January 9, 2008 / 12:03 AM / in 11 years

"Touch my muscles!" - Chavez tells Naomi Campbell

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez in an interview with supermodel Naomi Campbell predicted that the U.S “empire” is about to fall, called Jesus Christ history’s No. 1 revolutionary — and offered to pose topless.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds a coin while speaks during his weekly broadcast 'Alo Presidente', outside Caracas January 6, 2008. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

“Why not? Touch my muscles!” the burly, 53 year-old former paratrooper said, when asked if he would follow the example of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who caused a stir last year with a series of shirtless pictures.

An English actress and model of Jamaican heritage, Campbell was hired by the British edition of GQ magazine to interview the left-wing leader, who is known for his tirades against the United States.

In the article, to be published on Thursday, Campbell describes Chavez as a “rebel angel,” praises his singing voice and chats with him about the Spice Girls.

“I have memories of them,” he said, before moving on to more familiar ground criticizing Washington, which he predicted would dramatically lose influence in the next few years.

Chavez, who says he is leading a socialist revolution that he hopes will one day unite Latin America, said he was a devout Christian and that Jesus Christ was “the greatest revolutionary in history, for defending the poor against the powerful.”

Chavez, in power since 1999, is liked by many Venezuelans for his folksy, off-the-cuff delivery, but the opposition says his quirky style has often distracted him from the basic tasks of government such as fighting crime.

Campbell, 37, met Chavez three times. She joins a growing list of stars who have dropped by to visit the charismatic leader in the South American oil-exporting nation. Last year he also received actor Sean Penn and film director Oliver Stone.

The model, known for her fiery temper, said last year she was turning over a new leaf after doing community service for throwing a phone at her maid. She hopes to interview more world figures, including Chavez’s friend, Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Chavez said Castro’s dress sense made him the world’s most stylish leader.

“His uniform is impeccable. His boots are polished, his beard is elegant,” he said, of the ailing octogenarian.

Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Saul Hudson and Eric Walsh

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