Google “Hannah Ferguson twerking.” We’ll wait.
On camera, the swimsuit and lingerie model appears tanned and fearless, not afraid to show her moves, a whole lot of skin or a bit of a hard edge. She’s graced international editions of Elle and Marie Claire, glammed it up for the lingerie brand Triumph, and bared nearly all for Sports Illustrated shoots on some of the Caribbean’s most exotic beaches. But in person, as she walks into a café near Wall Street in New York, with her dark blonde hair pulled back in a tousled ponytail, Ferguson seems more farm girl than man-eater, and it’s hard to square her, in the flesh, with the girl dancing on a beach in outtakes from her latest bikini shoot.
Her Southern lilt and casual style are a testament to a childhood spent in San Angelo, Texas. Her parents were in the Marine Corps and she describes her upbringing as conservative. She and her four siblings were homeschooled; Ferguson didn’t enter a traditional school until seventh grade. At home, she and her three sisters weren’t allowed to wear nail polish until a certain age. On the family farm, “It was get up at six in the morning, feed the animals,” she says. “We had chickens, sheep, goats, geese, ducks, a horse.” Sports were a big deal. It all sounds like a plotline from Friday Night Lights, I note. “That’s pretty much what it was like,” Ferguson laughs.
Yet the gulf between all-American tomboy and glossy-magazine cover babe isn’t as big as it might seem.
After high school, the athletic beauty entered a local modelling contest, landing a contract with a Dallas agency. Six months later, she made the big move to New York. But even as she struggled to adapt to the breakneck pace of Manhattan and the glamorous, alien world of modelling, something clicked. “When I get in front of the camera,” she says, “there’s something in me that just comes out. That’s my favourite kind of work: being sexy. For some reason, it comes naturally.” It all sounds rather glitzy, but she doesn’t flaunt her high-flying life on social media. She has all the usual accounts, but she keeps them focused on work. “I just take pics of things I’m doing. I feel like, for the most part, I’m more private; I’m not constantly Snapchatting my day away. For my day-to-day life, I don’t necessarily put it out there for the world.”
Ferguson says she’s not one to forget her roots. She drives a four-door, diesel-guzzling Ford truck, feels most at ease in cut-off jean shorts, and still likes fishing for bass and trout. “I always liked to do my hair and put on make-up, but I was never afraid to get my hands dirty, hang out with the guys, play sports, fish.” She adds, “I’m still trying to keep myself grounded and keep my upbringing, have a good heart. You hear some crazy stories in this industry. I don’t see the need for being a diva. You’re just making life unpleasant for everybody else and yourself, too.”
Thanks to that effortless sensuality, Ferguson’s work has taken her across the globe, from Turks and Caicos to Paris. In Miami, through fellow swimsuit model (and MAXIM US cover girl) Hannah Davis, she met her boyfriend, Davis’ brother, Conn. The pair split their time between downtown Manhattan, the Davis family farm in upstate New York, and the Virgin Islands, where they relax with Hannah Davis and her new husband, former New York Yankees superstar Derek Jeter.
Ferguson’s adventurous character shined through at her cover shoot for MAXIM US. When a stylist presented her with a snake cuff bracelet, she joked, “How about some real snakes?” On day two of the shoot, the crew called her bluff. “This guy came in with a crate of snakes. I mean, I grew up around snakes, because we would have bull snakes eating our chicken eggs. But at one point the python was around my shoulders and it started to wind around my neck, and this snake is slithering out of my hand and looking right at my face.” She tells me she remembers taking a deep breath and meeting the snake’s gaze, thinking, What did I get myself into?
She pauses, breaking into that girl-next-door grin. “It was very cool. Animals,” she adds, “can sense when you’re jittery. And so it goes with modelling. When you’re uncomfortable revealing your body, it’s going to show. The camera picks that up. So you just have to channel that adrenaline and say, ‘Okay, here we go.’ ” ■
For the full article grab the March 2017 issue of MAXIM, in stores from February 16 to March 15.
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