Playboy playmate Jessa Hinton does more in one week than you do in six months. She’s a model and fashion designer who covers boxing, interviews poker stars and trains with MMA fighters. Jessa still finds time to appear on billboards all over Vegas and stay ridiculously good-looking. Miss July has put together a strong Playmate of the Year case. Jessa’s built up a great brand and she’s smart, engaging and if you’re lucky, she’ll teach you a thing or two about gymnastics and bisexual monogamy.
I had a fun chat with Jessa a couple weeks ago. We talked about breaking the ice at nude photo shoots, Hef, MMA vs. boxing, dating a poker star, hassling the Hoff on the set of Baywatch and how awesome it is to hang out with Jessa’s mom.
CS: When you’re in the middle of a photo shoot how do you get comfortable in the nude? Do people around you crack jokes to break the ice? How does that whole atmosphere work?
JH: The first thing that I didn’t realize—I thought it was going to be more sexy, more of strip down type of atmosphere. You’re basically in your lingerie and they’re like “all right, come up, let’s go.” I’m like, “really?” So the first scene is a little nerve wracking because you’re just meeting everyone. But you’re with them for the week and so by the end of the week you kind of look at them like your doctor. They see so many things and they do crack jokes, and but I definitely do as well. So by the end of the first or second day, we already know each other – names, where they grew up. You have a lot of down time so you get to meet everybody and really know them personally.
CS: The doctor comparison is funny. So there’s a little bit of joke cracking, but it’s still all business at the same time?
JH: Yeah exactly. It’s not—nobody hits on you. It’s not a kind of pervy atmosphere. Most of the time, they’re not even looking at your body parts. They’re dealing with lights. They’re looking at the set. They’re looking at something that needs to be two more inches to the right or their checking the color of the sheets. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just the girl and how she’s posed.
CS: And how many people are on a shoot like this?
JH: Probably seven or eight.
CS: Oh wow. That’s a lot of heads.
CS: So what do you love most about Hugh Hefner?
JH: He’s probably the only guy in the past, I don’t know, let’s say 5 years, that has actually pulled out a chair for me.
JH: When they say “chivalry is dead,” not with this guy. I mean there’s no creepy side. Whenever you see him you just get kind of star struck. I mean he still has it. The man’s still got it. He’s what? 80—84 years old and he’s still going around like he’s, you know, 28. So just the kind of magnetism that he has is unbelievable. And people are like, “oh well did you ever sleep with him?” It’s not even like that. You just kind of respect what he’s done and you just want to be around him. The stories that he can tell you are just unbelievable.
CS: So you’ve been around boxing and MMA. You’ve done work with Top Rank Boxing and you’ve trained with top MMA fighters at Randy Couture’s gym. How do you think the two sports compare? Can boxing still maintain relevance when MMA just keeps growing and growing as a legit sport?
JH: I mean, I definitely think that MMA has more of a trend factor. I think boxing is more respectable for me. And the kind of fans that I interview or that I’m around at a MMA fight or at a boxing fight are like night and day.
JH: It’s not the same kind of crowd. When I’m around Randy or Rich Franklin, it’s very different than when you’re around, say, Sugar Shane Mosley or Manny Pacquiao. It’s just crazy the kind of respect that the guys get as a boxer as opposed to an MMA fighter. So it’ll take a while for MMA to really get to that point. Boxing’s not going anywhere. I grew up with the Mike Tysons and the Muhammad Alis. Those are the people that my dad used to idolize. So to be around those people and interact with them, it’s more of a shell shock for me than being around Randy Coutures or the Chuck Liddell or Tito Ortiz. It’s very different. And the demographic is, like I said, night and day.
CS: Who do you think is going to win between Pacquiao and Marquez?
JH: (Laughs) Manny’s gonna win. I mean, there’s no question. Warner says it’s going to be a great rematch, but I really think that Manny—I mean what is he, 14-0 right now?
