Carol Alt – Still Modeling at 60

by Cindy Bogart

Carol Alt

with Karen Floyd

In Carol Alt’s early modeling years, it was understood that a model’s career ended at the age of 25. It was also understood that models couldn’t act and, in general, were not intelligent. Carol refused to accept this as fact. Beyond gracing over 700 magazine covers, acting in over 45 movies and being the world’s most renowned Supermodel, she also became the first model to create consumer products with her own brand, including the first exercise videos by Cosmo magazine. Carol has gone on to be a successful entrepreneur, creating her own line of raw skincare, a best-selling author on Raw Food and Nutrition, and was the host of A Healthy You & Carol Alt on FOX News Channel. As a student of the world, Carol will never give up on helping women to be better, eat better and be healthier.

 

How was a West Point cadet the catalyst for your modeling career?

When I met Michael at 13, he was a hippie that was afraid to meet my father because he had long hair, and he knew my father was in the military. Everything I touch turns into something involved with the military; I suppose it’s because I am from a military family. I was in army ROTC at school. My brother went to West Point, and then my long-haired boyfriend from high school ended up at West Point. I was with Michael from age 13 to 18 until we broke up. I’ll never forget it. He wrote a letter to me that said I think that you have bridges to cross, but you have to cross these on your own. I’ll always be there for you and will always be watching, but it’s not right to be together. When he broke up with me, I left Long Island and went to the city and started modeling. He was coming home from school, and I didn’t want to be that girlfriend that was left behind.

Carol with her two sisters, from left to
right: Karen, Carol
and Christine.

Have you remained connected through all these years?

Yes. Initially, we kept up until he got married, and then we lost contact. We reconnected when he was divorced. I was shooting in Florida, and he was working in Cocoa Beach. We talked a lot. When he found another girlfriend and got married, we lost contact again. We were never both single at the same time, but he will always be one of the loves of my life because I spent my entire high school years with him. I remember my girlfriend saying, “Oh my God, there’s such a cute guy diving into the pool. We have to go and see this guy.” The next week in church he picked me up. He came up behind me and said, “Don’t ever stand in front of that lady. She’ll hit you with her purse.” He walked me home, and that was it. I talk to him every other day or so. He has kids and grandkids now. It is interesting how people’s lives ebb and flow, but I keep relationships.

Do you believe that the friendships you make when you are a child have a different flavor than the friendships you have when you are a mature adult?

No. I approach every friendship as if it was a great gift. I don’t like letting friendships go, and I will go to great lengths, probably sometimes too much, to keep a relationship with someone. In fact, I really think that one of the only people I don’t have a relationship with is my ex-husband. Not for lack of trying because I don’t carry that grudge. If people are together and then for some reason their paths diverge, it’s life, and that’s how it goes. You grow out of somebody, and you grow into somebody. Those things happen. I also have longstanding friendships like Susan. I went to Saint Fidelis in College Point with her up until sixth grade. Her father owned the crystal store. We lost contact and then reconnected. I know her family, have been to her house for birthday parties, and I know her parents. It’s nice to have friendships like that. I have girlfriends from high school and college. When I run into some of the girls that I modeled with like Julie Wolf, Kim Alexis, Paulina, Elle MacPherson, I am so happy to see them. I have no problems reaching out to keep friendships either.

Do you find it easy to trust?

I do actually. That almost stopped me in my tracks, Karen. I find it very easy to like people. I find the best in people. I find it easy to compliment somebody on the street walking towards me to lift their day up. I have no problems lifting up people around me. I enjoy seeing their joy at being recognized or commended about something that they do in their life. I have no problems giving trust away.

Most people that have ascended keep a very tight bubble. Why don’t you?

I don’t know. I think because I always look at myself as a student of the world, as a spiritual person. I don’t think to myself, “Oh, I’m so successful and on top of the mountain.” That never crosses my mind. I don’t look at life as ascending a mountain. I look at life as though we are constantly climbing, always changing and learning. Covid-19 shut me down. It has been very hard not to have people around you. I do not like it.  During Covid-19, I realized how much I love having people around. I love reaching out to friends. I love teaching at the Brooklyn Law School. My friend Mitchell Littman invites me over to teach classes there. I also lecture on raw food and health because Sagittarians are natural-born teachers. We’re philosophers and creative and extremely honest. Initially, I self-described as a creative. As my career continued on, I became interested in the philosophy of life and the spirituality of life. Teaching other people and trying not to let people fall into the same pits that I fell into is important for me.

