Pmate Hunter

For five decades plus five years Playboy has been the planet's foremost authority on beautiful women. To become our 55th Anniversary Playmate, our selection would have to not only continue that tradition but set a standard that could be upheld for 55 years to come. To locate that extraordinary beauty, our scouts scoured the United States and Europe. We test-shot dozens of stunning models (see last month's Hunt for the 55th Anniversary Playmate), narrowing down the field. Now, as you see our pick here ("I'm the girl in the dream having a rest after good sex," she says), you will no doubt agree that Dasha Astafieva is a perfect choice for our 55th Anniversary Playmate. Dasha, a 23-year-old native of Ukraine, started modeling in 2003 and within four years had become Playboy Ukraine's Playmate of the Year. This whetted her ambition for a larger stage. "I have dreamed of being an American Playmate since I first saw the magazine," she says. "It has changed attitudes about beauty and sexuality and influenced people across the world. It is an honor to appear in Playboy." Success tastes sweet to Miss January, who remembers the hardships her family faced when Ukraine became an independent nation following the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991. "Those days were difficult," she says. "I dreamed of earning money to help my parents." Now, along with modeling, Dasha is recording an album with the band Nikita. "We have a pop-electro sexy style," she says. "We love music from the 1950s and 1960s." She also has her sights set on Hollywood. From the looks of this awesome creature, there is no ambition she won't someday realize. Shall we give the 55th Anniversary Playmate the last word? "Playboy symbolizes the free soul," says Dasha. "I want to thank Mr. Hefner for starting a new era -- the era of Playboy."

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