Kristy Watkins’ portfolio isn’t what generally comes to mind when one thinks Maxim magazine cover model. But the 37-year-old homegrown model and DJ is forging her own path in the modelling industry.
“Classy is still sexy,” she says during a phone interview from Calgary.
That theme is apparent in the images she’s chosen to promote her entry in this year’s Maxim Cover Girl contest. There’s pictures of Watkins in jeans, dresses and rompers; a handful of bathing suits. Noticeably missing are any signs of implied nudity.
“All my pictures are more fashion photos than anything and it’s becoming quite a movement that people are respecting that you don’t have to be provocative in order to sell something or give that image of sexy or beautiful,” she says.
Her message appears to be resonating.
As one of at least two Campbell River women in the running this year, Watkins is leading her group after two rounds of cuts.
The Maxim Cover Girl contest began in May with women divided into an unknown number of groups and vying for daily free and paid votes to better their chances of winning. The prize? A “lavish” photoshoot with “legendary photographer Gilles Bensimon” with a cover and spread inside the magazine, according to the contest’s website, as well as $25,000.
Watkins says she would donate a portion of her winnings to the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society, a nonprofit that offers programs, supports, and services to women and children in the North Island.
The next round of cuts takes place June 18th when only those inside the top 10 of their group will advance. Each week will bring further cuts until just the top contestant in each group remains. Then new groups will be formed and cuts will take place to crown the winner by mid-August.
It’s Watkins’ second time taking part in the competition. Last year, she finished in the semifinal round for the Canadian edition of the contest, among the top one per cent. This time around, she hadn’t planned on taking part until she received an invitation from organizers.
“So I said, ‘sure, why not, I guess,’” she says. “I feel I’m getting a little old for this kind of stuff, but whatever, sure. I’m a DJ and it gives great exposure.”
Watkins said that without trying in the first round, she was already in second place in her group. So one day near the end of May, she set herself a goal: by the end of the day, she’d be in first. She posted links on her social media channels and sure enough, a few hours before hitting the hay, she was first in her group. She’s been dominating ever since.
A Carihi Secondary graduate, Watkins hasn’t always been a model. She was working in an office for nearly 15 years when she decided to follow her passions. She started modelling and DJing and has received much local support in her endeavours.
Watkins is a regular model with Ragdolz, a local women’s fashion shop and La Tee Da, another local lingerie store. She’s also had regular DJ gigs around Campbell River and the Comox Valley including at Match Public House and Eatery and the Velocity Lounge.
Since leaving the office environment to follow her dreams, she hasn’t looked back.
“It’s honestly been so fulfilling,” she says.
She’s been partnering with Vancouver-based clothing brand Made Co Apparel to encourage one of two types of contest votes. In addition to the free daily votes, people can also make a Warrior Vote for up to $500. Each dollar donated equals a vote for the contestant. The money goes to support Homes for Wounded Warriors, which builds and remodels accessible homes for disabled veterans in the U.S. Made Co Apparel has committed to doubling Warrior Votes through Watkins’ page and have offered a hoodie as a draw prize.
Watkins has had other designers approach her for similar give-aways, but she’s waiting to leverage when the votes may be worth double.
“It’s not my first kick at the can,” she says with a laugh.
Brandi Henderson, Watkins’ local company in the competition, doesn’t have quite as polished a voting campaign. She’s relying on her modest Facebook network as well as friends and family to boost her votes.
The 28 year old self-described “mama bear” saw the contest floating around Facebook for awhile. She needed a “confidence booster” and applied on a whim, not totally expecting to be accepted.
“This is so unlike me,” she says, “but it’s really cool.”
For Henderson, a single mom of three who accesses the food bank each month, the money would go a long way in changing her family’s situation.
“That would be life-changing,” she says. “That would just help parent them, help raise them.”
It took the Timberline graduate two weeks after signing up to add any pictures.
“It was so important to show my true self, not completely try to please the male viewers,” she says. “I wanted to show a mother’s beauty. I have three kids. It’s important to make it classy and something that I’m proud of.”
While it’s out of characterfor her, Henderson said her family and friends have been really supportive.
“They are all supporting me so much. It’s crazy. I did not expect it,” she says. “I kind of thought people were going to judge me a little bit on it because it’s so out of character for me to post somewhat provocative pictures of myself. But I’ve had so much support, especially from my mom and dad. It’s been really good.”
She’s currently holding fourth place in her group.
The current round of voting ends on June 18. Weekly cuts will continue until the winner is crowned mid-August.
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