Des Moines’ Sexiest People 201311/20/2013
It’s time for last year’s winner to hand over her crown. Unfortunately, she can’t. We called her, and she seems to have misplaced it.
“I lost it on one of my Sunday Fundays,” confessed Candace Nolan, Des Moines Sexiest person of 2012.
Oh well. In this the fifth year Cityview has brought this annual contest to our readers, it is not as much about the crown — or even the title, according to many of the finalists. This time, all vanity and modesty aside, it’s for a good cause. It’s about winning a promised $1,500 for a charity of the winner’s choice, thanks to our Svedka Vodka sponsor.
Readers didn’t know about the new charitable component when they nominated a record 159 different people into the online running last month.
But after several weeks of online judging by readers, rating the nominees on a sexy scale from 1-10, a dozen ascended into the finalist category based on highest scores achieved. These 12 will attend the final voting round, which is basically a big party at the Keg Stand in West Des Moines on Dec. 6. They will bring their votes in the form of friends, and their 12 charities will be represented as well.
The trend this year among the female contestants is a group of women who aren’t afraid to toe the line between pretty and powerful. The men this year are a diverse group, from play boys, to farm boys to gay boys. We’re proud to see Des Moines has a clear handle on what sexy really means — more than six-pack abs or pouty lips. Sexy is an attitude.
Chelsea Faye Sawyers
This is the story of what happens when fire meets water… so to speak.
A beautiful girl who grows up in a small town like Van Meter learns a thing or two about how to capitalize on her fiery feminine wiles. It’s slim-pickins in such fish bowls, so if a girl is fortunate enough to be among the prettiest of the picks, she’s a member of an elite party of few. But Chelsea Faye Sawyers never let her sexual prowess go to her head. She used her powers for good, not evil. It wasn’t her fault that, as far as boyfriends went, she was always the one “wearing the pants.” Someone had to. That is until she moved to the city and walked into Kung Fu Tap and Taco four years ago.
Fire, meet water.
“I saw a guy playing pool, and I told my friend, ‘I want to get to know the guy in the beanie,’ ” she laughs. “By the end of the night, I called my mom and told her I just met my future husband. She told me I needed to go drink some water.”
She married the tall drink named Jack last year. He’s a homebuilder who specializes in water proofing. She’s an artist at heart who works for her father as a fire investigator. But Jack’s cool love did not extinguish her flame. Chelsea is a burning star in a black sky. Everywhere she goes in the world is illuminated by a natural color, creativity and talent she carries around in her back pocket. She understands sexy, because she personifies it.
She’s a seamstress, a costume designer and a make-up artist who transforms others into runway models but never takes the stage herself. She makes jewelry and takes photos, yet rarely poses before the pointing lens. She paints flowers and females in the raw, her own exquisite tricks and crypts are hidden from her in some sort of vulnerable oblivion. But Jack holds the key to her code. Her sudden and surprising powerlessness somehow chokes her incendiary senses even as the temperature rises.
Is it hot in here, or is it just Chelsea?
CHELSEA’S CHARITY: American Heart Association
Often times the sexiest person you’ll never know isn’t the one on stage or the butt-chinned baritone kissing his own biceps to impress the swooning woo girls at the local hub pub. It’s the guy out back, whistling a jingle while he takes out the trash. Beneath the stained bar back apron and five o’clock shadow is a beaming light of un-measureable character. That’s not to say Kyle McClain should be reserved for the “he’s got a great personality” category populated by those lacking that certain physical luster, but with a handsome face that’s always grinning, a sincere gaze and a contagious sense of humor, it’s impossible for this bar back to merely fade into the background. He’s the kind of guy you want to know. You want to be in on the joke, even if there isn’t one.
“Kyle is sexy because of his dashing good looks and sense of humor. He’s hilarious,” says Ryan Breckenridge, owner of Breck’s bar downtown. Any night-lifer who frequents downtown or West Glen bars, or “Uncle Buck’s back when it was cool,” surely met and didn’t forget Kyle bringing color and flavor to the job.
