I have always loved looking at photos of beautiful people. My definition of beauty is not always main stream, and there are many models that possess certain qualities that make them attractive in my eyes, but I’m not immune to the more conventional standard, and appreciate various types equally. It was only natural that I would aspire to be a photographer one day, in order to get closer to the subjects of my admiration, as well as attempt to create my own artistic expressions of beauty. It has been a long, gradual process, and in doing so, I discovered that I had an affinity for the types of individuals we see on a daily basis, while going about our normal routines. These were the guys, and girls, that pass us on the street, stand in line with us at the supermarket, eat adjacent to us in restaurants, or sit nearby on the subway. They are not models, nor are they considered exceptional in the looks department, but I saw something that was not immediately apparent that I sought to bring out in my photos. My images were a way of showing them that this was how I saw them.
One of the first things I noticed on the model networking sites was that people of a certain age were often underrepresented. I have shot a fair number of young models, which would make me a part of the very problem I was concerned with, but most of my sessions were about opportunity, rather than preference. I began to wonder where the older models were and developed a strong desire to work with one.
It was during this time that I came across a photo by one of my favorite photographers, Mark Henderson. The image depicted a beautifully sculpted male, dressed in football gear, with his shirt pulled up over his head, a football in his right hand, while his left was situated inside his waistband. Here was the model I had been looking for. He was rugged, masculine and very handsome, but in that manly way. This was no pretty boy. I immediately linked to the models page on Model Mayhem to find out who he was. His name is Vic Rocco.
I would soon learn that I knew that face. He was familiar to me from his work with Joe Oppedisano for his book Uncensored, and was also featured in Edendale Studios book, Household Idols. My appreciation for him grew as he had already worked with two photographers whose work I had deep respect and admiration for. It was at this same time that I met another model who fell into the same age category as Vic. His name is Nova, and I would have the pleasure of working with him and producing some of the images in my port that I am most proud of. Both of these men are in their forties, and each of them has bodies that attest to long hours in the gym, hard work and discipline. I admired them for what they had achieved physically, inwardly thinking that I didn’t look as good as they do now when I was just out of my teens. Working with Nova proved so relaxed and rewarding that I decided to contact Vic and give feedback on the photo that had initially caught my attention. His responses were warm and appreciative, which led to a mutual appreciation for each other’s work.
All it takes is a glance at his portfolio to realize that Vic is an avid weightlifter, and I soon learned that he had also competed, placing 2nd in the Great Lakes Masters division, 3rd in the heavyweights and 4th in the Ohio State Masters division. I also discovered that he was a man on an endless quest for self improvement, who was open to almost all photo opportunities, a tireless subject, and a person who seeks to learn from every artist and each session he is involved with. These are qualities that can unfairly be associated with self absorption, or the inability to loosen up and have a good time. This assessment could not be further from the truth in his case. Vic is down to earth, supportive of others within the industry, and has a great sense of humor. The process of getting to know him online and our communications has been one of the highlights of my joining Model Mayhem, and I wanted give others a chance to both see and listen to this man, who has become one of my favorite models.
VIC ROCCO: Just my what-the-hell attitude. A friend met a guy on a plane heading to Seattle for a photo shoot. They got talking, and my friend referred me to this guy and his photographer. One thing lead to another and the next thing I knew, I was throwing caution and my tighty whities to the wind. I love showing off my body.
B: Without a doubt, there is definitely an exhibitionist aspect to posing, but even the biggest show offs can be taken a bit off guard when it’s still unfamiliar. What was your first shoot like?
VR: I must admit I was nervous. Since there were going to be lots of nude shots with arousal expected, you always wonder if the battery will be charged or depleted. I am proud to say I continue to be an Ever Ready. Once I got going I quickly loved the feeling of drafts and breezes on previously unexposed areas.
VR: Love it. Nude modeling is a great yin to my day to day yang of a job. I feel like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hides-Nothing. I truly love the idea that a housewife in Topeka and a dentist in Omaha might be enjoying--in whatever form that could entail--a photo of me right now.
B: And you definitely have that special quality that appeals to both men and women. You also have an amazing physique. Do you think this has this created more modeling offers?
VR: Yep--the more work I do, the more work I am offered. I realize I am a little unique, since I am 41 and doing male nude modeling. I'm not average or just off the milk wagon, and I like that.
VR: My attitude. I love being the raw material for a photographer's expression. As for body part…my chest. It has a great heft and shape. I love it when friends say, "Nice rack."
B: It’s funny that I always ask that question because I think it illuminates the subjects self assessment, and yet no one ever chooses what others would consider the obvious choice. Every answer reveals a bit of humility. So in that vein, is there any one thing that you wish you could change about your self, in terms of physicality?
VR: I sometimes still see that skinny-kid-from-West Viriginia-by-way-of-Pasadena when I look at shots. I guess I will always stay hungry when it comes to putting on good bulk. I probably won’t be happy until my arms are 21 inches. Then I will shoot for 22.
B: That’s interesting to me, because it’s such a common feeling. I have friends who were considerably overweight when they were young, but slimmed down and just continued to become more attractive as they got older, but in their minds, they still see the little fat kid. Their words, not mine. In your case, the change is visually apparent and has attracted the attention of some incredible photographers. Do you have a favorite that you've worked with, and if so, why?
VR: Mark Henderson. I worked with him on my second assignment and it just felt right. We have worked together three times, and each time he makes me look better and better. He has an amazing eye that is a result of his art background. I love his style: sexy and saturated. He is a great friend and I appreciate all of his advice. I am honored to appear in his book, "Household Idols."
