Body Language: GOM Meets Titan's New GirlJoanna Krupa’s looks speak for themselves. And she may come across as all-American with an accent and passport to match, but Polish roots foster a uniqueness that nurtures her vitality. Born in Warsaw, raised in Chicago and now living in Los Angeles, Krupa is used to life on the move. Good thing since her schedule these days is booked solid, being the cover girl for every “hot” and “sexy” superlative imaginable. It’s only fitting. She was born with everything in the right place—and in the right proportions—for the modeling and entertainment industry, but it’s her professionalism that makes her an Eastern bloc not to mess with.
Southern California summers have a lot going for them, but Los Angeles can suffer from too much of a good thing as the sun can reduce the city to a massive concrete hot plate. Getting stuck on the 405 is just another thing that turns up the thermostat and distances you from the cool expanse of the Pacific. Luckily, Joanna Krupa is a morning person and is out, darting in her CL 500 Mercedes from meetings, photo shoots and appointments, before the sun hits its apex. An organized headspace also prevents commitment gridlock. So even if the stress, heat or hunger start to close in, she doesn’t succumb. Having enough say in her tight schedule keeps her in check.
Try as you might, but Krupa knows her body better than anyone. And she’ll nix unnecessary overexertion before it becomes a toxin. The Playboy cover girl can be risqué, but never accuse her of spreading herself too thin. “Sometimes I’ll get double-booked,” says Krupa, now 25. “But I won’t commit to something if it’ll be too much on my health or body.” Don’t be fooled by a delicate disposition, though. She digs her four-inch heels into her work, unafraid of breaking a sweat—especially with a career that demands a steep climb since being on the cover of FHM, Esquire and GQ as well. The tradeoff of a constant rotation of work and travel—Australia, Fiji, Maldives—is not a lot of flop time; just a well-choreographed game of catch-up. The moments not penciled in usually go toward low-key stuff like movies and the novelty of relaxing at home. And that recuperation time is essential to keep her going. “Without your health you have nothing,” she says. “I know how my body works and I know when I can cheat.”
On the food she eats, that is.
The Maxim model of the year has an insatiable sweet tooth and a refined palate for drive-thru junk. “I love food and I love sugar,” says 5' 7" Krupa with 32-24-32 measurements. “I try to be good though.”
But she loves to be equally bad.
She has gluttonous streaks she wishes she could fulfill. Her metabolism, she says, won’t let her. All the evidence of her photos, however, suggests she burns fuel like a redlining F-16. “One day I’ll eat healthily,” she says. “Next day it’s all about cookies, sweets, burgers and popcorn.” She’s doing an international anti-fur PETA campaign in the fall, but isn’t a vegetarian by any stretch. It’s unconventional in the high-gloss image industry but, but where her metabolism leaves off and what you see is the result of a rigorous work ethic.
Despite family and friends, however, food has always been a first love. In fact, the name Krupa translates from Polish into groats, or a hearty grain or cereal with a tough exterior. Something she can indeed relate to. “People tell me I’m hard on the outside,” she says. “I come off as confident and can be tough at times, but I’m really the caring, sweet girl-next-door type.” In the barest terms, it sums up her cross-country, and cross-continental, make-up.
From the Ground Up
Born in Warsaw, Krupa (pronounced Kroo-pa) came to the States when she was five. “I’m an American citizen,” she says, “but I consider myself 100 percent Polish.” Every year, since she was there last at the age of 13, she plans to go back to visit distant relatives, but something always comes up. Despite being away for so long, she still speaks fluent Polish.
In the late 1990s, while her father stayed in Chicago, Joanna and her mother—a secure team since Joanna started going to modeling schools as a little girl—pressed on with her career to the west coast.
Once in LA, Encino to be exact, life took on a whole new intensity with everyone being preoccupied with working out, how they look and staying healthy. “It’s something you have to deal with every day,” she says. Though a one-day-at-a-time attitude has been a successful formula to stay away from the insecurities and complexes that surround her. “Health, staying positive, working hard—that’s the key,” she says.
All her energy, however, can be a front—a bluff—but it’s what she needs to stay ahead of those legions of beautiful girls looking to succeed her. “I could be going into a meeting or shoot feeling the worst,” she says, “but I’ll put on a good exterior and make the most out of it.” A local Chinese herbalist also helps with serums and elixirs to keep her at her peak. Every year, however, she cuts loose to Chicago at Christmas to get a taste of winter and to be with the rest of her family.
“My dad supports me no matter what but he doesn’t really follow it,” she says regarding her career. “My mother is my number-one fan although she wasn’t too crazy about me posing for Playboy. Of course a mom would rather see her daughter in clothes.”
Luckily, she’s in the minority. And since picking up the poker bug a couple years ago, the hands-down sexiest woman in the world has become the face of Titan Poker. When there’s a spare moment, she plays online to get away from the madness of the day. “It’s something opposite of what I do on a daily basis,” she says. She’s also doing the 2006 WSOP in Las Vegas and at the moment, she’s filming for the Game Show Network and Titan’s $100 Million Mega Bonus Poker main event in London. The jetlag, stifling heat (which actually melted roads) and chaotic schedule didn’t diminish her natural radiance at all. In between shoots, she practiced her own game. But there are still some strategy issues to sort out. “When I have really good cards I like to bluff and go all in or take a big loss,” she says. “When I play safe that’s when I do well and when I go nuts, I lose.”
This seems to be her one inconsistency. Either with her career, being on the cross-trainer or hiking around the Runyon Canyon with her dogs, everything else is in balance. Her approach to poker could learn something from that tack. But it seems obvious that she’d use her stunning beauty to completely cripple opponents. If she does, she’s not saying much. “I might work that a little bit,” she slyly confesses. “I usually just play like one of the guys and not think about that. If they’re distracted then it’s their fault. I just try and play the game.” A Bikini may be her best suit, but modesty seems to be her strong suit.
Weighing Her Options
So as she flies from London back to LA, Joanna will pick up where she left off. Her roles on television shows like Las Vegas, Son of the Beach and The Man Show, and Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes (2000), complete a solid springboard. She’ll also appear in some upcoming films and host a lingerie bowl around the 2007 Super Bowl. The two- to four-year plan is, well, in the works. She never worries about the future and has been successful so far with sticking to a working formula. Maybe her own TV show one day; more movies. “I’m not going to set unrealistic standards,” she says. “If I accomplish more than what I set out to do, then all the better.”
By Carl Friedmann