With a noble attempt at college behind him, from two state universities and with an Associate’s Degree from Des Moines Area Community College, the 25-year-old Renaissance man has since gone and gotten himself a “big boy job” as a recruiter at Aerotek.
“I always said I wasn’t going to get by with grades and academics, but on my personality,” he admits. Though he likely will return to college to finish a health science degree, Kyle needs no such armor in life. His charm is a far more powerful tool, capable of easily disarming men and women alike. He’s got an inherent attraction that lies far deeper than the hues of blushing flesh. He’s “just a guy, just a dude,” he shrugs. Yeah, a totally do-able dude.
KYLE’S CHARITY: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
They say it’s good to play hard to get. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But all clichés aside, it’s the hunt that does it for people. It’s a seductive primal energy that can draw the wild animal out of even the most frigid prude, and Randy Burk does it with his Gibson J200. No doubt about it, there’s just something about the tortured, elusive musician.
That’s probably why, not one, but several women nominated him as Des Moines’ sexiest. Judging by their listed reasons, it’s a safe bet these fans were not sitting at his mother’s table in the crowd:
“He is a really good singer and very attractive,” one woman wrote. “He’s darn good looking and entertaining to the end (smiley-winky face),” wrote another. But that’s merely pointing out the obvious. Randy is… well, randy, baby.
“He has more swagger onstage in his left boot than most men can attempt to ever fake their whole lives,” says Elisabeth A. Ballstadt, Randy’s promotions agent. “His voice makes women’s legs wobble and turns their mom jeans into skinny party girl pants. He is singing, playing dancing sex.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
A rogue nomad by nature, Randy has spent more than 20 years on the road as front man for The Prisoners, pouring his cavernous heart out to strangers with what seems to be infinite inspiration, exposing a tortured vulnerability to which few women are immune. He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. He wears it on his shoulder, hanging by a strap, and he calls it EmmyLou.
“Ninety-nine percent of my songs are inspired by relationships, heart ache and heart break,” Randy confesses. “A lot of it is also just from work, on-the-road life seeing all parts of the country — blue collar stuff.
“When I’m not travelling, I’m working construction that’s usually somewhere other than Des Moines. I’ve done this my whole life. If I’m in one place for too long, I’m itching to go. Music and travel doesn’t leave a lot of room for commitment. It’s difficult to be responsible for anyone other than yourself.”
But nine years ago, Randy’s son was born, and he felt for the first time a taming tug at his restless spirit.
“There are a lot of things I love in life that I wouldn’t sacrifice, but I would sacrifice anything for my son.”
Is that another song coming on?
RANDY’S CHARITY: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Iowa
Ask any man or woman to jot down the criteria necessary to qualify someone as sexy, and Melanie Schreurs could be a sole criterion on the list. Most people agree that sexy means more than mere shallow sex appeal — though hot bodies and gorgeous eyes are surely list-toppers — but characters of substance are a universal must. People are irresistibly attracted to someone who’s smart, funny, friendly, determined and confident. They’re universal social qualities that are valued in a way that can be intimidating, inspiring and even arousing. Melanie Schreurs sums it up.
“She is a mother of a 14-month old little boy, Ryker,” says her husband Garrett. “But she also helps with marketing for two leading Des Moines realtors, keeps an immaculate home, takes care of four horses, two dogs and six cats, all while running her own online clothing boutique, MelaRy Boutique.”
Ryker was premature and was a very fussy baby, which made it a discouraging challenge to attempt everyday tasks.
“I don’t use the word impossible very often, but going shopping with him was next to it!” she says. So her own experience doing her shopping online led to a lucrative epiphany. She started MelaRy Boutique Facebook Page, which has transformed an inconvenience into a bank account.
“I’m madly in love with what I do because I get to look sexy, stay-at-home with my son, and provide other moms, who don’t always feel sexy, a very easy way to shop!” she says. “Having your own little human being is incredibly sexy, physically and mentally. Physically, I am forced to adapt to hips that I didn’t have before! Seriously though, being a Mom is damn sexy! It is, by far, the hardest job in the world. Hands down.
