Anything goes in the Octagon, the eight-sided cage in which the martial artists of the Ultimate Fighting Championship do battle: punching, kicking, backflip body slams. But eye gouging is not allowed—nobody wants to run the risk of not being able to see the UFC’s vivacious ring girl Brittney Palmer sashay across the Octagon in a bikini between rounds.
Brittney grew up in Las Vegas, another place where almost anything goes. “I had a high school sweetheart,” she remembers. “His mother was so into the UFC she would throw pillows at the TV set. When I was 18 I worked out front at UFC events, handing out free beer. And now I’m actually in the Octagon, which is crazy.” After high school graduation, Brittney got a job as a magician’s assistant and danced in a burlesque show at the Flamingo Hotel. What she learned: “The show must always go on. Even if you don’t have your outfit on, the music is still starting at 10.” What she did when not pursuing enlightenment through burlesque: “You’d get off at 11, go out for drinks, party till the sun came up and then do it again.”
“I’m no longer just this Vegas showgirl,” she says. “I want to be an artist, and I’m really lucky to have a passion like that.” Brittney taught herself to paint by watching YouTube videos and built up enough of a portfolio to get into UCLA. “I’ve been learning about composition and colors and negative space,” she reports. She knows that someday she’ll probably have to broaden her subject matter beyond rock stars. “But I love painting those pictures, and people love putting them on their walls,” she says. “Would you rather have a portrait of somebody you don’t know or a portrait of Jimi Hendrix?”
Art school is what inspired Brittney to pose for playboy. “I take figure-drawing classes all day, every day,” she explains. “Ninety-nine percent of the time there’s a nude model in your class—it’s beautiful, and it’s art. I’m really good at drawing nudes. I think women’s bodies are fantastic, and I work my ass off for my body. I have such appreciation for being in Playboy—it’s like being a model for an elite figure-drawing class.” Who knew school could be so much fun?