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  March 21, 1999

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Wrestling's sexiest star talks about her life inside the ring and out

See the Sable Gallery
By TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun
  FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -- As Rena Mero walks along the sandy beach in Fernandina Beach, Fla., heads are turning.
 They know they've seen this blonde bombshell before. Some have trouble putting a name to the face.
 As she prepares to leave, one man gawks at the sexiest star to ever romp down the aisle of the World Wrestling Federation's one-ring circus.
 Rena Mero leads a double life.
 By day, she's supermom, happy to keep up with the housework, as mundane as some of the chores may be. She's delighted to cook up a tasty dish of chicken and broccoli, even if daughter Mariah prefers her own meal of chili dogs.
 By night, you can throw that persona out the window. Rena Mero becomes Sable, the knockout Playboy cover girl and star of the WWF's ongoing soap opera.
 As Sable, she's sparked the quickest sellout of any Playboy issue. Her eight-page, nude spread in the April issue disappeared from most newsstands in less than a week, forcing the magazine to redistribute copies from some areas into others to fill the demand. Playboy, which chased her for two years before she decided to take off her clothes for all the world to see, has already asked her to appear again.
 "When they first approached me, I didn't think my character had developed well enough to make it worthwhile for myself or the WWF," she says. "But when I made the decision to do this, I had no inhibitions at all.
 "I'm very proud of who I am. I wanted to do this for myself, not so much to show my body off to the world. I had total creative control. I wanted something in sharp contrast to the Sable that's normally portrayed. I wanted something that would be a very soft portrait."
 Behind the melting smile and underneath those devilish sunglasses is a loving mother, protective of Mariah, and proud of her two pets -- Macy, a three-year-old purebred poodle, and Max, a one-year-old Persian kitten. And she's an adoring wife with a supportive husband, Marc Mero, a talented wrestling celebrity in his own right.
 As Sable, Rena Mero has, under WWF visionary/owner Vince McMahon's meticulously-scripted storyline, become self-absorbed and egotistical. As Rena Mero, she carries an inner beauty, an air of intelligence and understanding of what it takes to reach a level of stardom.
 That included breast augmentation three years ago, an operation which made her feel better about herself.
 "I did it because I wanted to have fuller breasts," she says. "I hear people saying that I've had a facelift, that I've had my body reconstructed. I didn't have any other surgery. People are going to say what they want about you to make you look bad. But anything that makes you feel better about yourself should be acceptable."
 There are really no deep, dark secrets about staying so beautiful. While she tries to stay faithful to healthy foods, she has her weaknesses. Old habits die hard, and Sable is a southern belle at heart.
 "I grew up in the south, so believe me, there's nothing I don't like ... pecan pie, chocolate cakes. It's very hard not to eat foods that are delicious."
 And throw out all the eating faux pas when it comes to Dunkin' Donuts. National Enquirer found her weakness for the doughnuts so absorbing it turned it into a cover story a week ago.
 "I work very hard to counteract what I eat," she says. "You're allowed to eat stuff like that. Once in a while you have to treat yourself."
 Much of her time is spent in the gym, or, for the past week, talking on the phone while working out on a stairmaster.
 Her Playboy appearance has led to new heights of popularity. She's on the cover of TV Guide and the WWF Magazine. She's been seen and heard on Regis and Kathy Lee, Dateline, The Howard Stern Show, Entertainment Tonight and Hard Copy.
 Her level of celebrity has made it nearly impossible to go anywhere without being stopped by someone.
 "Whether it's the local McDonald's or the doctor's office, I'm recognized," she says. "But I don't mind it. If it weren't for the fans, where would I be?
 "It takes away some of my privacy and freedom, but if they don't recognize me, then I'm not doing my job. Really, what an opportunity this is. And how many others get to do it?"
 And she's popular in Mariah's Grade 5 class.
 "Mariah's down to earth. She doesn't see what all the hype is about," says Rena. "She said to me once, 'Everybody at school talks about how beautiful my mom is ... I just don't see it.' "
 Then there are the requests for interviews, hundreds and hundreds of them. It's all overwhelming for the woman born as Rena Greek not far away in Jacksonville.
 "It's becoming stressful," she says. "I don't know when my next days off are."
 When she finally gets time to kick back and relax, you may find her wrapped around her favourite soap opera -- The Young and the Restless. You may hear Jewel or Shania Twain music playing softly in the background. You may find her in the comfort of a bubble bath. Or you may find her getting athletic -- she lists rollerblading and kickboxing among her hobbies.
 Sable strives to keep an even keel through a lifestyle that borders on chaos. The Meros have sold their tastefully decorated home in a quiet backwoods community guarded by a gatehouse. They are looking to build a new home, closer to an airport, perhaps in Orlando. Maybe in Jacksonville.
 It was about six years ago in Jacksonville she met Marc, a wrestler for 10 years. Before he became Marvelous Marc Mero in the WWF, he was Johnny B. Badd, the king of flamboyancy, in the rival WCW.
 "I was having dinner at a restaurant with friends," she says. "And he sent a note over to my table that said, 'do you like me, yes or no, check one.' I sent it back with a maybe. I thought (his note) showed a great sense of humour. We became best friends ... then we married (five years ago)."
 At the time Rena was a model, working for such companies as L'Oreal, Guess and Pepsi. She could hardly envision a future of stepping into the ring and having her head tossed from turnbuckle to turnbuckle, or being bodyslammed into the mat.
 "People talk about how fake it is, but we're athletes," she says. "When someone picks you up and throws you down, you're falling. Wrestlers are like stuntmen. But they do get hurt. Some wrestlers have died in the ring.
 "I always wanted to be an entertainer -- a singer, maybe a famous model -- but I never dreamt I'd become a wrestler."
 With a week to go until WrestleMania, the WWF's annual extravaganza March 28 in Philadelphia, Rena Mero slips into her character. As Sable, she promises her challenger for the coveted women's championship, Torrie, is in for a whole lot of hurtin'.
 "I'm going to do the same thing to her that Sable does to everyone else. I'm going to drop a bomb on her -- the Sable Bomb. I didn't become the champion for no reason."
 Sable has played a large role in the WWF's success. Television ratings have soared, despite some public backlash to sex, vulgar language and violence.
 "The ratings tell you that not only are we putting on a great show, the fans love it," she says. "Is it appropriate for everyone? Are we pushing the envelope? Put it this way, a lot of the video games or cartoons the kids are watching are no less violent or sexually-oriented."
 With 21/2 years left on her WWF contract, Sable would like to pursue an acting career.
 After all, she's had plenty of practice, with the changing role of Sable.
 "Sable has become self-absorbed, egotistical ... she doesn't care about anyone else. That's so unlike the way I am in real life, but it's a fun character to play. It's nice to play a villain. As a bad person, I can say or do whatever I want."
 And as Mariah arrives home from school, Sable once again becomes Rena Mero.
 "I have a very fine life outside of wrestling," she says. "I'm a wife and mother first."
 This naked knockout is obviously more than just another pretty face.
 - EVENT: WrestleMania XV
 - WHEN: Sunday, March 28
 - WHERE: Philadelphia
 - TV: Viewers Choice pay-per-view, 8 p.m.
 - MAIN EVENT: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock (men's heavyweight championship); Sable vs. Torrie (women's championship); Shane McMahon vs. X-Pac (European title); Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man (Hell in a Cell match); Val Venis vs. Billy Gunn vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Goldust (Fatal Four Way match for intercontinental title); Hardcore Holly vs. Al Snow vs. Road Dog Jesse James (Triple Threat match for hardcore title); Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean (Brawl For All match)
See the Sable Gallery

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