My life began on February 1, 1974 in a Navy Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. My father, a Naval Dentist of Scottish and Swiss descent from Chicago had met my Japanese mother while he was stationed on the island of Okinawa a few years earlier. They had met on a blind date set up through friends and fell in love. My father brought her over to the United States on a 90-day Visa and, lucky for me, they were married on the 89th day. As a military brat I moved around a lot, especially during my younger years. On one hand, it was difficult to move every few years to a new environment and have to make new friends, but I was able to see much of the country and appreciate different perspectives. It definitely gave me my love for traveling and experiencing different cultures.
After Pensacola, my family moved to Guam where I spent my early toddler years and learned to walk on my tiptoes from avoiding the little prickly tree droppings that covered the ground near our home. We spent a few years in San Diego and then moved back to the east coast in Virginia where I had my first taste of snow and building snowmen. After a year in Japan, we settled in Hawaii where I attended most of my elementary school years and where my love for the ocean began. I must admit that ever since living in Hawaii, Iíve been a little spoiled in that I could probably never live too far from the coastline. Someday it would be nice to have a summer beach home back there!
In the middle of junior high, we moved to Orange County, California, which was a difficult move. It was during that awkward stage of adolescence which is hard enough already. I did not quite fit into the "scene" at first so I immersed myself in my academic studies, thus beginning a rather nerdy stage for me. I remember reading novels like A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and writing down any words I didnít know the meaning of in my special vocabulary book. I would then look up the meaning in the dictionary and try to learn them. Pretty nerdy!
High School came along and I slowly emerged from my introverted shell. Voted Homecoming Queen and "Most Talented", I think my popularity could mostly be attributed to the fact that my boyfriend was quite popular and everyone knew me from my dancing accomplishments. Lack of sleep due to my intensive ballet-training schedule everyday caused me to frequently ditch class. I was still a pretty good student, however, taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and graduating with above a 4.0 GPA. Ever since the age of five I had been taking regular ballet lessons and by the end of junior high school I had become very serious about it.
I was accepted to several prestigious ballet-training programs with The Boston Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, The San Francisco Ballet, and The Chicago Ballet where most of my summers during high school were spent. The last two years of high school I competed in and won scholarships in several international ballet competitions in Switzerland, Japan, and Los Angeles and was featured in several newspaper articles including The Los Angeles Times, The Orange County Register, and The Oregonian. Performing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion when I was seventeen was especially cool. After high school, I really wanted to pursue a professional dance career, but I enrolled at the University of California at Irvine, where I had a scholarship, to appease my parents. Even though I was a dance major, I spent more time freelancing in ballet and musical productions and not very much time in the classroom.
After one quarter I dropped out of college when I was offered a contract with a ballet company in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. My repertoire included roles such as Princess Aurora and the Blue Bird Pas de Deux in the ballet version of Sleeping Beauty, Rosalyn in Romeo and Juliet, Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in the Nutcracker, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Pas de Trois in Swan Lake, as well as other soloist roles in Carmina Burana, Don Quixote, Giselle, and Le Corsaire.
It was a very grueling schedule, working six full days a week with performances often two or three time a day, especially during Nutcracker season. Iíve always loved performing and being on stage so it was great getting paid to do it. Iíd always be a little (sometimes very) nervous those few minutes right before my entrance, but once on stage Iíd be okay and the adrenaline would really kick in. It was so much fun getting into the performance and the character and having a live audience.
After a while, though, the lifestyle kind of got to me. The fact that dancers are generally paid pretty poorly wasnít the worst part. It was the fact that I pretty much always had to be on a diet. Although I never developed an eating disorder or smoked to keep weight off as many dancers do, I still had to watch my weight most of the time which is hard when you love food so much as I do and tend not to be ultra thin to begin with. It was also hard touring so much and being away from Southern California and my family who Iím very close with.
So when Playboy offered me a contract as a centerfold, I saw it as an opportunity to try something exciting and different than ballet, yet still be artistic and creative. Prior to joining the dance company, some male college friends of mine who subscribed to the magazine saw that they were searching for potential Playmates. All that was required was to send in a couple swimsuit photos that didnít need to be taken by a professional photographer. They dared me to do it, and I thought why not? I did not really take it too seriously since I had never modeled before and am rather petite in height. But a few weeks after we sent them in, I got a surprising call from a Playboy representative who wanted to set up a test shoot. Before I knew it I was getting my hair and make-up professionally done and shooting with Stephen Wayda in a gorgeous mansion in the Hollywood Hills.
