Look, I'm Naked!

Last week I had a story come out with Fantastics. The story was shot by the extremely talented McKenzie James and featured me butt ass naked. McKenzie and I shot the story with the help of James Nixon during my recent trip to Toronto. This was the first time I had ever been photographed nude (or at least with someone other than my girlfriend). I’ve received a lot of feedback from the photos, mostly positive, but some negative. So I wanted to say this, I think the human body is a beautiful thing. I work hard to look the way I do and there’s nothing quite as honest and raw as being completely stripped of everything. I was a little nervous going into the shoot, but McKenzie and James were absolute professionals. Once I got over that initial fear, it was a very liberating and freeing experience. And the result is some of the most beautiful pictures that I’ve ever taken. Just a reminder to step out of your comfort zone and to push yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results. Attached are some of my favorite shots. You can view the full story here. http://fantasticsmag.com/stories/focus-mike-scocozza-mckenzie-james

Mike

Going to California

Last week I began my trip from the east coast back to Los Angeles. A whirlwind of travels, people, parties, late nights, stories, and friends new and old seemed to abruptly come to an end. You anticipate something for so long, and just like that it seems it’s time to move on to something new.

Last minute, my brother Tom decided to tag along for the trip. We had driven across the county twice together before, but it had been at least 5 or 6 years since the last time we did it. Unfortunately for this trip, time was of the essence, so it was a lot of long drives. Taking shifts at the wheel while the other person slept. Trying to keep awake in the wee hours of the morning while the rest of the world seemed to shut off. Even if someone was sleeping, it was still nice to have someone accompany you for those long drives. We were able to pop into Chicago and Denver before ultimately returning to LA. Coming back to 90-degree weather was a little bit of a change from the east coast as it was begging to get brisk out there. So to beat the heat, we grabbed some beers, rented some bikes, and hit the beach. Something I rarely seem to do nowadays when I’m here. But just like that I had to send Tom back on his way and try to acclimate myself to life in Los Angeles once again.

2016 is going to bring about a lot of change for me. Change can be a scary thing sometimes; the unknown. But it’s an exciting thing. It’s how we grow as people. I’m looking forward to figuring out this process as I go. And as I sit here writing this on my friend’s couch that I slept on last night, I realize how lucky I am to have had so many amazing people come into my life. I’ve spent the better part of a decade traveling (or roaming) around this county. And in that time, every single person that I met has touched me in some way and contributed to who I am as a person. Weather it was someone who’s couch I crashed on, someone I had a conversation with at a bar, someone who came to see my band, someone who I was intimate with, someone I met for 2 minutes or have known for 10 years, you all will never fully know how much I cherish the memories that you’ve help create. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m looking forward to making more memories.

<3

Mike

Fantastics

Last week I was featured on my first editorial cover for Fantastics. The online magazine has been around for almost 10 years and featured some amazingly talented models, photographers, and stylists in that time. I’m truly honored to be a part of it. Big thank you to James Nixon for making it happen and being the best drinking buddy a guy can have.

Here are a few of my favorite shots. Full editorial can be found here. http://fantasticsmag.com/stories/portraits

Mike

A Week in the Big Apple

Ok, so it was more like a week and a half. As it is, the days seamlessly blend into nights, then back into days again anyway. That seems to be how my trips to New York City go nowadays, but the two weeks a year that are set-aside for New York Fashion Week is always an exciting time to be in the city. There’s an extra buzz and excitement in the air it seems. This year however, the organizers of NYFW had, for the first time split up the men’s and women’s shows. Men’s was actually held back in July (which I didn’t go to) and women’s was held, as it typically would be in September. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but this past NYFW season felt a little different for me; and I heard others expressing the same feelings that I had. I’m not sure if it was the splitting up of the show or what, but there was a different vibe for sure.

