Modern Southern Gentleman
For many years the United Flight from IAH to AMS has been the least expensive way to get to Europe from Houston on a direct flight. After my former business had gotten out of the red, I took an annual trip to Europe to relax and recharge immediately after our year’s busiest season. I would always begin in Amsterdam and stay there at least two nights at both the onset and conclusion of the trip. My favorite hotel there is the ‘t Hotel. The unbelievably charming boutique accommodation that’s right on a canal has a bakery on the ground level. It might be my favorite hotel in the world. I’d say my first-ever truly “erotic” shoot was in Amsterdam – a stunning collaboration with the great Rene Zuiderveld.
Austin is just a 2.5 hour drive from my home in Houston. My shoots in Austin only started in 2020. Two were pre-pandemic and the remainder were during the covid era. By the end of May 2020, I needed to get out of my house. I rented an Airbnb in Austin, took 3 days’ worth of food in a cooler, didn’t call any Austin friends and binged on Netflix. I also booked a few socially-distanced shoots with Tate Tullier and Carlos Salazar. I then took very similar short trips back there in July, August and December. With the monotony of long-term quarantine, these Austin getaways were truly my saving grace during such extended periods of isolation. By year’s end, Tate and Carlos had become my go-to photographers. Even post-pandemic when regular travel resumes, I couldn’t imagine not trying to shoot with them periodically. I love them.
My 2018 trip to Europe found me in Berlin. I’d been there once before in 2010 and loved it. I’d booked two shoots at my Airbnb – which was the cutest apartment in Schöneberg with “bathhouse décor.” Like it had a dry sauna and those glass-bricks in the shower. While there, a friend of a friend messaged me on Facebook “I guess I know why you’re here!” And I’m like “?” So there’s this huge circuit party / rave called Snax. I’d never heard of it. It was at this super famous club called Berghain. Y’all I hadn’t been to a circuit party in at least 15 years. But when in Berlin… I had the best time ever even though I waited for over four hours in the freezing cold to get in (my ass-less wrestling singlet for the very-strict dress code event was underneath my jeans, sweater and light jacket). I made some amazing friends and one of them stayed with me in Houston the following year while traveling through.
Brussels was my big trip in 2019. Honestly because I had so much fun at Snax in Berlin the year before, I asked that same person who told me about Snax – what other big parties are there like that around this time of year? He told me about La Demence in Brussels and how this year was the 30th Anniversary – it would be huge. So, I went all-in with a full-on weekend pass. I had this fabulous Airbnb right in the Grand Place with a stunning view. You can see from my photoshoot there that the apartment had a unique winding wooden staircase and super-high ceilings. While in Brussels I made an absolutely amazing friend from NYC that I’m still in touch with and can’t wait to see again. He had gone to college in Brussels so not only was he cute, smart and funny – he also was the perfect guide.
My mom and my brother and his family now live either in or outside of Charlotte. This shoot was at a very interesting time for me – my divorce was still being contested (we settled at mediation two weeks later) and I was having to work through some things with my mom. Tom is a real pro and it was an honor…plus a fantastic escape to lose myself in modeling for a few hours. I’ll remember this trip with great fondness too because it included Election Night 2020. It got off to a scary start but thankfully things went “my” way and there weren’t any surprises the next morning. My mom’s team lost but she hadn’t been that excited about their QB for quite a while.
People from Houston are supposed to hate Dallas. I’ve never had a bad time in Dallas. It’s definitely fun. Skivvies is the bomb. And I really, really do love a Hunky’s burger. The photographers in Dallas most definitely do not disappoint either. In this genre of photography, I’d say the most notable for this region (if not the entire world) is the iconic work of Mack Sturgis. I’m extremely proud of my collaboration with him. To be honest I don’t think my lean body-type is really in sync with his bread-and-butter super meaty men. I was a tad intimidated. But all of my angst and imposter syndrome went away the minute I met them. Not only are the photographs world-class, the experience is too.
I was in Denver for 24 hours. I had a conference close on Saturday morning in Houston, drove to the airport, flew to Denver, did a sexy photoshoot, stocked up on certain things that are legal in Colorado and then flew home. Does anyone else do ridiculous stuff like that? I stayed in the cutest place in the River North Art District. I walked around and had my first ever burger from Shake Shack. Like – it wasn’t a new restaurant…I’d just never been there before. Well, it was amazing. But do keep in mind in my condition a sock would have probably tasted like a delicacy.