JH: Everybody wants to see Manny and Mayweather. At every single fight that I go to, every single interview that I do, all the fans, that’s what they want to see.
JH: But Marquez, I mean I just don’t think that he has the speed that Manny does. Manny’s a quick little fucker.
JH: (Laughs) You know what I mean? I mean you watch that guy and it’s like you wonder what he’s doing during the day when he’s, you know, in Congress in the Philippines and then you’re like, how does he have time to be who he is? It’s crazy.
CS: So what are you going to ask Manny when you interview him?
JH: Well I’m in the talks right now of doing celebrity ring girl for the Pacquiao fight. So not only will I do the press conference and also do co-hosting but maybe – and it’ll add that extra “it” factor if I can do it – I can go up there and take off my hosting coat and strip down to celebrity ring girl, kind of like what Holly did for MMA. But I mean with him it’s just, what is he doing different in this camp? What is he doing that’s going to really make this rematch stand out from the last time?
CS: I read somewhere that you coached competitive gymnastics. What’s that like?
JH: I was a gymnast for eight years and then I snapped my ankle so …
JH: Those that can’t do, teach. I was also too tall. There was no way that I could have really gone too far. Bars and vault were my weaknesses. So I enjoy being around the kids and it definitely kept me young and kept me in shape. So I coached all the way to elite level.
CS: Oh wow.
JH: If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, I would go back to it. Like I still think about opening up a gymnastic studio wherever I’m living and just kind of overseeing it. It’s just—it’s so much fun to watch those kids advance, it’s crazy.
CS: And do you still follow the sport?
JH: No, actually I don’t. I don’t have time to do anything, really.
JH: Partly due to Playboy, but even simple things that I used to love doing. I used to like horseback riding. I still enjoy it, but I seriously work from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. So once this year settles down, then I think I’m going to go back and make two, maybe three days a month for just me time. But no vacations, I don’t really get a chance to do anything.
CS: Oh geez.
JH: I know (laughs). I’m not complaining though.
JH: It‘s just, I think people just get this snowball effect and they just keep going with it and you can get drained or burnt out so I think it’s important to take a couple days to yourself to really just decompress and I haven’t learned how to do that yet.
CS: All right so switching gears to poker. You’ve interviewed plenty of poker stars for Victory Poker and you were attached to poker player Dan Blizerian. How skilled are you at playing yourself?
JH: It’s funny because when I first started dating him, all of Victory Poker and Dan Fleyshman who also owns Who’s Your Daddy energy drink, he told me that I could learn poker from anybody, any of his pros, except for Blitz. He was the only person I wasn’t allowed to learn from because he just has such a hot head in poker. I like tournaments more. I only play charity events. I don’t really like gambling. I don’t feel like the money that I work hard for should be in the fate of cards. It’s not for me. So I don’t think that’s it’s really luck, I think that a little bit has to do with it, but there’s so much skill, it’s crazy. You can see these guys and they have like seven monitors hooked up in their room and that’s all they do, for like 10 to 12 hours a day. I went to Hawaii with Andrew Robl and his girlfriend, and he brought a laptop and he was just playing from the time he woke up. If we were on the boat he was playing on the boat. If we were in the hotel room eating dinner he was playing. It’s just like these people are glued to it and it’s kind of an addiction.
JH: Which for me, it’s not fun for me. Now, if it’s for charity then definitely. I’ve done a couple charity events. So we just did the Model Citizen, that’s a charity event for Dan Fleyshman. We just did that at the Palms and it was amazing. You have the silent auction, you have people there giving back. That’s something totally different. So I enjoy poker, but not really when it comes to sitting down and being attached to a table and wondering what my fate’s going to be. It’s not for me. But Blitz doesn’t really play poker anymore so I’m not really around it that much.
CS: And so okay to talk about Blitz for a second, how do you balance the whole bisexual thing with an ongoing relationship with one dude?