I did not walk in any shows for those who were curious. There weren’t many opportunities for men and honestly I really just wanted to cover some shows, mingle, and party my ass off. In that regard I think I was pretty successful. I personally love going to a party and running into so many people that I rarely see or didn’t expect to see. The modeling community is a pretty small world and I enjoy seeing my friends. We live in a bizarre little world and I don’t think many people on the outside looking in understand what it’s like. There are a lot of terrible things and hard truths that exist in this industry, but at the same time so many wonderfully fantastic things that happen. I’ve said it before, but the key is finding balance and learning how to have fun with it.

NYFW festivities aside, I was able to link up with some of my favorite photographer friends and was able to shoot with Daniela Vesco, Menelik Puryear, and Kara Nixon. All of them are extremely talented photographers whom I’ve shot with in the past, but this time took it to another level. We we’re already comfortable with each other, so we pushed things even further and I think people will be surprised and very pleased with the results. I’m taking my career in a new direction these days. I can’t wait for everyone to see what comes next.

And a big thank you to friends new and old for making time to catch up, grab a drink, watch the sun come up, and giving me a place to crash. I got nothing but love for you.

Mike

 

The Jersey Shore

I grew up in Pennsylvania, but most of my family is from New Jersey. So summers for my family and me were spent at the Jersey Shore. When I mention the Jersey Shore to someone the first images they start to conjure up are those they saw in the MTV show. They picture Italian spray tanned meatheads, who are all about fist pumping, Jagerbombs, and hitting the gym. And while that stereotype certainly exists, the Jersey Shore is so much more than that. You have diversity in the beaches from Asbury Park, to Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Long Beach Island, Atlantic City, and all the way down to Wildwood. Beautiful beaches, boardwalks, family fun, nightlife, anything you want you can find at the Jersey Shore. When I think of the beach in all its true sense, I think of the Jersey Shore.

A good friend of mine from Los Angeles grew up in Point Pleasant Beach. A childhood friend of hers was getting married over Labor Day weekend; so she was in town and invited me down to hang with her friends at the beach for the holiday weekend. The last official weekend of the summer. We had to hit the beach and catch those peak rays in the late morning. From there our bike crew went bar to bar while we did some day drinking. The weather was perfect for sitting outside, enjoying some delicious drinks, and watching some live music. The summer days at the beach turned into nights on the boardwalk. Riding the rides drunk sounds great until you get on the Gravitron and you feel your stomach moving up your body. Either way, there’s something special about going back and riding the rides you did as a kid and totally loving it. And of course we had a soundtrack of classic rock to accompany us the entire time. Like most trips, it was far too short, but I highly recommend a trip to the Jersey Shore to anyone.

Mike

Drunk on Cape Cod

I spent last week in Cape Cod, on the very eastern tip of Massachusetts, visiting one of my oldest friends. The trip began in Pennsylvania, but had a minor detour in Port Chester, NY to pick up my buddy Phil. You may remember him from America’s Next Top Model. I happed to randomly run into him at a concert a few days earlier and mentioned I was going up to the Cape. Phil is from western Massachusetts and his family was renting a house on Cape Cod for the week, just happened to be the same week I was going up there. So I grabbed Phil and together we made the painfully slow drive up I-95, through Rhode Island, and eventually on to the Cape. It’s always a pleasure for me getting to catch up with old friends.

It had been about 10 years since last time I was on the Cape. It’s full of quite little beach towns, lined with New England cedar houses and cute shops. In the summertime the towns are buzzing with tourists, but it had just started to clear out as people are now going back to school. I stayed in the town of Wellfleet with my friend and her husband in a rustic little loft right off of Route 6.

The theme of the trip, like many of my trips, seemed to be wine and food. Days were spent drinking at the beach and of course the winery. The weather was perfect. Hiking, swimming, beaching it up, couldn’t ask for better weather. We made a trip into Provincetown, all the way at the far end of the Cape. I won’t tell you much about it, but I implore everyone, gay or straight, to check out Provincetown. I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself. Here are some pictures from the private stash. And if you ever make it out to Cape Cod, be sure to stop by Truro Vineyards for a wine tasting. Good people.

