By the time we wrap the first half of the photoshoot at our studio near LAX, it's 3 p.m. There are two hours of sunlight, at best, and sixty miles of SoCal traffic to brave to get to the second location. Great.
I hop, or rather crawl, on the most feared of LA freeways, the 405, and it's a sea of red taillights. Double great. On the bright side, sitting shotgun in the '10 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT (read micro review on p. 44) is the lovely Leanna Kai. One could do much worse for a carpool buddy.
We start chatting when a call comes through. I pick it up and instinctively mute the radio. It's Elliott "Mr. SLB" Moran in his EVO X behind me, asking for directions in case we get separated. While I'm giving him the route-legally, on my handsfree, of course-music is still piping through the Harmon Kardon speakers. I thumb the volume control button on the steering wheel down some more and it does absolutely nothing. The female voice is still singing, a cappella. Puzzled, I reach for the main volume knob on the center console when I discover the sweet melodious source; it's Leanna. And wow, what a voice.
"So . . . you like to sing?" I ask. Move over, Captain Obvious.
"I do. I've been singing for as long as I can remember. Music is my life!" Leanna replies.
Smolderingly hot and vocally talented, she's almost too good to be true.
"Now only if you were into cars, you'd be every readers' wet dream," I joke.
"I am! Not the whole bed-wetting thing, but I'm into cars."
"No seriously, I have a Honda that used to be all fixed-up. Loud exhaust, suspension and everything."
Gentlemen, meet the perfect woman.
For as many models as I've interviewed, you're the first to own a fixed-up Honda. Let's moisten some fanboys' pants: what do you own and what have you modified?
I have an '05 Honda Civic. Now, I just have a system in the back, but I used to have wheels, coilovers, an exhaust . . .
How did you get into Hondas?
Because they look sporty! [laughs]
Let's say 2NR had a budget-a complete hypothetical-and we could kick down $10k to build your car, what would you want to do to your Civic?
First, I would swap for a K24 with a VTEC head, supercharge it, and go with a new engine management system. I'd upgrade the suspension, forged rims, and go with a big brake kit . . . do they come in pink? [laughs]
Except for the pink, not a bad plan . . . what's the one modification no man should ever have on his car?
Spinning rims. They look gay.
Agreed! [laughter] Was the Civic your first car?
My first car was actually a '68 Beetle-I wish I still had it! It was the cutest car ever. It totally fit me and my personality, but I needed to trade it in for a more reliable car that could go up hills.
What's your dream car?
I wouldn't mind an '09 Nissan GT-R. In black and pink!
Just like my interracial videos. Can you drive a stick?
Of course I can! Real women can drive a stick, baby! It's the only way to drive and be in complete control.
How about our cover cars-which do you prefer, the EVO or STI?
I'm kinda scared to answer this one because now I know both of this month's owners.
Screw 'em. They already got their cover! [laughter] Besides, I won't tell anyone.
Hmm . . . In that case, I'd have to say EVO, just because I'm not a fan of hatchbacks.
I think you just made Elliott blush. [laughter] Does a car make the man or does the man make the car?
A man definitely makes the car. If his personality is crap then he better have a nice car. But if a guy is really sweet, has a killer personality and drives a beat up car, it's all gravy!
So, hypothetically, if someone rolled up in a beat-up gold S14-broken hood, fender, lights, and gasp, automatic-what kind of killer personality should I, er, that person, pack?
I look for a guy who is confident and isn't scared to talk to me. It's such a turn on when a guy has a sense of humor. He has to be smart-I want someone who can keep me on my toes.
Body odor, bad breath, smelly farts, and guys who are too into themselves.
Where do you meet guys? Clubs? Bars?
Actually, I meet guys at random places because they're usually more sincere.
The local jungle gym? Street corner? The Internet?
[laughs] No! At a friend's birthday party or get-together. Through friends of friends.
You have an incredible passion for music and can sing like a mofo-who would you compare your vocal talents to?
Oh my gosh. I couldn't really compare my music to my idols. I'm definitely inspired by Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Michael Buble, and Sade, however.
