Published May 09, 2011
For Claire Sinclair, the idea of being named the 2011 Playmate of the Year is still a bit surreal.
"This is beyond any dream I could have imagined," Sinclair told FOX411.com. "Just 23 months ago, I was a high school student in East (Los Angeles)."
Sinclair, 19, received the honor during an exclusive ceremony on May 6 at the Moon Nightclub inside the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said Sinclair's style reminded him of Bettie Page, a popular 1950s pinup model who was also Playboy Magazine's Miss January cover model in 1955.
"What I love about Sinclair is that she has this wonderful, classic, pinup look about her, there's a whole lot of Bettie Page going on here," Hefner told FOX411.com.
The 52nd Playmate of the Year, whose real name is Clarissa Irene Riccio, has modeled since the age of 14. A Playboy pinup artist who painted a portrait of Sinclair introduced Sinclair to Hefner at the Playboy Mansion. Sinclair was eventually chosen as the cover girl for Playboy's October 2010 issue.
She’s already taken full advantage of the exposure, appearing on reality television shows "The Girls Next Door" and "Holly's World," guest starring in the MGM Grand’s “Crazy Horse” French cabaret show, and serving as the official spokesmodel for, you guessed it, Bettie Page Clothing.
"I feel like when you're Playmate of the Month, you have a month to strike," said Sinclair. "This just extends it for a year and it's just a blessing in itself."
Unfortunately, the California native wasn't old enough to celebrate at the nightclub she was honored at. As for Sinclair’s celebratory plans following her acceptance speech, they weren't as exciting as one would imagine for a Playmate of the Year honoree.
"Tonight I'm going to go out to the movies with my friends because I'm under 21, so there's not going to be any hardcore clubbing," said Sinclair. "We're just going to have a nice little gathering."