North of the Boarder

I spent the past week up in Toronto, continuing my journey across the country and well other countries at this point. James Nixon, who runs a fashion magazine based in Toronto, invited me to the city to hang out and shoot. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my encounter with James or of the city in general. It had been about 15 years since I was last in Toronto. I went there to play a hockey tournament once when I was a kid, so it had certainly been awhile. Like I do in most cities, I spent a lot of time just walking around and aimlessly wondering trying to get a feel for the city. Every place I go to seems to have it’s own vibe and identity. To me, Toronto very much felt like a city in transition, a city searching for its identity. It’s made up of all these different areas, each with its own vibe, but it was lacking cohesion. There were some bright spots though; I enjoyed walking down Queen St. and Yorkville. Kensington Market is a funky, little bohemian area that had a lot of personality. Some great bars and good vibes. I had a good tour guide of the city.

James runs a magazine called Fantastics and has been working in the industry for a long time. We began talking months ago when I had submitted to the magazine. Over the months we got to talk more and offered up his couch if I ever made it to Toronto. So almost on a whim, I made the trip. We spent most of the days shooting all sorts of new stuff and then at night drinking our way across the city. I got a chance to work with Mckenzie James, one of the most talented photographers in Toronto. The knowledge that Mckenzie and James have and offered up to me was beyond priceless. The photos we shot took things to a new level, a new direction for me. I can’t want to share everything. I want to say a big thank you to James and be on the lookout for new things to come.

Mike

Chicagoland

Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States, and as much as it is a sprawling city, it still feels very much like a small town to me. I spent a week in the windy city, working, exploring, drinking, and having a good time. Summertime in Chicago is all about that lake life and being outdoors. I don’t think I could handle those brutal Chicago winters, but I’ll come visit in the springs and summer.

August is a slow month when it comes to the fashion industry. Everyone is on vacation and then gearing up for busy fall season. But I love my Chicago agency, Modelogic Midwest. Everyone on the team there is great and they work hard for their clients. I was able to stir up a little bit of work in Chicago. Not quite as busy as I would have liked, but I hope to get back to the windy city again soon for work.

Extra down time meant more time for exploring the city. The weather was gorgeous and I found myself just wondering around taking everything in. Every town has it’s own pulse to it and I love experiencing all the different things it has to offer. I was able to see some old friends on this trip and make some amazing new ones as well. I spent an evening on Lake Michigan watching fireworks over the water and gorgeous rooftop nights overlooking the city. Thank you to everyone to made it a memorable trip. It’s off to Toronto this week.

Mike

On The Road

I’m in Chicago now, but I spent the last few days driving here from Los Angeles by myself. It’s been almost 4 years since I last drove across the country. That may not seem like a long time, but I used to drive across the country every 4 months, so it feels like it’s been awhile for me. I strongly encourage every single person to take a cross-country road trip at least once in his or her life. We live in such a large and diverse country. I don’t think most people realize how vast and open it is out there. You’re left with just you and your thoughts for hours on end. That’s a scary thought for some people, but I learn something new about myself each time I make the trip. Throw on some good tunes and get lost in the spirit of travel. And if you get a chance, try making the trip by yourself, with some friends, and with some family members. I’ve done it each way and each one is a different experience. Here are some highlights for me.

The vastness of the desert never seems to impress me. It’s so open and you realize that you’re looking hundreds of miles in any direction with nothing ahead of you. Taking I-15 North through Nevada, you pass through the very northwestern tip of Arizona. It’s literally a few miles, but I always love driving through there. Them you get to Utah, which may be one of the most beautiful states in this country. There are a lot of crazy people living in Utah, but geographically it’s quite stunning. It’s vast and baron at times, then lush and green. You have mountains and rocks, plateaus and valleys, all unique and stunning in their own ways. It’s amazing to think of how these rock structures get to be the way they are. Makes you feel very small and insignificant.

