Jessica Simpson’s high school sweetheart recalls slow dancing with the future star before she became Hollywood’s most famous virgin on reality TV show, Newlyweds.
Chris Etchieson has shared never-before-seen photographs taken one year before Simpson moved to Hollywood, and admits he will always look back on that night in 1997 with mixed emotions.
The singer and fashion designer was the most popular girl at J.J. Pearce High School in Dallas, Texas, and naturally all the guys wanted to date her.
But through an after-school dance club Etchieson would count Simpson as his partner and ultimately the one that got away.
Reminiscing over the evenings he got close to Jessica while listening to country legend Garth Brooks, he revealed: ‘I got lucky because she was the hottest girl in our group. We became close, good friends. We would chat in the school hall and I got to know her really well.’
Etchieson, who still lives in Dallas and works in engineering, admits it’s hard not to look back with regret for not swooning over the girl who’d later become the mastermind behind a billion-dollar fashion empire.
‘She got away! I didn’t try any moves on her. I was always on my best behavior because I knew all the guys wanted to be with her and I didn’t want to be like them,’ he explains.
‘It was different with Jess because she didn’t date in high school. Everyone knew she was single, I’d say she was notoriously single and that was part of the reason she got so much attention.’
He reveals how Simpson – who he first met at North Junior High in 1993 – got a lot of attention from guys because of her figure, while the girls were less supportive.
‘A lot of other girls were jealous and I know some people would bully her. It’s hard for girls to develop so quickly but from what I saw she always had great self-esteem.
‘A lot of people call her an air-head but that’s probably because she’s sweet. For someone who was destined to become famous she was really down to earth.
‘She was really popular in general, with the guys and the girls, everyone knew who she was. Jess was a cheerleader and hung out with that kind of crew.’
When asked if Simpson boasted any diva behaviour off the back of her popularity and beauty, he said: ‘I don’t think she necessarily craved the attention or liked being chased but there was always a star quality about her.’
Simpson famously made a vow to remain a virgin until marriage and a purity ring was given to her aged 12 by her father Joe, a pastor at local Heights Baptist Church.
She later starred in MTV’s reality show Newlyweds , which Etchieson insists was genuine and not staged for publicity.
‘I knew Jessica was a virgin. She didn’t run around shouting about it but everyone knew,’ he said.
‘She didn’t force her religion on anybody. I truly believe she was committed to her faith.”
Etchieson last saw Simpson in 2008 when she returned to Dallas for a visit.
He said: ‘I bumped into her at the airport here and we spent about 45 minutes catching up. She remembered me, of course, even though it was 10 years since we last spoke. We talked about life, what was going on, how her family are and the usual stuff like that.
Etchieson said: ‘Jess was very active with the church.’
He added: ‘I think whatever she does will be scrutinized and even when her weight changes I think she looks great. As long as she’s happy who am I to judge?’