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Cover Story

Des Moines’ Sexiest People of 2012


What defines sexy? In the eyes of central Iowans, sexy is a trifecta of body, mind and spirit, as each of this year’s top candidates for the Des Moines’ sexiest title embody all three. More than 120 people were nominated by Cityview readers to the contest, and thousands of votes were cast. It’s a diverse group and a tight race. Here’s a snippet of our top 16 (in no particular order) who will be the guests of honor at this year’s Des Moines’ Sexiest People party at Cabaret West Glen on Thursday, Nov. 29.


Candace Nolan

Candace Nolan

This small-town girl thumbed a ride from Menlo to the capital city when she was 17. The small-minded townsfolk were chasing her into exile with pitchforks and tractors in true angry mob form. She was too sexy a fish for such a small pond — a temptress without even trying. Housewives seethe with jealousy while their husbands froth upon the slightest raised eyebrow in their direction, convinced they’d exchanged an intimate moment with a beautiful woman who was actually just being her genuinely nice self.                

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Not even the hellfires of Puritan witch-burners could tame Candace’s wild moxie. She comes from a long line of hotties and a biker father glaring from behind a ZZ Top beard, down the barrel of a cocked shotgun at any boys who’d come knocking. One suitor did manage to weasel in, though, blessing her with a son who has since been her star.                 

Her bumping and grinding at Lime Lounge is at a minimum these days, as the sexy display she more often puts on is in line at the supermarket when her baby pulls down her tube top. Oops! But there’s not much that can make this vixen blush. She’s cool and confident and not afraid to laugh at herself.                

Candace’s sexiness is more than physical, though. She’s smart, genuinely kind, a devoted and hard-working, single mother — all without losing sight of her true self. She’s gorgeous enough to be a Hollywood actress, but Candace is no pretender. She’s real… real sexy.


Cody Lenz 

Cody Lenz

As Mr. Gay Iowa USofA of 2012, Cody Lenz is an enthusiastic, outgoing advocate for equal rights.                

“He embodies a very well-rounded aspect of being a young, gay man,” said his friend, Matt Mosley. “Yes, he’s gay, but he doesn’t let that solely define who he is.”                

A friend to all, he is impassioned. And physically sexy? Um… yah.                

“Just one look at him, and you can tell that!” said Blazing Saddle manager and co-owner Bryan Smith. “Cody is not only in great shape but always has a smile on his face as well. He takes care of himself, always looks put-together and has a very energetic way about him.”                 

Aside from his perfectly-plucked eyebrows and his superstar make-up and hair styles as Keaton Cavalier, his drag queen alter-ego, Cody’s got the personality to go with the swagger. On his drag circuit, this hard piece of work is contagious to the crowd, leaving the ladies and the boys fawning at the foot of the catwalk.                

“He’s just got an all-around, sexy, guy-next-door way about him,” Smith asserted.                 

Cody works for Aspen Athletic as a trainer and oversees various locations. But he’s also a very family-oriented man. His mother is a supportive member of his fan base, which has likely helped groom Cody ino the confident community leader he has become. 


John Bachman 

John Bachman

The longtime news anchor for WHO, John Bachman, recently delivered his last newscast after almost three decades of broadcasting in Des Moines. That’s as long as many Cityview readers have been alive! He’s been delivering the scoop to Iowans since 1987, and he’s finally retiring. Finally.                 

But John’s cool — not James Dean cool or Lenny Kravitz cool, but he’s old-guy cool. Like Sean Connery’s Scottish brogue and Clint Eastwood’s facial mole, and pretty much every guy depicted on Mount Rushmore, John Bachman is old-guy sexy. He’s got a dashing and genuine smile, a sparkle in his eye, and with that hair he could be in shampoo commercials. And what about that tan? If he’s not Des Moines’ sexiest, he’s certainly one of the most tanned.                 

Some people still had black-and-white TVs when John began his career on Channel 13. He was straightening his news notes on his desk when we switched from using rabbit ears to digital boxes. And if viewers weren’t drawn to John’s sex appeal before, they’ve surely taken note of his classically handsome demeanor in high-definition.                

“I guess if women define ‘sexy’ as tall, dark, handsome, athletic, well-educated and sincere, then John’s certainly their guy,” said John’s successor in the WHO evening news anchor seat, Dan Winters.                 

And all kidding aside, regardless of his seasoned status, Winters said most people don’t realize how much younger John looks in person.                 

“He truly is timeless,” he said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to catch up on some tanning.” 


