Local grad selected for Hooters calendar
One of life’s great joys is being recognized by one’s workplace. This could be in the form of a pat on the back or a gift certificate to a restaurant. For some, it goes much bigger than that.
Victoria Rachoza, a 2014 graduate of North Fort Myers High School and alumna of Ida S. Baker High School, was selected from 25,000 other women to appear in the popular Hooters swimsuit calendar. Rachoza will be featured in the 2016 edition as Miss November.
Growing up in southwest Florida, Rachoza was a quiet and shy girl. Things started to change for her once she joined the cheerleading squad her freshman year of high school. As a cheerleader, Rachoza began to come out of her shell and be more outgoing. She credits this with her eventual success with Hooters. After high school, Rachoza moved to Tampa, and started attending Hillsborough Community College. An aspiring dentist, Rachoza is currently studying biology.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated with teeth,” said Rachoza.
Rachoza currently works at the Hooters in north Tampa by the University of South Florida campus. In April, she made the decision to try out for Hooters’ annual swimsuit calendar. Hooters, the restaurant known for its chicken wings and iconic uniforms, releases a calendar each year that features many of the company’s female employees. The calendar is a highly anticipated publication and gets national distribution.
“It’s a great little gig. A lot of them go on to do more modeling. Some have even went on to do broadcasting and acting jobs,” said Chuck Melcher, founder and publisher of the calendar.
Rachoza’s tryout was at a casting call where a photographer from the company shot photographs of her. These photographs were then sent to a Calendar Selection Conference. The conference is where people involved with the company pore over thousands of photos to choose who makes it on the calendar. However, it’s not solely based on looks as the committee seeks outside testimonials to help in its decisions.
“There’s a lot to it. We’re looking for that wholesome kind of girl-next-door appeal. We want personality, outgoingness. These are the girls at the front of the parade, so to speak. They’re promoting the brand,” said Melcher.
Eventually, Rachoza was invited to a calendar reveal party at Tampa Bay Brewing Company where it was announced that she would be in the 2016 calendar. The announcement was especially notable given that, at 19 years old, Rachoza is one of the youngest to be chosen in the calendar’s history.
“Oh my god, I was so excited. I couldn’t believe they chose me out of all those girls,” said Rachoza.
Unlike some of the women featured in the calendar, this experience was the first time Rachoza had done any sort of modeling. Some of her shoots were in Tampa but the rest took place in the Bahamas. While in the Bahamas, Rachoza posed for photographs on the beach for a few hours and then was able to relax on the beach for the remainder of her time there. Rachoza also found out that, in addition to her Miss November slot, she will have life-size cardboard cutouts of herself placed in restaurants across the country to promote the calendar.
Her globetrotting doesn’t stop there. From Sept. 30 until Oct. 3, Rachoza was scheduled to be in New York City participating in promotional events, giving press interviews, and signing calendars. She was set to travel to New York City with a fellow 2016 Hooters calendar girl from a south Tampa location who would act as a mentor. Three calendar signings were scheuled during the trip. At these signings, the 2016 calendar girls sit at a big table with pens in hand as fans line up to have their calendars signed. The women will also have time to explore the city during the trip.
The next year will be a whirlwind of attention for Rachoza. As a Hooters calendar girl, Rachoza will have more signings and travel in her future. Customers are more apt to stop by her restaurant to say hi. Plus, there’s always the opportunity to try out for future calendars. Going from a once-shy local cheerleader to posing for a national publication, it’s safe to say Rachoza is making a name for herself.
“It feels really good. It’s such an honor that I was selected out of all these girls. It’s so amazing,” said Rachoza.