Tabitha Gilley recently reached a goal she hopes will catapult her into the competitive world of professional modeling.
Ms. Gilley, who works at the Hooters restaurant on Brainerd Road, is one of 13 Hooters Girls featured in the February edition of Playboy magazine, on sale now.
The 21-year-old Bridgeport, Ala., native is also on the cover of the February 2008 25th anniversary edition of Hooters Magazine.
A dental hygiene major at Chattanooga State Technical Community College, Ms. Gilley has lived in Chattanooga for two years.
“You can make very good money, and I’ve wanted to work at Hooters since high school,” she said.
Ms. Gilley’s road to Playboy began when she was selected as a Hooters Calendar Girl last fall, she said.
“It’s a long process to be selected,” she said in a telephone interview. “You have to apply and wait six months for a callback. If you get the callback, you do a photo shoot with a Hooters photographer and then wait six more months. I found out in September that I was included in the calendar.”
But landing a spot in Playboy was even a bigger surprise, she said.
“I sent in a test shot, and the next morning I got an e-mail saying I would be one of 13 Hooters Girls in Playboy,” she said.
Ms. Gilley said her family and friends were at first apprehensive about her being photographed in Playboy but are now very supportive.
According to Playboy spokeswoman Jessica Siegelbaum, Hooters Girls have been spotlighted in Playboy one other time, in 1994. This month’s feature is in celebration of the Hooters’ 25th anniversary, she said.
Ms. Gilley’s inclusion in the magazine also landed her a three-day stay last November at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“I was actually starstruck being at the mansion. It was unreal,” Ms. Gilley said. “I met Hugh Hefner, and he was very respectful to us. He was a nice older man.”
Mr. Hefner, founder of Playboy, is 82.
Ms. Gilley continues to work at Hooters and said she hopes to graduate from Chattanooga State next year.
E-mail Karen Nazor Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...