“My little boy is growing into a very smart and respectable person thanks to the sacrifices I make to ensure his happiness comes before mine,” she says. “So I have never felt sexier than I do now, with a baby bag, sippy and stroller… and stilettos of course!”
MELANIE’S CHARITY: Make-A-Wish Iowa
Tony Muse is a player. Not the kind fathers should guard their daughters from by any means, but the kind that straps on a helmet and squares his hips with his shoulders in ready-stance. Even as a father of five children and despite the suit and tie he wears as a real estate agent in order to provide for them, Tony is but a child himself, at heart. He’s the hand-holding wholesome neighborhood kid roller skating in a circle to the rhythm of Journey.
“I grew up in a roller skating rink,” he says. “No, literally. Our house was connected to Skate West.”
His family owns Skate West, North and South.
“I just dig skating in general. It defines the kind of people I’m used to being around. Youthful. I never want to grow up.”
That explains why Tony, who competes on the Your Mama Men’s Roller Derby Team, goes by the handle Peter Pan on the track. After years of coaching the Des Moines Derby Dames, which he still manages to have time to do, these days Tony has added coaching the Des Moines Christian High School football team to his agenda. He also weaves in his own ambitions, as an 18-time world speed skating champion, a Pan American Games champion and Men’s Roller Derby Association Champion.
Tony was also recently nominated to be one of only five team captains to travel to Birmingham, England, where this homegrown Des Moines boy will represent the United States in the World Roller Derby Championship this March.
But all of that is just for fun. As a father of five, Tony tucks in his shirt and straightens his tie every morning and sets out to play a different kind of game — ibe where a high-five is replaced by a trusted handshake.
At the end of the day, though, when the tie loosens or the Velcro pads are pealed apart, Tony’s Peter Pan persona is shelved until the next bout. This kid-at-heart is all man — granted a man that wears roller skates.
TONY’S CHARITY: American Diabetes Foundation
Sarah Halverson is tough. But she’s also gentle. She’s a paradox of talents and interests, ambitions and hobbies. She’ll spar in mixed martial arts, hit the showers and then spray-on a tan to wear a golden glow.
“She can play in the yard and get dirty with our children, ride four-wheelers and she’s handy with tools,” says her husband John. “Yet an hour later she can look like she’s ready for the runway.”
Sarah knows almost everything about make-up and fashion, but she knows just as much about mixed martial arts. What’s sexier than a woman who is as graceful as a swan but as tough as tigress when it comes to defending her family?
Between them, Sarah and John have five kids, and, as good moms often do, Sarah makes their hobbies her own.
“We’re super busy, so any free time is nice,” she says.
They live in Saylorville on a five-plus-acre country-esque property, the way a family of free spirits must. They live on the same street where Sarah grew up and where her parents still live. So Sarah is an admitted Daddy’s girl.
“My dad’s my best friend,” she beams, blushes and bats her eyes. This vixen could be the world’s craftiest double-agent spy if she weren’t so busy being a real woman — a loving wife, loyal daughter and doting mother… who can beat the tar out of most men and wears tattoos that could rival any badass biker babe in the local bar.
But like everything else on the surface of Sarah, attributes such as the ink she wears, at first blush, seem tough and intimidating, but upon closer look, they are symbols of the big, soft heart she wears inside. The roses tattooed on her body each symbolize one of her kids.
“Sarah is sexy because she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside,” John says. “She is ambitious and competitive and has always been willing to step up to a challenge since I’ve known her.”
Another example of Sarah’s duality — she owns a spray-tan business, Brazilian Bronze, but she also runs Midwest Cage Championships, MMA for kids. But the only thing she sets to prove is to her family that she loves them.
“A lot of the young guys in MMA, I come to think of them sometimes as being their MMA mom,” she says. “You watch some of them go from their first fight to winning a belt. You’re proud of them like a mom.”
