O.C. teen is Playboy's Playmate for June
Katie Vernola had barely left high school in San Clemente last year when a photographer she was working for as a model asked her if she'd ever thought about posing for Playboy magazine.
"It was all a very quick process," the 18-year-old says, sounding still a bit awestruck by what happened next. "I'm doing some work with a photographer and he asked me, and I'd already planned for it, so I was like, 'Yeah, let's do it!'
"It was always something I wanted to do," Vernola says. "I just jumped on it right away."
Vernola grew up in Orange County, a typical Southern California kid.
"I've been a cheerleader my whole life, and done gymnastics," she says. "I love to wake board, and that's kind of how I got into the whole surfing thing.
"That's the inspiration for the 'little surfer girl' in my pictorial," Vernola adds, referring to the only two covered-up photos of her in the current issue of Playboy -- shots of her in a full-body wetsuit on the beach, which you'll find in the gallery at the end of this post.
She's also a car freak, which the Playboy article on her also notes.
"My boyfriend owns a rim and tire shop in Huntington Beach close by to where I live," Vernola says. "So I've sat in the shop with him and learned how to mount and balance my own tires, and he's tricked out our own cars." (Her current ride is a Lexus IS 250, which she's worked to make "as cute as possible." Her dream chariot? "A hot pink Barbie" Lamborghini Gallardo.)
When she finally received the June issue of Playboy at first it felt like it was something just for her, Vernola says.
"When I opened the first issue I felt like this was just mine -- no one else was going to see it," she says, laughing. "And then when I walked out and I saw that exact same magazine everywhere, I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' I was in shock."
She says her parents were worried about the whole idea at first. "I'm their little girl," Vernola says. "But it's very tasteful, and now my parents are very supportive. I'm very lucky to have such great parents and family and boyfriend."
As for the future, she's currently taking general education classes in community college, Vernola says, and she hopes to continue modeling, using the Playboy photos as a high-profile calling card for more work.
"Being Miss June has opened so many doors for me," she says. "I definitely want to stick with modeling. I kind of want to get a mini-mogul going, to start my own business. Maybe designing my own clothes and bathing suits. I've sewn for many years, and that's kind of what I'd like to do after modeling."
For now, though, being Playmate of the Month is keeping her plenty busy with appearances at the Playboy Comedy Show at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas last weekend, and an autograph session at the Playboy Store there, too.
"It's so awesome for someone to come up and say, 'Can I take a picture with you,'" Vernola says of the fans who turned out for the Vegas meet-and-greet. "I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, why not?'
The whole experience so far is still sinking in, she says, describing how just a few days ago someone approached her in her kickboxing class at the gym to say "I hear you're kind of famous now. ..."
"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh,' I can't believe this is happening!'" Vernola says. "I'm only 18 and this is so crazy!"