I stopped in Denver for a night. I always love visiting that city. A clean city with good vibes and good people. It also doesn’t hurt that I have friends there who love to take me out drinking and show me a good time. Shout out to Morgan. The rest of the drive from Denver to Chicago is pretty boring. You take I-80 through one of the worst states, Nebraska, and then Iowa. Sorry if you live in Nebraska, but that place is just boring. Iowa is nothing but cornfields and rolling green hills. Always reminds me of an old movie where a couple is driving a car, but they’re not really driving the car, there’s just a background on loop playing behind the stationary car. That’s Iowa to me, the same background on loop. I also feel compelled to listen to Slipknot every time I go through there.

 

Here’s a taste of some of my favorite jams from the trip.

Tom Petty – Wildflowers

New Found Glory – Sticks and Stones

Brand New – Deja Entendu

Collective Soul – Greatest Hits

Third Eye Blind – Blue

Matchbox 20 – Exile on Mainstream

The Killers – Sam’s Town

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

Dashboard Confessional – The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most

My Return of Saturn

In the fall of 2005 I packed up my old, candy apple red 97’ Dodge Stratus with all my belongings and began the 3,000 mile trek from Pennsylvania to California. I was moving across country to start a new life, living with my girlfriend at the time in her college dorm room. I had spent all winter and spring touring the country with my band, The Valentine. Looking back, those months I spent packed in a van with 5 guys traveling all over this land were some of the best times of my life. The only care we had was somehow finding enough money to get to the next show and where we were going to party that night. Still to this day, some of the best memories I have. But like anything else in life, there came a time to move on. I wanted to try something new, and California was the place to do it.

Today, almost 10 years later, I packed up my car and am leaving for another adventure. This time it’s not music related, but trying some new things as a model. The industry is still a bit new for me and it’s different in every market you go to. I’ve given Los Angeles a shot, it’s been good to me, but I want to try some new markets as well. So first I’m off to Chicago. From there I’ll be making stops in Toronto, New York City, and hopefully Miami.

I’m not a person that pays attention to horoscopes and things of that nature, but in horoscopic astrology there’s an event known as the Saturn return. It’s an astrological transit that occurs when the planet Saturn returns to the same place in the sky that it occupied at the moment of a person’s birth. This tends to take about 29 to 30 years and psychologically, the first Saturn return is seen as the time of reaching full adulthood. Now someone explained this to me recently and I seemed to make a lot of sense for where my life is. I’m 29 years old, and in many ways I feel like a kid. I’m sure there’s a part of everyone that will always feel like that. But the more time I spend with people who are in their early 20s, the more I realized that I’m not a kid. Somehwere, somehow, that transition has happened. But I would be lying if I said I felt like a full on adult. It’s very strange feeling, but that’s the reality of life. I’m sort of suspended in this never-ending state of limbo.

I’ve very much enjoyed my time so far on this planet, some times I think maybe too much. But I still feel there is much more to come. I’ve grown so much as a person in the last 10 years. The things I’ve experienced have made me a better, stronger person. Maybe this trip is the start of something new, maybe I’m trying to relive moments of the past, maybe it’s my return of Saturn, or maybe I’m just itching for a road trip. Either way, I’m looking forward to hitting the road once again. There’s nothing quite like traveling, exploring, and meeting new people. I’ll try to update this as much as I can. Follow along and if for some reason we cross paths, say hello.

Mike

My time on ANTM

I’m often asked about my time on America’s Next Top Model, lets be honest that’s how most of you know me. Last night was the premier party for Cycle 22. I always love seeing the producers and everyone else who worked on the show. I got to work in close proximity with these people for 2 months and even though we rarely see each other these days, it feels like family when we’re together.

Since being on the show, I’ve met a lot of other former contestants and I’m surprised by how many of them had a bad experience. Sure, ANTM is a television show about modeling, and fashion, and following your dreams, but at the end of the day it’s still a television show. A reality show. And the point of the show is to make great television and get ratings. That’s how it stays on the air. It bums me out sometimes when I hear that people were jaded by the whole experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the show, for a lot of reasons. At the end of the day I got to experience something that not many people get to experience. It will always be a part of me; a moment that I got to capture, and I think that’s fantastic. Regardless of where things go in my career, my time on ANTM will always be a fond memory for me.

