Is this sports reporter hot? Well, yes, but also funny and clever.
Hayley Holt is the former snowboarder and ballroom dancer, now sports journalist and about-to-be boxer. When she was on Dancing with the Stars no headline about her was complete without the addition of the alliterative but hardly imaginative "Hot!"
I'm not sure why, but the idea of interviewing somebody "Hot!" is faintly intimidating. Because: What on earth do you ask hot people?
So, what a relief. She says she is now in her "sporty" phase. I thought I'd better ask her something about sport. And this is what happens when two sheilas have a conversation about sport.
Me: "So, Sonny Bill ... ?"
Hayley Holt: "Yeeeah. Okay. He is a beautiful specimen! Have you met him in person?"
Me: "No. So you do wonder ..."
Hayley: "I know! Because I was like that. The photos are pretty. Yada, yada, yada. But when you meet him, you're like: Whoah! Everything else fades into the background."
Hayley: "It's like a shining light comes out of the heavens and shines on him!"
Me: "He's not a bit thick?"
Hayley: "I don't know!"
Me: "Oh, who cares."
Hayley: "Richard Kahui's quite beautiful."
I'll spare you the rest, but we didn't want to disappoint the boys.
Everyone knows girls can't talk about sport, especially when one of them is a gorgeous blonde girl who used to prance about on the telly wearing sequins and legs that go on forever and false eyelashes - even if she now happens to report on sport for The Crowd Goes Wild on Prime. She is an odd sort of sports reporter. She can't understand - and I'm with her on this - what there is to go on about.
"There's only so much talk you can have before a game about who's going to win and da da da and I'm like: They're going to play a game and the best team's going to win. There's only so much you can talk about it."
Our talk, we felt, was much more rewarding. She is a good ham, and hamming it up is what The Crowd Goes Wild does, and the Sonny Bill conversation was a nicely judged "piss take" of herself, which is what she says her job is. She's funny.
She is about to have her first two boxing bouts. You get the sense that she enjoys confounding those dumb blonde dancer expectations. That might be one of the reasons she's about to box, and why she claims to enjoy sweating - not an activity usually associated with ballroom dancing even though it probably is, actually, quite a sweaty pursuit done while wearing false eyelashes.
Sweating is one of the things she likes about boxing training which she's been doing for the past three months in preparation for the two charity bouts she's about to do.
The first is in Christchurch, for a Christchurch fundraiser, Fight for Christchurch on November 25. The second is Fight for Life, a fundraiser for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, on December 3 at the Trusts Stadium Arena in Auckland.
Sweating is good because, "well, you're getting rid of all the toxins, aren't you?"
She also thought she might get rid of "some of the soft bits ... I thought I was going to get nice and skinny but I just get so hungry!" I asked a question about boxing training: What's she been eating? "Just anything!"
Girls boxing gets people going. There are probably only two responses to it. One is that it's unnatural and nasty and shouldn't be allowed (you might think that about two blokes slugging each too.)
She says some of her male rugby-playing mates have told her she's mad and she says: "'What do you mean? You basically have a car accident every time you play.' It's funny, isn't it? A lot of men don't like it. I think it's a very old-fashioned view and a sexist view - that women can't do sport and boxing is a sport. I'm in sports, and sports is a very male-dominated, sexist world where women's sport is really just a bit of fluff. And I don't know whether that will change, but a lot of those macho sporting guys, if they got in the ring, they'd probably be beaten by a girl anyway."
That's fighting talk! (She's terrified by the way, not of getting hit, but of having her pride hurt by "not being able to stand up to the other opponent". She is fiercely competitive about everything, even card games with her parents.)
But what about the other sort of response, the icky "whoah" factor?
She gets that anyway, and women playing sport get that anyway, she says.
"You get that at beach volleyball and the netball. Well, skirts fly up. And did you know that beach volleyball has these regulations about how thick the waistband is allowed to be? You're not allowed to wear little boy shorts. And it's a sport! And if they were allowed to wear shorts, it would still be a sport but the men wouldn't watch and the sponsors would leave."
