Femme on Fire: America Olivo

By Vanessa Butler Photography by Russell Baer

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Femme on Fire: America Olivo:

It’s not every day we meet a Femme on Fire who has graced the cover of Playboy Magazine! We caught up with the wildly talented America Olivo to chat about her latest horror flick No One Lives, which comes out on DVD/Blu-ray on August 20th, what it’s like to bare it all for the iconic brand and why she thinks the film Maniac was banned in New Zealand.

Playboy.com: In 2009 you did a Playboy photo shoot with Terry Richardson! You were our cover girl for that month, too; that’s quite an honor.

Olivo: Oh, it was amazing! It was just after I had done Friday the 13th and a film called Bitch Slap that was coming out. I had done a one-pager before, and when they called for this I had just gotten engaged to my husband Christian [Campbell]. So when they called asking if I wanted to do a spread, I sort of stupidly said to Christian, “Hey, so Playboy wants me to do a spread!” and he said, “Oh yeah? Not unless they give you the cover!” So I jokingly relayed that information back to my publicist and she came back saying, “Yeah, they do want to give you the cover!” So there was no backing out at that point, you can’t say no to that! And then when I heard it was the cover and Terry Richardson I kind of lost it. Then of course I had to ask Christian if he wanted his future wife to be on the cover and he’s like, “Hell yeah! Are you kidding me? I’m married to a Playboy cover model, that sounds great!”

So I was very honored to be picked and we had so much fun. Terry had me come to his studio in New York and I didn’t go out or get my hair or nails done because I didn’t have time so I just went in. They cut my hair, did everything and he had his whole studio decked out, it was like a circus. He had candy canes, lollipops, trampolines, pogo sticks and hula hoops…I thought it was going to be really hard to take it off and stand naked in front of a huge group of people, but it’s really easy when there are a lot of fun things to play with. All of a sudden my clothes were off and it was like I was young again playing on the beach and then it was over. I didn’t ever want to leave. I remember saying, “No! I have to master the pogo stick naked!”

Playboy.com: And you’ve done a couple of naked scenes in movies too, so I guess you’re kind of open in that sense.

Olivo: No, I’m not, actually; I’m actually the most rigid, conservative friend I have. [laughs] I think that’s why I like doing those things, because they’re outside of my comfort zone. I like to be challenged as a human being. For instance I’m afraid of heights, so I did Spider-Man on Broadway strung up 80 feet and wired above the audience. It’s that sort of thing where you take something you’re afraid of. Most of my friends are performance artists and free spirits so I’m definitely the most conservative one out of the bunch, but it’s very liberating and lovely to really be comfortable naked. It took me a very long time to get there. I was just past 30 when I did my Playboy spread, so it wasn’t like I was 18 and had it figured out by then. At 18 I was notorious for wearing full sleeve t-shirts in the summertime. [laughs]

Playboy.com: You mentioned Spider-Man; how’s your singing career going?

Olivo: I took a little break from it when I went to Broadway, but I’m getting back into it now. My husband is directing some music videos; he’s working with this crew from Toronto called Stereo Martini so we’re going to be working on some new stuff.

Playboy.com: Is this the first time you and your husband get to collaborate on a project like this?

Olivo: Well he’s a published photographer and has also directed on stage—Canon just gave him this huge endorsement—so it’s so cool, we have all of these friends who are dancers on Broadway who are throwing in their time and a lot of people throwing in their time to create something really fun.

Playboy.com: So let’s get to No One Lives. What draws you to these kinds of horror films?

Olivo: Again, it’s things that are challenging. They’re so hard, harder than people think. It’s hard to go through all the stunts, to make fear look convincing, to get that tension right in film, and it’s hard on your emotions to go through all this too. It’s a challenge. I love sci-fi, I love this genre, horror, and over-the-top comedy, too, like Bitch Slap. Anything that’s really rushing, really pushing the limit, it’s always a wild time.

