We the people of Creative Loafing, having considered all nominations for Lust List 2012, cast our ballots and tallied the numbers. We now hereby present to you, the people of Charlotte, CL's official choices for the hottest, most intriguingly lustful, licentious, and libido-inducing (not to mention smart) Democrats in town. OK, it wasn't really quite like that: You nominated, we deliberated, and these are the folks we liked the most. Not only are these guys and gals beautiful and talented, but they also fulfill their social responsibility to vote. (Swoon!) You may ask: Why only registered Democrats? In view of the big year the Queen City has in store as hostess of the Democratic National Convention, it just made good sense for us to celebrate sexy in blue. (Don't fret, GOP. When your convention comes to town, we'll do a "hottest Republicans" list. We've already picked our Top 2: Rep. Sue Myrick and County Commissioner Bill James. Hey, you gotta work with what you have.)
Campaign Slogan: "Who wouldn't want a Food Babe in office?"
This year's Lust List cover girl will simultaneously steal your heart and make you feel like an incredible underachiever. Vani Hari, 32, is a marketing consultant by day and a talented and thought-provoking blogger by night — oh, and let's not forget, she's an impactful political and nutritional activist. Not a bad combo were she ever to become POTUS (President of the United States).
Born and raised in Charlotte, Vani is the daughter of two immigrants from India. Her most indelible childhood memories are of being included in her father's impassioned political activities, such going to the polls with him at age 9 and standing in line when they were the only ones sporting Michael Dukakis campaign buttons. When she reached voting age — and after graduating from UNCC with a computer science degree — Vani got directly involved with raising money and pounding the pavement for the Democratic Party, first for John Kerry and now in fundraising and advocating for President Obama.
One of Vani's creative moneymaking endeavors was handmaking ladies' underthings that read "NO BUSH," appropriately over the you-know-what. The proceeds from Vani's wordplay panties went to Kerry's campaign. We all know how that ended, but it wasn't for lack of effort on Vani's part.
In addition to her intelligence and wit, Vani's beauty is even more comprehensive. Her Food Babe blog has attracted fans from well outside Charlotte — she's gone international, with followers from as far away as Australia. One of Vani's more famous fans is Robyn O'Brien, author of Unhealthy Truth and founder of the Allergy Kids Foundation. O'Brien, who is known as the food world's Erin Brockovich, even sent a signed copy of her book to Vani with the encouraging words, "Your work is extraordinary."
But we already knew that.
Vani's Kale and Collard shakes bring all the boys to the yard. And when asked whether her beauty or her brains give more of an advantage in day-to-day life, Vani — whose name means "Voice" in Hindi — answered candidly: "I would realistically say beauty, but I'm rarely sitting still and quiet to just be looked at. I always have something to say."
Indeed she does, and if you are interested in hearing more of it, or in learning more about her food activism, visit www.foodbabe.com.
Campaign Slogan:"Vote for me, I'm more fun and more trouble than the other guy."
The only thing that rivals my love of couples awkwardly fighting in public is a good juxtaposition. For example, a Mormon who is also a gay-rights activist. Can't believe such a person exists? Me neither, until I met the proverbial unicorn, Jacob Whipple.
Jacob is a corporate trainer who was born in Utah and says he grew up "one of those repressed Mormon boys." He was still a kid when his family moved to Winston-Salem, where he lived until he relocated back to Salt Lake City to attend Brigham Young University. Upon deciding that repression no longer suited him, Jacob transferred to the University of Utah, where he graduated and became a loud voice for gay rights. He organized a protest of more than 5,000 people on the lawn of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City after he discovered how much money the institution had flooded into the renouncement of Proposition 8 in California. Did his religious family excommunicate him for being gay? On the contrary: They divorced the church for being so ruthless in its treatment and opinions of the gay community. Yes, Momma and Daddy Whipple rock!
Jacob traveled to 17 countries before landing back in North Carolina, which, in addition to his other qualities — playing water polo, earning three degrees, speaking fluent Spanish, and recently (very successfully) participating in a hot body contest at Marigny — makes him a pretty well-rounded guy. He said his first order of business if elected POTUS would be to have a party in the White House complete with "great music and hot friends."
To that, I say ¡Que se joda! (thanks for the Spanish lesson, JW) — and God bless America!
Campaign Slogan:"A better country for everyone."
