You may remember Heidi “Frankie” Rayder of River Falls from two consecutive years as being prominently displayed in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
That was about a decade ago. But it turns out that — you read it here — this was only the start of Rayder’s career as a supermodel. Somehow, all of the other feathers in her proverbial cap have remained mostly under the radar, possibly because she isn’t from L.A. or New York City.
For some reason, both the local and national media have left mostly untouched the fact that Rayder was one of the go-to girls for four years running in the most prime time of the Victoria’s Secret runway shows. And that GQ magazine at one point declared her the sexiest woman alive. And on and on. The local paper did get it right in saying that she had been on the cover of almost every major women’s magazine. At least once, in many cases.
Rayder made a splash all over the place starting in about 2004 when for four two straight years, she made the special SI edition with about five photos. Four of them were in the usual skimpy swimwear, and one had her nude, taking off the bikini panties but with her arms strategically placed.
All the big Wisconsin newspapers wanted the story. I tipped off the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and they focused mostly on the fact that this local girl liked to hang out with the guys at Emma’s Bar and watch baseball, taking a teasing — and giving it back — because she is a Red Sox fan.
When I contacted the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, they had more trouble because Rayder at this point wasn’t so much of a local girl anymore. They never did do a story since she was constantly in some exotic locale and they couldn’t get ahold of her.
The local paper focused on the family for sourcing, namely her dad and her two other sisters who also have strong modeling credentials.
One of the metro dailies noted that there was a special wall at a special boutique devoted to Rayder at the Mall of America.
But then the story seemingly went away. Despite the fact that she was one of the Victoria’s Secret top models, the GQ reference, the modeling competition where she made it to the top handful and was then bested by Heidi Klum, and the shoot with one of her sisters where the New York Times tabbed them jointly as the latest “it girls.”
I found this out because I wondered whatever happened to Rayder and checked online. It wasn’t hard to find out. After making her modeling splash, she married Flea, the critically acclaimed bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and they had a child. (Which I found interesting in an odd way, because I know two women who were stalwarts on the local downtown scene for a few years, who also knew Flea and had socialized with him on the West Coast).
Rayder made a shortlived comeback, then hung up her heels. That’s not surprising, since in those SI glory years she already was 29, an age where few models are being featured in their signature edition.
But, you can still find traces of Rayder around, even in her abscence. You would think that Emma’s would play up the fact that the supermodel used to hang out there, but there aren’t photos on the wall, or anything like that. A shy drummer friend of mine who I will not name was very tight with her, until she started her globetrotting and they didn’t connect very much. He’d worked at a pizza joint just a few doors down, so it made sense that he once was introduced by Rayder to Jamie King, one of her actress friends who around that time was dating Kid Rock (here I go making another rock star reference).
When SI recently celebrated a big anniversary of its swimsuit issue, and spent some time catching up with its most prominent veterans, I didn’t see any mention of Rayder. I contacted my source at the Milwaukee paper, to see if there was any interest in a followup along the lines of where-are-they-now, but she said “Heidi Who?”
I guess some things never change.