Mike

Production Life

I’m known amongst my friends as the king of random jobs. Modeling can be so up and down at times; you have to be able to have some side gigs to make extra money. Out of all the jobs I have, my favorite has to be concert production. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in the music industry. I started going to shows at a young age, signed a record deal when I was 18 and toured the country.

In concert production, you work long, hard days. But there’s something about that environment that just feels right to me. Each show is a battle that offers its own unique circumstances. But I get to go to battle with my friends and we come out together. A lot of the shows I work, I’m not a particular fan of the artist, but then there are those shows that I geek out over. Tom Petty, Kings of Leon, and Third Eye Blind have been a few of my favorites. There’s nothing quite like live music. Go out and see a band. And make sure you follow me on SnapChat, might catch some fun behind the scenes action.

Birkfam in Tahoe

I feel very fortunate that I get to travel as much as I do and it’s even better when I get to combine the travel with work. So I spent this past week in Lake Tahoe, on the boarder of California and Nevada, shooting a commercial for BirkSun. I’ve only ever driven through Lake Tahoe and that was some years ago. It’s a quiet lake town, where things slow down a bit and you just enjoy Mother Nature at it’s finest. The evergreens reach straight up into the clear blue sky, the air is crisp, and the water is so fresh and pure. It’s truly breathtaking. Hot summer days turn into vibrant, picturesque sunsets and at night you can see more stars than you even think existed. The pictures truly can’t do it justice.

We we’re shooting for BirkSun (www.birksun.com), a company that makes solar powered backpacks. Three friends, who are some of the nicest guys I’ve met, started the company 2 years ago and have been rocking since. They say they’re a family, the birkfam, which sounds cheesy, but I really felt like I was part of the family. It’s funny thing going in to do shoots with people you’ve never met before. You never know how you’re going to react to each other. A lot of times people will be a little reserved and not open up right away. I don’t think it’s on purpose, but just the nature of the beast sometimes. As it turns out, I usually end up being the old guy on the shoots. Especially when there are girls involved, they start so young, just ends up being the way it works out. But I’ve grown comfortable in the role; I’m like the wacky, older brother to everyone.

The shoot very much lived up to the motto of “work hard, play hard.” Long days on set followed by nights filled with dance parties, stories, hot tubing, shenanigans, and other fuzzy details that start to trail off. We somehow all found a common bond in pop punk and emo music. Sing-alongs to Dashboard Confessional and Blink 182 were a common occurrence. I’m a true emo kid at heart, so when you find others like that it’s always good vibes.

The trip went by all too fast. By the time we really started rolling, it was time to go again. But that’s the way it goes, hopefully we’ll be reunited on the next BirkSun shoot. And if you’re in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Dallas markets be on the looking for the commercial airing there soon.

Mike

I rarely talk about my political views, mainly because I don’t like hearing other people talk about their political views. To me, it’s a personal thing and everyone is entitled to think whatever he or she wants to think. But I was having a candid conversation with a friend recently and it got me thinking that I wanted to share a few things. You can agree, disagree, comment, whatever you want, but I feel the need to put it out there.

We’re given a very short time on this planet and personally, I want to try and experience as much as I can while I’m here. I want to travel, explore, take risks, laugh, cry, fall in love, make an impact, and ultimately leave a positive impression on the people I meet. That’s what I want to do. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to do what he or she wants to with his or her life. We don’t have to have the same ideas, beliefs, goals, and thoughts, and that’s ok. We’re all unique in our own way; that’s what makes life exciting.

With SCOUTS ruling on same sex marriage and the presence of the LGBT community in mainstream media, it’s an exciting time to live in this country as far as progress in the equal rights movement goes. I believe in equal rights for everyone. I don’t care about your race, class, skin color, or sexual orientation; we all share this world together. We’re all born the same, and we’ll all die the same. I bring this up going back to my conversation with a fiend, because for all the progress we’ve made recently, we’ve also had some of the most bigoted acts of hate in this country happen as of late. And it makes me wonder, have we really gotten anywhere? Has anything really changed in the last 50 years? From Ferguson, to Baltimore, to just recently in South Carolina, acts of pure hate have been ripping the country apart. Have we not learned anything? I don’t have an answer on how to fix things, and I don’t think anyone really does. But here is where I stand and this is what I want people to take away.

