AJ Abualrub | Fashion Men | Models | New York | News

New York's Male Models Lead the Unglamorous Life


For its issue coinciding with New York Fashion Week, New York magazine follows rookie male models, more specifically Petey Wright and AJ Abualrub (above), the winners of last year's Vman Ford Models model search, as they navigate their new careers.

Writes Mike Albo: "Financially speaking, male modeling is not unlike being a straight-male porn star: The men have always made less than the women, and very few become big names. For most magazine work, models are paid less than $250. Twenty percent of that goes to the agency, which also bills models for their board and expenses. 'Sometimes you get charged for things you never thought of,' says Petey, 'like $30 a month to be on the website.' The only hope of making ends meet is to book an ad campaign or catalogue job. But even those are less lucrative than they once were. 'Where you used to get $5K for a job, it’s now $2K,' says JD Ferguson, a former model who now works as a fashion photographer. 'I remember my booker saying to me, ‘Hey, if you won’t do $2,000, there’s another guy right behind you that will.’ "

Ferguson also dispels another myth: "Gay models will go down in history as the biggest misconception about the male modeling world."

Although they do apparently sleep together:


Petey and the Boys [new york magazine]
(nym photos cass bird)

You may remember AJ from his recent campaign for Calvin Klein shot by Fabien Baron.

Four more shots from that campaign after the jump, plus an extra from Hedi Slimane's Vman series, AFTER THE JUMP...

Aj1 Aj2

Aj3 Aj4

One more from the Vman series.


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  1. Modeling just seems like something fun to do when you're young and wouldn't be making a ton of money, anyway. I mean, yeah, wouldn't it be grand for them to live a dream making thousands and thousands of dollars - but please, you're a freaking male model! Just enjoy having that experience.

    Posted by: John | Feb 18, 2009 12:43:54 PM

  2. The last third of the paragraph is a repeat.

    Posted by: sean | Feb 18, 2009 12:49:07 PM

  3. 2 yrs ago i worked briefly at this artsy hotel in the flatiron district and they had 2 floors with just models sent by agencies...there was like 4 people in each room, 5 rooms a floor and one bathroom per floor..i dont know how they did it

    Posted by: Daveynyc | Feb 18, 2009 12:56:30 PM

  4. Oh those poor things, I feel so much for them =/

    Posted by: protogenes | Feb 18, 2009 1:02:54 PM

  5. I was an agent at Boss Mdels way back in the beginning (Whoa that David Bossman! Creature!).

    I often had to feed the guys because it's not a high paying gig. Models learned very quickly which bars had free food because NYC was so expensive. I myself would lead the troops because on my meager salary (Which Mr Bossman always found a way not to pay) I couldn't afford my apt with no kitchen or shower and to eat either. I remember living on oysters and vodka at a bar that would feed me that because I would fill the place with models and eating salads at Cucina de Pesce because they had an all you can eat mussel bar while you waited for a table. The trick was to go at 9pm and hope you had a long wait for a table.

    These guys were 99% straight and loveable as hell. I always felt like I had a rag tag group of the cutest puppies on earth.

    It got old quick.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Feb 18, 2009 1:15:03 PM

  6. Not sure what this whole 'gay male model' myth is all about. Im sure many are straight, but all the male models I know are gay except for one.

    Posted by: Drewboo | Feb 18, 2009 1:34:59 PM

  7. After reading this article, who would want to be a male model? You would be stupid to be one.

    The fashion industry is exploiting their looks and the models are not getting fair compensation. Pardon my ignorance. But, do they have a union or something similar like the actors?

    Posted by: LTP | Feb 18, 2009 2:02:21 PM

  8. What does "Gay models will go down in history as the biggest misconception about the male modeling world." mean?

    I'm really tired of self-hating gay men. The fashion industry is full of them. They are the ones that uphold gender roles which state that gay men are always feminine and lesbian are always masculine. It's oppressive.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 18, 2009 2:47:37 PM

  9. Bill - The quote means that a lot of people think that most, if not, all male models are gay but JD says that that's a big misconception.

    Drewboo - is that so? Blind item time?

    Posted by: JAKE | Feb 18, 2009 2:59:28 PM

  10. This is what you call low-grade PR. $2K for a photo shoot is good money if you are doing one per week or two. I'm sure there is a washing out period where guys can't hack it, but I'm told the pay is very good. And, if you're poor, you won't be eating yourself out of a job.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 18, 2009 3:08:59 PM

  11. might be time to start looking for a real career ... I mean if you can't slide by on $2K per job then heck maybe brewing up some coffee at Starbucks or flipping a few burgers as MickeyD's would provide a better life ...

    Posted by: ChrisM | Feb 18, 2009 3:13:56 PM

  12. The peak of male beauty seems to me to be between the ages of 18-24. A short career half-life to be sure. If you are blessed with outstanding good looks, by all means flaunt it, share it and use it! It will be gone before you know it, but it could open doors. Living in the NYC fast lane is much better than flipping burgers in some red state. Go for it!

