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Interview With A Swimsuit Model

By Scott E. Roeben

Snagging the highly sought-after cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue can cause a model's career to go supernova virtually overnight. The model selected for the honor in the magazine's 2001 issue was the stunning Elsa Benitez from Mexico.

Dribbleglass.com was fortunate enough to gain rare access to this up-and-coming supermodel, and we talked with her at her newly-acquired beach house in Santa Monica, California—a far cry from her impoverished hometown of Huevos Azules, Mexico.

elsa-1.jpg (21944 bytes)Dribbleglass: Hello, Elsa, we appreciate your granting this interview.

Elsa: You're welcome, of course. Ever since I appeared on the cover [of Sports Illustrated], everyone wants to talk to me it seems. Before that, I couldn't get arrested. Except for the embezzling, but that does not really support my point.

DG: So, how did you get into modeling?

Elsa: Well, when I was 15, a man approached me at the beach. He kept saying I should be a model, and he gave me his card. I was a little suspicious, but I called him later, and come to find out, I was right to be suspicious. I found out he was not connected to modeling at all, but he wanted to have sex with me. I was disappointed, of course, but after the sex with him, he said he knew someone who could help me break into modeling. His friend also wanted to have sex with me. I was shocked and discouraged. After I had sex with his friend, that same afternoon in fact, I answered an ad in a local paper that said, "Models wanted." That is how I got into modeling.

DG: Your English is very good, even though it is not your native tongue.

Elsa: In Mexico, I would spend many hours watching American television programs.

DG: And this helped you learn English?

Elsa: No, the programs were dubbed in Spanish.

DG: So…

Elsa: So, what?

DG: Well, you said you watched American television.

Elsa: Is this an interview or an interrogation?

DG: Let’s move on. So, many people think models have it easy. Traveling, being pampered. How do you feel about that perception?

elsa-2.jpg (20864 bytes)Elsa: People don’t really understand how exhausting modeling can be. On certain days, I have to arch my back for two and three hours at a time. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable that is. The Sports Illustrated shoot is perhaps the most demanding shoot a model can undertake. And there is actual danger involved at times. Seriously. I once had to have a thong surgically removed. No, the life of a model is not an easy one.

DG: Some photographers say they encourage models to "make love to the camera." Have you ever tried that?

Elsa: Mexico is a very poor country, and as such, we did not have access to all the latest lubricants. So, no, I have never done that, but perhaps some day.

DG: What other interests do you have besides modeling?

Elsa: Interests?

DG: Hobbies.

Elsa: I once castrated an elk with my teeth. But this is not so much a hobby I think.

DG: Do you have any advice for aspiring models?

Elsa: I think that young models have to be prepared if they want to model professionally. First and foremost, they must own breasts. I have known many models who did not possess their own breasts, and this was a detriment to them. I am so thankful that I have breasts of my own. They were a gift to me from an uncle of mine who lives in Costa Rica.

DG: Any other advice?

Elsa: Girls who want to be models must understand that the rewards in modeling take many forms. The money comes much later. For one of my early modeling jobs, for example, I was paid in milk. Or at least I thought it was milk at the time. You can’t always wait for the golden ring. Because sometimes the ring is not a ring at all, it is whatever the opposite of a ring is.

DG: A sad aspect of modeling is that many models starve themselves to stay thin. How do you stay in shape?

Elsa: I am lucky that I can eat just about anything I want, and I don’t seem to gain weight. Some women are jealous of me for this, but when I see them envying me, I remind them that while I might be thin, they at least have their skin blemishes to make them stand out. I envy them, too, in a way. I once had a blemish, during an afternoon in 1984, but it went away and now I have only a Polaroid to remember it by. This saddens me sometimes.

DG: Any beauty tips you can pass along to our readers?

Elsa: I don’t believe in using too much make-up. I want my skin to look natural. Like the skin of a peach, but without the pesticides.

DG: The career of a model is relatively short. Why do you think the models in Sports Illustrated and other magazines are all so young?

elsa-3.jpg (25746 bytes)Elsa: It is a difficult situation, but there is definitely a bias against older models. Some older women are very attractive, yet not in a physical way. Magazines should encourage their photographers to shoot the insides of these women, although I am not sure how this would work. I sympathize with older models, though. Very much. Like one sympathizes with the obese. You can sympathize, and at the same time you thank the heavens you can still fit into your high school prom dress without the assistance of a winch. I feel especially sympathetic for older, obese models. For these women I think suicide was invented. But mostly I am not into politics, so I cannot comment further on this.

DG: How did it feel to be selected to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

Elsa: It was such a big surprise. I mean, all the girls are so beautiful. Beauty is so subjective. Like the debate about the Newtonian paradigm that says the speed of light can vary depending on the motion of the observer relative to the light. Very much subjective. I’m so fortunate in this way. I mean, I got the cover. It’s every girl’s dream. Just like wanting to have an inflatable doll made in one’s likeness. It’s universal.

DG: Any plans for the future?

Elsa: I try not to plan too far ahead. I am studying acting, though. I would like to be in films. I met a man on the beach the other day who says I should be in the movies. He gave me his card. Would you happen to have any of your American lubricants with you?


Scott Roeben, 2005. All rights reserved.