Kittenish Angie Everhart plays cat and mouse with Animal Fair. Photographs by Chris Ameruoso.
My editor tells me I am going to interview Angie Everhart. Angie Everhart; she of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, of the Glamour covers; of copper-colored hair and the body of a Greek sculpture. Angie Everhart, a woman once engaged to Sylvester Stallone and rumored to have been romanced by Jack Nicholson and Prince Albert of Monaco, generally is considered (by those who know about such things) one of The Ten Most Beautiful Women in the World.
“Really?” I say excitedly, “AF is doing a piece on her. Why?”
“What do you mean, ‘Why’?” my editor responds. “Because she loves animals.”
“She does? How cool!”
Being an average guy, I rarely hang out with supermodels. Thus the thought of chatting with Ms. Everhart over lunch at some trendy Melrose bistro is an exciting one. Pumping my fist, I shout “Yes!” loud enough to scare the upstairs neighbors, then drop to one knee and give thanks like a running back who just scored a Superbowl-winning touchdown.
“When does my plane leave?” I ask.
She informs me– with just a hint of malicious glee in her voice– I will not be flying to Los Angeles. My interview with the prettiest redhead since Ann-Margaret will take place on the telephone. I am mildly crushed, and console myself by typing Ms. Everhart’s name into a search engine and gazing at the photos which soon appear.
I note the sculpted face– the way it shifts from playful, to elegant, to steamy as quickly as a camera can click. I admire her figure. When you hear people complaining about unrealistic female body images in the media, they are talking about women like Angie. Call me brainwashed by the fashion industry, but this, I think, is as close to perfection as the female form can get. I start to wonder what it would feel like to be that beautiful. I think about all the adoration. Then I think of the pressure that must come with it. I remember how much I like eating and dislike exercise. Looking very, very good while wearing very, very little, I decide, would not be the best job for me. Heck, I don’t even like wearing shorts in public because of my thin, white legs.
On my monitor, by contrast, I see a photo of the legendary Everhart legs– the legs once insured for a million dollars as a publicity stunt by a maker of ladies’ shavers. The obviousness of this attempt to invoke old-time Hollywood glamour, however, doesn’t change the fact that the 29 year-old’s graceful gams are utterly priceless.
After spending a solid hour clicking through such images, I decide staring at beautiful photographs is not helping me prepare for the task at hand. Nobly, I remind myself I am a Professional Journalist with Artistic Integrity, then sit up straight and decide to do some reading on Ms. Everhart before her call comes from LA.
There is a really good article on her from Sports Illustrated, and I find a very funny text from a Letterman appearance which an Angie fan lovingly transcribed onto his tribute website. There is also some pretty cool stuff about her work with animals, and a bunch of short pieces which originally ran in fashion magazines. The fashionista pieces turn out to be helpful, because in them I discover Angie is asked the same two questions during every interview she gives: “What is Sylvester Stallone really like?” and “Is that your natural hair color?” I resolve to ask neither, thus coming off all original and cool.
Reading on, I find Angie is not shy about speaking her mind– one of which, it turns out, she has. She is also funny, self-effacing and has interests outside fashion. (This is good, because I only know enough about fashion to bluff my way through about three minutes of conversation.) First, she adores animals; cats, horses, and dogs– even big, sloppy dogs like mine. She is also a football fan, into Led Zeppelin and The Doors, and even named one of her dogs after Eddie Van Halen. “Right on!” I think, “This is just a normal girl. I mean, she is from Akron, after all. It doesn’t get any more normal than that.”
Then I come across a quote from an old Details interview. “I’m having a hard time finding somebody who’s going to treat me like Angie.” She said, “Not as a model, not as a movie star, not as a trophy. I would love just to be held at night. But I’d rather have no deal than a low deal. I believe that Mr. Right is out there somewhere! Please call, writers and artists, if you think you’re the man!”