I don’t care about your race, class, skin color, or sexual orientation; we all share this world together. We’re all free to believe whatever you want. The good and the band, no one can take that away from you. But I have a problem when you’re beliefs are rooted in hate and stop someone else from trying to live the life that we’re all entitled to live. Lets have a little more love and respect for each other.

End rant.

Mike

Music Builds

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late, I promise to be more on top of it. Every day seems to bring new challenges and obstacles, but I just keep trying to move my career forward. I feel extremely fortunate that in my line of work I’m able to collaborate with a lot of my friends on different projects, especially when those projects focus around music and helping others. So when I met up with my buddy Edgel a few weeks back and he told me about a project he’s working on with his client Alpha Rev, I had to get involved.

Edgel and his partners Solomon Adams and Casey McPherson created l.i.s.a.i.l Creative, a company that works to connect artists with causes, and in the process changes the social and economical environment. Their goal is to find artists that want to make creative content that raises awareness for nonprofits and the issues they’re affecting. They then promote it through all types of media channels, bringing in new donors and volunteers for the nonprofit and new fans for the artist. The first campaign will feature Alpha Rev (www.alpharev.com) and Habitat For Humanity (www.habitat.org) working together for what is known as “Music Builds.” The band will be making a song, music video, short documentary, and public service announcement all inspired by Habitat for Humanity and they’re fight against generational poverty. On top of that, they’re partnering with the Austin affiliate of Habitat and the local music community to raise money specifically to build a new house for a family in need. It’s called “The House That Music Built.”

The band is raising funds for this endeavor using a pledge campaign. Check it out, share, and if you feel compelled, please make a donation.

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/musicbuilds

Besides being a great cause, I’ll be doing some cool, behind the scenes work for the documentary. Nothing like combining my passions for tv, music, and just getting to help people. Please check it out.

Mike

 

Lightning In A Bottle

I'm a week late here, but I wanted to post some pictures from Lightning In A Bottle Festival last weekend. I didn't know much about the festival before going, but I had been to plenty of other festivals before so I thought this would be no different. However, this was quite different. I grew up in the punk/metal scene, so this was about as far removed from that as possible. Despite overloading my senses, being over worked, getting no sleep, and being covered in dust, I had a great time. A good experience and some excellent people watching. The pictures only give you just a glimpse.



Chicago

I’m sitting at the little desk in my hotel room at the ACME Hotel, a cool little boutique hotel right in the heart of downtown Chicago, and I’m reminded once again just how random and unpredictable my life is. It’s been a few years since my last trip to Chicago, and I came here with certain expectations, both personally and professionally. I’m not sure if it works like this for anyone else, but I always seem to create these elaborate schemes in my head, with very articulate detail, of how things are going to go in my life. I obsess and think about it constantly, only for it all to blow up in my face. The things that I spend so much time thinking about and planning always seem to end up happening the exact opposite way of how I planned them. And as I sit here, I realize that I’m OK with that. The best moments of my life have been those that were completely unexpected. I realize when I get out of my head and stop thinking about who I should be, I just live. Be in the moment as they say. I’m 29 and I still have to constantly remind myself of that. I think we all get in our heads too much. Just remember to go with what’s in your heart and your gut, because it’s usually right.

But Chicago is a great city. I do love coming here. The weather confuses me, but on a nice spring day, the sun’s out, the city comes alive and there’s no place quite like it. I took meetings with agencies here in Chicago. I can’t talk about it too much, but I will have some good news ahead. I also shot with an amazing photographer named Bartlomiej Kurela and a fantastic young model named Madeline Ford. I can’t wait to share the final images. But now I have to catch a flight back to LA. Cheers!

