Former supermodel Paulina Porizkova says she's not even close to leading the glamorous life.
Instead of buying and wearing designer clothes, she says her main retailer of choice is The Gap — as evidenced by the $15 black cotton Gap sundress she donned recently after a photo shoot at New York City's Chelsea Piers.
"Being a mom and a writer, I don't get out much," said Porizkova. "I'm either sitting in my study writing, or I'm taking my kids to and from school and going to the dog park where peoples' dogs come up and pee on me, so you don't really want to look all that good."
At 42 years old — she's still the size 4 she was back in her mid-1980s heyday as cover model for Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan and many other magazines -- Porizkova is certainly more glamorous than your average city mom.
But after two decades of modeling, Porizkova says she was ready for a new challenge beyond taking care of her two young boys. So about five years ago, she decided to write the novel she'd had in the back of her mind for years. It wasn't so easy.
"I'm sitting down and I'm writing it all out," she said, "and I found out that I can't punctuate. I'm not very good at grammar."
English is the Czech-born beauty's fourth language, so she signed up for classes at the New School in New York. She's been in a writing group with some of the students ever since. Porizkova says the encouragement from the group was "helpful, if not necessary" for getting her novel, "A Model Summer," published this year.
She drew from her own experiences as a teenager modeling in Paris for the book, but she resolutely says the novel — whose main character is a 15-year-old Swedish girl of Czechoslovakian descent — is not autobiographical.
On her heroine, Jareena: "She's very vulnerable and timid," said Porizkova. "She's a morally upstanding kind of girl, and I was pretty much the opposite. I was a wild kid."
Porizkova says that Jareena is not as together as she was at the same age. "I wanted to structure a story about a character who wasn't as well-prepared as I was. Somebody who wanted to be loved and who was vulnerable because those were the girls I saw."
Porizkova says her own story is a "great story — a rags-to-riches tale."
"But we've all heard that story," she said. "I wanted to show the emotional truth about modeling, not the life of a supermodel."
As for the models nowadays, who are two to three sizes smaller than in the 1980s, Porizkova said with disdain, "Who is 5 feet, 10 inches and a size zero? I'm not inspired by these human clothes hangers."
Another challenge Porizkova recently tackled was not as private as writing a novel in her home study. In fact, it was broadcast on national television: her debut as a dancer on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."
Porizkova was the first celebrity voted off the show, which she admits was painful. But in the end she experienced something she never had before: sympathy from the public.
"If you're a supermodel, no one ever feels sorry for you," she said. "You can get divorced or have other big problems in your life, but people always say, 'She's a supermodel. She'll be OK.'"
Porizkova has been with her husband, Ric Ocasek, former lead singer of the Cars, for more than two decades. When asked about one of her favorite late-night TV shows, she said with a sly smile, "Yes, I am in love with Stephen Colbert."
She goes on about the host of the "Colbert Report" on Comedy Central.
"Stephen's my safe crush. I'm obviously very happily married, and he's very happily married. But darn it, if it we weren't. I'd be hanging out in his live audience every night."
Porizkova says she watches Colbert's show nearly every night.
"He's so brilliant at what he does. The talent combined with the live physique and funky ears. It's just so sexy to me. I don't know why."
Porizkova says she already has an idea for a second novel brewing, which she'll start after a summer vacation with her husband and two boys.
"You probably won't hear from me for another five years while I go dig myself a hole and write," she said.