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Gale force

Sunday, November 9, 2003
Reporter: Liz Hayes
Producer: John McAvoy

There's something about Megan; something magic that just lights up a room.

No wonder the Italians are madly in love with her — Megan Gale that is, the supermodel who has become an absolute superstar in Europe.

Her selling power is phenomenal, and if you ask her commercial sponsors, this 28-year-old from Perth is worth every cent of the millions she earns every year.

Transcript

LIZ HAYES: There's no city that matches Venice for beauty and style. It just oozes romance. And like the rest of Italy, it's full of beautiful people. But of all those beautiful people, the Italians have decided this woman, Australian Megan Gale, is the one they love most. Megan and her Italian boyfriend Marzio are the hottest couple in Italy. But it's Megan they're obsessed with.

I have seen you described as "sex on legs".

MEGAN GALE: Oh, I haven't seen that. Who wrote that? Did you make that up right now?

LIZ HAYES: No, I didn't make that up. I wished I had, but no...

MEGAN GALE: It doesn't sound like something that would come from you.

LIZ HAYES: You've also been described as Italy's hottest star since Sophia Loren.

MEGAN GALE: Yeah, I've heard that one, that's a big compliment.

LIZ HAYES: That's not bad, is it?

MEGAN GALE: Not bad, although, I mean, Sophia Loren's Sophia Loren, she's untouchable, she's like the goddess of Italy. Yeah, that's a good compliment.

LIZ HAYES: At 28, when most other models are hanging up their high heels, Megan Gale's career is just getting better. And it was this ad, shot five years ago, that first caught the Italians' attention.

MEGAN GALE: Yes, it's now actually known as "the Italian job", it's quite funny. That came towards what I thought was actually the end of my modelling career, because I went over for a promotional tour just for a week and, um, it was just one of the weirdest ... it was very surreal, it was one of the weirdest weeks in my life. Because I'd never been to Italy, I'd never been to Europe, so you can imagine landing in a country that you'd never been and everyone knows who you are. It was really bizarre.

LIZ HAYES: You really need to see it to understand just how manic the Italians are for Megan. Tonight, in Milan, 30,000 of them have come just to watch her host a concert.

MEGAN GALE: It still gives me like, goosebumps, hearing them all like going off like that.

LIZ HAYES: A day later, it's the Grand Prix in Monza and Megan is being mobbed all over again.

They want to touch you.

MEGAN GALE: They do, they do. Even happens in Australia sometimes, people come up and just sort of put ... people put their hands on my waist or what not and I think, "Wow, that's rather intimate when you don't even know me".

DAVID BROWN: She's Megan. She's Megan. She's herself.

LIZ HAYES: She's now also a very rich woman, earning millions of dollars in Italy alone. David Brown is her agent here, a job made all the more easy by Megan's mass appeal.

DAVID BROWN: There are some very sexy women or very beautiful women that perhaps are not liked by the average housewife, who see that beautiful woman as a competition. Megan seems, almost like, unique in that sense, that she is loved by everyone. She's not a man eater. She's a good wholesome girl who has a boyfriend and a good life.

LIZ HAYES: I would have thought that every Italian man goes to bed with Megan in their mind.

DAVID BROWN: I'm sure they do. I hope so.

LIZ HAYES: These days, it's hard work being Megan Gale. But it was only after the Italians fell in love with her that Australia did too.

MEGAN GALE: Ciao, Australia! Say, "Ciao, 60 Minutes."

CHILD: Ciao, 60 Minutes.

MEGAN GALE: Brava!

LIZ HAYES: Up until that point she had been largely ignored at home.

MEGAN GALE: I never felt like I was snubbed. It was obviously very hard for me to, you know, handle putting in so much time and effort in the Australian market and not really getting anywhere. So it was a bit odd to go away and have someone, have a whole other market appreciate you so much and then you come back and they go, 'Oh, she's ours.' I wasn't yours six months ago, that's really odd.

LIZ HAYES: What did the Italians see that we didn't?

MEGAN GALE: I think I immediately give people confidence to sort of, to be approachable, that they can come up to me, and Italians love that and I didn't consciously sort of project that. I think I just do it as a person. Sometimes I do it to my own detriment. Sometimes I give people too much confidence and, you know...

