OH NO, LOOK OUT, JOE
By BRAD HUNTER
January 19, 2003 --
Be warned, Joe Millionaire - it's time to give MoJo the heave-ho.
The leggy Indianapolis blonde has not only let it slip that she's interested in your "hefty" bank account, but she also has a ritzy background that includes beauty pageants, appearances on other TV shows and an ambition to be a pampered princess.
That's the inside word from those who socialize with Melissa Jo Hunter, who is among the final five contestants who will appear in the third installment of Fox's hit reality romance show tomorrow night.
The five are competing to get their hands on hunky heir Evan Marriott's make-believe $50-million fortune.
An Indy bartender, who says he has known Hunter for "about three years," reckons she is well qualified to go all the way and snare Joe Millionaire, as he says she always sticks her hand out when a suitor flashes money.
"She hangs around with a lot of credit-card millionaires," said Rob Sabbatini, the owner of the Rock Lobster Bar in Indianapolis, where he says Hunter is a regular.
Sabbatini says Hunter's favorite drink is vodka and Red Bull - although she rarely pays herself.
The guys she hangs with are quick-draw cowboys who race each other to pull out the plastic to cover her drinks, Sabbatini said.
Hunter, who calls herself MoJo on the show because there were two other Melissas in the original 20 contestants, is at ease in front of the cameras.
That's not surprising, her friends say, because she has plenty of experience in the spotlight.
The 25-year-old was a semi-finalist in the Miss Indiana pageant a few years ago, contested the Miss Hawaiian Tropic flesh fest and had a stint as a Coors Light beer promotion girl.
She also has appeared in television and print advertisements for Motorola and has made cameo appearances on the TV shows "Charmed" and "Son of a Beach."
But she got her lines tangled in last week's episode of Joe Millionaire, where Marriott is parading as heir to a $50 million fortune but really used to be a $19,000-a-year construction worker.
"He [Marriott] just seemed to stumble into money, and I hope he gives me a chance to get it," MoJo said.
She then quickly corrected herself, "get to know him."
That's not surprising, said one of Hunter's acquaintances who asked not to be identified, as Hunter aspires to be a "princess" with all things paid for.
"She dumped a friend of mine's brother for an older guy because he had more money," the Indy insider said. "Other people say she's really nice."
The source also hinted that tomorrow night's episode will not see MoJo booted from the Marriott's French chateau.
But after her slip of the tongue last week, she could easily take over from Heidi Crowe as the show's villain in the eyes of viewers. Crowe, the uber-competitive 24-year-old from San Diego, was a surprise elimination last week but won few fans when she became petulant after her elimination.
Part of tomorrow night's show includes Marriott taking one of the girls on a date to the legendary dance saloon Moulin Rouge.
A spokeswoman for the popular Paris tourist destination said she thought the date was low-key.
"They arrived, they filmed and they left," she told The Post. "They did nothing special."