SARAH’S CHARITY: Children’s Alopecia Group of Iowa
Jackie Schmillen is great. Like really great. In fact, every thing she does is great. Growing up in the great, little northwestern Iowa town Cherokee, which is where she says she “inherited all her crazy” (Cherokee is most known for its mental health facility), Schmillen had a great adolescence performing in drama. That led her to following a dream in the performing arts where she toured with great productions such as “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Gypsy” and “Electra,” the latter of which was confused for a stripper when a potential employer spotted it on her resume.
“I played Electra, the burlesque dancer that lights up,” Schmillen tried to explain to the old TV broadcaster. It wasn’t until her mother fell ill that Schmillen came down from her Broadway buzz and returned to Cherokee. Her mother’s misfortune was a serendipitous star-changer for Schmillen, much to the fortune of Des Moines’ latest local morning TV show, KCWI’s “Great Day,” where she provides much-needed drollery to break up the race-car ramblings of co-host Lou Sipolt and the no-need-to-tuck-in-the-T-shirt meteorologist Jason Harkin. Together, they make every day a “great day.”
The classically beautiful smile illuminated by a pulled-back bun of thick, dark curls, brought a ray of morning sun to the suddenly growing number of viewers tuning in from across central Iowa. She was a great addition to the team, no doubt. But her perky disposition coupled with an obvious true and genuine nature, both on and off the air, is merely the surface of this generously modest local star.
“I don’t cook, I don’t sew, nothing like that,” she admitted. “But I can sing.”
Her pipes have earned her an elite spot as the only Iowan competing against a score of other “oh say can you see-ers” at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, where the victor will sing what Schmillen calls “the greatest song ever” to open the event. And she wants it bad.
“I am VERY competitive,” she insisted. “If I get behind something, I go 1 million percent.” That’s not only sexy; it’s great!
JACKIE’S CHARITY: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
One thing single people like to remind themselves of is that “there are many fish in the sea.” Too bad most of them are bottom-feeding guppies. Not Ryan Bruellman. Don’t get your hopes up, though. He’s not officially on the market, but this 23-year-old is still quite the catch.
Ryan comes from humble farm-boy roots but a move to college and into the city has proven that he ain’t all country. At night he bartends at The Garden, where he enjoys the opportunity to mix with all walks of life. He lives just a stone’s throw away from the downtown energy that calls him to the neon lights, in a slightly more peaceful part of town just south of the river. It’s close to work and to where he wants to work someday, the zoo.
Ryan may be his own animal, which makes him sexy enough to garner hundreds of votes in this completion, but he’s just as much of an animal lover.
“I enjoy anything outdoors — swimming, running, working out. I also like to spend time with animals,” he says. And no matter how much the city life changes him, he is still that little country boy at heart.
“I was nominated by one of my co-workers. I think she nominated me because of my overall demeanor,” he says. “I come across as shy, but really I am such an easy person to get along with and people tend to appreciate that.”
Nominations are kept anonymous, but shy guy aside, the one who posted Ryan’s pic to the Des Moines’ Sexiest People wall did it because, quote: “His body is amaaaazing!” That’s a lot of “A”s, which, as it turns out, actually does stand for “effort.”
Ryan’s body is amaaaazing because he’s an admitted “workout/health nut.”
“I’m always eating healthy and being active,” he said.
He also is the only guy at the office who sits all day on a stability ball instead of a swivel chair.
“I learned the benefits of the stability ball from the personal training certification I received,” he says cavalierly. But Ryan would know. He is certified, after all, and aside from his night job slinging drinks, he works by day as a case manager for Primary Healthcare with a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Physiology from the University of Iowa and personal training certification through the American Council on Exercise.
He’s not done, either. Though health and fitness are a way of his life, it’s the animals that are his passion. So when he’s not at the job or the gym, Ryan volunteers — that’s when you do work for no pay — at the Blank Park Zoo.
