Their alliance inspired jokes of the snarky, Beauty and the Beast sort and eye rolling at yet another rock star/cover girl coupling. None the less, there they were: gorgeous supermodel Paulina Porizkova and gangly ex-Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, acknowledging their long involvement by saying ”I do” on Aug. 23, 1989, in a private ceremony on the tony Caribbean island of St. Barts.
Despite the disparity in their looks, the model and the musician were terrifically compatible. Both had felt acutely alienated as teens and both were celebs, not to mention that Ocasek fit Porizkova’s description of the perfect man: ”a combination of Mr. Spock, David Bowie, Jesus Christ, and Chopin.”
Perhaps her exacting tastes stemmed from a tumultuous childhood. Born in Prostejov, Czechoslovakia, she was 10 and a cause cèlébre before she was allowed to reunite with her outspoken anticommunist parents in Sweden, where they had fled when she was 3. Five years later, the Elite agency beckoned her to Paris after receiving snapshots from a friend. At 18, she moved to New York, declared, ”Modeling sucks,” and became the ’80s model — with poster and calendar contracts and covers of Vogue and Sports Illustrated. Ocasek’s road to success had been more winding. A struggling musician since the late ’60s, the Baltimore-born guitarist was on his second marriage and the father of three when he assembled the Boston-based Cars in ’76. It took two years to steer their polished new-wave pop to the top, where they stayed for nearly a decade.
Porizkova first noticed the hiccupy singer-songwriter on MTV in 1984. It was ”love before first sight,” she says. Coincidentally, that year she was cast in the Cars’ ”Drive” video. After three days of playing a tearful, arguing couple, Ocasek and Porizkova were smitten. ”Drive” became the Cars’ biggest hit, Ocasek split from his wife, and he and Porizkova began their quiet relationship.
Eleven years later, they’ve outlived the predicted short run. Ocasek, 46, produces records for himself and others; Porizkova, 30, has made millions as the face of Estee Lauder, written a children’s book, and garnered mixed reviews for occasional movies. Privately, they still keep a low profile at home in New York City and collaborate — Ocasek photographing her for New Woman; Porizkova designing the cover for his 1991 Fireball Zone album; and jointly, in November 1993, producing a son, Jonathan Raven. They’ve also kept their sense of humor. ”It’s okay, honey,” Ocasek recently told his wife, ”I don’t think you’re a beast.”
Aug. 23, 1989
Moviegoers hung out with Uncle Buck; fiction fans paid a visit to John le Carré’s The Russia House; Richard Marx was ”Right Here Waiting” at the top of the pop charts; and TV viewers were all in the family with Roseanne.