When the waiter comes to take her order, Cristy Thom is ready. "Warm goat-cheese salad and iced tea," shesays. The waiter scribbles on his pad, then looks at the black-eyed beauty sitting before him with one foot hiked up on a chair and an elbow hooked around her bare knee. He is clearly smitten. He leans in to light her cigarette. "Could you bring us some matches?" she asks, playing along. "And be nice to us - we're good tippers!" Cristy grins as the waiter hustles back to the kitchen. "I have an incredible effect on men," she says with a giggle. "God, does that sound stuck-up? I don't want to sound like I'm in love with myself." That's a job for others - the waiter, for example, or the two guys in suits at the next table who aren't even pretending to do business anymore, they're so captivated by Cristy. Eavesdrop on the exuberant Miss Thom - an L.A. native who's bound and determined to get her slice of movieland pie - and listen to the exclamation points. "I have to be an actress! It's what I was put on earth to do! I have to meet Sylvester Stallone! He's my total idol! I'm the all-time Scrabble champion of the earth! I'm the worst dancer in the world!" In a world of absolutes, Cristy Thom would rule absolutely. The woman knows her own mind. And she has the guts to gamble when her heart tells her to. Raised from the age of four by a mother thrown into the work force after a divorce, Cristy found out early that the world was a place for survivors, a place where you get what you can and move on. School wasn't for her. "I was a monster," she says. "I was a wild child." At the age of 15, she dropped out and went to work for her boyfriend, who owned an auto-parts business in the San Fernando Valley. Tripping from garage to garage with a headful of engine data and a handful of price sheets, Cristy was a welcome visitor. "I wore tight jeans and a little top. Those guys were hound dogs," she says with a lusty laugh. A quick study, Cristy soon outgrew sales, and that's when she came to Playboy. "As soon as I turned eighteen, I set up my camera, took some pictures and sent them in." Although a modeling career is hers for the taking, Cristy declines. "That's not for me," she says. "I need something more challenging." Miss February dreams of nothing less than movie stardom. "Like Jack Nicholson," she says, flaunting her own killer grin. "One of these days you're going to go to a Jack Nicholson movie and I'll be up there on the screen right next to him - even weirder than he is!" Believe her.
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