Mike

The ups and downs of life as a model

I think most people have the wrong idea of what it’s like to work in the entertainment industry. This includes music, TV, film, and fashion. As the saying goes “the only two guarantees in life are death and taxes,” but after over a decade in the entertainment industry, I’ve come to learn that there’s even less guarantees here. It truly is a rollercoaster ride; one filled with many highs, and even more lows. And in the world we live in, most people only ever see the successes or the highs. And many of those times you never see the work that goes into becoming a success.

When I was 15 I started playing in various bands. From the start, our goal was to get a record deal and become rock stars. We figured once we got signed, our tickets to stardom would be punched. So when I was 18 years old, I signed my first record contract. It was a small indie label out of New York, but after months of working our asses off, my band and I thought we had finally made it. However, the excitement was short lived and I ended up leaving the band. They wound up never releasing anything through the label, and we got a first hand lesson of life in the music business. This story is far too common, and something that almost every musician or artist deals with in some way.

Fast forward to life after America’s Next Top Model, most people think that the contestants have opportunities coming left and right from the show. I will say this; the show is a great platform to promote yourself and your brand. You certainly gain exposure and get a chance to connect with fans. But as is the case with most things in life, nothing is handed to you. After being thrown into this world, I thought all I had to do was getting signed to an agency and I would be set. I quickly learned two things. First, that getting signed to an agency is hard, even with all the exposure I had. And second, getting signed doesn’t mean your work is done.

After almost a year of trying, I did eventually sign with MSA Models in New York and Los Angeles. I have a great relationship with all the agents there and we work very well together. But what people don’t fully understand is just because you’re signed with an agency, doesn’t mean you automatically start booking work. I would guess to say that maybe 10-15% of all models are booked all the time and make a good living. The other 85-90% of us struggle every day and try to figure out how we’re going to pay our bills each month. I get out on castings quite often, but when it’s all said and done I book about 2-3 jobs a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But this is pretty common among most of my model friends. We work in an industry where we hear the word “no” much more than we hear “yes.” You have to learn to develop a think skin and be mentally strong; it’s not an easy thing. And in those down periods we all work numerous odd jobs and even help each other find other gigs. I know a lot of people who say they’re “models” will never admit this, but that’s the reality of working in this industry.

We’re all out here because each of us has a dream that we’re trying to chase. I want people who are thinking about getting into this crazy world, that just because you sign a record contract, or sign a modeling contract, or end up on a TV show, doesn’t mean you’ve made it. Keep working and keep improving yourself. It's something I struggle with every day, we all do. There will be highs and there will be lows, but just keep moving forward. Focus on being the best you. It sounds cheesy, but the only person holding you back is you.

Mike

Diet and Exercise

People ask me all the time about my diet and exercise routine. I’m always down to give tips and advice, but at the end of the day you need to find what works best for you. I grew up playing sports and was a very active kid. My brother and I played soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey and pretty much anything that was competitive. We were always outside running around, that’s what you do in rural Pennsylvania. Hockey was my main sport throughout high school, but I never worked out for it and really didn’t care about my diet. Fast forward a couple years out of high school, I’m on tour all the time, eating pizza every day and drinking all the beer I can get my hands on. I never realized just how active I was growing up until I stopped playing sports. I had turned into what I like to call “skinny fat.”

A few years ago I got tired with the way I was looking and feeling, so I decided to make a change. I was working with a guy who was always at the gym lifting and he took me under his wing. He taught me a lot of the basics when it came to properly lifting and also about supplements. I read lots of literature and started watching videos online, trying to learn as much as I could. What I found with diet and exercise was that its one of the few things in life you have total control over, and for me that was very empowering. If you put in the time, effort, and energy, you will see the direct results. This has now become a lifestyle for me. If you really want to change your body, the way you look and feel, you need to change your lifestyle. I’m fortunate enough that I live a life where I can do that. It’s not easy, it’s actually extremely difficult, but if you want to do it you can make it happen.

