This Used to be Their Playground

It started with a failed story. Jennifer Y. Hyman ’02, then an associate editor at this magazine, was left with

It started with a failed story. Jennifer Y. Hyman ’02, then an associate editor at this magazine, was left with a day to pull something together for her editor to fill its place. In an epiphany whose repercussions she could not have understood at the time, Hyman decided it might be a good idea to expand Scoped!—a feature that now, as then, profiles random hot students.

The 15 hottest freshmen feature quickly became “the most talked about article all year,” says Hyman. And with all the hype, the FM staff took the project very seriously.

“We had the whole staff of 80 nominating and discussing,” she says.

Now, with an alumni network 75 hot former selectees-strong, it seemed appropriate to ask the people who once were asked what they’d be doing in 15 minutes what they have been doing in the last five years. Since they appeared in these pages, some former hotties have become spokespersons for important things like the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Some have moved to the Quad and developed a taste for Felipe’s. Some have even appeared on super-exclusive party lists because of their one-time fame.

So dig in, and appreciate that wine is not the only thing that ages well.

Akira J. Robinson ’05

Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.

Ideal Mate Then: Definitely honest, good genes, intelligent, strong-willed. She must be humble and modest.

Ideal Mate Now: Number-one quality: fun-loving. Absolute necessity. Also, honesty and good genes—attractiveness, fecundity, tall girls. I’d like the girl to be prettier than me. Let me explain. I am more high-maintenance than most guys, so I’d like her to be more high-maintenance than I am. Otherwise I might seem like a priss.

Perfect Date Then: At the beach, at sunset.

Perfect Date Now: Something hands-on, to be engaged in, more than dinner. Like trying a new sport.

A Typical Saturday Night Then: Chilling with my friends in their rooms. I played a game called blurry every week.

A Typical Saturday Night Now: Drink a 40, go to the PC, either bars—Grafton Street—or a party at BU, trying to get off campus. I’ve done Harvard and it’s great, but I’m trying new things.

Celebrity you most resemble then: Can’t think of anyone.

Celebrity you most resemble now: Morris Chesnut—only thing I’ve gotten more than once.

Robinson is certainly confident, but perhaps it’s because he’s been modeling since he was in diapers. He enjoys life in front of the camera, but even after being one of the 15 hottest, he says he still has his priorities straight.

“They know that I take my education seriously and that I’ve made a conscious decision to stay in school,” says Robinson of anxious modeling scouts. But just because he isn’t running on the cover of GQ every month doesn’t mean he didn’t see the perks of being one of FM’s top picks.

“In my experience girls know about it but don’t mention it,” he says. “Afraid of coming on too strong.”

Brooke L. Chavez ’04-’05

Hometown: Lubbock, Tex.

Ideal Mate Now: I’ve been landing my ideal mate all my life! I’ve always been in great relationships that I really value. In terms of ideal mate, things have evolved. My ideal mate is someone who has the looks of Antonio Sabato, the confidence of Donald Trump, the ability to nurture a woman like P. Diddy, one who has great moves on and off the stage like Usher, and a real man’s man like Vin Diesel.

Perfect Date Now: We could do anything as long as he is opening doors for me and making me laugh in the process.

Favorite Hangouts: Jordan South

Celebrity You Most Resemble Now: As much as I love J. Lo, I think maybe a cross between Salma Hayek and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Advice to the Next 15 Hottest Freshmen: You should indulge in it, publicize it by saying, “I’m hot, biatch,” and use it to your advantage, because I did none of these things and consequently got nowhere.

Chavez, no stranger to modeling, has since honed her skills as one of Harvard’s beauties. She took last year off to do commercials and print work, eventually landing a spot as the “Click it or ticket girl” for Massachusetts Department of Transportation commercials. During that year off, Chavez says she would frequently meet men who didn’t believe that she went to Harvard. However, high-powered internet search engines have meted out justice.

“The 15 Hottest Freshmen list is the first thing that comes up with Google,” says Chavez. “Then the guys will call the next day with ‘Oh, so you do go to Harvard?’”

Benefits began accruing quickly. After the issue came out, Chavez says she was pretty sure her status landed her a spot on the guest lists of parties and events. But Chavez insists that her early brush with fame in the pages of FM didn’t change her.

“I didn’t take myself any more seriously afterwards,” she says. “I still saw myself as ‘silly Brooke.’”

Kiran Gupta ’05

Hometown: Great Neck, N.Y.

Ideal Mate Then: He would be ambitious, confident, understanding, and well-traveled. He would also have a great smile and nice eyes.

Ideal Mate Now: I’m dating the same person now as then.

Perfect Date Then: We would go for a barefoot walk on the beach at sunset.

Perfect Date Now: I don’t think there’s any such thing, just spending time together.

A Typical Saturday Night Then: Depending on my mood I either go out to dinner with friends or go clubbing.

A Typical Saturday Night Now: Probably Dinner and a Movie

Gupta was originally reluctant to be crowned one of the hottest members of her class. And in retrospect, she thinks she had good reason.

“For the first time at Harvard, I experienced that if someone found you attractive they would take you less seriously,” she says, describing the days immediately following her debut as one of the 15. “You have to work harder to be taken seriously.”

Tom P. Lowe ’05

Hometown: Manchester, England

Ideal Mate Then: A member of the male Harvard rugby team.

Ideal Mate Now: My boyfriend, Jean-Paul, in London—we have been together for almost eight years.

Perfect Date Then: We’d have to go out to a club and dance for hours and hours. It would be a place on the beach—a really hot place—and then after, we’d go down to the beach and just make out. On the sand, of course.

