Animal Fair certainly has no shortage of male interns willing to give up their Saturday at the mere mention of Denise Richard. Heck, they even showed up early for the shoot, wide eyed and bushy tailed. The Chicago native is quite pup-ular – she wasn’t named one of the world’s sexiest women by FHM for no reason! Richards moved to California with her family when she was 15-year-old. She began modeling in Paris, Tokyo and New York, and became the makeup girl for Bonne Hell cosmetics. Soon after, Richards gravitated toward acting. She found much success from the get-go, appearing in Life Goes On, Beverly Hills, 90210 and Seinfield. As her star was on the rise, the breathtaking brunette graced the big screen in Starship Troopers. She captured the public imagination in Wild Things and matched with Pierce Brosnan as a Bond Girl in The World Is Not Enough. Richards also started in the hit come-dies Undercover Brother and Scary Movie 3, proving she could tackle an array of characters successfully. These days, Richards also started a new chapter in her life. With her marriage to Charlie Sheen behind her, and her relationship with Bon Jovi guitarist, Richie Sambora, full steam ahead. Richards is brimming optimism as she opens up her home. She is eager to talk about her favorite role in life – being a mother. Not only does Richards play super mom to her adorable daughters, Sam and Lola, but she mothers everything around her… including her five canine companions and a horse!
Today, Richards waits patiently as her hair and makeup team add the finishing touches for our photo shoot. In person, Richards is a natural, warm beauty. Dressed in ripped jeans and a tank top, her long brown mane swishes from side to side as she talks. I stop to admire her dogs, licking each other playfully and romping around the room. Her toddler, Sam, appears around the corner. She is strikingly adorable and quite a charmer – the spitting image of her mother! Sam immediately spots the bubble gum in my mouth and within seconds, is by my side pleading for a piece. I glance over at her mother, questioning. “Just one piece”, Richards smiles. Sam’s eyes light up as I hand over the treat. Richards chuckles and scoops her up. Watching the whispering, their foreheads pressed together, is truly a sweet moment. Lola (her younger daughter) soon wakes from her nap and radiates with that wonderful baby glow. Richards gives her girls little kisses and is ready to roll.
It’s a gorgeous morning in California, so we decide to move the photo shoot outdoors and take advantage of Richards’ spectacular yard. There is a generous amount of land for her horse to run freely, a pool for the girls to enjoy, two decks and a horse stable. Now I must admit, the atmosphere is pretty amusing when we are photographing celebrities and their pets. With five dogs running rampant, we’re lucky to get a decent shot. Surprisingly, Richards’ dogs are well-behaved and camera friendly. Her French Bulldog even knows how to smile! It doesn’t hurt that our Editor’s dog, Lucky, is being held above the photographer’s head as bait, but hey – whatever works. The moment we capture truly embody the excitement and energy in the air. With our exercise out of the way, it’s time to catch our breath and get cozy? Sitting down with Richards is a real treat and she is more than happy to give us a glimpse into her world…
AF: Where do we begin? Five dogs and a horse! Impressive!
DR: I just love animals. It’s like a farm here. People think I’m crazy. I have Lucy and Stella (both Boston Terriers), Hank (a French Bulldog) Henry (a Pug), and Tina (a Golden Retriever). You’ll also meet my horse, Fred. He’s amazing. I love to ride, it clears my mind.
AF: How did your pet become part of the family?
DR: Lucy was my first. I had three dogs before I was married: Lucy, Hank and Tina. After Charlie and I split up, I got Stella and Henry. My dogs were my kids before I had kids. I’m one of those people who treat animals like humans. My house can be pretty chaotic at times, but my girls, Sam and Lola, just love the dogs. The dogs are so good with the kids. When Sam and Lola are napping, Tina (my Golden Retriever) will sleep in their room. She’s very protective of them. I personnaly think it’s important for kids to grow up with animals. It teaches them to be responsible and gentle. Thank goodness, my girls are animal lovers.
AF: Do you ever play favorites with the dogs?
DR: Each dog is very different and special to me. Lucy, I would take on location with me when I was single. She traveled with me all the time. She’d stay in hotels, go on set and live the good life. She’s been through it all with me, she’s a great sidekick.
AF: Any funny stories you’d like to share about your pets?
DR: The dogs are pretty silly. They love the kids’ toys. They were my babies before I had Sam and Lola, so all the stuffed animals I bought were theirs. Now they think every single toy and doll in the house belongs to them! Henry and Stella figured out how to get on the kitchen counter. They would eat until they exploded if they could. They are always in my sink, eating the left-overs. I left a bag of M&M’s on the counter recently. Henry ate the entire bag, I kid you not! I can’t leave food there anymore!
AF: Are your dogs spoiled at all?
DR: I dress them up all the time. They sleep with me often when a certain someone isn’t here. The other night, I had both the kids and all the dogs in my bed. I didn’t sleep very well that night. I woke up with a kink in my neck! Sam and I did Lucy’s nails the other day. She likes pink polish – your typical princess. My dogs get groomed every two weeks, get walked twice a day and eat great food. Definitively spoiled.
AF: Have you always been an animal enthusiast?
DR: Absolutely. Ever since I was a kid. I was always the one who would come home with a stray dog. I have a soft spot for animals. They just give me that unconditional love. You can be in the worst mood and they will put a smile on your face.
AF: Speaking of unconditional love, do you believe in true puppy love with a person?
DR: I do. I still believe in unconditional love with a person. It’s different with your dog though. Dogs are always there for you, no matter what.
AF: Any advice to the single people out there searching for puppy love?
DR: Rescue a dog and go the park. Dogs are people magnets. I get stopped for my dogs constantly.
AF: What do you enjoy to do on your free time?
DR: I spend all my free time with my girls. They are my top priority. Hanging out with them makes me happy. I go to class with them, we have play dates. Motherhood is such an amazing experience. No one can ever prepare you for it. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love being a mom.
AF: Since this is the Design issue, do you have any favorite rooms?
DR: The bedroom is my sanctuary, but the major selling point for me was the backyard. It’s funny how your priorities change when you have children. The girls just love the pool and some of the dogs will swim too. Henry just likes to stay in this little blow up boat. He’ll just go around in it by himself. It’s so funny. The dogs are always in the girls’ playroom too. Extra crumbs lying around… smart dogs!
AF: If you could pick your perfect mate, what breed of dog would he be?
DR: A French Bulldog. They are strong, compassionate, loyal and funny. I like it in a companion.
AF: You know the old saying, men are dogs. What’s your take on the difference between men and dogs?
DR: I believe you should love someone unconditionally. Every dog has their quirks and flaws. Every man has their quirks and flaws. If there are things that are not right, then you need to make a choice. Some people may not like my quirky, flawed dogs. I personally do. Just like some people may not like a man whose particular flaws just don’t work for them. But they may work for someone else. Is that diplomatic enough? (laughs) No really, not all men are dogs. I have hope.
AF: What is your motto in life?
DR: I’ve just realized that life is too short. It’s important to do what makes you happy. You only live once.
Photographs by Micky Flores