Bay beauty on top of world

Brian Hayward

AS if being the object of South African male fantasies – and the envy of women – was not enough, home-grown Bay beauty Shashi Naidoo is now officially South Africa’s sexiest woman in the world, according to men’s magazine FHM.

Naidoo, 30, has walked away with the top honours in FHM’s Sexiest Woman in the World 2011 survey, which saw more than half a million votes cast by readers.

But the former Alexander Road High School pupil, who is now a successful Johannesburg businesswoman, said the accolade had caught her totally off-guard. 

“It’s kind of mind-blowing. When you’re married you don’t think people find you sexy anymore,” she said.

Naidoo said her husband, Marc Sandler – they tied the knot 16 months ago in front of 40 close friends and family in Thailand – was rather blasé about it. 

“He said he didn’t need anybody else to tell him how beautiful I was,” Naidoo said.

The news was broken to her by fellow Bay expatriate Hagen Engler, who is now based in Johannesburg as the editor of FHM. He SMSed Naidoo the news while she was attending the Monte Carlo Grand Prix recently.

Engler said: “Shashi is one of the true beauties of our time and a most deserving winner …  She is everything a man could wish for in a woman: gorgeous, vivacious, funny and exciting to be around. She’s the very definition of sexy, as far as I’m concerned.”

But Naidoo,  who returned to the Bay recently to judge a pageant, was taking the title in her stride. She said she had been working feverishly for the past three years to grow her modelling agency, Alushi Model Management, and it was paying off.

“More important than being number one is that Alushi has 12 girls in the [FHM] top 100,” Naidoo said, adding her schedule for the next few months was “extremely busy”.

For Naidoo, who has already graced the cover of FHM twice, stepping back in front of the camera lens was “scarier than ever”, though her time as a pin-up model was drawing to a close, she said.

“It gets scarier as you get older. I represent girls who are 18 and age is on their side. At my age you have to work harder to work that bikini.

“But there comes a time when you have to hang up the bikini and I’m definitely reaching it. I’m not going to try and be sexy for ever.”

Both she and Sandler want to start a family.

“We’re very excited about taking the step [trying for children]. For me, I’ve achieved all that I’ve wanted to in my modelling career. I’ve done everything that I’ve wanted to do.”

But for now, she would celebrate her crown.

“I’m a girls’ girl, so I’m going to go out and celebrate with my girlfriends tomorrow. Everyone’s been  amazing and supportive about the award,” Naidoo added.

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