LIZ HAYES: Well, look, my observation is that you are a ray of sunshine.

MEGAN GALE: A ray of sunshine!

LIZ HAYES: It's like the sun is shining when you enter a room.

MEGAN GALE: Oh, that's nice. No-one's said that to me before. Now I've gone all shy. I hear all sorts of reasons why they like me, but, I mean...

LIZ HAYES: And you're not even Italian in any shape or form.

MEGAN GALE: No, not a drop.

LIZ HAYES: In fact, your mother's responsible for your exotic looks.

MEGAN GALE: Yeah, because she's Polynesian.

LIZ HAYES: Megan grew up in Perth, the youngest of three children. She was a tomboy, but with looks like hers, it was only a matter of time before modelling took over.

When you look in the mirror, do you worry about what you're looking at, because...

MEGAN GALE: Absolutely!

LIZ HAYES: ...because that's your bank balance?

MEGAN GALE: Exactly. It's sort of an asset, so you do have to look after yourself, yeah. I'd never go to the point of, sort of, doing anything drastic to maintain myself.

LIZ HAYES: Oh? What's drastic?

MEGAN GALE: Drastic, like surgery or anything, sort of, getting anything done or redone to make sure I keep getting work, because I figure well, if you're not liking me the way I am, then okay, so be it. And this is the best invention of Venice after the gondolier, maybe before it … the Bellini!

LIZ HAYES: While Italian men in their thousands have fallen madly in love with Megan, there's only one who counts, her boyfriend Marzio Canevarolo, a former model himself.

How do you feel about all those men loving Megan, wanting to be near your girl?

MARZIO CANEVAROLO: Um, that's not really easy.

LIZ HAYES: Really?

MARZIO CANEVAROLO: I have to accept this. That's part of the game and sometimes I have to bite my tongue, but it's okay.

LIZ HAYES: Time alone is hard to find for this couple and it's easy to see why. We've been in this cafe for less than 10 minutes and already dozens of fans are waiting for Megan.

MEGAN GALE: We're not very public people at all.

MARZIO CANEVAROLO: No.

MEGAN GALE: Obviously we are to a certain point, but in terms of not liking to... We don't go out. I mean, people have this concept of models, that it's all parties and champagne and hanging out with people like Puff Daddy and...

LIZ HAYES: Oh, God no, it's not that!

MEGAN GALE: No, it's not that at all! Put the champagne down. That was really stupid what I just said. Don't matter.

LIZ HAYES: This is lovely, I have to say.

MEGAN GALE: We're not into champagne, she says, as she guzzles hers... I can't really go anywhere public where I'm there for a long period of time, like, to watch a movie or in a supermarket to go shopping. It's a bit limited, it's very high maintenance, my life here.

LIZ HAYES: You're described as a supermodel. Do you accept that?

MEGAN GALE: I hate that word. I hate that word. "Supermodel" was created about 14 years ago when there were a group of models that were, I think, more than models, they were like celebrities and a lot of them aren't even around any more. For me, a supermodel is what those girls were, just all of them having great successes, multi-million-dollar contracts, flying around to different cities, you know, every two days, and I don't do that.

LIZ HAYES: Yet according to your management, you do have multi-million-dollar contracts.

MEGAN GALE: Yeah, well, I don't have a lot. I don't want to... I want to sort of clarify that. I think people hear how much like, actors, for example, make per movie, like $20 million a film, but then they don't realise half of that goes to the tax man and then commission gets taken out and then expenses get taken out and yeah, you're still left with an insane amount of money, but it's not like all of that goes in the bank.

LIZ HAYES: I understand totally why Italy will be a part of your life when you come to a place like this.

MEGAN GALE: Yeah, exactly.

LIZ HAYES: It's breathtaking.

MEGAN GALE: I know. Unfortunately, I don't get to...

LIZ HAYES: Megan has now reached the stage financially where she need never work again. For her, being away from home is about more than just making money.

MEGAN GALE: I think Italy's played such a big part in changing my life and for a lot of ways for the better. I don't think I could ever just sort of say goodbye to it now, it would be just too weird. It would be sad.

LIZ HAYES: You've come so far.

MEGAN GALE: Yeah, I couldn't just give it up, no way.

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