JH: I mean I could see myself settling down with a guy or a girl since I was 14 years old. When I was in junior high that’s when I kind of started to know that I like men and women the same. I got teased and during freshman year of high school I didn’t fit in. I kind of liked more girls than I liked guys. So I dated a couple of girls exclusively and was monogamous and committed and that’s fine for me. But I’m always going to be bisexual. So if I’m with a girl, I found this problem that they’re always going to wonder if I like men or women, if I’m staring at guys or girls.
JH: And that was an issue for me. So if I’m with one person, I’m with one person. I don’t like to share. I don’t like to party. I’m not really into that crazy bring a girl home thing. It’s never been for me. If I’m with somebody sexually that’s just the person I’m going to be with. So it’s a great thing, but guys kind of get that confused. They want to bring a girl home or a brunette and how does that work.
JH: And it’s just kind of greedy. I’m sorry. I have to concentrate fully on what I’m doing. I can’t worry about what somebody else is doing if you’re not, you know, with me. So with him it’s never been an issue. Our sex life is great so I don’t have to worry about being interested in anybody else.
CS: You appeared on Baywatch when you were 16.
CS: Tell me something interesting about the Baywatch set.
JH: (Laughs) Okay. My first day of shooting, I got off the plane and had to go straight to wardrobe. This is my first big job. They flew me to Hawaii. We were staying in a suite and I just turned 16 years old. I get there and I have to go in the ocean on a surfboard. I’ve never been on a surfboard, so I had to balance. So I’m sitting there and they have a guy that pushes me out to the middle of the ocean and David Hasselhoff comes in and my first scene was with him. So we’re sitting there waiting for them start rolling, making sure the sound and everything was right. And he starts singing.
JH: And the mikes were on. And me with my blunt, no filter, I said – and they could hear me on the mikes because the boom was right above me – I was like, “man this guy can’t sing for shit!”
CS: (Laughs) Oh my god.
JH: I guess Hasselhoff is kind of a big deal in Germany. And my mom was sitting there, in front of the screen, and with the boom, she could hear everything. And she just said everybody started laughing dying. And she’s like “you can’t say stuff like that. You’ve just got, you know, this is a big opportunity, you can’t blow it.” I’m like “what? He can’t sing!” He sang “Hey Macarena.”
CS: Oh my god.
JH: And it was the most awful rendition. And that’s like his ice breaker. It wasn’t like, “Hi, I’m David Hasselhoff.” No, he floated in on his little surfboard, the guy behind me is holding my surfboard so I don’t fall over, and he just starts singing “Hey Macarena.” And I guess the boom people picked up that I was like “this guy can’t sing for shit.” So that was a great way to meet him. The next thing I know, he invited us – me and my mom – to go swim with his kids and a dolphin. So I mean he was a cool guy, but that was something that I learned early, that I need to keep my mouth shut because you don’t know who’s listening and it can really be a downside if you’re not careful.
CS: I mean did he ever find out that you were hassling the Hoff and the crew was laughing about it?
JH: Yeah. When we got back to shore that’s what they were telling him and that’s when I found out that he was big in Germany. He said, “you know that I sell X amount of records in Germany.” I was like, “okay.”
CS: “Great buddy.”
JH: Yea, is that supposed to impress me? All right, and now you’re singing out here. But that’s okay he’s doing fine, I hope. I don’t know what’s going on with him lately.
CS: So you have a new bikini line coming out with Affliction. How long have you been interested in fashion design?
JH: I’ve been designing and sketching since I was probably 11 years old. My mom, in our storage unit, has binders and binders from me. What I would do is I would go through magazines—and that’s probably one of my weaknesses. I spend so much money on every fashion magazine that comes out. Every Vogue, every Vogue Europe. Like every single fashion magazine, it’s ridiculous. So I’ll rip out ideas and then I’ll sketch from that. So I can alter and change everything that I like. Modeling has helped me figure out what looks good on my body and what doesn’t work. So I will sit there and I will rip out pages and pages and I’ll fill vision boards and then come up with this one jacket. But there might be seven different jackets that I cut out of magazines to get that one jacket. So I took it to Affliction and we have similar styles. We altered a price point and we came up with this line and I love it. I’m so happy with it.