Just amazing, isn’t it? This paragon of beauty sounds just a little bit lonely. Fame and fortune probably mean nothing to her, I think, and the only reason she dates big shots is they are the only men brave enough to ask her out. And she likes writers… Eureka! My heart leaps to my throat. A blinding epiphany hits me: I have a shot with Angie Everhart.
A strategy starts forming: I will dazzle her with insightful questions, brilliant wit and superb listening skills. We will strike up an e-mail correspondence. I will send sensitive, yet masculine love poems and adorable pictures of me snuggling with my pooch. Before long, we will be talking on the phone for hours each night. Angie will ask my advice about her career, or listen while I explain how no one understands my genius. Eventually, she will realize she doesn’t need the movie premiers, royal yachts or other assorted jet-setting accoutrements. It is me she wants, and me alone.
Our first date is a picnic. She meets me at the dog park. While our puppies play together, we eat the lunch she brought. I pop a CD into the portable stereo– a copy of The Pretenders’ ‘Learning to Crawl’ which I brought because she went to the same high school as Chrissie Hynde.
“Oh, Hampton, you’re so thoughtful,” she sighs. While we lay on the blanket, Chrissie is crooning “Show Me,” and Angie is gazing into my eyes. Gently I move a few stray strands of hair from her forehead. My fingertips brush her cheek. The scent of her perfume is lovely. She leans closer, closing her eyes, parting her lips and– The phone rings, snapping me out of my daydream.
Everhart is on the phone, calling from her home in the Hollywood Hills. It is time for the interview. I, of course, panic. My debonair turns to dufus, my stunning wit to stammering twit. Soon, I’m jabbering like an auctioneer who has had too much coffee. Mercifully, Ms. Everhart is used to men acting like fools around her. It is, it turns out, one of the many occupational hazards of being transcendently beautiful. Finally, she calms me down– at least enough to get us through the interview relatively unscathed.
Okay, actually, I was more than unscathed. I was dazzled. Imagine you are a guy who likes football, rock and roll, and is absolutely crazy about animals. You are set up for a blind date, and make that tentative first phone call. You soon discover your blind date also likes football, rock and roll, and is absolutely crazy about animals. She also happens to be an internationally-known supermodel.
Let’s just say I was smitten. Angie was gracious and flirty and completely down to earth. In other words, she played me like a cheap fiddle.
I didn’t ask who she is dating or dumb questions about her hair. We talked about normal stuff. She adores her family, for instance. Her sister just came to work for her as a personal assistant. Her father, in addition to being a civil engineer, she says, is an amazing cook. And mom? Well, mention mom and Angie’s voice, usually husky and full of wry humor, gets all gushy.
“My mother is so incredible!” She exclaims, “She taught me I could be anything I wanted. If, one day, I am half as good of a mother to my children as my mom was to all of us, that will be quite an accomplishment.”
“Is mom beautiful too?”
“Oh, she is so beautiful. She’s so amazing.”
I ask about other female role models. We start talking about acting, which Angie is doing more and more of. She is planning on winning an Oscar. Seriously, she is. I tell her I am planning on winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. I am serious too.
I ask about her all-time favorite actresses. She doesn’t hesitate, “Katherine Hepburn.”
A fellow redhead, I think. “What about today? Who is working today you really admire?”
“Hmm… Sally Field. I love Sally Field.”
Then I pull out a pretty racy question. “What would you say is the sexiest movie of all time?” It takes a long time for her to answer. She is giving it serious thought. Finally, she says, “The original 91/2 weeks was pretty sexy. They don’t get much better than Kim Basinger.”
“She strikes me as a delicate person,” I say. “You’re not delicate, are you Angie? You seem pretty tough.”
“I’m delicate on the inside,” she laughs. “I only have a very thin outer layer of toughness.”
Thin maybe, but definitely tough. For instance, I asked about the time she took a spill from a horse, broke her back, came within a centimeter or two of never walking again, and got back on her feet in four months. She was nineteen when it happened.