Perfect Date Now: A date’s exciting if something forbidden is going on. Or a really nice hotel in Hawaii with nice wine, a veranda at sunset, palm trees and Egyptian cotton sheets on the bed.

A Typical Saturday Night Then: I went to a ton of clubs. Avalon on Sunday nights, Buzz on Saturday nights or Club Café. Also, the Fly is cool.

A Typical Saturday Night Now: Hasty Pudding Theatre [Lowe stars as “Pocahottness”]—going for a beer in downtown Boston with the cast after a show.

Celebrity you most resemble then: Chris Isaak.

Celebrity you most resemble now: A combination of Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, and Patrick Swayze. Those are the three I get most often.

Back in his day of FM fame, Lowe was already a bit different from his fellow ’05-ers. Not only was he five years older than most of his classmates, but in Britain, he had performed in London’s West End and had lent his musical talents to a boy band, North & South.

Still, Lowe says his selection was a confidence builder. “This kind of thing was the best thing that could have happened,” he says. “I love attention and the limelight.”

And he makes sure he’s earned it; Lowe admits to frequenting the tanning bed and high-priced hair salons. Not too long ago, he spent $235 on a hair cut at Diego’s.

“It was a really good haircut,” says Lowe.

Those dollars might be wasted, as Lowe has been tragically hard-pressed to find many gorgeous guys, despite his plethora of gorgeous female friends.

“Maybe they’re all squirreled away in the AD,” he says.

Ko Yada ’07

Hometown: Newport, Ore.

Three words that described you then: 1. Oh 2. My 3. God

Three words that describe you now: TLC summed it up best. 1. Crazy 2. Sexy 3. Cool

Ideal mate then: A girl.

Ideal mate now: A woman with big ideas.

Hottest person you knew then: The most beautiful person in the world is my mother.Hottest person you know now: The Man in the Mirror—I mean, who else do I really know, and sometimes I don’t even know him.

Hottest thing to do on a Saturday night then: Last weekend I had pizza with my boy Jimmy and he stole the towel out of my shower.Hottest thing to do on a Saturday night now: All-nighter in Cabot library with my favorite study “buddy” if you know what I’m saying. Or a LOTR vs. Star Wars movie marathon—in costume, of course.

Hot was: Wasabi.

Hot is: HAPA, and my burning desire to meet my ideal mate.

“My whole life was flipped upside down,” says Yada, when asked how things had changed following his selection last March. On the basketball team, Yada felt “socially ostracized by ugly teammates.” But while Yada runs a full court press in the hotness department, he alleges that his actual court skills might be less than a slam dunk.

“I’ve had a lot of time sitting on the bench to look good,” he says.

Yada’s trip to the limelight began early, with a modeling gig for OshKosh overalls at age three. At five, he claims to have hit a modeling dry spell, and he says he is still looking to pick it up if anyone’s interested.

Molly M. Faulkner-Bond ‘06

Hometown: Baltimore, Md.

Describe yourself in three words: One Hot Mamma

Most Embarrassing Moment at Harvard: I don’t really get embarrassed easily, so I mean, I’m sure I’ve done stuff that should be embarrassing but I don’t really mind. Like, it’s cool to be That Girl dancing by herself in the corner at a party, right? The Running Man is cool, right?

Celebrity you most resemble: Homestar Runner. Or at least, I can do a really good impression of his voice. Sometimes.

Where Were you Saturday Night? Probably playing Kings, maybe at Felipe’s. Or doing the Running Man.

Article of Clothing you can’t live without: Actually, what I can’t live without is my stuffed pig, Oliver. He is my soulmate!

Faulkner-Bond described the Fifteen Hottest process as “very surreal”­—she says was still hungover when she received the notification e-mail. Though she describes the photo shoot as “awkward,” she says and her fellow chosen ones breathed a sigh of relief when Mikal N. Floyd-Pruitt ’06 began hamming it up to break the ice.

“We were acutely aware that we could come across as assholes,” she says, “and so were a little nervous and thankful to Mikal for breaking the ice.”

Though her days of FM fame have passed, Faulkner-Bond still gets attention. She nonchalantly mentions that she has been approached several times in the Square by a modeling agent—not an everyday occurrence for most Harvard students.

Marisa R. Lee ’05

Hometown: Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Ideal Mate Then: Tall, definitely need to be an athelete or have an atheletic build...

Ideal Mate Now: Gloriana Salgado—we’re married on The Facebook.

A Typical Saturday Night Then: With the Golden brothers. I love Chris and Justin—I spend so much time in the Quad with those boys. The last stop before we head back to our rooms is always the Delphic. And then it’s making Easy Mac for my drunken friends.

A Typical Saturday Night Now: Pregaming with roommates in the Quad, and after making rounds at various parties, bars, whatever—we’ll definitely end up at the Kong, followed by a stop at Felipe’s on the way back to the Quad.

Celebrity you most resembled then: Mostly when I was younger, I got Whitney Houston, Tatyana Ali, Janet Jackson.

Celebrity you most resemble now: Until my thesis is turned in, Oscar the Grouch!

While Lee may think her selection didn’t monumentally change her life, she is quick to say that it has provided her friends with teasing fodder these last three years. Alisha A. Moran ‘05, one of Lee’s blockmates, has taken to pulling out that battered FM issue whenever she’s bummed.

And it seems that back when the issue first hit doorboxes, administrators in University Hall also used the issue to brighten their days. Lee, before receiving FM’s highest honor, had received an unsatisfactory report for Science B-29. During her follow-up meeting with Assistant Dean of Freshman James N. Mancall, he noted that he had seen the issue.

Though he seemed to appreciate that she was socially well-adjusted, she says he warned her to be careful about the heavy partying.