You are an extrovert?

Some days … some days, maybe not so much.

 Do you require alone time each day?

I have no problem being by myself. But I have moments. Like today, when I was getting my hair done, it took an hour and a half. During that hour and a half, I can talk, or I can find quiet moments. I find people, especially in this business, are very respectful of space and time. They will ask you if you want to talk or if you need anything. Their interaction with you is related to the energy you put out. I always find that you receive what you give.

The idea that whatever you put out comes back. When did you learn that?

It took a little bit of time because this is a business where endings can be abrupt. I have been with several athletes. My husband was a hockey player. When the retired athletes would come around, everyone said, “Oh, they’re retired.” When your professional career ends all of a sudden, you become aware of your mortality, and you realize there is an end to this. I always realized that when I judged someone else, I was immediately judged by that same criteria. The Bible says, “Don’t look at the piece of wood in your friends’ eyes, but look at the splinter in your own eye.”
Take the splinter out of your own life first before you point to the splinter in someone else. I think that is so true of women who are judgmental about someone’s looks. They say, “Oh, that girl’s not so pretty, she’s heavy, or look at her body.” All of a sudden, when you hit 50 and everything falls apart, you will remember what you said about her. It will come back to haunt you. I tell young girls to remember whatever you put out there one day, you too will be old. You will be dealing with the same issues. Don’t put anything out there because you don’t want it to come back.

Your parents had four children, and you have two sisters. Are you close?

Yes. Yes. I will see them tomorrow. I speak with them daily during Covid-19. It has been weird because I’m the only one not working. Our industry is shut down. My older sister, Karen, is a nurse, a frontline essential worker. We were very worried about her. My younger sister works in a law firm, and even though she was working from home, she was working all the time. My mother, God bless her, at 88 is still working in the town library. Everybody was working but me. I tried to be very careful not to call all the time and overindulge, but I call my sisters, and we’ll end up talking for hours. We are very close. Out of the four women in the house, my mother and my two sisters are constantly getting together.

Though Carol was hailed as the “Most Beautiful Woman in the World” by Playboy magazine and the “Next Million Dollar Face” by Life magazine, it is clear that she is more than just a pretty face. (Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Your father died when you were 22 years old?

I had just turned 22 and was a newlywed. We were married November 21, 1983, and my father died Christmas morning of that year.

He was a fire chief.

He was a fire chief. He was a colonel in the army reserves and had gone to Korea. He was a great man. I never felt any kind of racism or anything in my family. My father never mentioned black, white, Chinese, old, young, he didn’t care, male, female, transgender. My father would save you if you were in trouble. I learned from a young age that everybody is equal. I don’t judge people at all by their choices.

Your mother always worked?

My mother always worked. She had four kids and no help. She’s my hero really.

 She was an airline stewardess and a model. Was she a professional model?

When I first decided to go into the city, my mother said, “That’s lunchtime standing … you’re not going to like it. Don’t do it.” She did not like her daughter leaving for New York. My mom was beautiful.  I look exactly like her. At 10 years old, my Tanta Mitzi held up a picture and said, “Who do we think this is?” I thought it was a trick question because it was me. But I could not recognize who I was standing with. She said, “No, that is your mother standing with her two brothers.” I kept that photo. We look so much alike.

When you look at her now, do you envision yourself to look like that at her age?

I know that everything my mother has, I will get. It is inevitable. I have this little corkscrew hole here (points to her nose). My mother has the same one. I had this little vein in the back of my leg. My mother had the same one in the same place. Whatever she is going through as she ages will be me as well one day. It’s funny. When I first started changing my lifestyle, the first person who reached out to me about it was my mother.

Actress Carol Alt at the world premiere of The X-Files, in Los Angeles,1998.
WENN Rights Ltd / shutterstock.com

How old was your brother when he died?

