COVER, GIRL, Valya Romanova, Cj franco, Maxim, South Africa , March 2016
COVER GIRL Valya Romanova
Having featured on our website before, you’re no stranger to Maxim. Safe to say, we love you. How does it feel being on the cover now? I can’t describe in words what it means to me. Being a Maxim cover girl is a privilege only a few models in the world ever get. This is definitely a dream come true for me. When I first started to model, I had no idea I would be able to achieve something amazing like this. Now, thanks to Maxim, I know that if you dream big, work hard, and believe in yourself, anything is possible.
How did you get into the modelling industry? I was always interested in fashion and beauty. I used to take my mother’s makeup and my sister’s dresses and pose in front of the mirror when no one was home. There was one moment in particular when I knew I wanted to be a model. I was looking through the pages of a catalogue and saw a photo of a model in black, lace lingerie standing in front of the mirror with her hair done in curls and her eyes making contact with the camera through the reflection in the mirror. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I wanted to become a model so there would be a photo of me like that in a magazine. When I was old enough, I went to a casting for a modelling school/ agency and they accepted me. From that moment, step-by-step, I was moving towards making my dream a reality.
What’s the most challenging shoot you’ve had to do? The most challenging was a shoot for an ad in Washington DC, USA. We needed to have the lit-up Capitol building in the background, so the shoot did not start until it was completely dark. I have an incredible phobia of insects. Anything flying or crawling is terrifying for me. Humid, hot, dark summer nights in DC are swamped with bugs. The lighting for the shoot attracted the bugs from the entire city. There were hundreds of insects all around me! I felt them on my skin, my hair, my clothes. I had to stay very still for us to get a sharp image, but all I wanted to do was scream and run away.
As someone with a medical background, have you had to use your medical expertise for a dire situation outside of the hospital? I have not. It’s funny, in our medical training, we are taught how to “save lives” in any emergency situation, but pretty much none of us wants to ever be in that situation. I am not an exception (laughs). I am sure if something like that happens, I will try my best, though.
What’s the most shocking thing you’ve ever witnessed in your medical career? One time, I witnessed a true miracle. It was during my residency. I had just started my thoracic surgery rotation, and was introduced to our patients who we were treating. Amongst them was a woman in ICU who had been in a respiratory failure for several weeks. Her prognosis was very grim, and none of us believed she had a chance of making it… but her family did. Her son and her husband were at her bedside day and night. Even though she was on 24-hour life support, they read books and played her favourite music. They brought her favourite blanket, and photos of her happiest moments. One day, she started to improve, slightly. It took a while for her to get off the vent and start breathing on her own, but she did it! By the end of my rotation, she was walking with assistance, and we were making a discharge plan. Stories like this are very rare, but they make you rethink everything you ever knew about medicine.
We hear crazy stories about serial-killer doctors like Harold Shipman. Just how vulnerable are patients lying in hospital beds? They are vulnerable, not to serial killers, but to the hospital-borne infections and medical errors. Sadly, these two things kill more patients than any serial killer.
`More than just a pretty face,” a hackneyed, and often failed, phrase that model and budding comedian CJ Franco is ringing true. Text by FARAI MAKONI Photography by RYAN DWYER Booked by MAINSTREET PRODUCTIONS
You’re a super confident woman, you have the right to be. Have you always been super-confident? I’ve always been confident. It’s important to believe in yourself and be 100% behind your decisions. I have never been one to follow the crowd, and I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Overcoming adversity and going against the grain definitely has its challenges, but it made me a super-tough cookie (but still delicious).
Would you say you’re rather conceited, to an extent? I would never say that! One of my favourite things to do is make new friends. I literally talk to everyone I meet, I mean, I had a 20-minute conversation with a 70-year-old woman about her dating life while I was getting coffee. I find people absolutely fascinating, and I like to listen and learn from others. I make friends with the people who work at all the local shops, and spend my days distracting them at work. Being humble and open-minded is more my flow.
What would you be doing right now if you weren’t modelling? I would be a high-powered businesswoman, in a sexy, all-white, chic business ensemble, verbally abusing most of my employees, and possibly sleeping with my Latino pool boy.
What’s a normal day for you? I have my coffee and make the most amazing smoothies anyone has ever made… ever. Raspberry mint, shut up, so good! I have my own company, Neon Beige, so I work on different parts of that, a lot of meetings and angry phone calls. I try to work on my comedy every day with another comedian, and we record our sessions, which is actually so much fun. I do photo shoots probably 3 times a week, take over Snapchat accounts, and do my shenanigans on social media. I really like sending my boyfriend wildly unattractive pics, and generally harassing him throughout my day. I go to comedy classes, take my dogs out, act like an overbearing dog mom, blast my ghetto music… just the usual stuff.
Tell us something strange about you that not many people know? I’m a comedian! I guess my life is a little bit different than most people’s, and I have the craziest stories, so stand-up comedy has become my outlet (or therapist). Comedy really gives me the opportunity to laugh at myself and rant about my private life without people taking me too seriously. I have been attending Upright Citizens Brigade (comedy school), and in my spare time, I have meetings with comedians and social media celebs, and work on skits and new material.
How much of a role does Instagram play when it comes to pushing your career? Social media in general has an enormous influence when it comes to modelling. I am such a silly person, but the content on my Instagram is mostly targeted at catering to my followers, or promoting my modelling. I have been working with ArsenicTV to steer my social media more towards comedy, Amanda and Billy are social media ninjas. @Lisabise is my handle for all my social media, so for some strange reason, people keep calling me “Lisa”.
A lot of celebrities complain about having their lives put under a microscope, tabloids, paparazzi. Is it really that bad? It depends. If I am looking cute while doing respectable things, I don’t care. Realistically, that is rarely the case. Now, let’s say I’m looking like Sasquatch while trying to nurse a hangover… horrific photos of “model CJ Franco” blasted across the Internet can really put a damper on an otherwise mediocre day.
What’s the most ridiculous story you’ve heard about yourself ? I mean, it’s all true (laughs). No, I think all this gossip is pretty funny. Allegedly, I have like 7 professions, and as I’m reading these articles, I feel like I am learning new things about myself. I’m actually pretty impressed, like, where do I find the time to do all of these jobs? One thing I would like to point out is that not one tabloid has even acknowledged that I am a single mother to two small dogs.
It must be difficult dating normal guys who aren’t used to your lifestyle? Guys are difficult in general! I swear, I am halfway to becoming a lesbian, did you hear that, Ellen? Jokes aside, I loathe dating; when my life is so public, I would rather not deal with any extra mumbo jumbo.
What do you generally look for in a guy? If you were at a bar, what would draw you to a guy across the room? I have never been into dating or getting hit on in bars. I’m drawn to guys who are friendly, the kind of guy that will talk to the door guy for 20 minutes. Funny, sweet, charming guys are my thing. Oh, and guys that are NOT dealing with some sort of juicy scandal.
What plans do you have for 2016? I’m launching my clothing line Neon Beige, which is cheeky athletic wear. I started this company almost 2 years ago, when I was taking business class at university. I design workout gear for the girl that probably didn’t make it to the gym… she’s probably at Starbucks, or looking causally hot for “Netflix and chill”. I couldn’t find an entire athletic wear line that was fitted and sexy, so I created it. Aside from Neon Beige, I plan to do more stand-up comedy. Let’s just hope that I don’t get myself in any (more) trouble this year!