Playboy.com: Bitch Slap has such a cult following. Were you guys aware when you were making it people would go wild for it?

Olivo: Well it did because we loved it so much! Everyone did it through love; we weren’t working with a huge studio budget because we wanted it to stay really pure with the genre that it was, so everyone pretty much did it purely for love and not money. So we realized that we are all doing this under these extreme harsh positions in the desert, we knew other people were going to want to watch it too. We didn’t do it just for us [laughs] we’re doing it for the genre, man, the people, the fans like us.

Playboy.com: You do a lot of your own stunts too!

Olivo: I wouldn’t say a lot of my own stunts; I am one of those idiots that tried and got myself pretty beat up. Again, I love to be challenged but there are people who train and do stunts for a living and it’s good that they do them because then they do it safely and they don’t hurt other people. I’ve done a good amount of my own stunts, but sometimes I look back and realize that it’s not a good idea. Things that are a good idea that is separate from stunts is fight scenes, and I like to do all of my own fight scenes. Whether or not they use my takes is up to them, but it’s not like I just step out and am like, “Okay, go ahead! I’m going to go have a soda.” I like to be there and do the whole fight choreography at least as much as I can, then have my stunt double step in, and if at the end of the day I couldn’t land the punch, that’s fine. But I do like to give it a good try.

Playboy.com: I also read that your latest film with Elijah Wood, Maniac, was banned in New Zealand. I guess it was too gruesome. Is it really that crazy?

Olivo: Oh it was? That’s rad, I love being banned! Yeah, a lot of good horror films are pretty gruesome nowadays.

Playboy.com: You’re right, at this point they are. I just thought it was crazy that of all movies they would ban this one. It’s a remake! I figured there must be something extreme about it.

Olivo: I wonder what exactly their biggest objection was. If it were a certain scene or something I would’ve imagined they would’ve just taken it out, but it must be something. I don’t know, maybe because they’re the home of the Hobbit they didn’t want to see this happen, they didn’t want Elijah do anything like that! [laughs] Not the Hobbit!

*What’s your favorite… *


Drink: It’s going to sound like such a plug, but it isn’t: my dad’s wine, Nello Olivo. My dad started making wine a long time ago, and when I was young I wasn’t really into wine, but as I got older and appreciated it he taught me a lot about it. It’s like mom’s home cooking; it doesn’t get any better than your dad’s own wine! I thought it was just me but then it started winning awards and became pretty renowned. And now all of these restaurants in New York are carrying it. All of a sudden I’m more proud of my dad than he is of me, which is one of those weird role reversals.

Food: Pumpkin, anything with pumpkin in it.

Worst pickup line: My friend’s friend said, “Girl I ain’t in love with you, I’m in love with your thickness!” He is from Homestead, Florida so I can’t really do the accent. It was a little bit of a backhanded compliment, I think he was looking at my thighs at the time. [laughs] I never really clarified it because he meant it in such a complimentary way I just assumed it was the way I was supposed to take it.

Most embarrassing moment: One time I was on an interview with Carrie Keagan, and basically on her show you do shots during the interview and you get really plastered unless you are really good about holding your liquor. I was running from interview to interview and hadn’t eaten all day. Before the interview we did Jell-O shots. All I remember is that I got really sick and got dragged to the bathroom where I head-butted the sink. I broke the sink and the faucet with my nose and then passed out. I remember waking up with a huge swollen face in the middle of shooting something else and then I got a little excited because it was a perfect excuse for a Hollywood nose job, and then I went to the nose doctor and told him and he said, “You say that you broke a counter, sink and a faucet with your nose? Because your nose is not broken.” I fought the sink and the nose won!

First memory of Playboy: My dad bragging that he was in it. I don’t think I was old enough to comprehend what it was. He was a model for a coat ad, and they ran that ad in Playboy so he was flaunting it around, yelling, “I’m in Playboy! I’m in Playboy!” Later I was like, shouldn’t you be in Playgirl? I don’t understand.


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