Reference > Erinsborough News > ERIN McNAUGHT
THE DATE BEGINS POORLY. SITTING IN FASHIONABLE SYDNEY BAR BAYSWATER BRASSERIE, SIPPING A COOPERS AND FIDGETING WITH OUR NOTEBOOK, THE MOBILE RINGS.
"HI, IT'S ERIN."
"I'm out the front."
"Okay, be out in a flash." Flash? What kind of knob says "flash"?
Outside, we see a cab pulling up across the road. We head towards it, opening the passenger side door.
"Erin?" She looks different. Shorter, perhaps. Slightly bigger in the face. And a bit older. A lot older, actually.
It's not Erin. Slamming the door on the woman, who upon reflection, must have topped Erin in the age stakes by a good 20 years, we look about for our missing Miss Australia.
She's standing next to a taxi 30 metres away, looking at us, a "can this really be who I'm supposed to go on a date with?" expression on her face.
We wave goofily and approach.
"Sorry about that. Thought that was you in the cab down the road. Ha!"
"Oh, that's okay," she replies looking at the middle aged boiler we'd recently accosted.
We pay for the cab and go inside.
Sitting in the muted light of this swanky inner-city bar, we finally take a good, long look at Ms McNaught. She's even more beautiful in person than photos would suggest: the fine cheekbones, the cat-like eyes, the dainty nose, the ready smile. A beer-and-a-half into our evening and we're already starting to fantasise about spending the rest of our days with this woman. Is this really the same shy, "not stocky, muscular" girl who, at 16, was placed in deportment classes by her mum to help boost her confidence?
"Get you a drink?"
"Yeah, a Pure Blonde would be great." A beer-drinker, then.
They don't stock Blonde so we return with a Boag's instead.
"Sorry about that."
No worries? Who is this girl? Where's the refined, poised Miss Universe contestant? Where's the graceful, elegant pageant queen? Turns out Erin was something of an accidental Miss Universe.
"To be honest, I only really did a handful of jobs before I did Miss Australia," she says. "It's funny reading all these stories calling me a model, because I never really did modelling. I was never any good at it.
"Between 21 and 24 - when I did Miss Australia - I probably did about 15 or 20 jobs. That's not very many."
So how exactly did Miss Australia come about?
"The only reason I did Miss Australia was because my agency needed an extra girl. I said I wasn't interested but they called me back and said 'Look, we really don't have enough entrants for Queensland. Give it a shot - it's free, and you could win prizes.'
"So I entered and won through to the national final in Melbourne in June 2006. Then I won that and three weeks later I was in L.A. In the space of four weeks I went from not even modelling at all to all of a sudden... I had to learn how to walk with a friggin' book on my head!"
Erin wasn't able to emulate the achievements of Jennifer Hawkins a year earlier, but she reckons the odds were always stacked against her.
"Some of the other contestants had been born for the sole purpose of becoming a Miss Universe contestant. One girl had had six operations: boob job, butt implants, upper eye lift, lower eye, lips done, and a nose job. It's a lot to put yourself through when you're 18," says the delightfully unmodified Gold Coaster.
And what about that alleged lack of confidence? Did it raise it's head in the glare of the Miss Universe spotlight?
"The first two or three days, the self doubt really kicked me up the bum. You get there and all of a sudden you see 81 other girls. You start to feel really inferior. It just does your head in.
"But then, by the end of the third day, I was going, 'What am I doing? Screw this! I'm just going to have fun.' There was a buffet for breakfast that had everything you could ask for: croissants, danishes, bacon, eggs, blah, blah. I put on, like, six kilos or something because I was like, 'Why not?'"
Six kilos? That can't be true!
"Haha, well maybe..."
Conversation quickly turns to the photo shoot. Erin, delightfully, is chuffed about it.
"I was absolutely stoked!" she says, leaning in close, laughing. We swoon just a little bit.
"It looks amazing. I was so excited. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant about the cat suit at first. And I realised why: because I had to pour three tubs of talcum powder onto my body to get into it! I needed four people to help me: one person holding the bottom of the bum, one person holding the top of the bum and two people trying to zip it up. After having it on for a few minutes I could feel the rivulets of sweat down the middle of my back and stomach."
We venture that she looked a bit like Jennifer Garner with that black wig on.
"From Alias? Really? She was hot to begin with, but she's let herself go."