I’m always looking for ways to improve my look and physic. 2 months ago I started following a paleo diet, and it’s taken things to a new level for me. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the paleo diet is meant to mimic a “hunter/gatherer” diet. You CAN eat Grass-produced meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds, healthful oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut). You CANNOT eat Cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, refined vegetable oils. I pretty much eat the same thing all day long, it’s quite boring. But I feel incredible and I look much more lean and tone. Since I’ve been working out and eating right, nothing has showed me more results than going paleo. Exercising is a must, but as far as getting results, your diet makes up about 70% of the work.

I’m in the gym 6 days a week. My cycle is typically chest, shoulders, legs, back, arms, and then an off day, and then back at it. I’ll do a heavy week and then a rep week. I honestly hate doing cardio, but I try to find ways to mix up my routine as well. I do yoga (I love hot yoga), hiking, swimming, and kickball. You have to mix things up and keep your body guessing. Once you start to plateau, and you will, you need to shake things up and push it to a new level.

I’m not a personal trainer or a nutritionist, just a guy who has dedicated himself to living a healthy lifestyle. That includes physical, mental and emotional health. It works for me and I know it can work for anyone. If I can help out or be a resource in any way feel free to comment and get involved.

Mike


 

Adventures in Joshua Tree

The past week was spent working with one of my old friends, Aaron Pierce. Aaron is one of the owners of Commonwealth Proper, a Philadelphia based bespoke menswear company that focuses on custom made goods. You can check them out at www.commonwealthproper.com. It's been amazing to watch Aaron and the brand grow over the past 6 years. There's no better feeling than seeing success come to your friends.

Tagging along with Aaron was Ryan Olde, an amazingly talented photographer from the Philadelphia area. Check out his work at www.instagram.com/ryan_genessa. I had never met Ryan prior to the trip, but you would have never known it. We instantly bonded, talking about going to shows back in the day, farting, and basically just making fun of each other. Right away I knew we were going to get some good stuff.

We were shooting for Commonwealth Proper's Custom Anything Campaign. The first day we planned on shoot around Silverlake, the neighborhood I live in. We ended up having the best luck, finding an old school, pink Mercedes Benz and a beautiful church. I tried to channel my inner Steve McQueen, and the results were amazing.

After getting some killer shots the first day, we were pumped to head out to Joshua Tree for the rest of the shoot. Aaron and I had never been to Joshua Tree and we're excited to experience all the magic the desert had to offer. We ended up renting this killer house off Air BnB. The colors and decor just lended itself so perfectly to the openness and beauty of the desert. Joining us out there was Zander Bleck and Rachel Willams. Rachel is a model and friend of mine. Zander came to us through Aaron's business partner Craig, but no one had ever met him. The only information we knew of Zander was what we saw online. Zander turned out to be an incredibly talented and honest soul who just added such a great dynamic to the group. He's worked as a model, but his main focus is singing and performing. Just check him out and you'll see what I mean. www.zanderbleck.com

As I've gotten older, I've learned to surround myself with people who truly love and support me. It's a hard thing to figure out sometimes when you're younger, but it so important for your well being. I bring this up because the energy between the 4 of us was incredible. We spent our nights sitting around a table, telling stories of our travels and finishing bottles of tequila. After that a group dance party and some start gazing. These are the types of nights you remember for the rest of your life. And that energy translated into the photos.

Zander and I each shot about 6 looks. It's incredible how two people can wear almost the same outfit, but yet it look so different on each of them. Everyone has their own style and we should celebrate that style. Rachel brought the effortless sexiness to the mix and Ryan captured it all. We must have shot for 12 hour one day. I remember sitting down that night and looking at Aaron and Ryan, they're faces were bright red and covered in dirt. They looked exhausted, but we couldn't be happier.

I can't share most of the photos yet, but will as they come in. I think these of some of my favorite pictures that I've shot. I want to thank Aaron, Ryan, Zander and Rachel for being amazing people and letting me be a part of this. Joshua Tree is a magical place that everyone should experience. I'm looking forward to getting back there with this crew and making more memories.

Thank you.