Supermodel and SI Cover Girl Feels No Jinx

I love, I love, my calender girl. Supermodel Petra Nemcova (search), who appeared on the cover of the 2003 Sports Illustrated (search) swimsuit issue, is getting the classic pin-up twelve-month treatment. But what makes her calender special is that all proceeds for it go to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

The photos of the Czech beauty are predictably sexy — or as she says with a big grin and a Czech accent, "sizzling." Nemcova will also return to the pages of the next SI Swimsuit issue for her fifth time to don yet another array of skimpy swimsuits.

Leading up to next February's issue, she will also star as part of a new NBC reality series about a nation-wide search for the next SI girl.

Nemcova officially lives splitting time between New York and London, but with the never-slow life of a model, she says the one place she really lives is "up in the air!"

But The AP caught up with her for a recent interview at the Next Model agency (search) in Soho, where she joyfully strolled in wearing jeans and a T-shirt with a vintage crimson-colored leather jacket, a light blue scarf and a you-better-be-hot-to-wear red-striped fedora.

While Nemcova was tightlipped on the TV show, she was more than happy to chat about growing up in communist Czechoslovakia, the infamous Sports Illustrated "cover jinx" and explain why she couldn't stop kissing this reporter.

AP: You greeted me with three kisses. Why?

Nemcova: Well, it comes from Holland. I have lots of friends from Holland. There's never enough kisses, never enough love around. That's why I kiss three times. I think it's just really nice. I like it.

AP: Did you know you were going to be a model when you were growing up in Czechoslovakia?

Nemcova: When I was growing up there was communism, so I had no influence from Western countries. We didn't know about models or anything like that. It was only when commerce was brought in which was about `89, and I was about ten. Then slowly in the years later, we got TV, and we were like 'Oh, wow. Look at all these models, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy, da, da, da. I liked it, but I was really, really shy. I would never go to an agency and say, `Hey I want to be a model.' I would always be in the back of the class. One day a friend of mine said to come with her and I said OK. She took me to a talent search and that's how it started. If not for her, I would be a little girl in Czech, shy, and I don't know what I would do.

AP: What would you be if not a model?

Nemcova: I love fashion design. I studied it and wanted to be a fashion designer. It's very close, so I use a lot of the things I learned in fashion design school in my work.

AP: This will be your fifth year with Sport Illustrated. That's a lot of swimsuits.

Nemcova: It's always great. When we go to shoots, it's really nice because you see each other only twice a year. Lots of swimsuits. Lots of sizzling pictures.

AP: There is a fabled Sports Illustrated "cover jinx" where athlete who appear on the magazine's cover often meet bad luck or an injury soon after. Has anything bad happened to you since being on the cover in 2003?

Nemcova: No, not in that sense. Maybe I'm lucky. I have no injuries! After getting the cover, there was a lot of pressure. It's completely new for you; as a model you don't do a lot of talk shows or interviews. When you get a cover, you're just like "da-da-da, oh my god." But it's very exciting. It's great, but it goes so fast like a white storm.

AP: Do you feel your life has changed since being on the cover?

Nemcova: Definitely. It has changed in many different ways. In work, getting amazing jobs and more opportunities. Also personally, I have learned so much. The publicity part of is kind of a different spice to modeling. As a model you just take pictures, but then people are more interested in who you are, your personality. That's what's special about Sports Illustrated — it's pictures of healthy, beautiful women, but with personality. As a fashion model, it's not that important in a sense, because you don't see it in the pictures. I always believe that even if you don't really see it, you see it in some way because the inside shins through. You can see the energy they are radiating.

AP: How do you keep fit, keep "radiating?"

Nemcova: I have this exercise I do everyday. Half an hour or one hour. I don't go to a gym because if you shoot on a little island you don't have any gym or anyplace. So I have these exercises that I do with body elastics. You strap it around your ankles and connect it to a doorknob. With that the only thing you need is a door and you have no excuses because every hotel room has a door!

AP: In the upcoming Sports Illustrated reality show, do you play something like the Donald Trump of fashion reality TV?

Nemcova: How did you know about that! I'm can't say a lot about it, but it's going to be really, really great. I kind of just go with the flow. We'll see what happens.

AP: What's unique about your new calendar?

Nemcova: Each picture in the calendar is shot completely different. Sometimes you get a calendar and it's shot the same way. But we wanted to something with more personality and difference. You don't see the dates that much — somebody said you need a magnifying glass! Each picture is very natural. They are very sexy, very ... sizzling. We shot it in South of France and in England. (pointing to the October picture) This is a police shot, so I got to wear the uniform for the first time ... but it's the Dolce Gabbana police uniform.

AP: I've never been pulled over by a cop that looks like that.

Nemcova: They would cause a lot of accidents dressed like that!

AP: All of the proceeds for the calendar go to amfAR. How did you get involved with that cause?

Nemcova: I've done a few things with them before. I respect their work a lot. At an event for amfAR in Cannes, where Sharon Stone and Liza Minnelli (news) and many other people were there, it was very touching the way everyone spoke about it. It's shocking when you read the facts. Every minute there is a child under 15 who dies from AIDS. In the U.S. there is like one million people infected. In 2003, there were 5 million infected by AIDS and 3 million died (worldwide).

AP: Why do you always sign your autographs, "Love, Light and Happiness?"

Nemcova: We all live such a fast life. And I think we should never forget that we are creating our reality in each moment. I have learned through the years, if you want to read something, or get a job or get a certain goal, you have everything in your hands and you can create your own reality.