Sintra Arunte-Bronte today.
By Janet Silvera,
HER PICTURE graces the walls of airports, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) offices worldwide, hotel lobbies, board rooms, travel agencies and museums internationally. The red wet T-shirt clinks to her body, caressing her full bosom and perfect 10 figure.
But for 28 years the girl on the poster has remained a mystery.
She is Trinidadian Sintra Arunte-Bronte who caught the eye of a photographer from Doyle Dane, an American advertising company commissioned by the JTB to do the poster, as she stood outside the hotel, now known as Le Meridien Jamaica Pegasus. Sintra was dressed in a close-fitting orange, brown and gold knit top, with a low scooped neckline. The photographer was scouting for a woman who could portray the beauty of an island woman and she was game.
Today she is older and wiser, but still beautiful.
Showtime was introduced to Sintra at the recent Caribbean Hotel Association's trade show in Cancun, Mexico where she had a booth as a supplier.
She told Showtime that in 1972 when she posed for the poster she never thought it would have had such an international impact.
"It took seven and a half hours to capture the right effect. The photographer said to me, 'Sintra I want you to think of the most beautiful thing or person while posing'. I thought of a Jamaican man I had fallen in love with from the first day I set my eyes on him. That picture was dedicated to him and will be for the rest of my life," she said.
The impact of the poster immediately triggered a number of fairytale events in Sintra's life and continue to do so today. A boat owned by a wealthy Montegonian, John McConnell, was named after her, so too was a race horse and two years ago a Swiss company named one of the watches from the Rado line, Sintra.
At a cost of US$2,000 the watch can be bought in a number of inbond stores in Jamaica, including Royal Shop and Swiss stores.
So where has Sintra been all these years?
She runs a successful destination management company, A.J.M. Tours, in her homeland Trinidad. Her company handles air and ground charters, as well as tours between Trinidad and Tobago and a charter from New York to Tobago with 112 passengers every week. She is more voluptuous now and still turns heads whenever she walks into a room.
"Everywhere I go once people recognise me as the poster girl, they ask for my autograph," she said.
In fact, the value of the posters has gone up over the years, as they have become collectors' items. About two weeks ago a signed one was auctioned at a charity ball in Washington, she told Showtime. Her beauty is so striking that a photograph of her is on display in the Plaza hotel in New York City.
Sintra claimed that other than the few dollars she was paid to model in 1972, she has never received any royalties from the JTB poster.
"The Jamaican Government has said thanks in several ways and I have never asked for money," she said. She has been through some anxious moments having spent four months in intensive care at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, leaving an medical bill of thousands of United States dollars.
"I went to the hospital to do a simple operation and ended up with peritonitis which is an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity. I was ill three years. I give thanks to Dr. Danny Sleeman a intestinal specialist who brought me back to life ", Sintra said.
Her illness caused her weight to skyrocket to 250 lbs, her cheeks became puffy. But she has since lost 110 lbs through a rigid exercise and diet programme.
"I get up every morning at 4:30, walk 3 1/2 miles, go to the gym three times per week and I am on an aircraft every other week promoting my company", she said.
Sintra is married to William Bronte, a Trinidadian businessman and has no children. A few days ago the couple bought two 60-seater passenger aircaft which will fly between Tobago and Trinidad.