A Candid Conversation With The Impossibly Beautiful Candice

This was one of my favorite articles of 2012 because it combined two of my favorite things: Candice Swanepoel, the impossibly sexy and sweet stunner from South Africa, and the fine folks at 10 magazine. I’ve been a fan of 10 since I was still at university, when they took a chance on a young writer who would beg for stories and free drinks, and give me my first commissions. (Love you, Antony!) So when they asked if I wanted to interview Candice for the cover of their Brazilian issue, I said yes in a New York minute. It was a good chat too: Candice is a Brazilian convert, and she likes to talk about beaches, Bahia, boys and beers. Now that’s my kind of girl. Read our entire interview below.


DEREK BLASBERG: “It’s the Brazilian issue, Candice, so let’s start there. When was the first time you went to this place you love so much?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “I was 17 years old, and my first memories were the freedom, the energy in the people and in the culture. I went with my boyfriend. We had started dating a few months before, and he had come with me to South Africa to meet my parents, and then we went to Brazil to meet his family. They have a good idea of what life is about.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “You preferred that to New York?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “In New York, we base people on what they do, how much money they have. No one knows anything about the fashion industry in Brazil. They don’t care what you do. They just want the beach and the sun and the fun. I feel the freest and the happiest there. There, I can just be the normal Candice.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “What part of Brazil do you like?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “The north. Bahia. It’s the African part of Brazil, which reminds me a bit of home. I was very sexual at a young age, and in a conservative place like South Africa it was difficult to be in tune with that side of myself. But Brazil brings out the real me. There’s a raw sexual energy there that’s intoxicating.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I’m sure they like you down there.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “They do, but I made an effort to learn the language and embrace the culture. I didn’t want to be a tourist.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I was happy to talk to you today because, conveniently, I’m going to Brazil next week. Give me Candice’s tips for not being a tourist.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Rent a car and go on a road trip. Lose yourself. There are so many little beach towns. Stay in a bed and breakfast. Have an adventure. Meet new people and let them take you to this place, and then meet more people and go to that place. Be a gypsy.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “When did you first come to New York? Why did you move here?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “The first time was when I was 17. But a little while later, when I was working in Paris, I was about to give up modelling and move back home. Victoria’s Secret had asked to see me, so my agent told me that I should come to New York, meet them, and if they signed me up I’d move. And if they didn’t sign me, I was going to go back to South Africa.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Back to the dairy farm?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Yes, Derek. I grew up on a dairy farm. I did! Dairy and beef and forest and plantations. I don’t think my parents would have ever imagined I would go so far off the rails. In the beginning they were the ones who encouraged me to keep modelling because there weren’t many opportunities in South Africa for young people. But if I was ever homesick and wanted to come home, my mom was always strong and said I should stick it out.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “That’s sweet and so supportive. I would think most parents would want their little girl back.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “They were very unselfish in that way. They probably didn’t think I was going to meet a Brazilian beach boy and want to move there, though.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Have your parents been to Brazil?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Not yet, but I’m taking them to Carnival next year. So they’re going to really see what that country can do.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Do they still live in South Africa?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Yeah, but they sold the farm. Because of the political and safety issues, they had to let it go. They sold it while I was away, which is one of the reasons I was happy to find a new place to be a savage. Now they live near Cape Town and they’re tour guides. I don’t go home that often.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Candice! They must miss you.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “I know. I’m terrible. You’re making me feel guilty. But we don’t get a lot of time off, and South Africa is so far away. They’ve come to visit me. I need to go there more often, but in a way it hurts. What I had on the farm I could never find anywhere else, ever again.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “When I think of a farm girl, I think of animals running around and you wearing overalls with pigtails in your hair, milking cows.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Yes, it’s all that, but mixed with the Zulu culture. It’s hard to explain that time in South Africa, with the apartheid and the way that the culture changed, the way that our home changed. We had a huge farm. I went out with my dad to milk the cows, and my cousins would come for the holidays and it was, in a way, the perfect childhood. It seems like another life when I think about it. When I try to explain it I can never do it justice. It’s one reason I don’t like to talk about it, because it’s something that I can’t describe.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “But you can find that in Brazil now?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “In a way, yes, I can tap into that freedom and innocence.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I want to believe everything you’re saying, but all of my Brazilian friends are crazy.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “That’s because those are New York Brazilians, babes. If you go to the simple places, it’s the purest people that you meet. It’s not vicious or jealous or anything like that.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “What’s a day in the life of Candice like? What’s the perfect Brazilian day?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “I wake up pretty early. I’m more inspired there than anywhere else, so I want to enjoy the day. The traditional breakfast is bread with cheese and ham and fresh fruit and juices and coffee. We go straight to the beach, and spend the whole day there. Meet friends, have a beer, get a tan. I have Dutch blood, and Dutch South Africans can get really dark. But I always have sunscreen on my face. I do! After the beach, go home take a shower, feel your tan skin and you’re all clean, have lunch. Maybe you have sex. Then you have a snooze because you’re so exhausted from it all. Wake up, see friends and family, have a BBQ. And then you go to bed early.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Sounds like paradise.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “It’s simple: eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired. Life was a little easier back in time, and it still is in Brazil. In Bahia, they don’t know what Twitter is. I want to be a savage. I want to live my life naked, with all my little naked kids naked in the garden.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Like a place that time forgot?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Exactly. I live in the moment there. I recharge there, feel like a normal person again. My boyfriend’s mom lives in this small town, and time goes so slowly there. I don’t want to be an old woman who lives in New York and the days fly by but you’re not doing anything. I want to feel like I’m enjoying my life.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever find my Brazil, my escape. Can I go with you next time?”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Yes, of course. But you have to learn Portuguese – otherwise, they’ll treat you like a gringo. You’ll be taken advantage of.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Do you speak Portuguese?”


DEREK BLASBERG: “Okay, now I understand. That’s why you’re on the cover of the Brazilian issue – you had to work to be a Brazilian.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “It’s true. Other girls were lucky enough just to be born there. But I had to work for it. I had to learn the language, learn the land, and find the Brazilian boyfriend.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “You had to make yourself a Brazilian.”

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: “Know why I learned Portuguese? I wasn’t going to have my boyfriend and his friends talk about girls around me. Oh no, honey, that’s not happening. Nothing gets past me now.”