GETTING DIRTY WITH AMY PAFFRATH

Midwestern beauty Amy Paffrath leads with buckets full of wit, charm, talent and a work ethic that would put anyone to shame. From E! News Now and MTV’S Jersey Shore: After Hours to covering red carpets from coast to coast, Paffrath has done it all with great command and of course, style. And now the Missouri girl is back on VH1, hosting the hit show, Dating Naked: Playing for Keeps.

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: You grew up one of seven kids in St. Louis, MO. I’m guessing that’s where performing came into play. What kinds of things did you do to stand out?

AMY PAFFRATH: Coming from such a big family, it was hard to stand out. My siblings and I were very active and played a lot of sports. But I was the one always leading the gang to be artistic. I would produce plays and shows and cast all of my brothers and sisters in them. I was the ring leader. I wasn’t shy. I’d be the first to hop up on a stage and perform. I’ve never been afraid of looking silly.

HM: How does a good Midwestern girl end up landing on her feet in Hollywood?

AP: I had been dreaming of living in California since I was an 8 year-old Girl Scout. At our 5th grade state fair, I of course chose California. I was obsessed. I got my feet wet with an internship in college at Entertainment Tonight and that really got me hooked. I went back to Missouri to finish school and as soon as I graduated, I packed up my car, had $1000 in my bank account and I moved West. I had no idea how I was going to survive and that first year was hard, but I made it! There was no plan B.

HM: Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’…how did you end up in that video and what impact did it have on your career?

AP: That was such an amazing experience. I was cast after 2 callbacks. Director Shane Drake knew I could pull off the darker side of this mean girl character, but he needed to see me do the sweet part convincingly, so I killed him with kindness and got the part. It was before Paramore was really well known and this video was really their introduction to the world. When it came out, it was huge! It was on TRL every day and playing on a huge jumbotron in Times Square. I had friends calling me every day like, “Omg, you’re in this video?!” It was so fun to be a part of that. It opened up some doors for sure. I got to showcase my acting chops in a big way. I am grateful for that experience.

HM: You dance between hosting and acting. From working red carpets for Yahoo! Movies and mixing it up with the crazy cast of Jersey Shore on  Jersey Shore: After Hours, to appearing on Hot in Cleveland, 2 Broke Girls and Sullivan & Son, to name a few. Tell me a bit about those wild swings…

AP: I wouldn’t call it wild. It’s all in the same family. I’ve always been one to blur the lines. I don’t think you have to chose hosting or acting. I’ve been able to successfully do both. I’ve worked hard to make my career eclectic and fulfilling. I’m very happy having such a wide array of projects. They satisfy me in different ways. But both require the same skill set; being a good listener, being in the moment and connecting with the other actor or interview subject. I’m constantly in acting and improv classes working to improve my skills. My career has taking me to such interesting places, it would be a shame to alienate one side of that if I declared I’m only an actress or only a host. I entertain every offer I get! I refuse to be boxed in.

HM: And now you are back for another season of VH1’s Dating Naked: Playing for Keeps. For those who haven’t yet tuned in, what’s the premise of the show and what’s new in store this season?

AP: It is pretty self explanatory [laughs]. It’s a show where the daters meet and go on dates completely naked. This season is different because we have two primary daters Chris and Kerri for the whole 10 episodes. Last season, each episode was its own entity. This season you really have to follow along and viewers will become more invested in their lives. It’s really juicy and such a great concept! It’s a fun summer show.

HM: There’s a lot of nakedness on the show. Ever get uncomfortable?

AP: I’m pretty used to it by now, but it can get awkward for sure. There’s a contestant this year named Frankie who had a habit of using his penis like a helicopter. I did find that odd. Other times, people will get excited so to speak, so there’s physical evidence of that and we can’t help but look. It’s awkward for everyone but it’s completely natural and when you’re naked its bound to happen and we all laugh about it.

HM: Some would say this takes reality television one step too far. What say you?

AP: I say they clearly haven’t seen the show. People that say that think the show is completely focused on sex and that’s just not the case. The nudity is not gratuitous. It’s meant to strip away barriers and allow people to connect on a deeper level. It brings out a vulnerability that people are afraid to embrace. It works! These people are sharing a truly unique dating experience and bringing their authentic selves to the table. It’s beautiful to see people be so brave and let their bodies be on display. I think it opens up a conversation about body acceptance and being proud of what you’ve got! You shouldn’t have to hide behind clothing to feel good about yourself. This is about self acceptance, warts and all! It’s all blurred anyway, so home audiences still have to use their imagination. It’s sweet, honest and silly.

HM: Craziest contestants on the show so far…

AP: Katie from last season was a bit wild. She got injured on a zip line and then rejected by our dater, so she took a pass at me and my husband. It was funny. She was all fired up and going for broke. Rightfully so. Her date was kind of a beautiful disaster.

HM: With all the shows you’ve hosted and red carpets you’ve covered, fashion and looking stylish at all times is part of the game. Who are some of your favorite designers to wear?

AP: I love playing dress up! I’ve been wearing a lot of Mac Duggal on red carpets. I love their pieces. They are really special and glamorous. I wear a lot of basics by Bobi Los Angeles, but they have a higher end line called Bobi Black that I’m constantly wearing on red carpets. I love their jumpsuits and separates. It’s cute, comfy and cutting edge. Adrianna Pappell is another fun one. Very classic glamor. Sometimes I’ll wear a vintage find or put together items from my own closet. In a pinch Top Shop has fun finds.

HM: What celebrities always hit it out of the park on the red carpet?

AP: Kate Hudson always looks killer. I love Emma Stone’s style. She’s just gorgeous and interesting. Blake Lively is always nailing it too. I love how she doesn’t stick to the same look. She’s always mixing it up, even her hair and make up. I’m the same way.

HM: A lot of people might not know it but you are one funny piece of work. You moonlight doing stand-up comedy in LA. Tell me about that part of your life.

AP: Well thanks! I’ve been working on standup comedy for a few years now. It’s still a work in progress but I love it. I recently hit an open mic in Orlando to work out some new bits. It’s terrifying. It’s just you alone with your jokes on that stage…But that’s what makes it exhilarating and addicting. Those laughs are hard earned and when you get them, it’s so satisfying! I’ve been traveling a lot, but my goal is to get out there a lot more now that I’m back in LA. I’m just trying to find my voice and have fun while doing something that scares the crap out of me. Its the only way to grow!

HM: When you want to get away from the rush of Hollywood, where do you go?

AP: My husband and I travel a lot. For a quick recharge, we got to Palm Springs or Santa Barbara. There are so many easy places to escape to in SoCal. Its nice to get away and have a little bit of calm. LA does get intense and busy and we literally have to get away to turn it all off sometimes. But after a few day,s I can’t wait to get back. I love the energy of LA and can’t be away for too long.

HM: What’s the long game?

AP: The long game is working hard and planting a million seeds and waiting to see what grows. I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. It’s fun not to know which one is gonna spark. I never know where I’m headed next. I’m just as surprised as anyone. But ideally I’d be making waves in TV and film. I want to do a big budget action movie. I’m ready to show my physicality and get down and dirty. Being on a sitcom would be pretty cool too. I’ve guest-starred on a few and just loved the experience. It would be great if that were my regular gig. Only the gods of TV know!

‘DATING NAKED’ AIRS ON VH1, WEDNESDAYS, 9/8 C.

PHOTOGRAPHY: SEAN ARMENTA

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