By Dean Lamanna
Photography: Brevin Blach
Fashion Director: Simone Perloff
Styling: Mitra Hosseini
Hair: Kimberly Hill
Make up: Allan Avandano
Photographer’s Assistant: Dustin Michelson
What’s not to love about Kendra Wilkinson? Popular E! reality TV star. Former Playboy Mansion ?xture (and ex-Hugh Hefner girlfriend) with the infectious laugh. Self-branded business woman. Fearless Dancing with the Stars wind-breaker. Erstwhile tomboyish grade-schooler who once asked a Ouija Board if she’d ever have big boobs. (The answer: “Y-E-S.”)
Add “loud-and-proud San Diego native” to the love-her list of this ingratiatingly earthy, near-ethereally sexy 26-year-old guy’s gal, and you’ve achieved celebrity nirvana.
“I love San Diego!” says Kendra, who grew up in Clairemont and spent many fun times (and more than a few irresponsible ones) hanging out around Mission Bay and hitting the San Diego County Fair. “There’s no other city like it...and I know, because I’ve been in a lot of different places. It’s like a big small town, with so much to offer. Everybody’s active, everybody’s outside. I always lived on the beach-it’s in my blood. Life couldn’t get any better than living in San Diego.”
While Kendra’s mom, brother and grandmother still reside here, and she visits America’s Finest whenever she can, she’s busy making a home for her own family-husband Hank Baskett, a free-agent professional football player, and their two-year-old son Hank IV-close to the production headquarters of her reality TV show, Kendra, and other business interests in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas. And it has become her most important role.
“This is our ?rst home together as a family,” Kendra says. “Before Little Hank was born, my husband played football and never had a long-term contract. So we were bouncing all over the country, living out of our suitcases. It was an adventure-we lived in South Jersey, in Indianapolis-but when the baby came, it wasn’t so fun anymore.”
When it came time to resettle in Los Angeles last year, the clan looked at many spectacular homes, but none appealed to Kendra’s nesting instincts more than their present digs on a cozy cul-de-sac in a secured community (one she feels best approximates the qualities of San Diego).
“It’s comfortable and balanced for all of us,” she says of her ?ve-bedroom mansionette, with its large, grassy backyard, luxe pool and spa, and plethora of ?owering shrubs. “It’s very kid-friendly, yet it’s also adult-friendly. Little Hank has his playroom, and we have ours.”
Kendra and hubby call the latter, formerly an upstairs guest suite, their “man cave.” “It’s our sex room,” she explains matter-of-factly. “It has fuzzy walls and Hank’s football helmets everywhere, plus a big-ass screen TV. There’s a place for my stripper pole. Hank and I love to keep things fun; we love games. And we put a lock on the door.”
Not that the adjacent master bedroom, sporting romantic touches like genuine African wedding baskets on the walls, doesn’t see its share of action.
“We give each other massages,” Kendra says. “We use oil and it leads to other stuff, so having a massage table in the bedroom is very important. After two years of marriage, you’re not going to just be like, ‘Oh, I love you, baby-let’s light some candles.’ We love candles, but we also like to play with lingerie.”
Valentine’s Day is extra-special for the pair: each year, the Wilkinson-Basketts go to the Big Island of Hawaii to relax and watch whales leaping from the sea. “It’s the most romantic thing ever,” she says.
Fun and romance are spousal essentials. But Kendra also acknowledges that marriage and motherhood have shifted her priorities.
“I had lived to the fullest since my early teens,” she says, referring partly to her old, often drug-fueled partying days (chronicled explicitly in her recent best-selling memoir Sliding into Home). “Then I had a crazy, fun time at the Playboy Mansion. At twenty-four, I was ready to get married and have a kid-I didn’t see the point of going and partying for nothing anymore.”
Marrying Baskett in June 2009, and giving birth to their son six months later, was “the piece that was missing to my life,” Kendra says. “Now it’s time for me to provide for Little Hank. And I will do whatever it takes to make sure his road in life is paved 100 percent right.”
While Kendra awaits word from E! on a possible ?fth season of her show (a ratings blockbuster when it debuted three years ago), she’s anything but idle.
She’s overseeing interior decorating at her home and blogging constantly on her website, kendrawilkinson.com. And she has just developed and launched a line of adult romance products, LoveCandy, in partnership with Evolved Novelties-now available online (mylovecandy.com) and in stores. Have she and Hank fully road-tested LoveCandy’s sexy scents and lickable lotions? “Of course!” she laughs.
Kendra thanks none other than Paris Hilton for inspiring her business sense. “When I was on [the Playboy Mansion-set reality series] The Girls Next Door, seeing her business side encouraged me step away on my own. While I loved Playboy and Hef, I learned how to brand myself as Kendra.” And she likes where her evolution has led.
“I was a straight-up tomboy growing up in San Diego-and I went from that to an adult dancer to the Playboy world,” Kendra says. “I’ve never been a girly-girl, but I still have a sexy side of me that I’m going to keep in the spotlight. And that side will never fade away.”