She starts to tell the tale and then hears a yelp. “Hold on,” she says, “I gotta let my dog in.” She runs off, comes back breathless. “Vito is the most beautiful animal I have ever seen in my life!” (Vito is Everhart’s new Newfoundland, her latest animal pal.)
“You mean second to my dog, don’t you?” I tease.
“I’ve never seen your dog, so my dog still wins. He is so beautiful. He is all black with a white spot on his chest in the shape of a star, and this great smiling face.”
“Cool!” I say, “Too bad we didn’t get any shots of him for the magazine.”
“I know! I just got him from this place back home in Ohio. He had really bad hip dysplasia. I took him to six different vets. They all told me the same thing– that I should put him down. There is no way I would ever do that.
So, the vets are like ‘Well, you’re going to have to give him sixteen operations. Every joint in his body is bad.’ I say, ‘Fine, no problem.’ Well, I gave him just one operation and he is already up and around. He walks with a little limp and is on drugs and stuff, but he runs and plays and is so happy. And he is still smiling.”
(Of course he is smiling, I think. He was rescued by a supermodel.) I don’t say that, however. What I say is, “That brings us back to someone else who once had trouble walking.”
“You were telling me about falling off the horse.”
“Oh yeah, in fact I just had back surgery.”
“You just did? Again?” I ask. “Is that something you are going to have to deal with for the rest of your life?”
“So how did it happen? How’d you fall off the horse?”
“Actually, I didn’t fall. I was getting off and I was angry.”
“Because the horse kept rearing on me. I went to get off, my foot slipped out of the stirrup and I fell onto a rock.”
“Broke four vertebrae in my tailbone.”
“What was the rehab like? Long and painful?”
“Long and painful,” she confirms. “I was in France, so I went to a lot of osteopaths. It was a bad time. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself.”
“Well, that sure sounds glamorous.”
“Oh, real, real glamorous. I had this recurring nightmare that I was paralyzed. I’d wake up, look at my toes and see if I could wiggle them. I would be so relieved when I could do it.”
“So, you were literally an inch away from being paraplegic?”
“Less than that actually. It makes you appreciate what you have so much. I am just so thankful.” (Recently, Angie put her appreciation into action, acting as chairwoman for a Christopher Reeve Foundation benefit.)
“And you still ride horses, right?” I ask. She does. I am moderately amazed by her courage.
“I love horses so much!” she says. “I got a horse for my birthday last year and cried when I saw him. They were tears of joy. He was so beautiful! The woman who brought him saw me crying, and said, ‘You better get used to that if you are going to be around horses.’ It was true. He got sick and … I couldn’t keep him…” Her voice trails off.
“I guess that’s one of the things pets teach us,” I say, “About loss and letting go.”
I’m not telling her anything new. This girl already knows about loss– especially losing animals she loves. In addition to her horse’s illness, one of the Maltese pictured here, Eddie Van Halen, was killed by the coyotes who live in the hills around LA. She describes that time as “the worst week of my life” and sounds very serious when she says it. One cat, Venus, left her for the next-door neighbors. The other, Elvis, died when he got his neck caught trying to jump a fence. These photos don’t even show her two newest guys; Vito, the aforementioned rescued Newfoundland, and another refugee– a black cat she named Puffy, and then renamed P Diddy.
Her mood brightens when she starts talking about this newest feline. “You can call her whatever you want. She has many names. She is my ‘dog’ cat. She follows me in to every room.”
“So what do you call her?” I ask. “Puffy or P-Diddy?”
“I call her kitty,” she says, laughing.
I think how there is something sad about these photos. Then I look at the silver frame on my desk which holds a picture of my beloved Boxer, Lony. The shot was taken when he was just a pup. These days, he is getting gray around the muzzle. I smile, thinking how much I love him, and decide I really should have some more current photos taken. Then I realize these pictures of Angie and friends aren’t sad, but poignant. Pets really do teach us about loss, I think. They teach to love while you can, as much as you can.
