all alone. The second thing you'd notice is that she's extremely compact - not just her body but also in the way she moves and talks: no unnecessary effort but exactly what's required to get the job done. Just what you'd expect from a girl who spent time in a place named Dead Horse on America's last vast frontier. But - surprise - Julie grew up in Maryland, not Alaska.
That's right - Julie didn't move to Alaska until she was 17. "My parents divorced when I was 16," she explains, "and my mom moved to Juneau. After my graduation from high school [Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland], I moved to Alaska to live with her." Her mother, a dental hygienist, had started a dental clinic in Prudhoe Bay for workers on the North Slope oil fields. "Most of them didn't want to take a day off to go to the dentist in Anchorage or Fairbanks, so Mom hired dentists to come out to our clinic. I took care of the books."
The move to Alaska was more than a change of scenery for Julie; it was also a radical change in lifestyle. "Growing up in Maryland, I was kind of a loner and I spent most of my time with horses. I took track horses that weren't very good at racing and retrained them as competition horses. So, on the one hand, when I think of Maryland, I think of riding over rolling hills and meadows. But on the other hand, people there are very traditional."
By contrast, Alaska was both confining and liberating. "For the first time in my life, I was away from horses and had no place to channel that energy. But I began to love the people of Alaska. The state offers so many opportunities that the people there always have an attitude of 'Try it, go for it, whatever it is.' "
To work off some of her excess energy, Julie signed up at Gold's Gym, now called The Fitness Connection, in Anchorage and began bodybuilding with free weights. We comment that if people passing by the gym could see her through the window, she'd probably be a one-woman membership drive, and she recalls, "Actually, a guy I met at the gym told me that he'd seen me working out there one afternoon and immediately bought a membership. Then he didn't see me again for several months and he was thinking of suing the gym for false advertising."
Julie is torn between whether to call Alaska or Maryland home. "The land in Maryland makes me feel that's my home, but the people in Alaska are special." One thing that takes her back to Maryland is her father, who works for the Government. "My father and my older brother were always the two people I looked up to most," she says. "I think my father is a tremendously handsome man. To me, he looks like one of the Marlboro men. Even now, I'm always attracted to men who remind me of him." Does that mean that a guy who doesn't have a lean, muscled body and a chiseled jaw line hasn't a chance with her? "Oh, of course not. Sure, I like men with hard bodies, but that doesn't mean I couldn't fall in love with a guy who doesn't have one."
The last time we talked with Julie, she was visiting her father and making up for lost horseback time. Her next trip would be to Los Angeles, where Playboy Mansion West will be her base camp as she starts her promotional appearances as Miss February. We asked if she was prepared for another culture shock when she arrived in Hollywood. "Well, I'm aware of the temptations of the Hollywood fast life," she answered, "but remember that there's a lot of money in Alaska, and just about any experience you can have in Hollywood you can also have in Anchorage. I don't think I'll run into any dangers or temptations I haven't already seen. Well, with one exception. They tell me that I'll be picked up at the airport and driven to Playboy Mansion West in a limousine. I'm going to enjoy that."
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