With the camera following her every move, Crawford, 26, joins in the festivities, tossing spears at a target—she comes close to the bull's-eye—and wading in the surf with a group of fishermen who are casting nets. Then it's time for an ersatz tattoo. Crawford slowly inches down her impossibly tight capri pants to expose an abdomen untouched until now by graffiti. "I want a pretty butterfly," she tells her stenciler, "just like Silence of the Lambs." (She settled for a flower.)
Not that Crawford is likely to be confused with Hannibal Lecter. Noted for her luscious tresses and trademark upper-lip mole—known justifiably in her case as a beauty mark—the De Kalb, Ill., native has been one of the world's top models since she first appeared on the cover of Vogue in August 1986. She has graced some 200 magazine covers, and in 1989 signed an estimated $4 million, four-year contract with Revlon. But though she commands her profession's top dollar—$10,000 for a day's work—Crawford sees herself as a mannequin in transition.
When MTV hired her in 1989 to host Style, which appears six times a year, Crawford cut back on her modeling. "I feel like I've been going up the bell curve of modeling for the last five years," she says. "But no one wants to be on the other side of the bell. That's why I'm investing in my future and doing the television show, which pays a lot less."
The producers of Style think they got a bargain. "The last thing I wanted for this show was a bimbo," says Alisa Bellettini, the show's creator and producer. "What's great about Cindy is her versatility. She can do serious interviews, but she's not afraid to make fun of herself either." The critics agree. The New York Times fashion writer Woody Hochswender called Crawford "a poised and articulate narrator" who possesses "the gentle cynicism of the insider." Still, Crawford has her on-air frustrations. "It's hard memorizing that MTV funky way of talking," she says. "They love to string adjectives like 'hippest,' 'coolest,' 'funkiest' together, and if you blow one word, they all fall apart."
Crawford is experienced at keeping it all together—even if it means being in three cities in two days. When the Style taping wraps, she'll catch the red-eye to Los Angeles, where her husband of four months, actor Richard Gere, 42, will await with a private jet to whisk the couple to Mexico for a week's vacation. So far, says Crawford, the biggest strain on her marriage has been career-related separations.
"To make a relationship work, one person's career has to be more important," Crawford says. "So for now I'm the one who goes to him when he makes movies." Later this month, she'll join Gere in Virginia, where he is filming a post-Civil War drama, Sommersby, with Jodie Foster. "Even if he's on the set all day and comes home late, I think it's important that I'm there to be with him," she says.
The development of their relationship was "slow and sweet," says Crawford, who met Gere in 1988 at a barbecue thrown by Los Angeles photographer Herb Ritts, a mutual friend. Though Cindy still maintains a Manhattan apartment, the couple share a home in L.A. and a five-bedroom ranch house in New York's Westchester County.
"Richard says he finally got married because I wanted to, and that's probably right," says Crawford of their quickie Las Vegas chapel wedding on Dec. 12. "More than anything, I want a family, and Richard knew that. I love kids and sort of feel that's the thing in my life I'm going to be best at, a mother." That brood is still in the future, says Crawford, but she cites Warren Beatty, a longtime holdout against marriage and paternity, as a helpful influence. "They're all biting the dust now," she says.
Crawford's final location shoot is at sunset on a beach at Waimea Bay. Dressed in a coconut-style bra and sarong, she strikes a hula pose for ogling onlookers. But never think this woman is blinded by her own glamor. "Models are like baseball players," Crawford says after the shoot. "We make a lot of money quickly, but all of a sudden we're 30 years old, we don't have a college education, we're qualified for nothing and we're used to a very nice lifestyle." Crawford has found her own solution. "The best thing," she says with a smile, "is to marry a movie star."