Leydy is our Lust List songstress. Born in the Dominican Republic, she moved to Bronx, N.Y., when she was 16. Soon after, a music scout discovered her singing at a talent show and immediately signed the teenager to a Spanish label, JM Records. After recording her first album Nada Sin Ti (Nothing without you), Leydy began touring the northeast, the Caribbean, and Europe. She was only 18. Now 32, Leydy has two additional albums under her belt and is currently recording a fourth. She continues to concentrate on her music full-time and tours on the weekends.
In 2001, Leydy's family moved to Charlotte, where she volunteers her time and talent to local organizations such as the Latin American Coalition and Jesus Ministries. She says she feels it is critical to give back because she has been "so blessed" and wants to represent and advocate for younger people in Charlotte.
When asked if she thinks her brains or her beauty have been more advantageous, Leydy — who self-describes as "100-percent Democrat" — responded that "intelligence supplies more of an advantage in my daily life, creative process, and in dealing with the music." Concomitantly, people would take her seriously if she ever were to be elected POTUS because of the strides she would take in improving the national perception of U.S. immigrants and immigration laws. "There are many immigrants here working hard and contributing to society," she said. "They are here simply to better their plight."
Leydy embodies all the traits that she herself listed when asked what she thinks is sexy in someone else: confidence, authenticity, charisma. She certainly hits a strong high note in both looks and personality. For more about Leydy and her music, visit her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/leydybonilla. Or Google her — you'll find photos and videos galore, from her teen years to the present.
Campaign Slogan:"Keep it Legit in 2012"
Remember that scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where the private detective who hates "toons" sees Jessica Rabbit for the first time while she's crooning in that speakeasy? That's pretty much what it's like seeing Lauren Liggett for the first time. Your eyeballs bulge out of their sockets and there's an old-timey car horn sound and your tongue does the thing where it rolls across the table. Her friends have affectionately nicknamed her "Legit," and I get it.
Born and raised on a horse farm in Waxhaw, just south of Charlotte, Lauren has strayed from this area only once — to attend college in Kentucky, where she graduated with a degree in photojournalism. Currently, she serves as your local barista at Starbucks and does freelance work in both copy editing and photography. You know what this means, right? It means she's creative and she makes a mean cup o' joe. I imagine the men who live near Lauren's particular Starbucks have serious caffeine dependencies. Fellas, in order to be the cream in her coffee, however, you must be thoughtful, creative, and tall (at least 5'10").
Lauren credits her political affiliation to her desire to create equal rights for all. When asked what her first order of business would be as POTUS, she quickly responded that she would make a hard push to legalize same-sex marriage federally, and also to end pay gaps between men and women. She's adept, a bleeding heart and bloody gorgeous. A truly rare find.
Campaign Slogan:"More opportunities and growth for small business owners."
The best moment from my chat with Alex was when he introduced himself with his full name, with full-on Mexico City accent: Alejandro Vellve. Cue sexy music! I felt like we were getting ready to tango. One thing is certain: There is something undeniably attractive about a non-domestic accent.
Alex moved to Charlotte 13 years ago from Mexico to pursue a better education. When he arrived in the United States, he spoke no English and understood very little. He attended an English as a Second Language program in high school. One year later he was completely bilingual and excelling in school, particularly in anything related to technology. He received a two-year degree from Central Piedmont Community College in information technology and then went on to Microsoft to rack up additional accreditations and certifications. He now owns his own IT management business and has a client base here in Charlotte and in Chicago.
True to his culture, Alex remains incredibly close with his family, and visits Mexico once a month.
Other appealing facts about Mr. Vellve: he recently rescued an adult dog from the shelter, plays soccer, digs martial arts, and may or may not be (no official diagnosis) mildly OCD. He is newly single and ready to mingle, but in order to tango, ladies, you must be intelligent, witty and good-looking. These are non-negotiable. Hey, standards are never a bad thing. Congruently, he stated that his first order of business as POTUS would be to address all of the ineptness with the health care system. In Alex's words, "no one should have to go into debt to be healthy."
Campaign Slogan:"Let's set our differences aside and work together to get better."
Have you ever met a man who is philanthropic, good at communication, an advocate for women's rights, and likes to shop, too? Never? Well, meet Travis Ford, because he is a man-burrito made from all of those ingredients plus a special sauce.