Oh. Well that backfired. Um... "It's just your cheekbones. They're really, really... great."
"I've gotten everything from Keira Knightley to Jennifer Lopez," Erin says, ignoring our futile attempts at flattery. "When I was young I used to have a fat face and I'd get called Julia Stiles. Hmmm... who else? Farrah Fawcett... I must have one of those faces."
We take another shot. "You've got a bit of the Delta Goodrems about you..."
"Yes! You're the second person to say that today!" she cries, delighted, before launching into a story about being confused with the piano-plonking pop chanteuse at the Nickelodeon Awards earlier in the year.
But for someone who has to work the media and press the flesh as part of her job, Erin's not especially enamoured with Sydney's party circuit. She still has trouble coming to terms with her celebrity. More than that, she's half of an all-conquering celebrity power couple, partnering as she does rugby league star Braith Anasta ("He takes the focus off me. If the two of us walk down the street, he'd have 10,000 people asking for his autograph. No one really knows who I am").
Still, she's come a long way from her first red carpet event 18 months ago.
"The first event I went to when I returned from Miss Universe was a Myer parade in August 2006," she says. "There was a red carpet, so I went to walk around it, and my manager's like, 'Darling you've got to walk on the red carpet.' There were all these models posing like Mink and Annalise Braakensiek, but I just kept walking. And all the photographers are like, 'Erin! Erin!' And I'm going, 'What?' And they're, 'We want to take a photo.'
"So when all these photos come out I'm standing there looking like a startled snail. Unless you're someone hugely famous like Victoria Beckham, you don't think of yourself as any different from anyone else. So when I saw that red carpet I was like, 'That's not for me, that's for celebrities.'"
Erin reckons she's a lot better prepared for her social responsibilities now, but the self-confessed geek ("You can't outgrow geekiness. You just have to embrace it") prefers to hang out in her Marouba beachfront pad and relax with friends than hit the scene.
But tonight, just for FHM, she's making an exception.
LIFE OF THE PARTY
Thanks to Erin's star power, FHM has wangled an invitation to Bessie Bardot's birthday party at trendy haunt Hugo's. As we walk walk up the stairs, paparazzi begin circling. Understanding our place in the social pecking order, we step to one side, allowing the snappers unfettered access to the glamour girl. She's all charm, smiling sweetly, referring to each photographer by name, looking for all the world a seasoned red carpet pro.
Soon, we're inside. It's a proper Sydney party alright. There's that dude from Video Hits; Leo Sayer leaning against the bar, double fisting champagne flutes; Bondi Blonde chick Jamie Wright; legion of pretty young PR things, and a phalanx of social writers and gossip columnists.
Before we know it, Erin's pal Lucy has arrived, and the pair melt away into the crowd, leaving FHM alone in a room full of people waaaay too attractive to associate with a scruffy men's magazine pen-pusher. We only have one option: get drunk.
Well over an hour later, the pink fruity cocktails have done their job (they're free, beer's $9), but we're still feeling out of place. If only we had our sexy model hanging off our arm...
"There you are! Thought you'd gone home!" It's Erin. We're saved! And 10 minutes later, when her beau Braith and his mate Shaun turn up and begin shouting us tequila shots, we feel like the king of the world.
We don't want to leave. Even when Erin, Braith and co say goodbye, we're reluctant to say our own farewells. But, realisingwe have no one to talk to, we stumble home via a Portuguese chicken outlet, armed with a list of excuses for a certain cranky girlfriend.
Three weeks after our night on the tiles, Network 10 announces Erin is soon to star on Neighbours. It's a three-month guest spot that might go longer. It's great news for our new Favourite Girl In The World Ever, but even better, it's an excuse to talk to her again.
We get a couple of minutes with her on the phone while she's waiting for a flight. "Yeah, I'm a bit nervous," she says of her acting debut. "I'm playing Carmella's cousin Sienna. Apparently there's a bit of rivalry between Natalie Blair and my character.
"I haven't had much time to do any more acting lessons. They don't seem to mind though. I guess I'll wing it."
So, you're a double-slashie (model/TV presenter/actress) now Ms McNaught? Impressive. Surely, a career in Hollywood now beckons?
"Possibly in the future that might be a fun option. But I have to earn my stripes. I'm pretty happy with the way things are going."
So are we, Erin. FHM
This article originally appeared in FHM magazine, dated February 2008 and was written by Guy Mosel