• Day 239: Male Eye Candy

    Date: 2010.10.18 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    When I met John Palmer in 1999 and found out he was a male model, I could not stop giving him shit.  Despite the fact he had a B.A. in art from UC-Berkeley and began his career as a carpenter.  A model?  Come on.  Plus I figured of course he was gay.

    He quickly disabused me of what little I knew about male models which includes this fact: The majority of them are 100 percent straight.  And if you were a star in the 1980s like John, your life was a blur of catwalking in Milan, Paris and New York, being a muse for Kenzo – and having sex practically 24-7 with every beautiful woman you wanted.

    The catwalk?  What’s it like to do such a ridiculous thing?  What do you think when you’re swaggering along the runway?

    “How everyone wants to fuck me,” John said, matter-of-factly.


    I was living in New York and working as an anchor at the Fox News Channel at the time.  Most of my friends were caught up in the workaholic media/finance/arts boom of the ’90s.  I didn’t know anyone who worked for a few hours a week while gallivanting around Europe, making in the high six figures – and having constant sex.  I was intimidated.

    “Well, I’m from New England,” I said, a little defensively, as if that might explain our differences and give me a little breathing room.

    Like he cared.  You can’t look like John and have his wit and charm and not have a girl in every port.  When I met John, his biggest problem was making sure he got his hair professionally thinned enough.  Now in his 50s, he still has to get it thinned.

    You’d think he’d be the kind of guy you’d know for two weeks and never hear from again.  Or, he’d never hear from you again.

    Surprisingly, not true.   All these years later, John is one of those rare people you can call anytime you want and say anything you want – in any state of mind, good, bad or seriously unhinged.  I like that he gives me the space to be exactly who I am – and he usually just finds it funny.

    John is different from a New York guy, and not just because he’s a California boy. He has all the sexual self-confidence that many otherwise super-successful New York guys lack.  But he’s missing the arrogant chip and the conformist chip that drives so many of the New York guys I used to know to such heights.

    Like me, he looks normal but he’s eccentric.  It’s always a relief to have a few people in your life like him.  That way you don’t always have to dial down your eccentricity to fit into a world where hardly anyone understands it.

    John’s sort of an outlaw.  He just doesn’t care.  He still models (!) when he feels like it but went into real estate when his modeling career started to fade.

    Cue yesterday.  I was reading Guy Trebay’s piece in the Sunday New York Times titled “From Boys to Men,” which is about how magazine editors are seeking older male models in reaction to tough economic times:

    “You lose the T-shirt and the skateboard. You buy an interview suit and a package of Gillette Mach 3 blades. You grow up, in other words. Suddenly evidence of a new phase in the cycle of evolving masculine imagery was all over the catwalks in the runway season that recently ended. Just as suddenly it can be seen splashed across the covers of magazines, where the boys of recent memory have been transformed overnight into men.”

    The article mentioned that a “80s star” male model named Matt Norklun was on the cover of the new issue of Vogue Hommes International, embodying the new “rugged and mature” look sought after by editors and bookers.

    “Jon Hamm’s square-jawed Don Draper,” wrote Trebay, is the new ideal.

    It was barely 6 a.m. in Santa Monica when I dialed John’s number, but he’s usually up early.  He picked up.

    “Who is Matt Norklun and why is he on the cover of  Vogue Hommes International and not you?” I demanded.  ”And who has a squarer jawline than you?”

    OK, said John, I’ve still got a modeling website.  Maybe I’ll give it another go.

    Check it out if you want some man chocolate and get your week off to a sweet start.

    And please note John’s suave, Sears Roebuck catalog casual arm move with glasses in hand in the below shot of us from 2003.   Model perfect!