As one of the original supermodels, Carol Alt has little to prove. During the 1980s, Alt was the go-to girl for every major campaign from Pepsi to Cover Girl, snatching over 500 magazine covers alone in her heyday. Her 1982 Sports Illustrated cover has become one of the publication’s most iconic images, placing Alt in the SI and modeling industry history books. The Queens-born model has gone on to produce several successful raw diet cookbooks, and currently has a Fox News segment about healthy living called ‘A Healthy You & Carol Alt’. We caught up with the model to ge her thoughts on everything from the glory days of modeling to the new crop of girls. Scroll for down for the interview and pick up your own, available in store NOW!
You were dubbed “The Face”, helping to pave the way for some of today’s sexiest bombshells. How do you think the modeling industry has changed since the glory days?
I think that careers are shorter these days. A girl comes for a season to walk the shows, maybe she gets a few pictures in a magazine, but really, there’s no longevity. If you don’t get a Victoria’s Secret contract or Sports Illustrated, cosmetics or designer contract, there’s really no room anymore. The faces on the covers of magazines are now actresses, celebrities and reality TV show stars, which to me is so boring because these are not role models with any sort of elegance. (I am talking more about reality stars than I am about actresses!). Also, with today’s web and social media, the beast has to constantly be fed. What I mean is that there has to be a constant flow of new people; if they don’t make it in the first six months or year– they’re out! In my day, the agencies cultivated girls, groomed them, protected them, brought them up and created stars. There’s no time for that today. And I’m, of course, just on the outside looking in– even if my view is a better one because I’ve been in the industry and I have close associates because of that. I still am not an everyday working model or new girl coming in, so I am of course just giving my opinion.
Sports Illustrated is turning 50 next year! They’re one of the few publications that keeps the bombshell aesthetic alive in an industry that covets women that are a size 0. How do you think the modern SI girls compare now?
I think that today’s models are just as beautiful, just as elegant, and work just as hard as we did in the 80s in the 90s. I think Sports Illustrated chooses the cream of the crop. More of the girl next door kind of bombshell. They look for a beauty that can shine through, unenhanced. What I mean by “unenhanced” is everything you could think I might mean as un-enhanced: no surgery, as well as no jewelry or accessories or shoes or things like that in the photos. No trappings of luxury and glamour to make a girl look more glamorous than she is. No enhancements! No gorgeous fashions to hide behind. They are gorgeous women– plain and simple, just a bathing suit on a beach. Wholesome!
How was it shooting for the 1982 February issue?
I think my issue was like every issue of Sports Illustrated when it was being shot, and I’m sure it is the same as it is today! It was a lot of hard work– we were up very early in the morning, we worked until late at night, it was exhausting, but fulfilling. I tried on 700 suits for a 12 page spread which included five or six other girls. In fact, that was the only heartbreak about it; that we shot so many pictures, but only a couple actually made it into the magazine. Back then, the actual bathing suit section was a small section of the magazine– even if it was the cover. Today, it’s practically the whole magazine, and they do a real number. I think it’s much more satisfying shooting today with that much support from the magazine. I think SI had to come to terms with the popularity of the bathing suit issue. Once they did, it really exploded! I think they’ve always had a real gem there and are really supporting that now.
You look amazing for your age! What is your beauty secret?
My beauty secret is not really a secret! I shout it from the mountain tops; I shout at every interview, I do: I eat raw food. I drink ionized water and some tea. I eat mega amounts of fats. I eat great supplements. The issue with aging is that we don’t adapt our eating habits to support a body that needs more and more as we get older and older. I adapt, I listen to my body, and I give it what it needs. I test myself constantly to make sure that the regime I’m on is the right regime for my body. I don’t agree with people who, for example, go vegan just because their heart dictates it. To me, it doesn’t make them a good, moral, or better person for not eating animals; it makes them impulsive in my eyes. Because if they did any kind of research on what our bodies need, I’m sure they would come up with a different opinion. Health to me is number one priority. Also, our food has changed, which many people don’t take into consideration when they eat a diet that their parents taught them to eat. The most important thing is to give the body what it needs. There’s no substitution for that in terms of aging.
As one of the first supermodels, do you feel like girls like Karlie Kloss and Cara Delevingne live up to the term?
I can’t really be the judge of whether or not today’s girls live up to being supermodels. Back in the day, it was about the wide variety of clients you had, the number of days you worked, the number of covers you had. For today’s girls it’s about how much money you make and the number of Twitter followers you have! What I actually mean is, the criteria has changed. I know one thing, I’ve seen Karlie Kloss’s body and I wish I had it! :P
What do you think of supermodel, Kate Upton?
I think Kate is a product of great media hype. Without Sports Illustrated, I’m not sure she would’ve made it in the industry as a high fashion model. Because she is more of a large size model. And even if I’ve seen her in person, and I don’t think she’s in any way fat or overweight or anything; she’s just more large-sized than fashion models are. I think Kate is very good at…hmmmm– how do I put it? She’s engaging. She comes to the set prepared to work, in a good mood, engages her client, and she looks at herself as a business. To more expand on that thought, what I’m trying to say is: after she got herself into Sports Illustrated, she wasted no time. She put together a team of people: agents, managers, & publicists that were ready to go, regardless of whether or not she got the cover. They were willing to take the chance. Once she got the cover, she was already in a position to move forward. Of course, the cover was just a fluke because nobody knows who gets the cover. But she looks at herself as a business, and I admire that.
As a native New Yorker, what are some of your favorite things to do in the city?
I was born and raised in New York, but I have lived in several countries around the world! That’s one of the perks of this business. As for New York, I mostly come to work. I’m not a tourist here. Therefore (as a business person in a city), most of my places are my favorite restaurants, for example: Pure Food and Wine, Nobu, Sushi Samba, Morton’s. I also love the Ballet at Lincoln Center and the fashion shows there. And I do love to take the Gray Line Bus Tour periodically around the city ,just to see the sights so as to remind me how great this city is.
Tell us more about “A Healthy You”, your new show on Fox.
First, I’d like to thank FOX News Channel and Roger Ailes for the opportunity to try and help people to be more healthy. That said, of course, my show is about health :) It is a passion and a hobby that has become my life’s work. I have created a show with the help of Roger Ailes and his brilliant team at Fox News Channel, that researches alternative health methods that I believe really work. Of course, I wrote my books Eating in the Raw, The Raw 50, and Easy Sexy Raw to try and help people eat better. But the show supports those people who are looking to change their health, be healthier, eat right, live a chemical free life, and age more gracefully. People who want to protect themselves and their health. As I’ve said, it’s become my life’s work. I think everything I’ve done in my career, how I’ve hurt my own health, has led me to the show.
Photography: Jacob Dekat
Creative Direction: Prince Chenoa
Interview: Frank Oliver Jr.
Stylist: Rose Garcia
Fashion Assistant: Dennine Dyer
Makeup: Alexandra Kwiatkowski
Hair: Melanie Harris
Nail Art: Jessica Tong