...Or lack thereof. The woman who put the "I-I-I!" in "Bikini" is as stunning as ever. The only difference now is Marisa's got the Complex stamp of approval.

This feature originally appeared in Complex's November 2008 issue.

You Know Marisa Miller, right? You know she’s the body-painted goddess on the cover of the last Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and you know she’s the capo of the Victoria’s Secret Angels (the Bird Gang of our dreams). But did you know she’s a dedicated surfer whose aunt used to ride on the pro tour? Or that she lists OutKast and Jane’s Addiction among her favorite groups?

The truth is, we didn’t know this stuff either. But not long ago, we spent an afternoon hanging out with Marisa on a rooftop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side—us drinking PBRs and her generally being a down-ass chick (our legal department had to stop her from pelting hipsters with water balloons from the sixth floor). Along the way, we also learned she’s the nicest globe-trotting millionaire supermodel we’ve ever met. So nice, in fact, that we dispensed with almost all of the immature questions we were planning to ask her. Almost.

So, we’ve been hanging out all day, and we couldn’t help but notice you’re really, really…nice. You realize that kind of messes up your image, right?
Why?

Because a guy can always say, “That Marisa Miller, she’s hot and all, but she brains her assistants with cell phones and castrates gerbils, and I could never be with somebody like that.” The fact that you’re actually nice kind of does away with all the excuses.
You know what? That’s how it should be. I think people should be nice. That’s always funny to me, when people say, “You’re so nice." I feel like why shouldn’t I be? That shouldn’t be a good trait; it should be the standard.

Is there anything that brings out your mean side?
I wouldn’t say I get mean; I think with my job I’m mostly exhausted. If I’m tired and hungry and jet-lagged, I might get a little grumpy. [Laughs.] I have a bad mood like everyone else, but I don’t think I’m a mean-spirited person.

 

I’m definitely a competitive person when it comes to sports, but not with women. I’d much rather lift girls up than bring them down.

 

Maybe your secret violent side comes out during pillow fights with the other Victoria’s Secrets girls?
[Laughs.] I’m definitely a competitive person when it comes to sports, but not with women. I’d much rather lift girls up than bring them down.

So, you guys do have pillow fights! Although “lift girls up” makes it sound like you might be more of a wrestler.
[Laughs.] Not in the way you guys want to think. Honestly, we generally work solo a lot. But the times we do PR dates, or when we did the fashion show all together, it’s really fun because we all get to hang out.

There is that perception that all models are catty and backstabbing, though. Is there any truth to that?
Of course you hear things, but I haven’t had those things happen to me. But everybody is different. You are your own person. So, I think you can bring a lot of that stuff on, too. It’s important to be grounded and be appreciative.

 

You can't be nice all the time. How do you channel rage?
For me, anything kind of physical is a huge stress reliever. Surfing is one of the best ways. I mean, growing up in Santa Cruz, it's a huge part of the culture there. You just grow up around it. My parents met surfing, and my aunt used to be on the pro tour. So, it’s something that I’ve grown up around forever. Obviously, with work and me traveling all the time, it's few and far between that I get to do it. But it’s something that I always come back to, and the beach is my home. Even when I travel somewhere, if I’m on a beach there’s a certain level of comfort there. Oh, and boxing!

Come again?
I started boxing—it's great because no matter what you were feeling when you walked in the gym, it's completely gone when you leave. You get it all out.

Do you spar? Yeah, sometimes. If my trainer felt he trusted the person enough. You know, not to like, knock my tooth out. [Laughs.]

It seems like it could be risky for you. If I go out and get a black eye, I can just come back to work the next day, but...
I know, exactly. That happened when I first started training—I got popped right in the middle of my lip. It healed fine, so it was OK, but even at that point he was like, "We can't. This modeling thing is really getting in the way of your training."

 

Some of the suits take like, 16 hours to paint. Then there’s the obvious fact that you don’t have any clothes on. It’s a little challenging, but the end result is cool.

 

What was your reaction when you were first approached about doing the body paint for SI?
I had seen it in previous issues, so I was aware of it. It’s a pretty unique experience, and they only select a few girls to do that in every issue. But it’s a challenging day in a lot of ways. Some of the suits take like, 16 hours to paint. Then there’s the obvious fact that you don’t have any clothes on. It’s a little challenging, but the end result is cool.

On a scale of 1–10, how much more prestigious is it to pose for Complex than Sports Illustrated?
Well, the thing that’s cool about Complex is it’s totally different. It’s something different for me, which is what made it really exciting for me to do.

You’re going to pass on the 1–10 rating?
I don’t think you can compare. It’s not the same thing [Laughs.]

Very diplomatic.
It’s totally different, don’t you agree?

I think we’re a little cooler than them.
Yeah. SI is very corporate. You guys are like the fun, cool people. So in that way, yes, that’s why I think it’s so different.

They don’t take you downtown.
[Laughs.] No, not at all.

WATCH MARISA'S BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIDEOS:

 

ADDITIONAL CREDITS: (STYLING) Anoma Ya Whittaker. (HAIR) Dominick Pucciarello for Bryan Bantry. (MAKEUP) Meredith Baraf for the Wall Group. (MANICURIST) Christina Zuleta at the Katy Barker Agency using OPI. COVER, FIRST, EIGHTH, AND ELEVENTH IMAGES: Bikini Top by Diesel / bottoms by Rosa Chó / shorts by Sass & Bide / rings by Lia Sophia / bracelet by Marco Bicego. SECOND AND TWELFTH IMAGES: Tank by Hanii Y / bra by Elle Macpherson intimates / necklace by Marco Bicego / necklace by Maya Brenner (worn as bracelet) / shoes by Balenciaga. SEVENTH AND TENTH IMAGES: Lingerie by Agent Provocateur / bracelets by Lia Sophia. THIRD IMAGE: Tank top by Obesity and Speed / bra by Araks / bracelets by Hayden-Harnett, Disaya, and Ksubi / Shoes by Bruno Frisoni. FOURTH AND NINTH IMAGES: Bra by La Perla / jeans by Insight / necklace by Marco Bicego / bracelets by CC Skye and Disaya. FIFTH IMAGE: T-shirt by Worship Worthy / underwear by Agent Provocateur / bracelets by Disaya. SIXTH IMAGE: Swimsuit by Insight / bracelets by Lia Sophia and CC Skye / earrings by Gara Danielle / shoes by Pollini.