Sean O’Connor 

Sean O’Connor

Some men are sexy because of their bulky chests and jacked-up arms, but sometimes the sex appeal fizzles the second they open their mouths. For Sean O’Connor, the sparkle in his eyes and the athletic build is backed by a personality that would make him a triple threat… if you could ever take him seriously enough.                

At family reunions, he’s the guy draped in nieces and nephews. At the bar, he’s the center in a circle of laughs. At the Aspen Athletic Club in West Glen, where he works as the assistant general manager, he’s the one shooting hoops while singing an original jingle about hook shots, free throws and whatever else barely filters from his brain to his mouth throughout the day.                

“There isn’t anyone that can make me laugh like Sean,” said his girlfriend Lindsey Woody.                 

The couple met while working at the Noodle Zoo in Ankeny, where Sean fills in as needed because his parents own the place. He’s a good boy who loves his mama, and that, too, is why he garnered so many votes in the sexiest competition this year.                 

“He’s got an amazing personality,” his mom said. “He’s very positive and uplifting and funny, funny, funny.”                 

Ask anyone who knows him well, and they’ll tell you he gets his sense of humor from his Grandpa Don. Sean’s sense of humor includes quick quips and those all but forgotten one-liners from movies.                

“It’s definitely a guy’s type of humor,” Woody said.                 

Want a joke about awkward human bodily functions? Sean’s not shy. But he is modest, Woody said, which only adds to his allure.                 

“I think he knows he’s funny. But sexy? That’s another story,” she said.                 

There’s no question, though. With a mere glance of his bright eyes coupled with that dimpled smile, Sean draws people in whether he means to or not.


Kaitlyn Van Laere 

Kaitlyn Van Laere

If Barbie wasn’t 50-plus, you might think the doll was modeled after Kaitlyn Van Laere. Kaitlyn is the classic definition of sexy. She has a bright smile and luscious lips. Her long, blonde locks flow down her back toward what her friend Montana Ballard says is Kaitlyn’s best physical feature — her butt, which is “always on display in the right pair of pants.”                

“She definitely knows how to show off her curves,” Ballard said.                 

But Kaitlyn’s sexiness doesn’t stop at the peaks and valleys of her curves. The beauty she possesses inside beams from a glowing smile and a contagious laugh.                 

“She is always the life of the party,” Ballard said. “Kaitlyn is a party girl who knows how to have a good time.”                

This small-town girl from DeWitt has adapted to city life naturally, since she moved to Des Moines to become a hair stylist at Bellsa Salon and Spa in Johnston.                 

“She loves everything about style and fashion, and it shows in her appearance,” Ballard added. “Kaitlyn loves what she does, and she loves making people look and feel great about themselves.”  


Megan Kelly

Megan Kelly 

Mmm… skin-tight pants and a form-fitting shirt sure does bring out the kickin’ curves on Megan Kelly — even though they are made of spandex, bicycle gear. Megan is hot, and we don’t just mean sweaty.                 

In addition to her tone body and pretty face, Megan is sexy because she is strong, has the stamina to see a task through to the finish line and the drive to pick up the slack of a struggling teammate. At the Iowa Spring Classic gravel race last spring, Megan beat out eight other women through 23 grueling miles.                 

“Megan is super confident in herself as a woman,” said Joann Schmidt, her VeloRosa teammate. “She is not afraid. She is mentally and physically strong, and that comes across as someone who is happy with herself as a person. She’s quick to step in and help a teammate out whenever needed.”                 

Strong, reliable, fit and a pretty face? This one’s got it all. 


Dustin Dirksen

Dustin Dirksen

Women can be fickle when it comes to what they find sexy in a man, whether it’s his handsome face, his muscular body, his friendly demeanor or his stacked bank account. In the case of Dustin Dirksen, he leaves no criterion lacking. And he’s got that touch of “bad boy” that women can’t resist.                 

He’s “technically unemployed,” according to his workout buddy Derek Pagel, but he reportedly makes up for it in spades as a championed poker player. And fortunately for Dustin, he’s also a really smart guy, according to his friends.                

In addition to being in peak physical condition, Dustin does all the little things that tie the package together, too, like his sense of style, an enviable base tan and a haircut that, “while slightly pretentious for Des Moines, is still very approachable,” his friend quipped.                 

But the sexiest thing about Dustin isn’t the hairdo, or his John Bachman-like tan, it’s his Teddy bear personality, Pagel said.                 

“He is one of the kinder, gentler and hotter people that you will ever meet,” Pagel said. “A great example of this is the number of times he’s offered to spot people at the gym that he doesn’t even know.”                 

