Hot guys: John Stallings
Duane Wells | August 05, 2008
I’m not getting paid a ton of money, but modeling is a passion. This is what I love to do and I think you should always wake up being happy doing what you’re doing. And also knowing that no success story begins without a struggle. – John Stallings
Out male model John Stallings first caught the eye of television audiences with his sculpted, sinewy six-foot frame and oceanic blue eyes as a contestant on the short-lived but delectably testosterone infused Bravo reality series Manhunt. Though eliminated early on in the Manhunt chest fest, Stallings, with his modeling dreams no longer deferred, went on to work the showrooms and runways of such fashion heavyweights as Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Perry Ellis and Viktor & Rolf.
Along the way, the camera-beloved North Carolina-born, Utah-raised clotheshanger scored the covers of magazines like Envy and Q Vegas while simultaneously igniting editorial spreads for glam fashion tomes like Seventeen and 944.
A sleeker, more savvy Stallings later re-emerged on seasons one and two of Oxygen’s Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, which turned out be yet another stepping stone on the rising star’s path to male supermodel nirvana.
True to form, on the JDMA show, John become one of it’s standout stars, booking job after job, carefully navigating the perils of revealing too much about himself in the process. Which is curious, given that minutes into a recent chat I had with him, John flatly acknowledged his love of frank talk, declaring almost immediately, “I’m an open book.”
In this candid conversation, Stalling reveals his own coming out story and the not-so-glamorous side of modeling. He dishes about everything from Janice Dickinson and life behind the scenes of a reality television show to the physical benefits of masturbation.
Duane Wells: Good to chat with you again John.
John Stallings: What’s going on Duane? Where’s my glass of Champagne? We should have been doing this in LA!
DW: Next time.
JS: That’d be great.
DW: So let’s get right to it. You were on Manhunt, one of the very first reality shows to highlight male models. And you were also one of the most popular models, male or female, on the Oxygen Network’s Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. Looking back, how much credit do you give reality television for your current success?
JS: Reality television was a great time. And obviously I don’t live my life in regret or anything, but I don’t really attribute any of my success to being on a reality TV show. The only thing I do attribute to [the experience] is being recognized on the street and having more MySpace and Facebook friends from all around the world.
DW: Well then let me follow up by asking how reality TV has shaped your life and career?
JS: From the friends I’ve made, the one amazing thing that I’ve gotten out of [reality TV] is [the knowledge] that… directly or indirectly, I’ve had some kind of inspiration on people coming out of the closet or going after their dreams without trying to conform to society.
But as for getting more modeling jobs or having someone hire me because I was on one of the TV shows, none of that’s really happened. I’ve always had a great agency with good contacts around the world behind me and they have been the ones that have placed me.
I did go to Tokyo for the first time with the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency but that was also through Sandy Bass and she’s an amazing scout. So I give credit to her. I don’t really give credit to Janice or the show for that. [Laughs]
You know Janice. It’s all about her and the show has her name on it, so of course she’s going to talk about herself and be a crazy lady, but as for personal gain in the modeling industry it’s been either my push for it or my current agency.
DW: Has reality TV been a blessing or a curse for you then?
JS: I wouldn’t want to saturate myself in reality TV shows… although maybe I have [Laughs]. I have been on two shows, one season of Manhunt and two seasons of Janice Dickinson. [Laughs] So you know the talk around the industry about being a reality whore and you begin to become known as John Stallings from Janice Dickinson’s show and I’m like ‘No, I’m John Stallings, you should get to know me from other stuff that I’ve done and other talents that I have.’
Negatively, I do know that some modeling agents in New York and around the world say that if you’ve been on a reality television they don’t want to represent you… or they don’t need those kinds of people. Agents love to find the new person… they love to say ‘I found John Stallings and look at him now, he’s all over the place.’ [So] sometimes they look at the exposure from reality TV negatively… as a downfall.
DW: What’s your advice to aspiring male models?
