My Blog__ I WANT TO DATE A HAND BAG: INTERVIEWS WITH MALE MODELS

March 24, 2011 | By

There was a weird period in my early twenties where I only dated male models. I don't know why but I did and it made me feel really bad about myself. This was not nice. I ended up projecting a lot of my insecurities onto the male models when it was not their problem but just my confused little psyche having a tantrum. About three years ago, I interviewed two of my male model friends and one ex-boyfriend model about their perspectives on the fashion industry.

JAMES NEATE

James Neate is one of the Top 50 Male Models in the world. He has worked all over Asia, Europe and North America and currently stores his furniture and books at an apartment in New York City.

Type of hand bag: Vintage Chanel purse lined with Karl Lagerfield's hanky.

You are one of the Top 50 Models in the world. How did that happen?

James Neate: All modeling is is being in the right place at the right time. What they want changes with the season and to have longevity you have to be strategic about taking advantage of your luck. The day I started modeling in New York Prada signed me to an exclusive campaign. It launched my entire career.

How do you feel about gender and sexism within the industry?

J.N: Modeling is a female industry. But now there are just as many cases of eating disorders in men as there are women. Agents are harder on men because they assume they can take it. Men always get called "fat". It's no secret. There are two sides to the industry: commercial and high fashion but unlike women, men need to be able to appeal to both to make it anywhere. Essentially, you need to be an athletic waif which is impossible for most bodies. Guys are just the hand bags of the fashion industry; we have to go with everything. Women are able to pick one side and pursue it successfully. I mean, the concept of the "male supermodel" died in the 90's. It just doesn't exist anymore.

You have had a very successful, media-saturated career. Funny that we used to get stoned together in Spanish class. Are you ever scared the gravy train will end and you'll have to sleep on my couch?

J.N: Ha, well sometimes I will go six months working, literally, every day, going from Paris to Japan back to London, then I'll go two months without a single job and I'll think, 'Jesus, am I done?' Suddenly a big job comes out of nowhere and I'm back in. But maybe one day that job won't come and I'll be sitting here in no man's land, waiting to be available for nothing.

Like super model purgatory?

J.N: Yeah. I have to hold out for jobs that my agents see fit. I will drive myself mad. That is why I have to pursue other interests because it's too mentally strenuous. Waiting for jobs is like being in love with someone and wondering if she will ever call. You have no control. You know?

I'm always in love. Yes, I know. What other interests are you pursuing?

J.N: Acting. I just auditioned for the part of Felix in the sequel to Twilight. The fashion and film worlds are directly connected. You network with all these people at every party. I think it makes sense for men to go from modeling to acting, because men can't really last in the modeling industry. Like, Brad Pitt, he was a model and he could hide that part of his career because he wasn't on the public radar as a model. Half of male Hollywood started as models. Female models get fashion success and can't make the cross without being ridiculed for fashion stigma.

But you've had publicity, I mean you dated Paris Hilton in 2008 and it was in all the trash rags.

J.N: I've dealt with my share of bad press. I do not want to be a part of any of it.

You want to act? Get used to it.

BRENNAN LLOYD

Brennan Llyod got his start into the modelling world when Ryan McGinley saw his face plastered all over the now defunct Kathyisyourfriend.com. Llyod, now 21 years-old and living in Vancouver, B.C, thinks his mom should be paid for his beauty.

Type of Hand Bag: Baby Phat Back Pack

How do you feel about being paid for your beauty? Because you didn't do anything. The clients should pay your parents.

Brennan Lloyd: Yeah. Thanks, Ma. I mean you just have to control the variables that you can. I don't like being photographed, so I'll get nervous and start playing around, but they go for that stuff. I guess I just try to be a nice person. I fixed a guys bike once and it got me a big show.

How thick is your skin? How big is your head?

B.L: Well, I don't get too self-conscious. It's funny, when I was on the McGinley road trip we got to eat a lot, so I gained like 15 lbs which I guess is the opposite of what is supposed to happen.

What makes you attractive to the fashion industry?

B.L: I'd have to say my best feature is my butt.

Yeah, I recognized it on the Sigar Ros album.

B.L: You recognized my ass?

No, I recognized your hair. I don't know your ass that well. Is there anything you refuse to do for the camera?

B.L: I don't know what else I could do that would be weirder than what I've done. Hopping naked into a pen of 50 goats, I had smoke shot into my ass, another time on shoot in Ithaca, we frolicked naked in a vineyard of grapes while trying to play the accordion. So, if anyone has any new ideas. Maybe snuff or something?

I heard models travel in packs. True?

B.L: Well, modeling is based on networking and friend groups. I mean, there is an Alberta model pack out in New York. Justine [Koolin] and Anthony, who I went to high school with, and Heather Marx.

So, Alberta just breeds beautiful models? Is it the fresh farm milk?

B.L: No. But they did serve deep-fried macaroni and cheese triangles in our high school.

NIC CHEVELDAVE

Nic Cheleldave moved to Paris, France to become an artist. Instead, he was scouted while stuffing his face at McDonalds one afternoon. Cheveldave traveled all over Europe, posing naked for numerous art magazines and walking for top designers. Now, he goes to art school and has a good job. He was also my first real boyfriend and first true love.

Type of hand bag: A soft leather shoulder bag stolen off a camel in Morocco.

Why did you decide to quit modeling?

Nic Cheveldave: The novelty had worn off. It was amazing while it lasted, but it only got me so far. I realized that  my time was up. I wanted to go back to art school. Modeling allowed me to travel, live freely, without attachment to any place or person. I had nothing. I was no one. I was a total piece of shit and I knew it.

Did they tell you that you were shit? How did you know?

N.C: Paris Fashion Week 2007 I had no money. I was sleeping on my agents couch. One night we go out and I get fucked up. I have my call at 6am the next morning. I try to go home and get into my agents building, but she is not there and I have no credit on my phone to call her. So, I snuck into her building and tried to find a place to sleep above the elevator shaft. It was a good spot because I was hidden so I climbed up. In the morning, I wake up, have no idea where I am and as I pull my face off the ground, I realize I was lying on broken glass. So, I had to pull giant pieces of glass off my skin. All I had was a map and five euros. I finally get to the show and everyone in there was paid to take care of the models. So basically I am being treated like gold again, "coffee, croissants, feed yourself!" as they clean the blood off me. I am wearing designer clothes worth more than my family has ever owned and only a few hours ago I was drunk, pulling glass out my cheeks.

I still hate that you dumped me for modeling. Do you think it's better for models to just date models?

N.C: [Laughs] I dated a famous model for a long time and I never considered her as such. But generally, models don't necessarily date one another, they just hang out. They rely on one another for party connections.

Was your model girlfriend Russian?

N.C: Icelandic. And that reminds me, the Russian girls. People conceive them as stuck-up money-grubbers, but they work so hard. They can't help that they have been blessed with beautiful facial features. The Russian girls often get in trouble with their agents because they will be given money to live for the week and by the second day, they've sent their cab fare back to their families in Russia and just taken the metro. It's not all parties and drugs for everyone.

But for you, it was, kinda?

N.C: I was just in it to have fun and find as much trouble as possible.

Originally published for Chalked Up Magazine, 2009

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