Thinking about love, I have the urge to ask Everhart about her personal life, but don’t do it. I do remember, though, that in addition to Sylvester Stallone, Everhart was also reportedly engaged to a prominent Los Angeles businessman. Neither engagement bore nuptials. Recalling the Julia Roberts character from “Runaway Bride,” I wonder if it was based on Angie.
Of course, she was married once– for three months. I see a parallel, and start to wonder why very close attachments followed by very quick partings seem to be a pattern with both pets and paramours in her life.
“You work really hard. Don’t you, Angie?”
“I work really hard and I play really hard.”
“How do you play?”
“Well, I used to jump out of airplanes.”
“Yeah, I read that. Why did you stop?”
“I felt 263 times was enough.”
I ask if men always act like idiots around her.
“Sometimes,” she says quietly.
“What’s that like?”
She tells me she thinks its funny, but the sound of her voice makes me think she doesn’t find it funny at all.
“What about women?” I ask. “Do you get the feeling when you walk into a room that every woman there hates you?”
“I go out of my way to be extra nice to girls– to be friendly and make fun of myself. Sometimes, though, yeah. Oh well, I wouldn’t want people like that for my friends anyway, you know?”
We chat a little bit about music. I mention a few things about myself– my family, my job. She talks about weight– how the pressure is always incredibly intense, and that she doesn’t keep a scale in her house or “the numbers” will make her crazy. (I don’t have a scale in my house either, but for the exact opposite reason. I just don’t care enough about my body to buy one.) It is easy to see why Angie loves animals so much. Dogs, cats and horses will never care how much she weighs (Okay, maybe the horses care a little.) Animals don’t want to know who she is dating or what the reviews of her last performance were. They just love her unconditionally. In some ways, I guess, that is why we all love our pets. My dog doesn’t care if I am having a bad hair day, messed up at work, or forgot somebody’s birthday. He loves me anyway. Unconditionally.
Angie and I talk about acting some more. She is working on ‘UC: Undercover,’ a new show on NBC’s fall schedule. This is good, I say. Most of the really innovative stuff is happening on TV these days. I ask if she wants to do live theater. She says yes, but the thought scares her. I tell her she should do it anyway. She says she knows. I find myself rooting for her to make it as a serious actress. I tell her I think she is great, and I don’t understand how she goes through so much– bad and good– and still manages to stay sane. She seems genuinely flattered by this. I ask if I can send her some promotional stuff on Animal Fair’s ‘Paws for Style’ benefit. She says she would love to help. Then she tells me I am fun to talk to. I say I liked her a lot as well. After a quick good-bye, it’s over.
I am kind of excited and dazed, but also feel a little let down — like the feeling you get after a fireworks display ends and you have to climb in your car and drive back to a quieter, less colorful life. I look at a few more pictures of Angie on the Web– seeing her as a swimsuit vixen, done up as a Golden Age Hollywood diva, done down in the depth of Soho chic. She can, it seems, become whatever the camera wants her to be.
But none of these visions looks like my Angie. My Angie is just an average girl from the midwest who loves her family and is crazy about animals. Then I realize that, just as she does for the camera, Angie Everhart somehow became exactly who I wanted her to be.
As I start writing the piece, I think maybe she is a little lonely after all. But why would that surprise me? Did I think being born beautiful somehow exempts people from pain? Everybody is a little sad sometimes — even supermodels. Angie is as funny and vivacious as any woman I have even known. She leads a big, dramatic life, and wouldn’t have it any other way. True, she was born with a lot, but she worked very hard to get a lot more. She also gives a lot back.
It is funny. When I got this assignment, I imagined myself interviewing “Angie Everhart, Supermodel.” I ended up just talking to a really cool, really beautiful girl who reminded me how important it is to love while we have the chance, to give to others what we can, and to always fight back against adversity. If you fall off a horse, you have to get right back on. Some people use this as a figure of speech. This girl really did it. And yes, I did tell her I planned to woo her by sending love poetry and pictures of my dog. I still think I have a chance.