Travis, originally from Long Island N.Y., is program manager for a company that provides social work. When I first contacted him about having been nominated for the Lust List, he laughed hysterically (and perhaps a little awkwardly) and stated that he was stunned because he was the epitome of the Ugly Duckling story. Receiving home haircuts from his dad until he was old enough to pay for them on his own, Travis says he doesn't have an ego because he knows he was "Buckwheat" only a handful of years ago and will never forget it. He went on to say that, growing up, he was teased fairly heavily for his looks. I think it's fair for us to say IN YOUR STUPID FACE to those junior and high school naysayers now!
Travis' definition of sexy in a woman is confidence, ambition and consistency. "If a little cologne and a few muscles is all she needs, then she is not for me," he said. Imagine that: a guy who opposes easy women. Uncanny.
The Democratic affiliation stems from Travis' career and his love of, and caring for, people. He said his first order of business if elected POTUS would be to push more dollars into education and incentivize colleges and universities to offer more scholarship opportunities.
Campaign Slogan:"My door is always open."
She dances, she rides motorcycles, and she manages her own small house-cleaning business and goes to school full time while raising two little girls. She makes being insanely busy look stunning. I personally would have already ripped my hair out in patches and started punching strangers. Cristina was born in Brazil, into a very humble environment in which her mother single-handedly raised her and her seven siblings. When she was 12 Christina came to the United States to live with her older sister. She moved to Charlotte in her early 20s and worked several jobs from waitressing to managing insurance branch offices before deciding to venture out on her own.
Coincidentally, Cristina says that not only does she have a weird affection for cleaning, but that she makes more money with her own gig than she has in any of other vocation, which helps, because she's also paying for school to get her dental license. Two of her most boastworthy, and aptly sexy, hobbies are Latin dancing and motorcycle tricks. She performs with local organizations and excels at many types of Latin ballroom, including samba, axe, and forro. She also rides a street bike and has tricks named after her like the Ballet in which she does a split on the bike while in motion. I can't do a split when I'm drunk, standing still on a gymnastic mat.
I know, I've tried. Cristina says she considers herself Democrat because she feels the party is overall more empathetic and honest. Her hips don't lie, and neither does she. She says her first order of business would be to take the time to listen to local and state governments rather than imposing her own agendas on the people. I'm sure if she showed up in one of those skimpy shiny ballroom costumes, though, they wouldn't oppose the imposition.
Campaign Slogan: "Keeping the peace? Vote for Natrice."
Aside from being cute as a button, Natrice Bullard is a poster child for all things artistic. Originally from Miami, she graduated from Florida A&M University with degrees in journalism and graphic design and moved to Charlotte in 2007. She now has her own small business from which she does freelance photography and design projects, and she's starting to create a name for herself via producing and directing videos and documentaries.
It's immediately obvious that Natrice is a down-to-earth, genuine person. She describes herself as free-spirited and a Pisces through and through: dreamy, imaginative, and creative. You'll rarely catch her in a club, as she prefers more laidback surroundings with close friends, all of whom are also immersed in the arts. Natrice says her political affiliation comes from her idea that the Democratic Party best represents freedom of choice and expression.
Democrats aren't as focused on forcing people to fit molds, but rather creating tolerance and acceptance to allow people to be who they are, she says. If Natrice were to be elected the most adorable POTUS ever, she would overhaul the foster care system. So many children are being abused, she says. The system is broken. A horrible childhood often results in struggles as an adult, or cycles of abuse. If you are interested in learning more about Natrice and her many artistic abilities, visit her at www.eye27.com.
Campaign Slogan: "Engineering for a better tomorrow, today!" "Engineers aren't boring people; they just get really excited over boring things." -Anon.I wouldn't say boring, just things the average person isn't patient or precise enough to understand. Meet Kenan, mechanical engineer, cross-fitter, world traveler, and lover of stuff that I can only watch documentaries on with a glazed stare.
Born in Turkey, Kenan moved to the United States at a young age. He attended UNCC, where he received his degree in engineering. He was raised by his single mother, a teacher who went to school full-time while simultaneously taking care of him and his sister.
Kenan credits his political affiliation to the Democratic legislation that has benefitted his family. He also says he can't relate to the focus from radical pro-lifers and the anti-gay crowd focused on preventing others' basic rights. If he were to be elected POTUS, Kenan says his first stir would be to prevent the off-shoring of American jobs by creating tax breaks and incentives for companies that support the American economy.
He admits during our conversation that he has a tendency to be a bit of a workaholic and that he prides himself on being spendthrift. The best advice he ever received was from his uncle, who told him to spend wisely. Smart man. In order for this engineer to want to spend his dollars on you or teach you about Galvanic Action and maximum excitation, you must be witty and intelligent. Oh, and nice lips are a plus.