Hayley Strikes Blow for Feminism in Sport. That's one headline you're unlikely to read, but why not?
She spends a lot of her working life with sports journalists and they are mostly men and, mostly, nice to her.
"I got quite a scathing attack from some guy on a radio sports show ... He said something about being a dumb blonde and the basest form of journalism ..."
Does that sort of thing get to her?
"It depends where I am in my cycle!"
She thinks the difference between her and the blokes is that "I can ask the obvious things that a lot of people like me, or girls, really want to know because I don't have to prove myself or my knowledge".
She knows what people think of her.
"I think I surprise people."
Because they expect what?
"Well, they expect a dumb blonde dancer." And that she always wears bikinis.
"Yeah! And I'm the most unsexy dresser in the world."
So that "whoah" about Sonny Bill is funny because that's what she gets, from men.
I did come across a photograph of her in the Sun, wearing, if not quite a bikini, then a very revealing pair of togs, while reclining in a ridiculously unnatural position.
"Yeah, really natural. That was for a FHM shoot."
It's a funny sort of thing to do, but if you look like her, why not? She says she did think about the why-nots of doing it, but, "then I thought: When I'm a grandma, it'd be quite cool to show my kids that I used to be hot!"
That she used to be a sex symbol? "Yeah!" At which point the photographer asked the sex symbol if she'd mind taking her sunglasses off and the sex symbol said she would but that she had big black bags under her eyes and "my skin's cracking up". She's a very down-to-earth sort of sex symbol, if she is one.
She is also supposed to be an "it" girl. I've never met an "it" girl before either and I don't really know what one is supposed to be, or do. But she said: "I don't go to all the parties," and as that is what I think "it" girls might do, I'm going to say she isn't one. She isn't, she says, "very good at hobnobbing". She doesn't think she's a celebrity.
She thinks quite a lot of what she likes now is a "backlash" against her ballroom dancing phase. She started at 7, dragged along by her mother. She was a tomboy then (and says she still is) but she loved it because she was good at it. In the fifth form at Epsom Girls Grammar she had an orange spray-on tan, talons for fingernails and bleached blonde hair. "My friends were like: 'What are you?"'
It's not a bad question. She is something of a chameleon. She can do glam, certainly, but there's the boxing and the sweating. She's obviously ambitious but not for what you'd think if all you knew of her was the girl in the FHM shoot. As she says, that was some years ago; she's 31 now.
She has certainly lived, and still does to some extent, in the public eye. And as everyone, even me, knows this is because she went out with Richie McCaw. I thought I'd better have a Richie question. I had a feeling that she wouldn't much enjoy being asked - and who would? They broke up two years ago.
Also, she has a slight wariness about her that people who have been gawked at often tend to have and no doubt also because she's waiting for the Richie question. She's perfectly friendly without being particularly forthcoming.
Of course I did have a Richie question and it sums up - if true - what sort of life she used to have, when she was on Dancing with the Stars and when all the headlines contained the "Hot!" word. It is that he phoned her agent, Sara Tetro, to ask if Tetro would ask Hayley if she'd go on a date with him. But that's not the maddest bit of the story.
The maddest bit is that she is supposed not to have known who he was - and that happens to be the truest bit. How could she not know who he was?
"I was a snowboarder. We weren't into mainstream sport!"
So what did she do: Google him? I was joking, but that's exactly what she did do. The rest of the story is true, too, but she says McCaw is a good friend of Tetro's so it's not quite as ridiculous as it sounds.
Anyway, they are now good friends and she is a loyal friend, because she says of him that: "He's nice. He's a really nice guy. He's a solid sort of man."
He'd probably say much the same about her. I would. And I'd add that she's smart, funny and strong. Anyone who says she's a dumb blonde dancer deserves a biff. (But I'll leave that up to her to deliver. She's more than capable.)