Every man in my family died young. My father made it to 53. My grandfathers died at 47 and 49. My mother’s brothers died at 37 and 35. My brother died at 50.

Were you surprised?

It so strange. I was at our house on Long Island, and I got a phone call saying, “Where are you? You need to go into the city because your brother’s not feeling well. He is at the hospital.” I got everything together, and I started to head to the city. Then, I realized, “Wait a minute. I need to bring my mother and my sister.” I don’t know what made me do that. I picked up my mother, sister and my brother’s wife, Pamela. As we were driving into the city, sitting at a light talking, all of a sudden, a coroner’s van pulled up next to us. We all turned and looked at the van. The whole car went silent. I remember turning around and saying, “I hope that’s not a bad omen.” The van cut us off as the light turned green, and we pulled forward. “At least he’s not going to the hospital,” I thought because the GPS was taking me another way. When we arrived at the hospital, they came and asked, “Are you Tony’s wife?” I said, “No, I’m his sister.” They said, “We tried everything when we heard he was an Alt (because my father was chief Alt). We worked on him forever.” I had to get over the fact that he was able to leave me.  My sister, Karen, is a nurse, so for her to have no reason for his death was much more difficult. But for me, I thought, “Tony, God bless you.” He went quickly. I wish I will go that way. Who wants a long, drawn-out death? If you are going to go, go quick. It was quick. It was painless. The pain is with the rest of us who were left here.

You grew up in a traditional Catholic family.

Yes. But I learned more about religion afterward.

How so?

I went every week to church where they read the same scripture over and over again. The priest tells you what the homily means, which is all fun and good. I read the Bible every morning and learn from a teaching Bible, the King James Version, about the morays of the times. I also have learned a lot from different religions traveling the world. I love the Jewish faith with thousands and thousands of years of religious practices. I love the ceremony. In Buddhism, I love how they view the world and peacefulness. I love Christianity and following the teachings of Christ. He was brilliant. They were trying to catch him on everything, and he could outsmart them by saying just the right thing. Think about it … 2000 years later, we are still talking about when he was born, basically, the beginning of time.

Your partner Alexei Yashin is from Russia and is Orthodox? Is it similar to how you were raised?

They have more saints, like Saint Nicholas, than we do. I went to his brother’s confirmation, and I was not allowed to wear pants. I had to cover my head, and we stood through the whole thing. We are used to church where you sit, you kneel, you stand, you sit; you get breaks. Try standing for an hour and a half. It was hard. But you know, the church service itself is also very similar. I had no problems assimilating. Going to church in Russia with Alexei was fascinating to me. Russia in general is fascinating to me. It’s amazing. Their history is incredible. I remember when my father was in the military during the Cold War, and I asked him, “Do you think we’ll ever be friends with the Russians?” He said, “Not in my lifetime.” If my father had lived, he would have loved to have spoken with Alexei and his father, who was in the Russian military. It was really quite an education for me because I always saw the Bay of Pigs invasion from our side, and I never saw it from the side of the Russians.

Do you and he talk about the different perspectives?

Yes. Alexei’s father and I could have big arguments because my perspective is based on family experience with the American military. Alexei, my boyfriend, was a Russian hockey player. When he was traded to the NHL from the KHL, he still had to go back to Russia and serve his one-year military service commitment. We don’t have mandated military service in the US like in Europe. Even my Italian friends have to give one or two years of service after high school or college. Alexei went back to do that because he wanted to play in the Olympics. We would have quite big arguments over it.
Sometimes we would have to sit in separate-neutral corners of the room to calm down. I like that journey. I don’t like it when people are closed-minded, and it has to be just their way. I am willing to learn and hope to understand.

How long have you been together?