VR: I love working with Louis LaSalle. On our first venture, he created some pretty awesome images. He works in both a controlled studio environment and improvised outdoor setting. His black and white images have a classical bent that is fluid and striking.
I loved working with Andre Deloach and Joe Oppedisano. Andre works very fast and he produces these incredible, jaw-dropping images. Joe created these sex-charged images that put me in a completely different world--I love that Joe included me in his book, "Uncensored."
William at Atlas Studios in Cincinnati is a phenomenal physique photographer. His work reminds me of those classic beefcake shots from the early 60s.
I consider myself very lucky to have worked with such talented men, each with a strong, original vision.
VR: Justin Monroe is on the top of my list. I would love to be part of that Wonderland-world. And I admire the dark sensuality of Hotsnapz of London.
B: I have great respect for both of them, and would be excited to see them explore the more sensual aspect of your personality. I could also see you with Dave Lewis, who does beautiful physique images in black and white, along with Ed Freeman. I also think that Carlos Arias and Luis Rafael could create some astounding images for you. They are just a few of my favorites, but what was the best photo shoot you've been involved with and why?
VR: The second and third shoots with Mark Henderson were a blast. The familiarity and friendship made for a fun day. If any person gets an opportunity to work with him, they should jump.
VR: I scheduled a shoot after a bodybuilding competition. I followed my extreme, water depletion diet. After the contest, I ate like a pig. Even though I felt exhausted, the photographer captured some amazing images. I am always in awe of the artistry and perspective of photographers.
VR: This image probably speaks to some long-lost high school fantasy, but there is a shot that Mark did of me in football gear. It is full arousal and I am holding a football near my head. There is something about that shot that I love. I think it was the first one where I really loved the way my abs looked, too. Not too many people have seen it.
VR: Wow, talk about a fine line that is completely subjective. For me, erotic art inspires many sensors, with complex connotations. Pornography is all about the friction. I am sure some people might judge some of my photos as pornographic. Either way, I hope the photographs inspire a reaction.
VR: I am learning to play the piano, in addition to the bodybuilding.
B: I studied piano from 3rd grade until I was 18. I regret not continuing, but it was my mother’s dream, not mine, so I quit when I was old enough to make that decision, even though I enjoyed it. Keep at it! But back to modeling…
Is there any particular image that you have wanted to create, but have yet to do?
VR: I have a thing for big muscle-bound superheroes. I would like to be in a project like that, so if anyone has an opportunity for me....
B: What about concepts? Is there any idea that you have wanted to try but have yet to incorporate into your portfolio?
VR: Photos while wearing clothes? I would love to do a Don Draper clothing layout. I’ve got the 5 o’clock shadow ready.
B: You have clothes on in some of your images, but I have to admit that I am one of the many that enjoys you in the buff. And speaking of your various photos, when I look at your port on Model Mayhem, I am most impressed by the confidence that shines through your images. You are very bold and uninhibited. How would you describe your style?
VR: I am told that I am a sweet nerdling trapped in a porn star's body. I take that as a huge compliment, because I still see that shy beanpole from junior high. I can be very reserved. A lot of that confidence can be credited to the talented photographers. It is funny that you say that.
B: Speaking of porn…well not really, but on the subject of erotica. You've taken some very sexy solo shots. Would you ever consider taking similar shots with another male model?
VR: Sure, if the shots were with a photographer that I trusted.
B: I think that is an area that is often overlooked by individuals trying to get into this business and it is so important to be able to trust the person who is photographing you. To that point, what advice would you give a new model starting out in the business?
VR: Definitely talk with some models and photographers. You do not have to work with everyone that asks you. Don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable or that you would regret later. Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.
B: Absolutely. It’s not just about looks. You have to use your head to move forward and stay protected. But looks definitely play their part. What is your definition of beauty? Is it purely physical, in terms of looks, or does attitude, carriage and personality play a role?
VR: Without a doubt, inner beauty trumps all. If you meet an attractive person with an ugly attitude, that surface shine just falls away. And besides, the bloom will leave every rose, so you better cultivate something that will last forever. Abs are temporary; piano lessons are forever.B: What is your ultimate goal in this industry?
VR: To be the go-to model for muscle-bound 40-year-olds. When it stops being fun, I will stop.
B: On a lighter note, tell me 5 fun facts about Vic.
1. In times of stress, I am a compulsive baker. If you work with me, I will bring a gift of cookies, usually oatmeal chocolate chip, to break the ice. That’s my way of showing my artistry.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Wire are my all-time favorite TV shows.
3. I love to travel and eat my way across countries. My all-time favorite meal was at a vegetarian restaurant in Nice owned by the brother of Luciano Pavarotti.
4. I can eat egg whites, chicken and broccoli on a daily basis for months.
5. I collect Disney Christmas ornaments.
B: Are there any last words or thoughts you’d like to leave us with?
VR: Thank you so much for asking me to do this. I enjoyed answering the questions. You are one of the highlights of joining Model Mayhem. I would love the opportunity to be photographed by you. If your thoughtfulness is any indication of your creativity, then I would be in great hands.
B: You are very welcome, and I honestly appreciate you wanting to take part. The feelings are mutual.
©2009 Sean Dibble
Want more Vic?
Louis LaSalle - http://www.louislasalle.com/
Empyrean Photography - http://www.empyreanphotography.com/
Joe Oppedisano - http://www.joeoppedisano.com/
James Franklin - http://www.jamesfranklin.net/
Studio 1010 - www.modelmayhem.com/studio1010