Skin deep: UVA coeds strip for <I>Playboy
Walking along a sidewalk in Charlottesville last week, Briana Timmons spotted a friend. She approached him and asked if he had seen her picture in a national magazine.
When he said he hadn't, Timmons, a second-year student at UVA, reached into her bookbag, pulled out the magazine, and showed it to him.
Right there along a busy downtown street.
That might not seem too unusual. After all, anyone with a picture in a magazine would be proud and want to show it off.
Then again, Timmons' picture isn't in just any magazine. She's featured in the October issue of Playboy as one of several "Girls of the ACC." There she is, page 138, lower left corner– sporting nothing but a pair of boots.
The 19-year-old Mechanicsville native's brush with fame began when she saw an ad in The Cavalier Daily that Playboy was looking for UVA students.
"I talked to my friends about how cool it would be to be in a, you know, big magazine. Playboy... a lot of people see that," Timmons says. "They were like, 'Oh, Briana, you should do it, you should do it.' So I went ahead and decided to do it."
And just as she's completely comfortable showing the end result to anyone who cares to see, Timmons wasn't shy about taking her clothes off for the camera. She said everyone from the magazine put her at ease.
"They are really professional," she says. "I thought it was going to be weird when I went in there, but it just ended up being... I was really comfortable because everybody was so nice. They made me feel really comfortable."
The one difficult part for Timmons was telling her parents about the photo shoot. Once she did, their biggest concern was that she would be kicked out of school. After Timmons convinced them that posing for Playboy isn't against UVA's policy, mom and dad were supportive.
But supportive and happy are two different things. When asked about her parents' reaction now that the magazine is on newsstands, she answers after some nervous laughter.
"I'm not really sure how my dad takes me being in Playboy. My mom was like, 'Briana, he's going to kill you.' But I don't think he's that mad. It's not something he talks to me about," says Timmons, a 2003 graduate of Atlee High School.
Timmons says the photographer shot 12 or 13 rolls of film to eventually select the one picture used in the magazine. They had her pose in a variety of positions, but the one they ended up using– a side view of Timmons bending forward at the waist, her head almost touching the ground– came about by chance.
"I bent over to pick something up, and they were like, 'That's hot, that's hot. Do that again,'" says Timmons.
If nothing else, the picture is probably the most unusual in the 10-page spread. She wasn't so sure she liked it at first, but her attitude has changed since the magazine has been out. All of the compliments she's received from friends have helped.
A resemblance to Paris Hilton– at least as far as the magazine was concerned– led to one of several photo shoots at a farm in Crozet. Magazine officials liked the idea of using themes from Hilton's television show, The Simple Life. As it turned out, that's where the Playboy picture ended up being shot.
For the record, Timmons doesn't think she looks anything like Hilton.
Timmons' mom thinks the recent publicity might complicate her daughter's life. Timmons is interested in the pre-med program at UVA and wants to become a surgeon. Mrs. Timmons has told her that the picture will haunt her no matter what she does after college.
"But I don't think this is going to come back to haunt me at all," Timmons says. "I really can't see anybody 10 years down the road saying, 'Oh, you were in Playboy.'"
For the present, she has seen the effect her notoriety has had on the opposite sex. Timmons doesn't have a boyfriend, but she was hoping her photo would increase her chances of finding one.
"I actually thought it was going to make them want to ask me out more, but I've actually discovered in the past few days, whenever I meet someone, they're like, 'You're one of those girls,'" she says. "I haven't really been getting any dates or anything. They kind of shy away."
Timmons says she has no regrets about her decision.
"If it had been Hustler or something, I might not have done it," she admits. "But it's Playboy. Everybody's heard of Playboy, and it's really well respected. The girls are gorgeous in Playboy," she notes, "and I thought it would be really fun to be one of those girls."
At the Corner Lucky Seven, UVA students and Playboy models Ariel Iverson, Brianna Timmons, and Paige Gellar sign autographs.
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ROSS BARBOUR