Some of my most historic shoots have been in my beloved hometown of Houston. My first-ever was with the legendary Evin Thayer for my 40th birthday. Two “pandemic” shoots were taken by my ex during the height of the lockdown. I was also most fortunate to be able to engage NYC photographer Chris Fucile for a shoot at my old home…he was sort of “trapped” here with family until it was deemed safer to travel. I also adore that my first shoot at my new apartment was taken by Austin’s Tate Tullier. I made my place look so cute with fresh flowers everywhere. Tate’s year-end photographs made me so proud of myself and my new life.
My mom and I are in the habit of taking a mom-son trip once a year. It’s basically because I’m selfish and I don’t like to share her attention with others during larger family gatherings. She and I are very close…and this trip was especially meaningful because it was arranged around what would have been my dad’s birthday during the year after he died. We stayed at Caesar’s, saw James Taylor and had a birthday lunch in honor of my dad at the Top of the World (where all my mom talked about was “90 Day Fiancé”). One morning I snuck off for a shoot – I had booked a suite at Bally’s for some crazy-low rate. I loved the suite because it was just so very Vegas – and very red.
I'll admit I felt like a movie star when I arrived at my Airbnb in the Hollywood Hills. Y’all it wasn’t a mansion – it was tiny - but it was cute af. The property was partially covered by this stunning bamboo forest. This is dumb to admit but I never associated the phrase “Hollywood Hills” as literally having topographical features that are so scenic and gorgeous. Anyway, for some reason I think my photos from Los Angeles just look really “LA” ~ especially those by Gabriel Goldberg. Y’all this guy like shoots Jane mf Fonda. I hate the word surreal but it was all surreal. I also enjoyed some super solid shopping at Cookies thanks to a solid recommendation from my high school buddy that also lived on Queen’s Court.
The impetus for my Montreal trip was a public policy conference on trade. I organized my schedule to book shoots beforehand and afterwards. The first took place in my Airbnb condo in the Gay Village. The second was in the majestic Laurentian Mountains. Y’all I adore Montreal. I love all of the things that are legal there too. I also have massive regret that after very long days I never made it to see any of the male dancers in the Village because I’ve heard they are simply the most. Hopefully I’ll be back sooner rather than later. I did bring home a lot of maple syrup.
My NYC shoots have all been so vastly different – which is very “NYC” in my opinion. SoHo. The West Village. Queens. My second photoshoot ever was in NYC in the summer of 2018 and it was close to one year after my inaugural one in Houston. I was nervous. This wasn’t my friend Evin shooting me in my backyard. It was executed by a New York City photographer in an underground (literally) studio in SoHo. Of course, when the shoot wrapped, I felt like a superstar. As for the overall quantity of my photoshoots, I did one in 2017, five in 2018 and then twelve in 2019. I believe the trend shows that my successful completion of a shoot in New York City not only reignited the passion for modeling but also gave me great confidence that I could pull this off anywhere in the world.
I don’t really like to venture out much when I’m in Paris. I like to book an Airbnb in Le Marais, wander around, go for Happy Hour at the Cox Bar (maybe my favorite bar in the entire world), shop at a local grocery store, cook my own meals, enjoy some goodies I’ve brought over from Amsterdam and, y’all, I’m definitely a fan of Le Raidd. Call is cheesy or whatever – that place is dope and the crowd is fun. My Paris shoots were so different ~ one very bright plus one very leather equals both very fabulous. I do have to compliment Alex Ferrari on directing me when I speak like four words in French. Even without words, he clearly communicated when I needed to flex my abs. It was hilarious. Also, on this trip I experienced posing for an artist for a live drawing for the first time. Oh man. I was hooked on that. His name is Florent and you should definitely check him out on IG at @derfloh2. He’s way, way talented and a great guy.
I was thrilled to find new photographers in San Antonio just weeks prior to my website and brand launch. During this time, my goal was to load up on content so that post-launch my time and energy could be focused on the actual launch logistics and making sure everything rolled out smoothly. It's a short, convenient drive from Houston. I rented an Airbnb and performed two shoots - the first on a late Monday afternoon and the second on Tuesday morning. Notable firsts for these shoots include: lace, ropes and a mustache.
Now that I’m writing all of these city descriptions I honestly can’t remember if my trips were motivated by photoshoots or cannabis tourism. Well basically that inquiry is six and a half dozen of the other…and so wonderful just to combine them both. My Airbnb in San Diego was the crazy cutest craftsman bungalow. It had an award-winning garden and the nicest owner (an artist) that lived on the property too. It was situated in a cool location that was a quick walk to find a bridge that would take me to the heart of a very fun gay district. This was actually my first shoot of 2019 and a whole five months after my last set in Europe. To be truthful, I was like a cat in heat and that’s apparent in the photographs…most of which cannot appear on Instagram.