    Posted by: JONNY NYNY2FLFL | Feb 18, 2009 3:56:26 PM

  13. I've always heard that the guys who actively pursue a career in modeling have a higher percentage rate of gay men than the male models who never had an interest in it and were plucked off the streets of Paducah. But the percentage is still relatively high, not '99% straight'.

    Posted by: David | Feb 18, 2009 4:22:57 PM

  14. No doubt most of these very young men (and some are steadily working at 17) identify as straight. Whether this is delusional and self-hating on their part, given that the whole scene is peopled by tons of gay men is a different question.
    JD Ferguson's comment,though inartfully stated, was his attenpt to break a stereotype and perhaps ease the homophobia for some of these kids from red state USA.
    I picture some Bible hugging mom in Tennessee thinking: "Well at least my Tyler didn't get into porn"--except that most fashion editorials with pretty boys is soft porn these days. Let's hope she doesn't have to show the photos at the church supper.

    Posted by: Contrarian | Feb 18, 2009 4:38:23 PM

  15. Wow, to think I was never good looking enough or tall enough to be a male model. Yet as a go-go dancer I made way more than the average male model does. Though as I traveled around to work, we did have to live in rooms like that, together. The straight guy was the exception, met lots of great people, had a blast doing it... I don't think I would have wanted to live like they do, nor would I have lasted long in those circumstances. Plus all that rejection at go sees everyday. Yuck. Paying the agency for all that sounds very much like indentured slavery.

    Posted by: Critifur | Feb 18, 2009 5:00:55 PM

  16. A lot of this seems like lies or exaggerations. I'm not sure I shoul believe it.

    Posted by: Gabe R | Feb 18, 2009 7:16:13 PM

  17. Gabe R, I don't think Mike Albo or New York magazine have much incentive to make up stories naming scores of companies and people who could readily disprove the details in the story. It seems like most of the models are young and from smaller towns, and could easily be manipulated. There are lots of good looking people in the world who like having their egos stroked and may not be especially bright.

    Putting on a fashion show costs a fortune. It requires dozens of models, and it doesn't surprise me at all that the men are willing to be treated like cattle (especially if they're trying to jumpstart their careers). Women's clothing is more expensive and profitable, and women buy a lot more clothes. A wealthy man can get by with a tuxedo or nice suit for high end events. High society women are loath to wear the same dress twice.

    Not to mention, I doubt most people could name a top male model. But just about anyone with modest knowledge of pop culture over the past 20 years could name at least five female models.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 18, 2009 9:56:45 PM

  18. Guy Trebay actually says in today's NYTimes that the Duckie Brown models were partly paid with $10 Mickey D's gift certtificates and a pair of Florsheim shoes. FLORSHEIM!!!

    Posted by: Bading | Feb 19, 2009 11:30:15 AM

  19. Paul R, I'm well aware of everything you have said, but I have also heard and seen contradictory evidence to this. To use the term lies is probably a bit much, but I do believe it could be exaggerations, or twisting facts that apply to some male models and acting as if it applies generally speaking. New York magazine and New York Times in the past has not often been supportive of male models in the past, si, yes, I have every right to question the article. Many journalists in these publications and others, often make derogatory remarks about male models and male fashion all the time. This occurs within the industry and outside of it. Given the information I know about fashion and models, having been a fashion lover and model watcher, since before I was pre-teen, I'm going to stick to my beliefs and feelings, regardless of what is said by you.

    Posted by: Gabe R | Feb 19, 2009 12:23:44 PM

  20. it also has to be considered that these boys just started and haven't even been modeling for over a year yet. Like any job, when you're new you don't get paid a whole lot. But if you're a seasoned model like Chad White or Matthias Lauridsen, you get paid much more.

    As for the fees and deductions from pay they're getting, it's sucks but they make more money here than in Europe because the income tax rate is much lower than in Pais or Milan.

    Posted by: Anon2 | Feb 19, 2009 1:29:24 PM

  21. Honestly, if many of these poor unsuspecting guys, some of whom are from the midwest.. arent gettin' paid enough it aint worth it!! While $2K is not bad, if there arent enough of these gigs coming in, realistically you cant support yourself on it, again its not worth it!
    Apparently good-looking 6-ft tall men are being taken advantage of in the modeling industry! An industry that belongs to the women who love them.

    Posted by: Ozzy | Apr 4, 2009 2:09:58 AM

  22. These pictures are amazing, been wantin to model for awhile...need an extra?

    Posted by: Tony Vines | Oct 13, 2009 3:26:04 PM

  23. i'm interesting do mag shoot or models for ur works so what kind are ya looking and how much are ya paying?

    Posted by: joey | Nov 24, 2009 7:22:23 PM

  24. photo are to good and best .....i like to be in fashion modeling and i am fersher waiting for opportunity

    Posted by: pankajkalli | Sep 16, 2010 11:47:32 AM

  25. We're always looking for new faces at Bleep. 2K is ridiculous for pix - our models would never incur costs. Great pay, amazing traveling & featured in major publications. Check out Bleep Models in NYC if you're looking for work.


    Posted by: Kyle | Mar 11, 2012 5:54:34 AM

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