JS: You really have to maintain self-sufficiency. I’m just trying to work myself to death right now to pay off some debts and make up for some of the money I didn’t make when I was in Hong Kong. I’m actually working at Starbucks in Albertson’s. Yeah. It’s real glamorous isn’t it? [Laughs]
But this industry is so fickle and it does not guarantee you money all the time. Like Heidi Klum says, one day you might be in and on another you might be out. So you have to know that some income is always coming in.
Literally I’ve been living out of suitcase for the last eight months. But I’m fine with that because I have a bigger goal in my life.
DW: Along those same lines, what’s the biggest misconception about reality TV personalities you’ve encountered?
JS: I don’t want to pinpoint middle America, but you do have people who think that anybody who’s on TV is making a million dollars and that they’re living the glamorous life and that they pay their bills on time. But, you know what? I’m still working at Starbucks and I’m still crashing on people’s couches… people have no idea.
That’s what’s really kind of funny is that I never got the opportunity to sit down on camera on reality television and talk about the reality of modeling.
DW: Allow me to be a trifle catty for a moment. On JDMA, much ado was made about the coming out of one of your fellow models, JP Calderon…
DW: Yes I know. He’s had two covers of Instinct Magazine devoted to him…
JS: He got a second one?
DW: Indeed he did…
JS: Where’s my cover, by the way? [Laughs]
DW: Well that’s what I was getting to…
JS: I’m sorry. [Laughs] I’ll stop interrupting you. Go on…
DW: You’ve been out since the Manhunt series, yet there was hardly any mention about your sexuality on JDMA. Was that your choice or were there other factors at play?
JS: I think JP has the personification of the gay man that kind of needs to be shown a little bit more. He’s Mr. pro volleyball player… the every day Joe Blo… who’s gay. I think the show focused on him because he’s that guy that you would never know was gay. He’s just your every day, really good looking guy who takes care of himself and was a guy’s guy at that time.
Manhunt did approach me and say, ‘Hey, you are openly gay, do you want us to focus on that? Are you comfortable with any questions that come through?’ I was more than happy to do that, but everything ended up on the editing floor as far as I know. There’s still to this day, people that come up to me and try to figure me out. They’re like… 'Do you have kids now? Are you married? Are you dating?' And I’m just like, ‘What part of me looks like I have kids or that I’m married to a woman? No I’m gay.’ [Laughs]
DW: Now that was on Manhunt, but was there ever any discussion of the fact that you were openly gay on the Janice Dickinson show?
JS: I don’t really remember if it was on-camera. I remember the first time I met Janice in the agency in L.A… she was like… 'Are you gay or straight?' And I said, ‘I’m whatever you want me to be, Janice.’ Then Janice said, ‘Alright, I love it. I love it.’
I was just really professional on the show. There are some times that I wish I would have been a little more crazy or shown a different side of my personality. But I wasn’t about to be a ham in front of the camera for stupid drama reasons as other models had done. That’s just not me.
DW: Then it was, at least in part, your choice not to make the fact that you were gay a big issue on the show in the way that it turned into a big issue for JP?
JS: Right. Because, to me, sexuality is not a big issue.
DW: Healthy enough I suppose. What was your coming out like?
JS: I truly have always known that I was gay. I was chasing Johnny around the kindergarten playground with some random feelings inside, which, of course, you don’t know what’s going on when you’re young, but there’s still that draw. [Laughs}
When I was 18… my mom came in from grocery shopping and sat her stuff down. I was in the dining room making phone calls and my mom looked at me and said ‘I need to ask you something.’ It was the weirdest thing, but I knew she was going to ask me about my sexuality.
[Then] My mom said, ‘John you’re a very attractive young man. You’ve never dated. Is there something you need to tell me?’
I was like, ‘Oh my god. This is the time! This is it!’ I hadn’t planned to do it but… I just broke down… I started crying and I said, ‘I’m gay.’ My mom started to cry as well. It was just an emotional time. She [my mom] just wanted to let me know that since I was going off to college… that I was surrounded by love and complete respect and that whatever I chose to do or become they would always be behind me 100%. That was really special.
Then my dad came home from work and my mom said, ‘Honey, John needs to tell you something.’ And I was like ‘Oh God, all over again!' So I told my dad I was gay and I started crying all over again. Then he said, ‘Alright, that’s cool. What’s for dinner?’ I always remember that line, even though he doesn’t remember it. But it didn’t phase him.