Kanye West: mad talented or just mad?
I think it's both. That man has awesome musical creativity but the guy seriously needs to chill out sometimes.
When and what was your first public performance?
My very first performance was when I was about seven or eight years old. I sang Little Mermaid for a talent show. OMG, I was totally obsessed with that movie and anything to do with mermaids.
Do you play any instruments?
I enjoy playing the piano. I started taking lessons when I was in Sixth grade but I didn't really get into playing and writing my own music until about two years ago.
What is this about you yodeling?
[laughs] I started listening to LeAnn Rimes when she was really country, and in one of her first albums she yodeled. So, I really wanted be able to yodel and I would practice all the time.
How is yodeling different from singing?
Well, yodeling is all about having a lot of control in your voice. Actually, there's no difference, just a different technique I would say.
If you could collab with any artist on your first single, who would it be? Why?
Michael Buble! He's effing hot and his voice matches mine. We would make a ridiculous song together.
So what you're saying is that you two would make beautiful music together?
. . .
OK. Um. Moving on. What about hip-hop artist?
Black Eyed Peas. They have unbelievable talent.
Any embarrassing performance stories you'd like to share?
In high school, I was singing in front of over 500 people and I totally forgot some of the words. It was horrible but I played it off.
That's where yodeling would come in handy. Where can our readers hear some of your music?
They can go to www.myspace.com/leiannakai. They're older songs but I'll be putting some new tracks up soon.
Other than cars and music, what are some of your hobbies?
I love working out and painting, it's really therapeutic. I also love doing girly things with my friends like shopping and watching movies, sleepovers and pillow fights.
As a quarter Italian, your thoughts on Jersey Shore?
It's a lame show and it's not something I would ever want to watch, but that's just me.
A hearty fist pump to that. What are your vices?
I say the 'F' word sometimes under my breath. I know it's bad but I do it when I'm frustrated.
Let's get into some "lasts". When's the last time you laughed milk-squirtingly hard?
George Lopez live. 'Nuff said.
What's the last great meal you've had?
After the photoshoot and we had Mediterranean food in Glendale and we argued about how to spell 'Mediterranean'. [laughter]
That's why the pasty white Microsoft gods invented Spell Check. The last time you heard a good pick-up line?
Do you believe in love at first sight or do I have to walk by again?
Why no, dear. The last time you had a bi-curious moment?
It happens often-I find myself checking out girls more than guys. Girls are so adorable.
Such as . . . ?
Latina girls are exotic and I think Selma Hayek and Penelope Cruz are really pretty.
How about from our industry?
Ooh that's tough-there are a lot of hot import models. I'm not usually into White girls, but Miss Genna is so cute and I totally want to squeeze her boobs. Also, Tara Love, [Miss 2NR September '09] is really hot-she was actually my classmate since junior high.
Tara is super hot . . . as long as she lays off the taco trucks.
I remember reading about that! [laughter]
The last time someone got on your nerve?
Besides other than now? [laughs]
Someone wants an extra 15 lbs Photoshopped into their picture. . .
The last good movie you saw?
When was the last time someone successfully got your number?
I was at work and some guy offered to buy me frozen yogurt. He said he would call me when he got to Pinkberry to ask me what flavors I want. He was actually pretty smooth about the whole thing and I didn't even realize I just gave out my number until after I had already given it to him. I'm so gullible sometimes. [laughs]
So, uh, now that the interview's over, I was thinking about running to Baskin-Robbins to pick up a banana split while you change. What's your number again?
[laughs] Carter, you're so lame.
Dairy Queen, perhaps?
Ethnicity: Hawaiian, Portuguese, Italian, and Irish
Birthday: April 13th
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
My parents and family because they have always supported and loved unconditionally; my dearest friends Sasha and Karen; Chris from FatFish Entertainment; my mentor Tricia Kawasaki from SpoCom; all the guys from Extreme Autofest and Import Image; silly Miss Genna for her friendship and guidance; my fans for always believing in me; and Carter for being the awesome man he is and picking little ol' me to be featured in the hottest import magazine!