CS: What’s better, Vegas or LA?
JH: Kind of burnt out of both. I recently have been looking at property in San Diego.
JH: So that would help me maybe get up a little bit earlier and go surfing before I have to go and drive into work. But I mean I’ve been in Vegas for five years, back and forth to LA, and my whole family is in LA. So after five years you’re kind of a local and a native here. And I came and planned on only living here for a year, and that turned out to be five. Now it’s time for me to get out of here. So I’m probably going to move within the next month or two and not necessarily in LA but kind of outskirts, you know, close enough because that’s pretty much where my work is.
JH: But if I could live anywhere it would be San Diego or Chicago.
CS: Oh, Chicago’s cool.
JH: Yeah I love the lofty, open air type thing in Chicago. But then there’s the weather. For the winter I’d have to fly somewhere. I couldn’t do it.
CS: Yeah I was telling someone recently how much I liked Chicago. They’re like, “yeah but the winters,” and I said, “well, no I’ve never been there in the winter, I’m not crazy.”
JH: (Laughs) I like Chicago, only like five months out of the year. Who goes there in the winter? I mean really.
CS: Yeah, serious. So when you’re in Vegas do you ever trip out when you see yourself on billboards and ads for Palms everywhere?
JH: Yes. So many people text me with “oh my god I just saw you on this” and I’ll have them send me a picture because I don’t know where I’m at. So it’s kind of cool to have other people and my family ask me to send them emails or pictures of what I’m doing. But my mom is my number one fan, so every single thing that I do, I have to autograph for her and give her five copies to give to her friends. I mean she was at—the best story ever is that my mom was more of a favorite at my Playboy signing than I was.
JH: I mean my mom showed up and she was wearing an Affliction men’s shirt because she spilled a Vodka Red Bull on her other shirt. That’s all I had had in my bag because Affliction just gave it to me, and she’s wearing that and some hot pink sweat pants and flip flops, okay. My mom was in front of the Palms, outside where the valet is, saying “come see my daughter, come see my daughter. She’s Miss July!”
JH: And this is my mother. I’m like “Mom, if I were to walk by and see you standing outside saying ‘come see my daughter’ I would think you were crazy and I would not want to go anywhere near your daughter.” She was pounding drinks with Playboy Comedy, with Mayhem Miller the MMA fighter and with Bryan from The Hangover. I mean everybody the next day was like “where’s your mom?”
JH: I’m like “well nice to see you guys.” Like really? My mom followed me to the slot machine. Like that is who my mom is, a crazy partier. I had to be up at 6 AM for a radio interview and I see my mom at the slot machine and she’s passed out. I’m like “great, classy.” So I mean that’s just the best thing is that I have a great support team in my corner.
CS: Your mom sounds awesome. (Laughs)
JH: Yeah my mom. She was a cool mom growing up, let’s just say that.
CS: So last question for you here Jessa. With so many varied interests and this whole entrepreneurial outlook on life that you have, what’s one thing that you haven’t accomplished yet that you would like to tackle in the future?
JH: Probably a book. I mean I know that’s so cliché, but I’ve been through probably every single turn down. Every single life changing, I-didn’t-have-anybody-to-talk-to type stuff and I’m just like known proof that you can grow up and do everything on your own and you just have to have the motivation to do it. I’m the eldest of six children and my mom and dad split up when I was four years old. She got remarried and then split up again when I was 13. So I kind of raised myself and my siblings and everything that I went through in life, I raised myself for. So it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do is come out with an autobiography. Just explain to girls that we might be pretty in magazines and we might be pretty when we go out on red carpets, but it’s the same shit that you deal with in your life. I mean we’re no different.