Make Up: Tony Rivero
Stylist: Mack Pholsina
Photo Assistant: Chris Yu
Location: Prestigious Models
In life, few experiences add more to one's character than traveling. Other than a formal education, military experience, or a really good ass-whooping, going to a place and exploring the sights and sounds of a new environment, people, food, and culture leaves an indelible impression that adds depth to one's essence. Hence the term "worldly".
Despite her girlishly young looks, Bess Hsu is a worldly soul. Having grown up across the globe, she's experienced life in ways most of us could never fathom. From getting booted from grade school in Taiwan for rebelliousness, hitchhiking down under in Australia, getting hit on by Tom from Myspace in Hawaii, and climbing a 12,000-foot mountain in California, to experiencing her first snowfall in New York, Bess has done and seen it all. Us? We just want to see some more of her.
According to your bio, you've grown up all over the world-first Taiwan, Australia, then all across the U.S.-were you a military brat?
[Laughs] No, I just love to travel.
How was the transition from Taiwan to Australia?
I lived in the sunshine city of Brisbane, Queensland, and when I first moved, I couldn't really speak English so it was an interesting experience.
Any "Crikey!" moments?
I was really young so I don't remember a lot of stuff but I do remember getting lost a lot. But I was always like 'Whatever, I'll go on an adventure and find my way home." And I did. I hitchhiked a lot, which I shouldn't have done. Even now, in New York City, I hitchhike.
Hitchhike? In Manhattan?
[laughs] Sometimes it's impossible to hail a taxi, so I'll hop in a car instead. I hitchhike the most when I am traveling through small towns, like when I was in Greece and Costa Rica. People always tell me it's not safe, but believe it or not, I meet the greatest people from hitchhiking.
I'll take your word for it. Where in the U.S. did you first move?
I moved to Honolulu, Oahu when I was 14. I love Hawaii-I loved the weather, I loved being able to go to the beach every day after school, and I loved the people. Everyone was very chill.
Did you pick up any island sports?
Before I moved to Hawaii I couldn't even walk in a three-foot pool, but I had to learn how to swim because it would have been such a waste living in Hawaii. My friends taught me how to swim in a pool and I started body boarding, water skiing, snorkeling, and surfing.
Although I suck at it, I love surfing. Are you good?
Not at all, but I absolutely love it. My dream is to meet a shark out in the ocean and successfully escape from it. I wouldn't mind losing a leg or an arm; I'd have a good story to tell.
A hitchhiker whose aspirations include losing a limb-interesting. [laughter] When did you move to the Mainland?
I moved to Santa Barbara, CA, when I was 16. I wanted to go to college in California, so I figured I could use a college prep boarding school instead of 'vacationing' in Hawaii.
Boarding school? Explains a lot.
[laughter] Girls weren't allowed in boys' dorms, so I used to run across the field as fast as I could at 2 a.m., which was when security would go to bed. I would climb up trees and jump in from the window to get to the boys' rooms.
Very Dawson's Creek of you.
[laughter] Yes, I was extremely fit back then.
Was it a strict, convent type of institution or was it lax?
It was definitely strict, we had a lot of rules and curfews. Not to sound cheesy, but I think it was good for my soul. Everyone was required to go on an 'outdoor education' trip every year and after my second day transferring, we all went on an intense backpacking trip to the high Sierra Mountains with my class.
Sounds like a good time . . .
It was traumatizing. [laughter] I didn't shower for 10 days. I had to eat half-cooked rice with bugs in it. I had to climb up a 12,000-foot mountain with a backpack that was half my weight. But again, it was good for my soul.
Nothing builds character like crunchy rice seasoned with insects. [laughter] So it sounds like you made the most of boarding school.
Looking back, they were some of the best times of my life. Our school was small and everyone was there 24-7, so I made some great lifetime friends.
Did you ever get into trouble?
Actually, the most trouble I ever got in school was back in the sixth grade. I used to be a rebellious little girl. I dyed my hair green and I got suspended from school for doing so. My principal yelled: "Don't come back until you've dyed your hair back to black." Taiwanese people can be so close-minded.
Is your rebelliousness what got you into modeling for our scene?