I will admit it was rather weird at first, posing nude, but everyone on the set was so incredibly professional and cool that it put me at ease. I know itís hard to imagine, but when the photographer is so focused on the angle of lighting on your hair and the make-up artist is focused on the shiny spot on your nose and the wardrobe assistant is concentrating on keeping the outfit in just the right place, you honestly start to forget that you have no clothes on and it becomes no big deal.
I was surprised how comfortable I was posing. I guess that sixteen years of ballet came in handy when it came to movement and being relaxed and natural in front of the camera which I found quite similar to performing on stage. I found that it was essentially a performance of sorts and yes, it is sexy, but it also can be very artistic, creative, and fun. Besides, who doesnít want to look and feel beautiful and sexy? It honestly reminded me of dressing up as a child, but only now Iím not exactly a child anymore.
Playboy then contacted me about appearing in the 40th anniversary issue, but by that time my parents had found out about it and were not exactly thrilled at the prospect. My dad was actually okay with the idea, after all he himself had been a subscriber for many years until (ironically) I got on his case about it when I was in high school. I guess you could say that I had become a little more liberal minded.
My mother, being Japanese and very traditional and conservative didnít understand why on earth I would want to model for them. They basically said that if I was old enough to do it, I was old enough to pay for school and be on my own essentially. At nineteen, that can seem pretty daunting. So I initially turned down their offer, but they again contacted me a little later after they had decided that they wanted me to be a centerfold. It made me reconsider posing for them and really evaluate the pros and cons and question why I wanted to do it, because I knew that it might really change my life.
I finally decided that this was a unique opportunity that I was lucky enough to get and, if nothing else, I would have some great stories to tell to my grandchildren. A lot of my friends were pretty surprised when they found out, but then again they knew Iíve always kind of done things a little differently than most.
People who meet me are often surprised when they find out about Playboy because I donít really fit the stereotypical Playmate image. Iím pretty down to earth (at least thatís what Iíve been told) and, depending on the occasion, can be pretty shy. Although I have my moments, Iím generally not the wild party girl that people might expect when they hear the word Playmate. Iím usually much more content having a mellow dinner with friends or watching reruns of Law and Order on A&E. Honest!
As Miss February 1995 for Playboy, I traveled extensively around the country and internationally in such locations as Moscow, Cannes, Croatia, Mexico City, Vancouver, and Toronto. Iíve met some fascinating people and racked up quite a few frequent flier miles in the process. One of the coolest experiences was being able to swim and play with dolphins on a photo shoot in the Bahamas. I will never forget that!
In addition to modeling, I went on auditions for television, movies, and commercials. I was fortunate enough to receive my SAG and AFTRA cards pretty early on with some speaking roles including appearances on Friends, Baywatch, High Tide, and Married with Children. And I also found that Playboy was a good launching vehicle to get other modeling work in swimwear, lingerie, and calendars, including being one of the featured models for the premier issue of Imagine Magazine and being named Mystique Magazineís 2000 Model of the Year.
It was a lot of fun for a few years, but I really wanted to go back to college and finish up my undergraduate coursework. I was accepted to several Ivy League universities, but chose UCLA to be close to work and family. I really wanted to learn about some of the places in the world that I had been to so I was a history major which was wonderful. There are so many areas of history that Iím interested in that it was so easy to pick my classes each quarter. It was the first time since junior high that I truly wanted to be in school and actually enjoyed going to class. Taking four years off from college was very refreshing, and I think it made me better appreciate a good education. I graduated in March of 2000, summa cum laude in the honors program. I attended law school for about one semester before realizing that it wasnít for me. I was admitted to a top ten law school which I had worked hard to get into, so it was a difficult decision to give it up. My main interest was in intellectual property; dealing with copyrights, patents, and entertainment law. I donít regret trying law school, though, because it made me realize the importance of doing something you truly enjoy, and I knew that I wouldnít enjoy being a lawyer. I felt like I needed to do something that was more creative. So since leaving law school, Iíve been concentrating on my new website, modeling, and taking some courses in real estate. This past year I was honored to be feature in 5-page pictorial in the August 2002 issue of FHM Magazine and in the November issue (2002) of Vanity Fair Magazine. I'm having a lot of fun focusing on modeling as well as continuing to meet my fans at conventions around the country.
Modern technology has really made it possible to have more communication with my fans and the Internet is a fantastic vehicle to interact with them. This website is also the first time that Iíve had control over the design of the site and the photo shoots, which has been an incredible experience. Learning the production side of things and getting hands-on experience in business and marketing has really been an eye opener for me and given me a lot of practical knowledge. Itís a lot of work, but very rewarding when youíre pleased with the results.
I hope you like the new site as well, and Iím happy you took the time to visit me here!