Campaign Slogan:"Unity is our truest prosperity."
Yes, the spelling of her name is deliberate. That's the kind of thing that you get to do when you're beautiful, talented, and have a truly alluring verbal lexicon. In fact, if I were jocElyn, I would make people call me Captain Blow Your Mind, because I don't think she took proper artistic emancipation from her family with the one capital E.
Originally from Durham, jocElyn moved to Charlotte to attend UNCC, where she got her degree in International Business. While in college she started to explore performance and joined a band called the Alpha Theory. She says the band was a fabulous experience in working with musicians, and it's where she began to hone in on her true passion, songwriting.
Now she's the co-owner of BIM Music Group, a local agency that supports artist development, music production and holistic branding. Through BIM, jocElyn has pitched original songs to major labels and to artists including Alicia Keys and Janel Monet. She's also won awards and toured on her own vocal and keyboard strengths. Your mind blown yet? jocElyn considers herself an eco-head and tributes her being a Democrat to the party's tendency to focus on green energy, sustainability and clean resources.
If elected President of the United States, jocElyn would make her first order of business a stop to cutting creative programs from schools. In order to be competitive in the global market, we need well-rounded innovators, she says. She would ensure that students be bilingual and provide artistic components in the classroom because, she adds, teaching (students how to) test is not the right way to prepare our children for success.
In order to be worthy of playing Scrabble with jocElyn, it is required that you be goal-oriented and aware. Warning: she'll most likely win, so you must also be an amicable loser. To find out more about jocElyn and BIM Music Group, visit www.jocelynellis.com; twitter her mindofje, or go to www.bim.musicgroup.com.
Campaign Slogan: "Don't gamble, vote for Campbell."
Curtain opens: sassy britches enters stage right. Our next lust-worthy find is, in her words, a chubby girl turned Fitness Professional to the infinity power (my words). Meredith is from Rhode Island originally, but considers herself a born-again southern girl after spending eight-plus years in South and North Carolina, and marrying a good ole southern boy.
She sails, she blogs, she whips hundreds of Charlotte asses into shape every week with her online business and her Athletic Conditioning and Turbokick classes, and she does it all with an electricity nothing short of a giant Tesla coil. Meredith told me that her first order of business, were she to be elected POTUS, would be to end the trend of obesity.
That, and find out what the heck is in Area 51. I tried her fitness classes, after which I re-evaluated my entire life situation while trying to catch my breath and not expel the contents of my stomach. She makes squatting all the way to the floor look effortless. It is not. She uses her experiences in changing her own life (dropping 35 pounds in the process) to motivate others to take steps toward changing their own. This is not to say that she doesn't enjoy fried pickles occasionally, which in my opinion is the epithet of what makes her the hotness.
When I asked Meredith to describe her version of sexy in three words or less, she gave me fun, flirty, and fit. Oddly enough, that describes her to tiny tee. If you're interested in getting into shape, or just interested in ogling Meredith while she attempts to motivate you to do so, visit her Web pages for more information. Website: www.teambeachbody.com/meredithroy; Blog: www.meredithcampbellfitness.com
Campaign Slogan: "The examples we set today will shape tomorrow."
Xavier is a soldier in more than one way. As a child, he was a military brat who moved all over the world to accommodate his father's service job. In 1995, Xavier's dad retired in Winston-Salem, where his family lived for 10 years. After graduation, Xavier followed in his father's footsteps and joined the armed forces as well. After several years of service, he now works as an Asset Protection Manager with the Wal-Mart Corporation.
In another example of being a real trooper, Xavier is the devoted single father of two little boys, Trevor and Trenton. He went into detail about his involvement in their lives, from field trips to school lunches, and it's obvious that he lives for them. In addition to making his family a priority, he somehow makes time to stay active and work on his Lust List-worthy body.
Xavier says that if he were to be elected POTUS, he would create additional advocacy laws and programs for children in high-risk situations. He says, Children need positive role models and to know that they have people that care about them and their success. When I give Xavier three words to sum up his idea of sexy he says Eye of Beholder.
Everyone has a different version of what is magnetic, and sometimes sex appeal comes from something other than what is immediately visible, he adds. One of his most admirable traits is that he sees people holistically. His parents taught him to be blind to race and physicality and to never pass judgment based on appearances. This spirit of tolerance and acceptance is a major reason Xavier says he adheres himself to the Democratic Party.