Edgy, bewitching, and ethereal are all words that can only begin to describe Jessica Carter, the winner of the 2020 Maxim Cover Girl competition. She’s not your average cover model, but evidently, she’s exactly the woman people have been wanting to see.
Carter has an air of casual unencumbered beauty about her, with sleek platinum blonde tresses, rich brown eyes under lush lashes, and perfectly pouty bee-stung lips. To top it all off, she boasts an impressive collection of intricate tattoos that adorn and accentuate her glorious figure.
“I have between 20 and 30 tattoos,” she says, adding that she got inked for the first time at the age of 16. “It was a Chinese symbol. You know, when you’re 16, you don’t really think about the things that you want on your body long term. It was a teenage choice, and I don’t hate it! At the time it was very trendy, but that was over a decade ago. I picked it off of a poster at the tattoo shop. Now I make more thoughtful choices.”
Her killer looks are amplified by an irresistible personality that’s humble and unapologetically authentic—an absolutely nuclear combination that makes Carter a rare gem of a woman. It’s no wonder she stood out from the crowd and captured the undivided attention of devoted fans who voted her all the way to the top.
She’s a self-proclaimed horror enthusiast and a classic horror film buff, particularly the old-school ghoulish monster flicks of the ’80s and ’90s. Her favorite movie is Hellbound: Hellraiser II, which she says is on an otherworldly level far above any generic horror movie you’d find today.
“It shows you all of these special effects and all of the stuff that actually scares you. It’s such a good non-CGI type of movie where the monsters are actually scary and the story is actually interesting. I feel like it’s so unique. I geek out whenever I get to meet the actors who played the monsters. I had a photo taken with Doug Bradley, the actor who played Pinhead in Hellraiser, and it looked like I was taking a picture with Santa.”
Her love of the genre stretches all the way back to her childhood. “I grew up watching horror movies,” she explains ebulliently. “I thought it was completely normal for children to watch horror movies. I’d have friends who’d come over to spend the night, but they’d end up calling their parents to come pick them up because they’d be too scared.”
In fact, Carter is so invested in the horror world that her biggest requirement of a potential romantic interest is his ability to match her love of all things scary. “I love a guy who wants to watch monster movies. If you want to date me, you have to at least sit through them and not complain,” she teases, but it’s clear she isn’t kidding around. “It’s at the top of the list.” And if he can’t handle it? “Then we’ll just be friends,” she quips without any hesitation. A true dealbreaker right there, gentlemen.
Before gracing the cover of Maxim and kickstarting her budding modeling career, Carter led a normal life that most would find endearingly relatable. She spent most of it in a small town in Michigan with her six sisters before biting the bullet and moving to Las Vegas at 27 in search of bigger things. She currently lives with her three sweet dogs, Mina, Squirrel, and Mochi, and has taken up ballroom dancing in her spare time. “I‘ve always danced since I was younger, even though I was terrible at it. But ballroom, I’m actually kind of good at. I competed in the Fred Astaire World Championships in the pro-am division, [and] we did pretty well!”
She claims she was shy as a kid; a stark contrast to the buxom and bubbly beauty she is today. Carter recalls of her childhood in Pinckney, Michigan: “I was super quiet. A big nerd. I was really just trying to do well in school for most of my younger years, and that was kind of it.” She dabbled in modeling during high school, but ultimately ended up putting that dream on hold. “I was such an awkward teenager and definitely hadn’t grown into my look or cultivated who I was at that time. I gave up on it after my first year of college.”
Now 33, Carter seamlessly hopped back in the modeling game with a little help from her friends when she heard of the Maxim Cover Girl competition. “One of my friends who I did ballroom dancing with asked if I wanted to do a Halloween shoot with him because he knows how much I love horror. They were just a couple of casual shoots, and I just jumped back into modeling when I saw this competition. But I didn’t consider that I’d win it.”
Since the pandemic coincided with the competition, she was able to devote most of her time to preparing herself and her portfolio. “It’s such a strange time right now where nothing is really distracting me,” she says. She’s a bartender at the LINQ Hotel in Las Vegas, which is one of countless places that was temporarily shuttered for obvious reasons.
“When the competition started, I was just focusing on getting into shape and doing a bunch of photo shoots,” she says. “I contacted a lot of my friends who are photographers and people who I’ve shot with before, and I was like, ‘Holy cow I’m actually in this! I need to commit and try to do well.’” In the end, she beat out thousands of other gorgeous women who entered, winning the coveted title, the cover, and the $25,000 prize money.
Taking home the crown is proof that dreams can come true at any time, even in a year that seems as cursed and backward as 2020. “I couldn’t believe it,” the bombshell says of the moment she found out she had won. “I couldn’t even fathom what was going on and I just jumped up and down. Even weeks later, I still can’t believe that it happened. It’s so surreal.”
She declares that “This has been the best thing that’s happened to me. Even if it was any year other than 2020, I’d still say the same thing. This has been a tough year for everybody, and I feel really excited that something this big and this positive happened to me.” Carter is well on the way to stardom. She’s proud to stand out and bring something new to the table, despite naysayers who’ve tried to convince her otherwise.
“I haven’t had a lot of the experiences that other models have had,” she laments. “I’ve had people in my past tell me that I’m too covered in tattoos, that I need to stop getting piercings, that I need to lose weight.” But she’s not buying into any of that. “I’m following what I want to do, even though I set it down for so long. To be able to pick it back up and keep going is the best encouragement that I’ve ever gotten. This is really exciting for me that I have this opportunity to be put out there.”
For now, her goals for the immediate future revolve around her blossoming modeling career, as well as getting one foot in the showbiz world. “I have friends in the horror industry, and acting is an avenue that I’m curious about. I’ve never done it before and I don’t want to say that I can’t do it,” she muses.
Who knows what direction her career will take, but one thing is for certain: She’s already crushing it.