I guess you could say that. I went to my first HIN when was 15 in Hawaii. It was crazy! I met the Myspace guy, Tom. He loves Asian girls.
Is that where you got your 'break' into modeling?
Not really. I was wandering the show and a lot of photographers gave me their cards and asked if I would like to shoot with them sometimes, but I was more focused on learning how to swim in Hawaii, so I didn't pursue modeling then.
Where did you move after Santa Barbara?
I moved to New York City last September to attend NYU.
From boarding school to the Big Apple . . . how do you like the East Coast?
I hated New York at first tremendously. The weather here is disgusting! Well, considering I lived in Taiwan, Queensland, Hawaii, and California I was a bit spoiled with great climates. Before I moved to NYC, I never saw snow. I remember I got scared when the city turned white.
If you had to pick, where would you want to settle down?
California! It is the perfect place for human beings! California's got perfect weather, beautiful beaches, amazing food from all over the world, and everything else you need in life. Growing up there and also having traveled a lot, I'm sure you would agree with me, Carter.
Agreed! So do you still enjoy traveling?
If I was a travel genie and could grant you a wish, where would you go?
I would want to go to Tel Aviv, Israel, and Beirut, Lebanon. I would have to go to Lebanon first, then Israel. I heard Lebanon won't let you in the country if you have an Israeli stamp on it, but not vice-versa. I am not very familiar with Middle Eastern culture, and would love to learn more about it.
Middle East? Not my first guess, but it's very open minded of you. What about China? I've been meaning to go-any recommendations?
It's great. I used to travel all over China with my dad. Go to Beijing if you are into rich history and culture. Go to Sichuan if you are into beautiful scenery and pandas. Go to Shanghai if you are into being pushed around by smelly people. Yuck!
Shanghai it is! Other than rude and stinky people, what do you look for in a guy?
I like guys with big eyebrows. You know, thick, bushy ones . . . I think it's sexy.
Word? Are you into body hair, too?
[laughter] Sure, why not? Body hair can be sexy, too.
Gag. Shifting away from man-hair, what type of food do you like?
Man-hair to food? Worse. Transition. Ever. [laughter] I love sushi! I can eat sushi for the rest of my life. Olives, truffles, and blue cheese, are also some of my faves.
Ugh! Blue cheese? That makes the top three list of my least favorite things on this planet. How is it you can't stand stinky people but you like cheese that smells like toe jam?
[laughs] Stinky people can take a shower. But blue cheese can't help itself.
Some stinky people can't help themselves, either. It can be hormonal, cultural . . . nevermind. Enough about B.O. Can you cook?
Yes and no. I make a lot of sushi. It's the one thing I know to how to make. I roll sushi for friends and myself all the time! But cooking . . . does cereal count?
If it doesn't involve blue cheese, why not? Have you been to Japan?
Many times! The sushi there is the best. Period. But I don't like Japanese guys.
[laughs] And why is that?
They're too skinny and too feminine. I can't date a guy with pants skinnier than mine. Plus, some of them don't even have any eyebrows!
Which is why you ought to stick with Koreans! [laughter] Have any hidden skills?
I deal poker. I was trained to deal professionally and everything.
Was this for a job or something you enjoyed?
I really like poker, especially Texas Hold 'em. It's an endurance game. It teaches you about human nature. It's exciting watching people go through decisions and dilemmas at the table.
You talked about water activities before, but are there any other sports you play?
I like tennis, ping pong, and badminton.
Ping pong and badminton? Spoken like a true Asian. [laughter]. On the subject of stereotypes, you mentioned something spectacularly rare for an Asian doing the shoot that I would like to reiterate. For the record, what size are your, um, assets?
Assets? Is that what Americans call them? [laughter] For the record, I am a 32D.
And, again, for records-sakes, are they real?
Yes, they are real. I don't know what happened to me. All the girls in my family have small breasts, but my boobs grew like there was no tomorrow.
God bless tomorrow.
Birthday: Oct 3rd
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Thank you list:
Kim, Mack, Tony, and Carter. When I finally learn how to cook, I will make Carter a delicious-looking omelet stuffed with blue cheese.