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Making history at Playboy Brooke Binkowski | Sat, May 18 2013 12:00 PM

You were born here, but spent a lot of time in Tijuana. When did you come back to South Bay?

When I was 12, so that was for middle school and high school. When I graduated elementary school I came over here.

So you went to Bonita Vista Middle School and Bonita Vista High, then on to Southwestern College. How did you go from that to modeling for Playboy?

It was a coworker who suggested it, because I was trying to get another job where I could earn a little bit more money and go to school, because it’s the money that has always stopped me from school. I had a 3.5 grade point average and, really, academics is not a problem for me.

And I couldn’t stop working, because I had to pay off school, so I was like OK, what work should I do? Because my job [at The Cheesecake Factory in Eastlake] was full time, almost 50 hours a week, and I was going to school full time. It was dreadful.
So my coworker said, why don’t you just go back to modeling? You could make tons more money, you wouldn’t even have to finish your career, and I was like, the one reason I stopped is because I stopped growing and the minimum to be a high fashion model is 5-foot-9. I’m 5-foot-6. So I don’t think trying to go back is going to work, because I’ve tried before. And then she said, well, try something different. Go in a different direction. And then after giving me all these suggestions, because she saw how desperate I was and how frustrated I was about it, she ended with the red bow: “Why not Playboy?” And I was like, “Girl, I’m a married woman! that’s not going to happen!”
I told my husband this story and he’s like, “Why not, honey? I mean, you know what you want and not because you’re doing something like that means you’re going to go off your path, and if you do, that means that you are doing something better. “
And I was like, OK, well, as long as you approve that the whole wide world is going to see my you-know-what and everything, I guess I can do it.

So your husband was supportive?

He actually researched everything for me. He knew I wasn’t sure about doing it, but he knew I could, so he helped me out and said look, you know I got your back and I’m never going to judge you, and I’m always going to be here for you.

How was the process of becoming a Playmate? Can you describe it?

Hef still approves all the Playmates. So he looks at the test pictures, and he decides whether or not he approves you for a centerfold. Once he approves you to shoot the centerfold, you shoot the centerfold, and he approves your centerfold and that’s when you become a Playmate. Usually that happens within two  to three months; mine happened within two weeks. It went fast! [laughs]

What are your plans for the future?

So I quit the job I had at that moment, and I’m still good in school. I stopped going once my issue came out, because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with school and all the promotional work. So I gave myself that year and I was like OK, this year I save all my money and then I can go back to school. But then I get Playmate of the Year, so it’s easier! [laughs] So after I’m done with my duties of Playmate of the Year I’m going to go back to school, but for now I’m just going to enjoy it.

Do you feel as though you are a role model?

I do. I do. I didn’t realize, but I am a stepping stone as the first Mexican-American Playmate of the Year, and I do feel like a role model.

I’ve had already a lot of Tweets that say “Yay Mexico! Yay!” and stuff like that. There’s been Puerto Rican Playmates, there’s been a lot of European, a lot of Canadian, a lot of American obviously, but to be the first Mexican-American, it’s like whoa. Whoa! Is this happening right now? I am breaking that big wall! That’s pretty awesome.

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