Esquire magazine’s reporter, Matt Goulet took the time to do an interview with Anne Vyalitsyna in regards to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2013 issue. In his interview, he talks up Anne’s very first photo shoot with the magazine, how she’s been with the magazine for ten years, and some of her favorite locations. Here is that wonderful little interview by Anne V.
(Derek Kettela/Sports Illustrated)
Anne V. has been in the Swimsuit issue nine times. “I’m like the grandmother of modeling now.”
It was way back in 2005 that Anne V. first graced the pages of Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit issue. This year she’s marking her ninth consecutive appearance in the issue, which is out today, with a shoot in China (see above), tying a triumphant record in the world of modeling. We recently talked to the Russian stalwart about shoots past and present (she tried to be as coy as possible about the details), the challenges of body paint, and her ambitions for breaking her own record.
ANNE V.: Where are you now?
ESQUIRE.COM: I’m in New York, in our offices. Where are you?
AV: I’m in New York, too. We’re sharing the common misery of this cold weather.
ESQ: So this is what, your sixth time in the Swimsuit issue?
AV: This is my ninth time.
ESQ: Ninth. Oh my God.
AV: Yeah, I’m like the grandmother of modeling now.
ESQ: Is this a record, do you know?
AV: Well, I’m going for one. That’s my plan. The longest runner is Kathy Ireland, who had twelve appearances in Sports Illustrated. But the consecutive ones, I think Mila — hold on, I have it right here. The most consecutive appearances is nine. This year I’m going to have nine, so I’m tied. So if I do it next year, which I’m hoping that I will, I’m going for the consecutive decade.
ESQ: That’s impressive, a whole decade of swimsuit issues.
AV: I know. Let’s hope they ask me next year to come back.
ESQ: Is that what it is now? Every year you get the call, you show up, and you do it?
AV: That’s pretty much what happens. I’ve been with them for so many years that in a way they’ve become my family. They still love and they still think that I’m not too old to shoot it.
ESQ: How old were you for the first one?
AV: I was eighteen, so go figure how old I am now. But it’s really been such an honor, because modeling, what we do is — there’s not so many clients that are so loyal. It’s just nice to have someone so supportive throughout the years.
ESQ: Do you remember the first Sports Illustrated shoot you did?
AV: Oh, yes, absolutely. My first shoot was in the Bahamas. The first time I saw Sports Illustrated, I didn’t really know what it was because I grew up in Russia. So the first time I came to New York when I was fifteen, I saw this magazine at a model’s apartment, and I was like, “Oh my God, these girls are so beautiful.” And then I started as a high-fashion model, but I’d always wanted to do Sports Illustrated, and I’d been asking my agency for a long time, and they finally sent me on a casting. Once Sports Illustrated asked me to do a shoot, it felt like a validation in a way. Yes, you can be that girl. For me, it was really a huge thing of becoming a woman. I’d never done bathing suits before. I had no idea how to be sexy. I’d never had a boyf— well, actually, I think I’d just got a boyfriend at that time. It was a very interesting moment in my life. And it’s quite amazing to see how being with Sports Illustrated changed me, who I am, and how much I’ve grown as a woman. It’s really funny because every single time we shoot Sports Illustrated, we do interviews with them. And it’s the same people. It was actually their first year as well, when it was mine. So they’ve seen my English get better every single year. They ask you the same questions, and back in the day, I literally couldn’t say anything.
ESQ: Do you remember, say, your fifth shoot? Or do they all start to run together?
AV: I remember all of them very well because there are really no jobs anymore that are about you. If you do modeling, there are no shoots about you. It’s either about the clothes, or you have to show this pocket, or this strap. So I remember all the shoots so well because I’ve known these people for so many years, and it’s about you. They ask you how you want your makeup done, how you want your hair done. “Do you like these bathing suits? What do you think? How do you like this picture?” They really make us feel special. I remember all of them.
ESQ: Do you have a favorite location? Didn’t you shoot in Russia once? Wasn’t it cold then?
AV: No! As most people do not know, we have winter and summer here. We have seasons the same as in New York. It was warm. It was beautiful. My mom came. But to be honest, I love going to the beach. We went to — I don’t even know if I’m allowed to talk about this shoot or not.
ESQ: Feel free. Didn’t some stuff leak, like the Antarctica thing?
AV: No, no. When is this coming out?
ESQ: The same time as the Swimsuit issue.
AV: Okay, I’m not going to say where I shot, but it’s really awesome. [Eds. note: Anne V. was photographed in China for the issue.]
ESQ: Was it cold?
AV: No. It was not cold. I didn’t shoot in Antarctica, though. But I was so jealous because Antarctica has always been one of the places I really wanted to go.
ESQ: Did you do body painting this year?
AV: Ah, I’m not saying. [Laughs.] Yeah, I did. I did. Just please don’t get me in trouble and have the article come out on, like, Sunday.
ESQ: You’ve done body painting before?
AV: Once. I did it my first year.
ESQ: How was that? Obviously you decided to do it again.
AV: Absolutely. I was begging them for like nine years to do it again. It’s such a special thing. After nine years, you’re like, Well, what else can I do that is more exciting than just the normal shoot? And it’s really damn hard to do, because you get painted for like fourteen hours. And you can’t lie down, so you kind of have to be in a kneeling position, and you can’t really sit. It’s so uncomfortable. You can’t tell it’s body paint anymore. It’s getting more and more complicated. You’re literally walking around butt-naked.
ESQ: Were they like, “Anne, come on”?
AV: Oh, they didn’t care. After nine years, they’ve seen everything. Especially when they do the body painting. When I tell you they’ve seen everything, they look at this stuff for like nine hours two inches away from their faces. They know me very well — let’s put it this way.
ESQ: Any advice to the rookies doing their first shoots? Do you interact with them?
AV: We don’t really cross that much with girls. I don’t really feel like a veteran in a way. I’m still really young. Yes, I’ve been doing this for a long time, but when girls come up and they’re like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’ve been doing this for so long. We love you so much.” And they really admire me in a way. I don’t want to brag about it because to me it always feels weird, but they really look up to me, and it seems that I’ve done something right. I think the only advice I’d ever give anybody or that I’ve given myself is work hard, be nice, and just have fun. Also, I see a lot of girls who kind only work with certain people — the photographer, the editor. And it really kind of turns me off, because there are so many assistants, and they work so hard. So much harder than you do and get paid nothing, and when I see girls who don’t say hi to them or don’t thank them, you see their character in a way, especially girls who are high on the top right now. I’ve seen girls go all the way high to the top and then fall right down on their ass, and I don’t want that to happen to anybody. No one is better. I’m no better than anybody else.
ESQ: Any tips for the thirteen-year-old boys who might be getting the Swimsuit issue for the first time?
AV: Oh my God. This is so exciting. I never grew up in America, but in a way I’m part American now. I’ve always wanted to see what it’s like — boys picking up the magazine when they’re thirteen years old. It would be really great to know that they actually do. Back in the day, Sports Illustrated was the only place where you could see that, but now there are so many other magazines. But there’s no magazine that’s so borderline for thirteen-year-old boys to be — for the parents to even be like, “Okay, you can look at it.” And it’s really great that they’re still keeping it that way. I would so love to see some kid opening it up for the first time.
ESQ: Thanks, Anne. Looking forward to the tenth time.
AV: I told them, “If you guys make me ten, please give me like a cake or something.”