(Note: This story appears in the November 2021 issue of ED Magazine)
Rio Rivers started with aspirations of being a successful feature entertainer before deciding to help lift the industry upon her shoulders as the producer of the Miss Nude World pageant.
Rio Rivers waited a full 12 hours at the Déjà Vu in South Beach for this moment — her audition to be an entertainer.
She proceeded onstage … and fell “from one end of the stage to the other,” recalls Rivers, who this month celebrates 20 years of producing at the 58th Miss Nude World at Fantasy Gentlemen’s Club in Hammond, Indiana.
“I just slipped,” she says. “I got up and I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ And then I started dancing. So, then I became an exotic dancer.”
It may be fair to say Rivers fell upward because after that initial snafu,
she took the industry by storm. She captured Miami Showgirl of the Year in 1996 and followed that up with second runner-up Miss Nude Petite USA and Most Original Show at Miss Nude USA.
“I really, really wanted to be a feature,” says Rivers, who says her performance at Miss Nude USA helped propel her career. From 1998 to 99, she was published in several men’s magazines including 19 covers and centerfolds.
“I was published on all these covers and I became a very popular feature,” she says. “And as a feature, I started going to all the pageants.”
She estimates she was on the road, featuring or participating in a pageant, 11 out of 12 months of the year. Then a new opportunity presented itself when Samantha Jones, owner of the Miss Nude World pageant, expressed interest in retiring.
“I already had reached all my goals,” says Rivers. “As a feature entertainer, I was already on top of my game, I was already one of the top features. I had already done everything I wanted to do.”
But becoming the producer of a renowned pageant offered a different challenge. In 1999, Xcitement Magazine purchased the pageant and Rivers was tabbed producer.
“I wanted to bring the pageant to the next level,” she says. “I knew I could because the girls and I were a family and everybody was receptive of me becoming the next Samantha Jones. I just really had a dream to make the industry more united — that’s why I started doing the pageants. I started coordinating Miss Nude World with Samantha in 1998. When Xcitement purchased it, we were hosting Miss Nude World 2002 (which took place in 2001). That’s why this year is my 20th Miss Nude World.”
Twenty years has not zapped Rivers of her passion for this endeavor. “I truly adore what I do,” she says, radiating enthusiasm over the phone.
The April 2002 cover story of the ED Club Bulletin (now known as ED Magazine) hailed Rivers as a starmaker, taking note of her success as an entertainer and how she was paying that forward, minting a new generation of high-caliber entertainers.
“I knew I wanted to create new talent,” Rivers says. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do for 20 years. I give every girl a chance, no matter who she is. That’s what my statewide (pageants) are. That’s why the EXPO means so much to me, because I bring all those girls to introduce them to the industry, and then they make their choice — if they want to be part of our industry or not. Some of them don’t make it. Some of them don’t have what it takes. Some of them think they want to make it, but then once they see how much work it is, they don’t stay.
“There are scores of features over the past 20 years that have either started with me or started with our pageants,” she continues. “We opened the doors to everyone.”
Having overseen 20 versions of Miss Nude World, Rivers can still recall some of the most electrifying shows she’s seen, such as when Australia’s Morgan Sommers captivated audiences to the degree that this exchange between Rivers and fellow competitor Wendy Leigh followed Sommers’ set.
Wendy: Where are you going?
Rivers: I’m going to do the scores.
Wendy: Why? She won hands-down. Nobody can beat her.
“We basically put the world in Miss Nude World,” says Rivers. “It was a dream and we made it happen. But we didn’t just bring the world to Miss Nude World, we also brought the world to the Gentleman’s Club EXPO. The World’s Pageants have truly brought the world together, not just on the Miss Nude World level, but also on an industry level. And that’s my 20 years of pride.”
Miss Nude World winners since 1999
Aspen Reign (6x)
Frankie J Blaze
Isabelle Deltore (2x)
Vanessa Young (2x)