Call it wanderlust, ravenous curiosity or the endless pursuit of a great party, but Iryna Ivanova possesses an unquenchable thirst to see the world. "I have always enjoyed traveling," says our wayfaring Miss August. She began her global tour in earnest at the age of 16 when her family moved from their hometown of Feodosia, Crimea, a Ukrainian port on the Black Sea, to a new life in Tucson. From there, Iryna, who is now working toward an MBA at the University of Arizona (focusing either in marketing or sports management; she's undecided at the moment) took to the winds. "I studied abroad in Greece and visited Athens and the islands. Mykonos was my favorite because it's beautiful and it's a crazy party island. For romance and calm, though, I adore Bali. Plus, the Indonesians are the nicest people I've ever met." Confidence brought her to playboy's shores. "I love my body, and my philosophy is that if you have the right kind of body, why not show it?" She adds, "Being Miss August is something I'm very proud of. Honestly, I might be prouder of being a Playmate than any of my academic achievements. There are many great schools you can attend, but there's only one Playboy. I still can't believe I'm among the few girls Hef picks each year!"


Petra Verkaik, a 22-year-old native Californian, celebrated the signing of her Playmate contract in an unusual fashion: by running herself over with her own van. The venerable '76 Volkswagen has a habit of not starting, so Petra's accustomed to climbing under the chassis, armed with a screwdriver, to get things going. This time, in her excitement about becoming a Playmate, she neglected to check whether or not the transmission was in gear. When the motor turned over, the van lurched onto her chest and perched there for about 30 seconds. "A very long thirty seconds," she says. "I thought I was going to die." With a mighty effort -- "I'm not Hercules or anything, but it's a light car" - Petra managed to free herself, sort of. "I pushed it up and slid under it. Then it landed on my hair, pinning me." Fortunately, the episode took place in the parking lot next to Playboy's West Coast offices, and rescue was soon at hand. Cassie Gould, a Playboy publicist, was the first to happen by and see two legs sticking out from beneath the dilapidated van. Her call for help was answered by two security who quickly got the van off the Playmate; paramedics and sheriff's officers arrived seconds later. At the hospital, Petra was X-rayed and got the good news that she could go home immediately. The bad news was that now that Petra was obviously out of danger, everybody was cracking jokes about the accident. When a Playmate, particularly a well-endowed Playmate, is saved from serious injury by her breasts, people smile. It's not unlike the story of a preacher's being saved from a stray bullet by his Bible. And Petra is by nature a rather shy person. "God, I was so embarrassed," she recalls. Still, when she heard that West Coast Photo Editor Marilyn Grabowski had dubbed her the "the retread Playmate," Petra good-naturedly responded, "Well, I did have tread marks on my shirt. What else can I do but laugh?" Petra and her misbehaving van go way back. "My mom bought it new, and we used it to camp at the Grand Canyon and everywhere." Last year, her mother gave Petra the van. Since then, its trips have most often been to the mechanic. Still, it has provided reliable-enough transportation to get Petra to modeling assignments (she recently did some promotional work for Pepsi). She currently shares a house near L.A. with three others, including her boyfriend, with whom she pots fantasy travel plans (first stop: Bali, her mother's birthplace; her father comes from Holland). Her next move, however, may be to try out for a spot in Playboy's Girls of Rock & Roll review, currently in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. "Playboy has helped me a lot," says Petra. "It has given me self-confidence. Now I love meeting people." There's another plus: With her Playmate earnings, she'll be able to buy a new car. "Something light," she says, smiling. "Like a Honda CRX."


A year ago, Californian Justine Greiner underwent the kind of trauma only another Californian could understand: She went to Kansas. Her plan was to attend the University of Kansas in Lawrence. What she experienced there shook her to the core of her 5'9" frame. There were no palm trees. There was no ocean. The sun, when it dared to come out, shone down on some peculiar white stuff that covered the ground for acres around. Mars, they tell us, has more forbidding terrain, but the Kansas wheat fields were enough for Justine. At the end of her first term, she tucked her skate board under her arm and flew back West. By the time the first summer rays were hitting the Santa Monica beaches, a happy Justine wasn't in Kansas anymore. "I was homesick, I really was," she admits. "I mean, people there are still wearing bell-bottom jeans! I made a lot of friends while I was there, but it wasn't the place for me at all." 
Although she displays little loyalty to it now, Justine was born in Boston and actually spent the first half of her life in that area. That experience blurred to a few half-forgotten memories when the family hopped westward. In California, Justine found the perfect place for her easy-going personality: a sun-drenched hammock. 
"You know how you can fall into a group of friends who tend to be wild or friends who tend to be studious?" Oh, do we! "Well, I think I had the wrong group of friends. I wasn't superradical, but I wasn't superstudious, either. 
"I wish I'd divided my time more evenly, devoted more time to school and my family and also kept my partying and friends. Instead, I went for the partying and friends. I thought I was sooo bitchin'. Really. I just thought, Hey, it's cool. 
"I didn't know I'd missed something until I ended up in Kansas, because then, I realized I could be going to school in California. All my friends were goin to Santa Barbara or San Diego or Berkeley or Chico - someplace like that. If I had just pulled a little harder, I could have gotten into one of those schools. Which would have been a lot better." 
Before we continue, we should say that we've been to Kansas and had a nice time there. It's not heaven, but it's not a purgatory for Golden State underachievers, either. The lifestyle, though, is different; and in California, lifestyle is everything. 


Playmate Jaclyn Swedberg captivates in this set from photographer Holly Randall. Our Playmate of the Year 2012 is back and better than ever in a lacy bra, panties and thigh-highs, and if you like her in lingerie, you’re going to love her in the nude. “This house was like a castle,” says Jaclyn. “For this set, we decided to shoot in the bedroom – very boudoir, very classic Playboy. I loved it!” The feeling is mutual, Miss Swedberg. “I’ve been on Playboy TV, I’m Miss April 2011 and I’m Playmate of the Year 2012, so I like to say I’ve got a lot of Playboy experience,” says Jaclyn, giggling. “From here, I’d love to do some more television!” With a face and body like hers, Miss Swedberg belongs on the silver screen – but for now, we’ll settle for this gorgeous pictorial.

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