Cindy Crawford

updated 12/28/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/28/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Cindy, Cindy, Cindy. The cascading hair, the serendipitous mole, the body that causes male knees to buckle. At 26, she earns $10,000 a day modeling, serves as Pepsi-Cola's national pitch-person, has a four-year, $4 million Revlon contract and her own hot-selling pinup calendar. But it was in 1992, with the launch of her artfully grainy exercise video and her popular stint as host of MTV's House of Style, that Cindy Crawford, as she says, "really reached mainstream America. Three years ago I thought I'd peaked," she adds. "Then two years ago I thought I'd peaked. And then this year happened."

Yes, this was the year that her glamorous, spandexed image (she calls it "Cindy Crawford, the Thing") propelled Crawford into that rarefied realm Beyond Modeling—producing, among other things, some hilariously slavering male tributes. Comic Denis Leary, perhaps imagining a Cindy of King Kong proportions, announced that he would like to see her "eating an Eskimo Pie naked on the roof of the Empire State Building.

Just what is so awe-inspiring about Cindy, Cindy, Cindy? Posits longtime friend and fellow supermodel Christy Turlington: "Cindy took this business very seriously but never took herself too seriously. She's one of the few who worked it out for herself. She knows how to maneuver her career to the level she wants." And Crawford isn't shy about pulling her own strings. "Being a model for eight years," she says evenly, "I've learned some things." Among them: how to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground. "I know some people can be intimidated because of my looks," Crawford says, "so I work extra hard to make people feel comfortable."

She can even make her marriage to movie star Richard Gere, 43, sound like; well, no big deal. (They celebrated their first anniversary on Dec. 12.) "Every now and then I get that weird feeling that other girlfriends tell me they got after finally getting married—the one where you say, 'Oh, my God, it's kind of scary' " says Crawford. She admits that it was she, after a four-year courtship, who nudged Gere altarward—to a quickie ceremony in a Las Vegas chapel. "When you've modeled 20 bridal dresses in one day," she says, "you get over that bride-in-a-white-dress thing real fast."

These days the two have settled into their own version of quiet domesticity. "Richard always thought that being married and staying home to cook dinner was too normal and suburban," she has said. "Now I think he realizes it's not so bad and that's why a lot of people do it!" At their New York City apartment or Los Angeles house, "Richard is a putterer. He plays the guitar and the piano. I read." As for division of labor, "I do laundry. But I'll admit it—I don't like to scrub toilets."

Cindy, Cindy, Cindy. Behind the facade of the Thing, she says, "I am an all-American girl." Perhaps. But, clearly, something more than that. "When I heard Madonna was coming out with a nude photography book," says veteran fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo, "I said, 'Who wants to see Madonna nude?' If they did one on Cindy, I'd buy the book."

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