But don’t get too eager to climb under his bench press, ladies, Dustin is happily married to beautiful wife, Tori.


Buffy “Skittles” Newton 

Buffy Newton

Is there anything sexier than a badass chic with a Harley? Buffy Newton loves to have that power between her thighs, and she needs no man to provide it as long as she’s got her bike. She’s not the backseat type.                 

Buffy not only has a sexy name — and the adorable nickname “Skittles” given to her by her gang of biker buddies — but she’s got that dark, mysterious appeal that can draw a man in and intimidate him at the same time. That is, until she flashes that naturally inviting smile.                 

“There’s something about her eyes; she can give you one look, and you know exactly what she’s saying without actually saying a word,” said friend Rhea Ritz. “She can make light of any situation, has a great attitude and outlook on life, and she makes wherever she is seem like the hottest place to be on any given night.”                

That, and a loyal following of friends turned into customers, is exactly what her former boss at Lot 33 loved about her before she went on to pursue cosmetology.                 

“The best thing about Buffy is her friendly personality,” said Raj Devan, of Lot 33. “Her customer service and friendly nature was always welcoming. She would greet people and make them feel instantly comfortable.”                 

And she’s got style. Her body is a canvas of artful tats, and her background in cosmetology shows in her dress, hair, make-up, nails — everything she possesses on the surface of her skin. But underneath the surface, Buffy has a heart of gold.                 

“She’s very charming and kind to people,” Devan said. “Always willing to give a guy a hug.”               

With curves like those, it’s easy to see why guys are always inventing new wounds which can only be healed by Buffy’s soft embrace.


Nate Teut

Nate Teut 

There is nothing sexier than a professional baseball player in uniform. And although he has been off the field since 2006, Nate Teut still has it. The 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher has played baseball all his life, first for Paton-Churdan High School, then for Iowa State University where he was eventually drafted by the Chicago Cubs (4th round) and played for their various minor league teams, including the Iowa Cubs. He made his major league debut for the Florida Marlins in 2002. Today, Nate is still in baseball, starting his seventh season with the Iowa Cubs as Vice President and Assistant General Manager, where his boss says he’s a “good employee, a hard worker and he’s good with the fans.”                 

“He’s been with me a long time, so he’s definitely doing something right,” said I-Cubs president Sam Bernabe. “And being an ex-ballplayer certainly puts him in that sexy column.”               

Nate, 36, and his wife Nicole have two children, Maddox (5) and Harper (3). In his spare time, Nate enjoys golf and cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones.


Heather Goodwin

Heather Goodwin

We like Heather Goodwin. We can’t help it. The director of the Johnston Chamber of Commerce awes everyone around her with her natural beauty — those dark eyes, that tan skin and those pearly whites are truly mesmerizing.                

Johnston Chamber of Commerce board member Jolene Goodman, who nominated Heather, said, “Her smile and fun-loving personality make her sexy, too. And she always looks good and is up to date. That’s sexy.”                 

We agree.                 

Heather, a native of Des Moines, may have honed some of her sexiness working at Hooters when she was 21 years old. Let’s face it, there’s nothing sexier than chicken wings. But now as a mother of three, and three step-children from a recent marriage, her days of slinging beer and barbecue are over. Instead she helps Johnston area businesses see the benefits of chamber of commerce membership, “and she is darn good at it,” Goodman added.                 

Husband Dan Goodwin said Heather’s personality, her caring and loving nature and the fact that she’s just downright fun make her sexy.               

But what does Dan really think makes Heather sexy?                

“I am supposed to say her eyes are sexy, right? Yeah, her eyes are sexy. That’s it,” he offered. “And her feet, but mostly her eyes.”                 

To each his own, but Dan clearly knows Heather’s ability to beat anyone in the room in a competitive game of name that tune.                 

“She rocks,” he said.                 

Right on.


Nancy Sebring

Nancy Sebring

Nancy Sebring has become a household name, and not because of her exemplary management skills when she served as superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. Let’s just say she has a way with words — a really, really sexy way with words that became abundantly apparent when very personal emails she sent on tax-funded hardware and software became public this year.                 

She’s proven that she is downright dirty, and we like that. Whether you think her emails should have been private or public is irrelevant for this contest. And whether you find her attractive or not doesn’t matter either. Those descriptions about what she did to her lover will give most any guy movement in his lower region. Well, most any guy that is. When we asked former school board member Jonathan Narcisse, who saw Sebring at a local grocery store a few weeks ago, to comment on her making the list of Des Moines’ sexiest people, he offered, “That’s kind of sad.”                 