It was completely easy. And it’s been nothing but love since that time. It’s so funny that it was not on my time.
DW: You’ve been out then since you started modeling. Is there bias against out male models in the industry?
JS: Yes. I found out that there were a couple of castings I was not allowed to go on in Hong Kong because I wasn’t masculine enough or because I didn’t portray a masculine enough energy about myself. I found this out through a grapevine kind of thing and I was a little upset to hear that the agency representing me in Hong Kong didn’t sit down with me and say we have these castings we really want you to get but we’ve been getting feedback from clients that you’re too jovial or portraying something they’re not used to.
Since I began modeling, I’ve actually been astounded that I haven’t run into as many gay male models as I thought I would. I went to Milan in 2006 for a month and Iived in a house with like twenty major models and not one of them… at least that I knew… was gay. I was the only one and a couple of the guys didn’t like me because of that and they actually showed me by not talking to me and keeping their distance away from me which I thought was so funny. But you’re not gonna get along with everyone. So…
DW: Traveling as much as you do, is it hard to date?
JS: I sometimes become asexual when I travel just because it’s not worth it. I don’t care to date when I’m traveling. Maybe I just don’t want to be set up for heartbreak. You’re only there for a certain amount of time and you’re always saying ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to everybody. It’s difficult to be in a relationship.
DW: Are you in a relationship now?
JS: I am not, but just coming back to Vegas I have begun to date somebody. But to me, dating is dating and as long as you’re open with your communication you can date whoever the hell you want. As long as everybody knows what’s going on.
I’ve literally only had one boyfriend in my life and that was back in New York when I was 20 or 21. I definitely know that I will have my prince and my knight in shining armor because I live by what I’ve grown up around. Who I meet and who I want to be with, I know I will be with him for the rest of my life.
DW: Just to clarify then, you’re saying you’ve been single for 8 years now?
JS: I’ve been single forever! [Laughs] For 28 years. It might sound like I’m saying this sucks and I really want someone but there’s a large part of me that’s happy the way I am right now. I’m still geographically unstable… and I still want to travel. Once I know that I can have a home base in New York or LA and I have a decent amount of stuff coming through so I can maintain that adult side of my life... I hate being an adult... then I can open up myself more to someone else.
DW: I feel so much better about myself now! So since your work is so important, what’s your workout regimen? Do you have a secret for staying in shape?
JS: You know I love and hate this question. I don’t have a workout regimen at all. I used to answer this question [by saying] cheeseburgers at McDonald’s, Starbucks every day and pasta and Velveeta cheese at night… and I still do that. I have an irregular heartbeat and my metabolism is a lot higher than a lot of people’s, so actually keeping on the weight is harder for me. So I have to do protein shakes a lot. If I walk a normal day or skip a meal, I’ll lose five pounds, which I think is disgusting.
I can’t do cardio because I will tire out a lot faster because of my heart rate [although] I won’t go into cardiac arrest or anything [and] I don’t have a gym membership right now.
I do my pushups at night. I do my pushups in the morning. Crunches… I hate them… I don’t know how I’ve kept my stomach flat but I have. [Laughs] There’s room for improvement on everybody and I’d definitely like to see myself a little bit bigger and a little more muscular and all that good stuff.
DW: Your unorthodox work-out schedule aside, tell me something most people don't know about you?
JS: That I used to be a pro bowler. I was in the junior pro bowlers association. I actually did a lot of scholarship tournaments and that sort of thing. I never got a scholarship from it but whatever. That was like mine and my dad’s time together growing up. We didn’t play catch in the front yard or football because I was always in dance or gymnastics, but bowling was what brought me and my father together. I actually started a bowling club in high school. It’s weird to think about it because I haven’t gone bowling in so long. But growing up that was a huge part of my life… dancing and bowling.
DW: Who would have ever guessed?
JS: I know.
DW: So final question. Do you have a motto that helps get you through the lean times?
JS: Yeah. Keep on keeping on. Life is a runway!
For more info on John, go to www.JohnCStallings.com. – Gay Link Content
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