We interviewed the sexy model-turned-singer behind this summer’s dance hit “Freak Like Me” for the magazine. In this extended interview Mayra Veronica tells us about her rebellious side, what women really want in a guy, and the best way to get your freak on with your lady.
MF: Sorry, I’m a bit late…
MV: No problem, it allowed me to sleep a little longer. I’ve been travelling for the past 10 days.
Where were you?
I was in the South of France, the French Riviera.
Nice. What were you up to over there?
Nothing, just relaxing. I gamble a little bit, so I was at the Hotel de Paris. It was tons of fun. I just got back. I’m in New York today but I’m exhausted.
Do you live in New York?
No, I live in Hollywood, but I lived in New York for like six years, so I’m pretty familiar with it.
You were recently in Iraq visiting our troops. What qualities did you notice in them that regular guys can learn from?
That sense of loyalty and brotherhood. I remember this one guy that had literally just had both his legs amputated, and he was receiving a purple heart. I asked him if he was happy to be going home, and he was like, “No, what I really want to do is go back and help the rest of my men.” That’s the kind of stuff you don’t hear about here. Here, everybody’s pretty much out for themselves.
So how would that translate to the average guy?
Just the sense of commitment to friendship—and loyalty to your friendships, and to whoever the people in your life are.
You were a celebrity in Cuba before you blew up in the United States. What was it like finally making it Stateside?
Making the transition to the American scene was pretty cool because I was raised here, so it was more of the kind of stuff that I was exposed to and used to. That was very cool.
Why did you get into TV before pursuing singing?
I grew up around music because my father was a singer. He was the lead singer of a rock band and it was kind of like you didn’t want your little girl to get into the entertainment lifestyle, much less music, you know? But you’re born with it. You have the artist gene. So I was trying to figure out a way to get into entertainment without putting myself on his bad side. [Laughs].
How did you get your start?
I was working at a local station as a host and the head of entertainment for a news show. They had this big show coming up called Don Francisco Presenta, which is like the Spanish version of David Letterman. They needed a model for the show that would be able to co-host at times as well. I got started on that show and one day the camera guy, trying to be funny, came up behind me as I was walking onstage to say good-bye to all the guests and stuff, and he grabbed a shot of my backside while I was turned around. Supposedly they got really high ratings that night.
Was there an element of rebelliousness that helped push you towards music?
Definitely. I think the whole thing was a rebellious streak. Parents obviously want different things for you. I was always a smart kid; I was like the gifted student, top of my class and stuff like that, so I think they wanted me to concentrate a bit more on academics. But after the whole modeling thing, showing up in magazines and calendars, [my father] was like, “Music is great!” [Laughs].
So what do you consider yourself now? Model? Singer? Actress?
It’s always been hard for me to think the way that most people think. I think I’m very eclectic. People tell me not to cross the line, but it’s always been a line that I can’t see. I’m like, Where the hell is the line? I remember growing up and thinking how odd it was to me, like, okay, what are you? Are you a singer, or a model? Or an actress? I’m an artist! As an artist I can do all of them.
So you’re using different channels to express different parts of your personality. Is your latest single “Freak Like Me” another part of your personality that you’re introducing us to?
Yes. Well the title of the album is Saint Nor Sinner, so it actually attests to both. Like “If You Wanna Fly” is part of the saint part, and “Freak Like Me” is more of the sinner part. It’s like the whole idea of a girl and how as a girl you’re supposed to be more mellow, or quieter, and there are a lot of women out there who still have that mentality where they don’t speak about their sexuality. That’s why the song speaks to that. The song is “You’ve never met a freak like me, if you could read my mind,” because most women are still quiet about it. They don’t go off like men do and just talk freely about sex or sexuality, and that’s why the song goes there.
What would you say to guys who would dismiss a girl based on a first impression that she’s too quiet or reserved?
It’s really just about getting to that stage with a woman where she feels free to express herself. Women are more likely to express themselves fully when there’s trust and when they’re able to open up. As a man, it’s just being able to make the woman feel comfortable enough to show all aspects of herself to him.
What are the best ways to build that kind of trust?
It’s about trust and commitment and just knowing that person is really there for you; they’re truly your friend and they’re truly on your side. Making her feel comfortable enough for her to be able to express herself would mean showing her some sort of commitment where you are there for her all the time and you’re her best friend.
So, what kind of guy are you interested in?
It’s funny because I think we all go through stages. Sometimes l like a mysterious guy, and sometimes I like a guy who talks. [Laughs]. There’s something about mystery and not going all out. There ought to be a little bit of curiosity and wanting to find out more. I think that’s always alluring. Ultimately, you do want to share things and you do obviously want to trust and be able to open up, but there’s a certain charm to the beginning of a relationship, specifically where there’s that curiosity and the whole journey of getting to know someone, and I think that mystery is very alluring because of that. Leave a little to the imagination.
How would you advise the not-so-mysterious guy?
It’s more about the listening. It’s not so much just stopping yourself from blabbing everything out right away; just listen to the woman. Listen to what she has to say, and really pay attention. Really look into her and allow her to see that you’re listening and that you’re curious about her as well, and that there’s something more to you. For me there’s a certain strength in silence and I think a lot of times that men who are more quiet are more intriguing.
Interesting. Now, you titled your new single “Freak Like Me,” so you know I have to ask this. What’s the best way for a guy to suggest trying something new with his girl in the bedroom?
Just be honest. I think honesty is usually the best policy. Don’t beat around the bush too much. Give it a little bit of time and then just be honest. Put it in a gentlemanly way, but don’t be a total prude about it. Just try to make it as romantic as you can make it can sound. I mean, if you’re just trying to score on the first date then you might get slapped—or maybe not, maybe she’s into the same thing. [Laughs].
So if we’re talking specifically about an established, loving, trusting couple…
I’ve found that the best way nowadays is through texting. Chances are that your girl’s going to have her phone on so just kind of text her exactly how you’re feeling. You know what? Chances are she’s thinking the same thing you are. Don’t be too scared to just bring it up. Just be like, “Wouldn’t this be fun, babe?” Most women wish that they could express that side of themselves.