Now let’s be honest. It’s not easy to get a woman to experiment with a suction cup dildo. But to write about it, too?                 



Trina Braafhart

Trina Braafhart

With a smile as big as her heart, there was no doubt Trina Braafhart would be included in our line-up of Des Moines’ sexiest. Let’s check the facts: smooth, sexy legs (check); frosty, blue eyes (check); a smile that would make college boys change majors to dentistry (check).                 

She’s a knock-out, no question.                 

If that doesn’t do it for you, wait until she opens her incredible personality, which is even more striking than her outer beauty.                 

“With Trina there is no such thing as a stranger. Her laughter is contagious, and there is no one who loves life as much as her. She literally GLOWS,” said Sarah Spencer, Braafhart’s friend.                 

Literally may not be the right word but goddamn if it’s not close. She’s beaming with beauty, indeed. Just entering her 40s, you wouldn’t guess this vivacious woman to be any older than 28. And she’s got the energy to match. She’ll jump into a party as quickly as she can kick one off.                

“Her personality is like a magnet of amazing positive energy. She is always laughing, dancing, hugging or kissing everyone in sight. She is loving and kind and has just an all-around beautiful spirit,” said friend Tina Johnson.                 

The drop-dead gorgeous mother of four turns heads with every sultry step she takes, including those of her daughter’s friends.                 

“She’s got those eyes and a smile that grips you,” said Aaron Staver, a close friend of Braafhart’s daughter. “And, those legs. She has some hella sexy legs.” 


Frankie Farrell

Frankie Farrell 

When attending a concert at Gas Lamp, most don’t realize that the man behind the scenes is the dark and handsome Frankie Farrell, who is part owner of the establishment. He rubs elbows and turns heads among the who’s who of the Des Moines music scene, which makes him not only hot, but cool.                 

“He can talk to anyone for hours about anything and makes people feel very comfortable,” doted Abby, his girlfriend.                 

This Italian stallion is the grandson of alleged Mafia boss Lou Farrell, which may very well be from whom he inherited his sly way of wooing anyone with his smooth conversation and his unwavering, outgoing sense of confidence. Despite his crude sense of humor shared across the bar with his most loyal patrons, this sexy sweetie has a soft side for his daughter, who he loves taking to the park and out to dinner. Frankie’s free time is spent working out (stretching out the tattoos on his ripped arms), researching music, studying art and anything creative. Talk about a cultured cutie! 


Chris Ranallo

Chris Ranallo 

How many people can get 66 people to give up 5,495 of their hard-earned dollars (exceeding his goal of only $3,500) simply by singing a 15-second ditty entitled, “Please give me your money?” Sound ridiculous? Maybe for the average starving artist trying to fund a tour and CD release, but Chris Ranallo will have you hanging on his every word upon the first note.                 

For 15 years, Chris has grooved his way up the musical food chain in Des Moines, playing opening acts at clubs, steady gigs at places like Champps and now as a part-owner of one of Clive’s sexiest live music hot spots, the Bombay Bicycle Club.               

His peaceful nature is lulling, and his voice on the mic is captivating. Chris’ new album, “Exhale,” is aptly named, because this blue jeans-and-T-shirt guy is so sexy, you’ll forget to breathe.


Paul Rhoads

Paul Rhoads

It’s finally safe to wear red and gold on Saturday’s again thanks to the sexy and boisterous Paul Rhoads. Sure, he is limited to red, white and the ever-fetching grey sweats while on the field, but the this man’s man can rock a necktie and Dockers in so sexy a style at press conferences, the reporter’s pen is the only thing in the room in danger of going dry.                 

Aside from his appearance though, nothing says sexy for a football fan like a big “V.” Paul started coaching the Iowa State Cyclones football team in 2009 and led the team to the Insight Bowl his first season and the Pinstripe Bowl last year. His salt-and-peppered hair (with an extra dash of salt) subtly states, “Screw, ‘Just For Men’ hair coloring, I look good.” The intensity of his eyes and the style of his grimace let women everywhere know he can tear up turf on and off the field.                 

Along with his Adonis-like physique, Rhoads is a man rife with passion. He unveils a whole new level of sexiness during the toughest times of the season. Like all great coaches, Paul will shed tears for his team and with his team. He’s a staunch leader that, on any given Saturday, can invoke enough passion from a faithful audience of fans to either kick or kiss the TV screen, depending on the play. CV

One Comment

  1. Deborah Dilbeck says:

    I wonder if that is the same Sean O’Connor that used to stay in my Broadmoor Apartment in W Des Moines?

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