“I volunteer in the aquatics department. I help with cleaning down animal pens, preparing diets, helping with training of animals, etc.,” he says. “I enjoy working with animals and hope to go back to college for biology/marine biology in the next year or two. I volunteer there because I wanted to get into aquatics ever since I received my diving certification.”
Another certification? This guy’s not just sexy; he’s lovable.
RYAN’S CHARITY: Blank Park Zoo
You don’t have to be a Daddy’s girl, or even one with “daddy issues” to understand that a good-looking guy pushing a stroller or falling asleep in the easy chair with a baby on his chest is sexy — a different kind of sexy. The kind where babies come from.
After 10 years together (seven married), Sullivan Baccam’s wife couldn’t be more turned on. Partly that’s the hormones that come with gestating their fourth baby (due in May), but mostly it’s because “he’s the most thoughtful and generous person ever, and seeing him as a father made him even that much sexier,” she says.
“I first saw him through his seventh-grade yearbook and I was instantly smitten,” she recalls. “I didn’t meet him until my senior year in high school, and I thought he was still sooooo good looking. I did think he was a player, so I didn’t give him the time of day until four years of him chasing me.
“I’m glad I took that chance because he’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Too often a sexy man can be unfairly marked as a player. But Sully is a testament on behalf of handsome hunks everywhere that a dimpled smile and a twinkle in the eye doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a prowling predator who’s mastered the tricks. Some of them are just regular, good guys. Like Sully. Seriously, how could you not trust a guy named Sully?
This 31-year-old realtor graduated from North High School and went on to the American Institute of Business. So he’s savvy; not suave. He spends his evenings at his son’s peewee wrestling practices; not at Pee-Wee’s Gentleman’s Club. While the players are out getting baked, Sully’s baking. When he’s got a moment to himself, he goes for a run or a bike ride or turns the lights down low to set the mood for a perfect night of vicarious violence living out every boy’s soldier fantasy with a game of “Call of Duty” online with his friends. He’s almost a nerd! A damn sexy nerd.
SULLIVAN’S CHARITY: Children and Families of Iowa
Becca Bolton’s bucket list is a little different from the norm. Sure, skydiving and traveling to places like Australia and Hawaii are in there somewhere. But at the top, she wants more than anything to adopt a child.
It goes hand-in-hand with one of her greatest values: giving back to the society we each take so much from. And although her brown-eyed charm could probably hold its own in any running for sexiest person, her selflessness is likely what sealed her finalist status in this Des Moines competition. At the age of 25, Becca Bolton reminds us of everything we’re not but should be, and as intimidating as they can be, it’s a humbling appeal.
She works full time, as the program assistant for Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. If that’s not enough to make a less secure person feel inadequate, she also volunteers her time to Big Brothers and Big Sisters as a Big Sister to two grade-school girls.
“I like to think the sexiest thing about myself is that I think it’s important to give back to the community and to count your blessings,” she says. “That’s why I’m a Big Sister to two girls.”
Yet still Becca manages to eek a few moments of spare time to volunteer with Project 52, an organization that plants trees around Iowa as memorials for lost family members. She plants trees throughout the city and makes time to role model kids, people. What did you do today?
When Becca’s not busy being a suspiciously good person, she enjoys staying home and baking, spending time with her boyfriend of five years or writing hand-written cards to friends and family — that’s with an actual pen — or she goes running. Recently, she ran the Brew Mile in Des Moines and the Big 7 in the Quad Cities.
“It evens out (with the baking) when I run,” she giggles. “Otherwise, I would have a problem.”
Is there anything not sexy about Becca Bolton?
“Well, I did just get a photo-enforced speeding ticket in the mail. That’s not really sexy,” she tries. “But I feel like if you can’t catch me in real life, that’s your problem.”
Ah-ha! An Achilles heel revealed! (And we couldn’t agree more.)
