Make Up: Tony Rivero
Stylist: Mack Pholsina
"Do you want me to sit up on the ledge for the next shot?"
I barely make out Marie Kim's question. We're 44 stories high in Midtown Manhattan with stunning views of the Hudson River on one side and the iconic New York skyline on the other, and the afternoon wind is roaring across the roof top. Randy, the videographer, and I walk up to the rim of the building and peer over the edge into a sea of Yellow cabs and pedestrians hundreds of feet below us. Marie's got balls. Big ones. In the figurative sense.
Raised in a small town in the Czech Republic, her grandmother and mother made the trek to the States five years ago in search of new opportunities. And in that short amount of time, the Vietnamese, Czech, and German Ms. Kim seized every capitalistic moment, learning English on a fluent level, earning a scholarship to a college in Manhattan, posing in front of a camera or two dozen, and accidentally picking the modeling surname of a Korean. Hey, not everyone's perfect. At least she has more stones than a pair of Angelinos used to life at lower altitudes. And why would Marie be afraid of heights? A statuesque 5' 10", and living the American Dream, all she's done is kept climbing. A rising star, for now, we'll keep her a few feet lower than she's used to.
Your last name's Kim, the Korean equivalent of "Smith", is that your nationality?
No, actually my Vietnamese name is Kim Anh so I figured I'd combine it with my Czech name, Marie, for modeling. I didn't know that it was the Korean "Smith" till I already started going by it. [laughter]
Vietnamese and Czech, how did that combo come about?
My mum actually moved from Vietnam to the Czech Republic and met my dad. The rest was history.
Where in the Czech Republic are you from?
Usti nad Labem! And I wouldn't trade my experiences growing up there for anything. It made me who I am now.
That's a mouthful. Is that some sort of a village?
[laughs] It's a city! The ninth largest. Since you work with models, I should have you know that it's famous for having some of the hottest girls on the planet.
Who are some hot Usti nad Labemians?
There are actually a few but the most famous is Karolina Kurkova, the Victoria's Secret model. Hopefully one day I'll get to work with her!
When did you emigrate from the Czech Republic?
A little over five years ago. My family and I moved to Stony Brook, Long Island in New York.
What was the biggest culture shock?
Hmm . . . probably that people in the U.S. are so religious? Czechs tend to party hard and not really think about the repercussions.
My kind of peeps. And now you're in Manhattan-did you move to the city to pursue modeling?
Actually, I moved to Manhattan to make my grandmother proud and make something of myself. I finished high school in Long Island, and after I graduated, I received a scholarship to attend New York Institute of Technology for architecture.
Architect? Wowsers! So can you design?
Yes! I'm pretty good at it, too. My designs take cues from Italian and modern styles.
So, uh, when it comes to, um, "buildings", do you prefer short and girthy or tall and thin?
Tall and thin. But they have to be interesting. [laughs]
East Coast/West Coast beef: Golden Gate or Brooklyn Bridge?
Brooklyn Bridge, baby. No other bridge in the world looks as gangsta!
Have a favorite New York moment?
The city is so alive at all hours and there are so many great moments, small and large. I can't think of just one.
What about restaurant?
I love sushi, so it would have to be Nobu.
When it comes to men, what do you look for?
All a guy needs to be is funny. If you can make me laugh till my cheeks hurt, you'll win my heart. That, and you have to be non-hairy!
How about a furry dude with access to industrial-grade shavers?
[laughs] No, not even that. His hair will just grow back.