We met in 1999 when I was shooting Amazon with C. Thomas Howell. The series was written by Peter Benchley, who wrote Jaws. It was about a plane going down in the Amazon. I met Alexei at the NHL awards that year. It was love at first sight. I thought, “He’s cute; maybe he is not, maybe he is, and maybe he’s not.” He walked over to me, and that was it. The rest of the night, I knew where he was every moment. I could feel his energy. I remember signing autographs, and I saw him leaving. I asked the kid, “Can I steal a piece of your autograph paper?” He said, “Go ahead.” I wrote down my number, and I walked over to him, and I said, “If you’re ever in Toronto …” and he grabbed my hand and took the paper. He called me the next morning, but I was already gone. I left at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Monte Carlo. I didn’t get the message until I came back two weeks later, and the message was on my message machine. We’ve been together ever since. I can’t get rid of the guy; he’s always there. I spoke with him four times yesterday, six times the day before. He is stuck in Russia because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions, so tomorrow I’ll check on his parents because they are here in the states. I just love him. I will always love him. Even if I found somebody else that I cared to spend time with, they would have to deal with the fact that he will always be in my life.

HD7EFM Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald at the BGC Office Featuring: Carol Alt Where: New York, New York, United States When: 12 Sep 2016

Would you ever consider marriage with him?

No. I never want to ever get married again. Marriage ruins everything.

When did you make that decision?

Why would I get married again after I got divorced the first time? People completely change once married.

Why do you think that?

When people first get married, in their mind, they “captured” the other person. Then it gets too difficult to get out of the marriage, and people become complacent. When you divorce, people are hurt.

 You have never been complacent about anything? Do you work at beauty?

I think beauty is in two things. There is most definitely a physical part, which we all agree is pleasant, but there is an underlying soul. When you open your mouth, everything beautiful can change.

That’s not completely factual because as I sit here looking at you, your thick hair, the shape of your face, the ice blue color of your eyes … perfection. That is beauty.

That is the physical beauty. What if I opened up my mouth, and I was a real jerk?

Is physical beauty God-given?

At 60, I work at my appearance. At 20, it was easy.

A God-given component but also an at-will element?

Yes, but I have seen women who are physically beautiful, and the minute they open their mouths, you want to clear the room because they are not nice people. Some are angry or mean. I have worked with so many beautiful women that you do not want to be in the same room with. Their inside crumbles the outside beauty. It ruins what God gave them. It really does. They were not born that way. They created the ugliness themselves. For me, there are two components to physical beauty. I really believe that what comes through your eyes is what people really see.

What do you think people see in you?

When people ask me, “What do you want people to see when they look at photos of you?” I want them to see someone who is enjoying themself and having a good time.

You have been on over 700 covers. Was every photography session fun?

Over the years, I have gone through a lot of sadness. One of my favorite covers was of Italian Bazaar. I shot it with Renato Godowsky. They brought pale pinkish fabric over my head, and you could see the flowers. I was crying because my father was dying, and I didn’t want to be in the studio. They said they would let me go by 5:30 or 6 o’clock. But I could only see my father until 8 o’clock, which meant I had very little time. I had to go to Long Island for the visit, but first I had to get home to get my car. I was literally crying. It is the most beautiful cover. I was so angry and upset, yet in my eyes, there was a serene look that said, “I have to just do this and get it done.”

You are different. Not just the outside but your internal drive. Talk to me about that.

I think my mother always pegged me as different. I always pushed the envelope. She used to tell me I had to learn the hard way, by trial and error. I took risks. By the way, that has nothing to do with what I look like. My mother made our clothes and dressed all three of us alike until age 13 or 14. I have pictures of the three girls wearing the same red dress with little yellow roses on it and kerchiefs. I was just different. I annoyed her. I was always in her face, asking questions, wild and pushing boundaries. If she told me to be home at 9:30, I would be home at 9:30 and 30 seconds.

Carol considers herself a student of the world, always learning how to help others feel better through health & wellness.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images Portraits for Rubenstein Public Relations. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

You are a life learner. Why don’t you go back to school and get your law degree?

I began classes online with Harvard. It was so boring, and I don’t do well with computer learning. If I’m going to go back to school, I’d be better suited just taking classes. I need to hear other people ask questions. I need to get feedback. Before Covid-19, I didn’t think of going to law school because I was always so busy.

My hope for you is that you go to law school. I think you would be amazing. There is a chance Covid-19 is going to be around in some form or fashion for some time. Can you imagine if you could walk into a courtroom and handle cases that you literally felt passionate about?

