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Classic Curve: America's Next Top Queer Model

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Strike a Pose: Janice Dickinson

Written by: Catherine Plato

Photo: Oxygen Media

I was a little nervous to speak with Janice Dickinson, self-proclaimed the world’s first supermodel, former lover of Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson, with legions of drooling female admirers. She partied hard core with beautiful bad girl and lesbian model Gia Carangi, graced the cover of Vogue nearly 40 times and authored an autobiography entitled Everything About Me Is Fake ... and I’m Perfect. I was expecting to meet the ultimate prima donna, an eccentric, unpredictable dyed-in-the-wool diva ready to cut me in half with her stiletto-sharp tongue.

I was admittedly a little disappointed to meet a kind-hearted, thoughtful, mostly normal — all things considered — mother of two, the kind of woman who is quick with a compliment and leaves with a cheerful “God bless!” Despite her divalicious on-screen persona, Dickinson is friendly, sincere and (at times) surprisingly humble. Though she was discovered at the tender age of 14, Dickinson claims not to have taken her superstardom for granted, stating that no one could have predicted her success at the beginning of her career. “I absolutely had to claw my way to the top,” she admits. “I had to struggle more than anyone.”

After some years of relative underexposure to the public eye, Dickinson’s umpteenth return to the spotlight came with a role on falling-star reality show The Surreal Life, and as a judge alongside Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model. Unsatisfied with Banks’ approach toward the biz, in 2005 Dickinson launched her own agency, with, of course, its own reality TV show of the same name, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, on the Oxygen Network.

So what sets Dickinson apart from Banks as the ultimate reality TV model scout? “If you look at the Top Model winners, they haven’t really done anything,” she explains. “My models are already booking A-list jobs; for example, French Vogue. They’re getting high money jobs. ... It’s the real deal.” She prides herself on finding models with longevity and that certain je ne sais quoi, something she calls “that capital I-T quality.”

So who in the celebrity world has this ’I-T quality’?

Celebrities who nail that would be Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Cameron Diaz, Kathy Griffin. She has it, believe it or not. In fact Kathy Griffin, if she were a little bit taller, should be absolutely a supermodel.

Other than that “I-T quality”, would you say there are any personality traits that you need for success in the industry?

There are no personality traits that we look for. ... Models are at the top of the food chain. They’re separate realities. ... I’m not impressed with people that don’t have a real personality, but you know it’s important just to sparkle. The camera doesn’t lie.

What do you find sexy?

Oh, a good smile, a washboard stomach, a tight butt, manicured hands and feet, a personality, humor, wit.

You’ve done so many different things, I mean you’ve been a photographer, a model of course, a writer ...

An editor, a soccer mom.

What haven’t you conquered yet?

It’s politics next for me. Politics. I will definitely run for office.

What kind of office?

A public office. I want to be of service. ... My big gifts for the holidays are feeding the homeless.

Wow. I’ve heard that you’ve also done a lot of AIDS activism.

Well, millions. I just don’t, well, I don’t broadcast it. I just do it. ... You know, I don’t need the press. The most important thing is saving a life.

On TV you seem very, very comfortable with sexuality; you’re very sexually open.

I have a lot of sexual energy, that’s true.

Yeah. Have you ever identified as anything other than straight?

I have. ... I’ve [written] about being with women.

Are you kind of fluid?

Oh, I’m all over the place.

What do you think people would be surprised to know about you?

That I have a very generous spirit. I’ve always loved helping people, giving back to society, giving back to people who have less than I do ... but I don’t subscribe to bullshit. I mean if someone’s being a dick, I’ll be the first person to call them out on it. And that’s that.

Out of all the different roles that you’ve been in your life, what makes you feel the most sexy or the most powerful?

When I’m clean. When I’m clean, and I’ve got a good hair going ... then I’m most sexy. Yeah!

Great.

[Laughs] Yeah, I’m real sexy. You know what else, you know what else I really want to do? I want to go help the troops... I would do something for the troops. The troops need helping.

In what kind of way? How do you see yourself helping them?

I think I’m going to arrange a lingerie fashion show for the troops.

That would be great. That would be something different.

I want to pass out sleeping bags to the homeless ... you know, deck them out, in you know, designer sleeping bags.

What do you most want to be remembered for?

I want to be most remembered by just being honest ... don’t you?

For being honest? Yeah, absolutely.

And also that I’ve made a difference. That I’ve written books about incest. That I’ve written books about incest, sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll... I do care about people out there, even though if I tell them, “You’re not quite it, you don’t have the goods to be a model,” but I do care about their feelings, you know? Oddly enough, I just do.