BECCA’S CHARITY: Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
Make no mistake. To underestimate a woman simply because she’s a a woman gives her that much more of an advantage. Of course a stacked body and a seductive smile is a dangerous combination as it is. Beneath the stylish clothes, the flowing black locks framing a Barbie doll face, deep blue eyes, full lips and a practically perfect smile that couldn’t be drawn on more beautifully if she were a Pixar animated princess, lies a mighty force of muscle and machine. As beautiful as Jessica Mart is outwardly, to compare her to a princess, think Mulan, not Snow White. This 24-year-old hair stylist and make-up artist is no damsel in distress. She has the intimidating physique of a soldier.
“I love working out,” which goes without her saying. “I love anything and everything artistic — thank you, Pinterest — and I’m blessed that my favorite hobby is my career, doing hair and makeup.”
As strong and tone as she is, Jess is equally as feminine. Her resume boasts dancing gigs with the Iowa Barnstormers and Energy teams, which led to her passion for fitness.
“I don’t really know what inspired me,” she says. “I knew a few girls who competed, and I just decided one day I wanted to do that. I trained specifically for competition for about a month before my first show. But I’ve always been active/into fitness in some way. I work out about 12 hours a week.”
She’s not all work and no play, though, often finding relaxation in a couple glasses of wine (“or a few”) after a long day. Other days she enjoys target shooting with her bow or firing a few rounds from her AR-15. That’s an assault rifle, by the way.
“My bow was a gift about eight years ago, and a friend helped me build my AR,” she says casually.
Aside from the sexy confidence this more-than-capable woman possesses, and despite her Mary Poppins physical perfection, Jess says it’s the passion she possesses that makes her sexy.
“I’m a passionate, caring person,” she says. “And I always carry myself with confidence, not cockiness.” Who’s going to argue with that? Not us.
JESSICA’S CHARITY: National Multiple-Sclerosis Society
Is there really anything less sexy than math? Despite its dull nerdiness, you know a man has sex appeal if he can turn math into a horney-maker. That’s Cory Day. Math is what he does every day as a financial analyst at Wells Fargo. So it’s pretty much impossible to listen to him talk shop without falling into the vacuum of his gaze and forget to listen to a damn thing the poor guy just said. Everything else Cory does comparably makes him Superman away from his desk, especially to his three daughters.
They may not like daddy-daughter days at the office, but they’re his biggest cheering section during his adult soccer league games, where he and his cut thighs and calves play defender or midfield.
He has the shoulders and foreams to match, too, which are kept toned by playing the drums. Let’s pause for a recap: The brains of Ben Stein, the moves of Raul Gonzales and the stamina of John Bonham? Better bring an inhaler on a date with this stallion.
And he bikes — of course he does. And he snowboards, which is not just challenging but cool.
“I’m definitely not like Shaun White on the X-Games, but we tear it up pretty good,” he confesses.
Still, none of those are the reason he is a Des Moines Sexiest Person of 2013 top contender. The real reason he garnered a fair share of the votes?
“Basically, it’s really my looks,” he smiles. “I’m super dedicated to my fitness, so I’m always working out. I’m in top shape, so people probably notice that. But it’s hard to toot your own horn.”
Not that hard. Toot away, Cory Day. No one’s listening anyway.
“I’d like to think part of it’s also my intelligence,” he says. While you’re tooting, would you mind going ahead and doing away with that shirt?
“I seem to have a different perspective on a lot of things. I try to open people’s minds to new ways of looking at things.” How about opening this jar of pickles, bigguy?
“I’m pretty big into government and civil liberties and injustices,” he says. OK, you have our attention.
“A lot of people are spoon-fed their information,” he continues. “I’m constantly reading about anything and everything I can in alternative media and coming up with my own viewpoints.” Well, we like that.
And we like him more and more as he digresses on a soap box tangent advocating the First Amendment, denouncing police violence and questioning with grave distrust the one-sided reporting of mainstream television news networks.
“That was a bit of a rant,” he admits. “But when I get into politics…”
Aw. He cares. He actually gives a shit about the big picture. So perhaps the sexiest of all his passions is the staunch convictions he fearlessly shares. We love soap-box tangents, especially topless ones.
CORY’S CHARITY: Animal Rescue League of Iowa