Let me ask you something. Do you think anybody would look at an ex-model and say, “Yes. Let me give her a serious case.” People don’t treat models with the gravitas that they should. Models are extremely bright women.

If anyone studied your background, you would be their first choice. You are an astute businesswoman; the first model to create consumer products with your own brand. How?

First, I did posters. Then, I went to calendars, and finally, I did the first exercise videos through Cosmo magazine.

 All were “creations or inventions” of yours?

Yes, it began with ideas. John Casablanca walked out of a meeting at the restaurant Commedia up on 58th Street because I said I wanted to do a poster. “No posters. I’m out of here,” he said. He dropped his credit card and walked out. I was left with his vice-president Monique. I asked her, “How do I do that if I want to do it?”

And John was the owner and founder of …?

John was with Ford in Europe, and then he came here and opened Elite. He was the owner of Elite, and I was his model.

You were how old?

My first poster was in ’83, so I was 22.

The idea just came to you?

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? When I first started modeling, my father said to me, “You have until you are 25 years old, and then it’s over. You can only sleep in one bed at a time, wear one pair of pants at a time, one pair of shoes. So don’t waste your money. Save your money. When it’s over, it’s over.” That was the general thinking back then.
I was enjoying the experience too much. I didn’t want it to be over and was approaching 22 or 23 years old. “If I only have two more years of this left, what am I going to do for the rest of my life?” I asked myself. I love doing this. I love entertaining. That’s what I was born to do. I’m an entertainer. I thought, “How do I extend my career?” In the beginning, you are doing Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Sports Illustrated covers. All of the covers change. You are in Brides and Talbots. I saw the changes coming. Back then, he was right. Women didn’t last after 25; you were too old. I remember shooting Cover Girl at 29. The guy went in to tell the makeup artist that I wanted to change makeup artists because he said, “You know how these older models are … she wants her own people.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. First of all, I was 29. Second of all, I work with everybody. If you mess me up, you don’t deserve to be on a set. I always gave people a chance, a new makeup artist, whoever, I always give them a shot. Let’s see what he can do. If I don’t like something, I know how to change it. I’m a big girl. 29 was ancient back then.  I pushed those limits because I just enjoyed what I was doing. When they said models can’t act, the first thing I did was work with Bob Fosse. I went for the jugular. I am going to do this. The same with books. They said, “Nobody is talking about raw food.” Doctors were calling me out saying, “What does a stupid model know about health and nutrition?”

You had two important mentors?

I learned from two of the most brilliant doctors, Dr. Timothy Brantley Ph.D., naturopath, and Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez MD. They were my gurus. I thank God every day because I use everything I learned from them on myself.

Raw foods. What does a raw food diet entail?

I would just say it means eating healthier, a diet where you are eating less processed foods, less cooked foods. You look for more natural foods. The fewer hands between you and God is the most nutritious food. For me, raw food is the best diet, the one that Is anti-aging, that can give you back your health and control over your health and your life.

 Do you ever get hungry for pure protein?

Protein is in everything. It’s even in vegetables if you don’t cook them.

What about animal protein?

People always think I’m vegan because I focus on eating raw food. I’m not vegan. A girl wrote me when I shared a ceviche recipe, “I thought you were vegan.” No, I am not vegan. I eat mostly plants, but every now and then my body says I have to have protein, fish sometimes.

What about your skincare regime. Tell me about what you use and why.

I had a line of skincare, and I asked them to let me go because it wasn’t all-natural. It wasn’t raw. It was all chemical. I wasn’t using it, and I wouldn’t give it to my mother and my sisters. When they sent me a sample, it went into the graveyard under the bed because I couldn’t throw it out. I felt disrespectful. But I wasn’t going to use it.
Next, I created a line of raw skincare care called Raw Essentials. The education curve just wasn’t there at the time. It was hard enough to teach people about raw food, filtering water, air and trying not to put too many chemicals on your clothes.

A focus is on a healthier lifestyle?

