Friday, November 5, 2010
THE TRUE CANADIAN "HOUSE BUNNY": PLAYBOY'S "MISS NOVEMBER" SHERA BECHARD COACHES US ON HOW TO LOVE OUR MIND, BODY, AND SOUL
You know the story. Cinderella magically swirls from timid housekeeper into confident princess just in time for the Prince to find her glass slipper, take her hand in marriage, and - most importantly - supply her with the courage to leave her evil stepfamily (and just be happy).
Now, the tale of Cinderella has been altered and tweaked to tell for different time periods, cultures, and mediums. So, it makes sense to conclude that in this day and age, the evil stepfamily would probably be technology (not-so) friendly schoolmates, and the Prince (or Fairy Godmother) would most likely be Playboy. And in the midst of various Cinderella stories, this specific one would crown Shera Bechard a proud owner of the classic "Miss November" title.
Shera, a 27-year-old small-town girl from Kapuskasing, Ontario, may gracefully flip long blonde tresses and strip down from the curvaceous, little body Playboy is most famous for now, but she wasn't always this sure of herself. In an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun, Shera revealed that growing up, she was constantly tormented by both male and female schoolmates, even to the point that "one summer, when she was seven, mean girls dumped her in a garbage can."
Then, not too shortly thereafter, she ditched Kapuskasing and rode to Toronto, taking jobs as a model and club hostess for the next 8 years. Then, finally, Longtime Playboy cartoonist Doug Sneyd finds this Cinderella at a Toronto comic show. “I don’t say this to every girl..." he says to Shera. And then - boom! The glass slipper fits. Shera poses for Playboy and has her happy ending.
But, the "Happily Ever After" isn't coming just yet. Actually, the story has barely begun. Here, Shera takes me through the pages of her own Cinderella story, vividly describing her most crucial characters, climaxes, and downfalls. Now, all girls - big or small - can be inspired to go after their unique "happy endings."
V.B. You hail from Northern Ontario, specifically from a small, elusive town called Kapuskasing. What's the lifestyle like up there?
S.B. Kapuskasing is a great little town. It's primarily a logging town with a population of about 9,000. Like most Northern Ontario towns, it's bilingual, so I grew up with French as my first language. Being 8 hours North of Toronto the summers there are short, and the winters are long. But, it's beautiful! You're guaranteed snow every Christmas!
V.B. According to the Toronto Sun, you have a religious mother. If you don't mind me asking, where did her - or your overall family's - religious beliefs stand? What's your take on God and religion? What do you believe?
S.B. Growing up, my mother was more religious than she currently is now. She still has her beliefs, but she's mellowed down quite a bit. She's actually pretty liberal now and has been very supportive of my decision to pose for Playboy, but I did tell my stepfather about it first to see what he thought her reaction would be. As for myself, I guess you could say I'm agnostic. Religion isn't currently a part of my life.
V.B. You were bullied constantly by girls and guys alike throughout school. How did you end up dealing with that? What lessons have you learnt from your own experience that you can offer to anyone - children, teenagers, etc. - who is being tormented?
S.B. Well, I never really dealt with it back then - I just got through it. I was always very shy and timid growing up. I guess that made me a target, but I've overcame a lot of that shyness now. The one thing I would say to people who are going through it themselves is to know that it will end eventually, and it will get better with time. Thankfully, high school is only a few years of your life.
V.B. What made you decide to pack your bags and move to Toronto when you were 18? Have you always wanted to become a model? How did Toronto "toughen you up"?
S.B. As much as I like Kapuskasing, there was nothing there for me; I had no job or friends/boyfriend holding me there. I always had people telling me I could be a model, and I had done a photoshoot with a local photographer up in Kap, so I thought I might as well pursue it. Clearly, I couldn't do it there, so I came to Toronto. Toronto was good in the sense that I got to do a lot of shoots with great photographers, and I found out I was quite good at modeling, so that was good for my confidence. But yeah, Toronto toughens you up; coming from a town of 9,000 to a city of 2 million will do that.
V.B. Were you hoping for or expecting this type of fame? Do you project the "Playboy" achievement as a metaphorical "middle finger" to the guys and girls that used to tease - and who probably now want to be or be with - you?
S.B. I certainly wasn't expecting this, but you do hope to achieve it. But it's not even the fame I was hoping for - just the success. I've never wanted to be famous; I just wanted to be good at what I do, good enough to make a living off of it. And yeah, it's also nice knowing that I've achieved more with my life now than most of those people who once tormented me, so I guess I got the last laugh :)
V.B. You described your younger self as "geeky and scrawny" and also indicated that your curves weren't appreciated by the high fashion modeling industry in Toronto. The struggle to looking "perfect" in the industry - or society, in general - is constant. What's your take on body image issues regarding young girls and women, and how can you apply that perspective to your own life?
S.B. Yeah, my curves and height (I'm 5'6") weren't good enough for the Toronto modeling industry. But, thankfully, that didn't hold me back. Personally, I've never bought into that whole struggle to look perfect. I think that if you eat well and exercise, things take care of themselves.
V.B. You were (indirectly) discovered by Playboy cartoonist Doug Sneyd at a Toronto comics book show, then suddenly (it seems), you were in. How exactly did the whole process go down?
S.B. Well, as I said, I went there to meet a friend. My friend said Doug was there, and he thought it'd be fun to have him draw my picture, since he was a fan of Doug's work. So as Doug was drawing me, we got to talking, and, long story short, Doug said he had met a lot of Playmates over the years and felt that I was better looking than all of them. So he said he was willing to do something he had never done before, which was to send my photos directly to Hef. So I sent my photos to Doug, he sent them to Hef, and - within a week - I was asked to come down to L.A. to do the test shoot. I met Doug May 8th and was in L.A. shooting my test shoot by the end of the month.
V.B. So, now, you're adjusting to the "Playboy" lifestyle. You say there's no "orgies" but is there anything about the Playboy Mansion or brand that only the models know, that outsiders wouldn't foresee?
S.B. I think most people would be surprised with how laid-back and friendly and non-sexual it is there. Hef is also the warmest and sweetest guy; so are the friends who hang out with him. I miss it when I'm not at the Mansion - the grounds are beautiful, whatever food you want is available 24/7, Sunday is "Fun in the Sun" day where all Playmates - past and present - are allowed to come and hang out by the pool. On weekend nights, we watch movies in the Mansion's theatre - so being there is like being on vacation.
V.B. You portray a "mute stripper" in Sweet Karma. Can you clue us in to your character or the plot of the story?
S.B. I actually don't play a mute stripper. I play a mute Russian girl who comes to Toronto to infiltrate a sex ring, in order to get revenge for the death of her sister. So, in one scene, she poses as a stripper to get her revenge on one of the guys. The film was actually based on true stories about sex rings in Toronto and how they operate. Obviously, the whole revenge thing is fiction, but the world that the film takes place in is very real - which most people are quite shocked to learn.
V.B. What's coming up for you in the nearby future?
S.B. I have nothing concrete coming up; I've had a couple more film offers, and I'm certainly looking into doing another film soon. I also just finished doing the Playmate Review photo shoot, which comes out in the January issue of Playboy, so that people can vote for Playmate of the Year. And hopefully, with any luck, that will be my next big photo shoot :)