Yes, because I know what an unhealthy lifestyle did to me with the many health issues I have had, starting with allergies as a kid, because I ate so much gluten. It was a constant battle to be healthy before I went to raw foods. When I hit 30, physical changes took place. I started gaining weight, my skin started looking bad, my hair became brittle and my fingernails were breaking off. I couldn’t keep the weight off and with PMS, everything bloats and hurts. It had never happened before. All these things were changing in my body, and I didn’t like it.  I thought, “If I keep doing the same thing over and over again, I’m never going to get a different result.” I prayed on it, and I got the answer from a phone call from a friend of mine who said, “You have to talk to this doctor. You will not look at food the same way again.” I said, “whatever,” and hung up. That little God voice inside me said, “What are you, an idiot?”

I picked up the phone and called the guy. “What can I do for you? What ails you?” He asked, “What do you eat?” When I told him what I ate, once he stopped laughing at me, he told me what was wrong. What had become normal in my life was unhealthy; taking an antacid for my stomach, taking aspirin for my headache, taking something to help me fall asleep and taking coffee to make me wake up. This was normal because everybody was doing it. I started thinking, “If this is me at 30 or 34, what am I going to be at 44, 54, 64?” I don’t like this path and don’t want to be a 64-year-old who has arthritis and is hunched over, who can’t eat with her with teeth falling out and who is on pills for everything because everything aches and hurts.

Tell me about your workouts. How many hours do you work out a day?

It depends. Today I worked out maybe an hour, which I do two times a week. Two times a week it’s an hour and a half. Three times a week, I do Core46, which is how I developed my abs. I didn’t have abs at 20, even when I was doing Sports Illustrated. I was lean and mean, but I was flabby. It was Core46.  My friend Chris Chelios introduced me to the cycle sauna. And I thought this guy’s a psycho for doing cycle sauna. I’ve loved that. Now, I do that three times a week. I did that today as well. Cycle sauna cleans everything out. I also do weights and a little bit of yoga and stretching. Twice a week, I do the Pilates chair. I jump the trampoline every single day. It’s small. I bought one for my mother with handles. It cleans the lymph. You just have to jump, and it makes you sweat and raises your heartbeat. I keep my knees bent, so my legs get a workout. You can dance on a trampoline and do all kinds of stuff, but I jump a minimum of seven minutes every day.

What do you do for your skin?

I put on my face the same things I eat because whatever you put on your skin, you absorb into your body. Coconut oil and olive oil. Then, of course, I mixed my own raw skincare line.

And you sold that in?

In 2010. Actually, it was earlier than that. I had to focus either on skin or food. I was in the middle of doing food, and I had four or five books out about health and nutrition. I was also doing the show on Fox News about health and nutrition. I didn’t want to split my time too much. It got to the point where I couldn’t find anything except olive oil or coconut oil to put on my skin. My line was sold to a company that was going to make it bigger, and they eventually shut it down. I was released from that, and then I started work on another skincare line.

You also have had roles in two reality television shows.

Yes, Dancing with the Stars in Italy. The list of participants included A-list actors and royalty. I danced with a prince. It was a little bit different. I was not so great, but I danced my way out and then back in again, and then I danced my way back out. Do you know what got me? The hustle. It’s the simplest dance, but if you don’t start off on the right foot, you’re screwed. I started off on the left foot, who knew? I danced the hustle my whole life, and I never realized you only can start with one foot. Then, I did Celebrity Apprentice here with Donald Trump, who I’ve known since I was 19 years old. I remember him telling me early on, “If you’re ever working with a charity, or you need to sell a table, always call me.” I appreciated that.

You also hosted a segment on Fox News about health and wellness.

Now, every show has a little health section, although they do conventional health. I offered an alternative. I find what is off the beaten path, and I give you the reasons it’s good or bad. I don’t play favorites. For me, health, the body, food, what we do to the body, what we don’t do to the body, all these things are so fascinating.

Would you do another TV show?

Oh, in a heartbeat. I just do not want to be the lead. That kills you because it is 24/7. I just want to have fun and support whoever is the lead on a great show. I’m looking for a family. I’ve been alone for a very long time, my whole career. I’m not talking about personal. I’m talking about professional family. I thought I found that with Fox until I was injured. During a massage, an elbow cracked my ribs. It ripped the fascia, released my ribs, which then came around and attacked my organs. It took three years to completely recover. I couldn’t talk without coughing. I could barely breathe. I had to take a hiatus.

Model Carol Alt is photographed on March 18, 2014 in New York City.

Do you believe the best years are still ahead?

No. I have had such a great life. I’ve been able to do things that I never thought a fireman’s daughter, living on Long Island, would ever be able to do. I’ve always gone where my heart and my soul and my passions have taken me. That’s where I plan to go in the future. I will never give up on trying to teach people to be better, eat better, eat healthier, be healthy. Anti-aging makes them feel happy. I will never give up on that. I will never give up on trying to elevate women because too often we knock each other down. We don’t support one another. I will always be vocal and call people out when they do not help somebody who needs them.

This idea of living life to the fullest. … Do you push harder because you experienced so many early deaths of the men in your family?

I have lost so many people in my life. You can’t imagine. I lost a friend at age 10 who was bitten by a mosquito, got encephalitis and died. It could have been any one of us. I was just very aware of that from that moment on. My girlfriend, Chris Flack, brought me to my first concert in high school, the Beach Boys. The next week she died in a car accident trying to get to people who were drunk driving home from a party. She dies, and they live. The guy I went to my senior prom with died in a car accident. I have had a lot of loss in my life, and maybe that’s why I treasure each relationship and each moment. My sister commented on how many friends I have a couple of weeks ago. I make an effort. I reach out on Instagram, in texts. I put everybody’s birthday into my phone. Everybody gets a text from me on their birthday. I don’t leave any man behind because I understand it’s over so fast. I’ve lost so many people, and that has changed my life. So, when I’m there in the moment, I think, “Let’s have fun. Let’s do it. Let’s have a great time.” When we go to the next thing, I bring those people forward with me. If there’s something I think somebody would be great at or should do, I will call them out of the blue and say, “Listen, I think this is right for you. It’s not right for me, but it’s right for you.” “Why are you giving this to me?” they ask. “Because it’s right for you.”

Do you live in the past, the present or the future?

All three. I can’t forget my past. It comes up every day on Twitter. I love the present because whatever I’m doing, I just have fun doing it. And the future is just a big black hole. That is always exciting because I never know where my passions are going to take me. I never know where I’m going to be next or what I’m going to decide. This is what I want to do. Or this is where I need to be. Or this is what I need to teach.

Is there something you would’ve done differently?

Many things.

Give me the one that you would have.

I never would have gotten married.

Marriage did touch you at a very visceral level.

Yes. I never thought I was the marrying type. My father was dying. I knew that he wanted to make sure I was okay. He loved Ronnie, and I loved Ronnie, too. So don’t get me wrong. But I just don’t think that we’re meant for marriage. Life is long, and we change. By the time I was 30, I was a different person. By the time I was 40, I was different again. Now I’m 60, and I’m different again. I don’t want to be tied down. I’m not talking sex. I’m talking relationships.

Give your younger self one piece of advice?

Don’t get married. I always fought convention. Don’t let anybody stifle you or your ideas. The only reason anything is good is when you’re the first to do it. You don’t make the most money, but creating an idea, now that’s what is most exciting.

Give me one piece of advice.

I remember when I first started modeling, everybody tried to fit you into a box. If you were a model, you were stupid. You didn’t know anything. You couldn’t do books. You couldn’t act. You were just a face. I would tell any young girl coming up, “Don’t let anybody put you in a box.” Nobody puts Baby in the corner, right? From Dirty Dancing. Don’t let anybody put you in a box. For so many years, I was told, “Models aren’t creative.” Then my girlfriend from college sat down with me and said, “Oh my God, you’re the most creative person.” She remembered when she had forgotten to write a short story that was due in a class she was taking. I went over to another table, wrote the story and gave it to her.  I had forgotten the incident until much later because in this business you listen to people telling you who they think you are. And you forget who you are. Never forget who you are. Never be afraid to let people know who you are either because that’s the worst. Especially if you’re going to marry somebody. Let them know who you are. That way they know everything upfront, and then there are no surprises. I think that people are beautiful with warts and pimples and frizzy hair and everything.

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