Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cover Feature - PHOENIX RISING

BLISS talks with J. PHOENIX

There is an old saying that states “you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep”, and if applied to cover model J. Phoenix, one could assume that this young man is in high demand. A view of his credits includes some of the best and most creative photographers on the scene today, including Mike Tossy, Henning Von Berg, Tim Ricks, Scott Marrs, Jeff Slater, Justin Thai, JW2Photo, Mark Grantham, the incredible Justin Monroe, and the MAN himself, Mr. Dylan Rosser. A person could not ask to be in better company.

J. Phoenix, whose fist name is Jason, was chosen as the first HottesT ModeL pick on the photo blog rSEANd PoP, and was again singled out as the obvious choice to grace the cover of the premier issue of BLISS male mag. I am continuously drawn to him for reasons that I feel should appear obvious, but the reality is that I see something beyond the photo that speaks to me, as the viewer. There is a familiarity about his look that creates feelings of comfort. There is a real human element in the way he is captured by the camera lens that makes it easy for those browsing his images to feel as if they could know this guy. Here is someone you might run into at the movie theater or the market, who would return a smile if you cared to give him one. He is also a man who exudes sensuality. He imbibes it with a boldness that is exhibited in his work, and always presented in a fresh natural way, and never over stylized. Sure there are other models with more developed physiques, but looking at images of Jason taken by Mark Grantham brings up the question of why it would be necessary to go further than what his body is offering.
There is confidence too, but he is far from cocky. His awareness of his appearance seems to be nothing more than that…an awareness. There are no boasting or obnoxious hints of pride.

BLISS: What would you consider to be your best feature?
J PHOENIX: My face

B: You have an amazing physique. Has this created more modeling offers?
J: Of course.

B: Is there any one thing that you wish you could change about yourself, in terms of physicality?
J: I'm happy with my physical appearance.

B: What is your definition of beauty? Is it purely physical, in terms of looks, or does attitude, carriage and personality play a role?
J: Everything plays a role in beauty. It takes more than looks. Personality, drive and style are huge.
I asked J. PHOENIX if he could pick a favorite out of all the photographers he had worked with, and the reason for his choice.

“Mark Grantham is my favorite photographer because he has shown me so much, like how to work the camera and the best way to work the photo shoot to make it my own.” The respect is obviously mutual, as Mark Grantham will soon be releasing an entire photo book that chronicles a year of working with Jason. Quite an accomplishment for a guy whose initial interest and foray into modeling came about through My Space.

B: What was your first shoot like?
J: My first shoot was a lot of fun and it made me feel like a rock star!

B: Who are some of the other photographers that you’ve worked with that you admire, and why?
J: JW2PHOTO Scott Marrs, Tim Ricks, Jeff Slater, Henning Von Berg, Justin W Monroe, Dylan Rosser. I love all these guys. They are great to work with and they made me the model I am today.

B: Are there any particular photographers that you would like to work with in the future?
J: There are too many to say. I think every photographer should have something to offer in a shoot. They all have an eye for something and as long as I look good, I’m happy. LOL

B: What was the best photo shoot you've been involved with and why?
J: My best photo shoot was with Mark Grantham. It was also with, Frank Fanucchi, who is the first guy I ever worked with on a shoot. We hit it off and became great friends. That shoot was one of the best I have ever been a part of.


B: What was the most challenging and why?
J: So far, I’ve had nothing but great shoots. I have been able to quickly adapt and overcome the challenges on the spot.

Loyalty and the giving of praise seem to be a staple for Jason, who is reluctant to offer any real criticism publicly of any of his professional peers. When I asked if he had a particular favorite of all the images he’s done, he replied, “Yeah, I was with Mark Granthan and it was our very first shoot. I was so new to everything. I was in the window opening of a building.”
x x
The image he is referring to is a beautiful outdoor nude study, and the ease in which he displays his body during his first shoot brings up other questions.

B:You have posed for some very revealing photos, including full frontal. Your work with the incomparable Justin Monroe, for example, is over the top, yet still incredibly sensual. What is view of nudity in photography?
J: Nudity is beauty.

B: What is your view on artistic erotica?
J: At times, I find it exciting.

B: How would you define the difference between erotic art and pornography?
J: Pornography is often times, I find, a bit sloppy and careless, but erotic art can capture a broader group of people.

B: What are your views on pornography in general? Good, bad or indifferent?
J: Indifferent

B: What advice would you give a new model who is thinking about posing nude, be it artistic or pornographic?
J: Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and that it’s what you really want.

Jason is a big X-Men fan, and his favorite character is Jean Gray. For the uninitiated, Jean Gray was a powerful telepath, and it was discovered that a part of her mind, known as the astral plane, manifested itself as a Phoenix raptor. If that isn’t confusing enough for the newbies, let me explain further. While on an outer space mission, Jean is noticed by a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force, for what it saw as her unlimited potential, and it was during this time that Jean had a vision of becoming the Phoenix. Her story is very complex and far too difficult to explain effectively here, but it should be noted that she would eventually be cloned by the Phoenix Force and put in suspended animation while the clone, known as the Phoenix and believing itself to be the real Jean, would save the universe, eventually go insane and become Dark Phoenix, and later on commit suicide due to the portion of Jean’s consciousness that was still inside it. The real Jean would eventually resurface, and the story would become even more complex. And you thought X-Men was all about Wolverine!

Models should be pliable, like clay, able to morph their looks and characteristics to fit the role of the photo shoot, or the preference of the photographer. Like the Phoenix, Jason is adept at inhabiting whatever character is needed, be it the country boy next door, as visualized by Mike Tossy, the erotic circus boy created by Justin Monroe, the pretty cover guy created by Scott Marrs, or the sexual fantasy envisioned by Mark Grantham. He appears totally at ease displaying each of these types, but where does the multiplicity come from? Could they each represent a facet of his personality?

B: Your images are incredibly diverse, from somewhat classic style portraiture all the way to the erotic extremes just mentioned. Do you collaborate on any of the ideas for these shoots?

J: Yes, I love to work with the photographer on planning the shoots, including the location, props and how I’d like to be shot.

B: Is there any particular image or idea that you have wanted to create, but have yet to do?
J: I would like to do an underwater shoot one day.

We have seen various representations of Jason in his portfolio, and there are even more in the ports of the various photographers and models he’s worked with. He has gone from My Space to the coffee table book, firmly carving his niche within the modeling world. Each new interpretation by the photographers he works with opens the door just a bit wider, letting us pretend that we are discovering yet another side of him. And this whets the appetite for even more inside truth. He does not spend his entire life in front of a camera, so there has to be more.

I asked Jason if he had any other artistic leanings besides modeling, and he replied with honesty and humor.
“Carpentry and cooking. I can fix a roof and cook dinner. LOL”

B: Can you tell me five fun facts about Jason?
J: I like to laugh. I have high energy. I am playful. I am flirtatious. I’m witty.

B: Do you have any personal heroes?
J: Anna Nicole Smith and Mariah Carey

Witty indeed.
B: So what’s the next project we will see you in?
J: Lots of things are coming up in the near future. Stay tuned.

We definitely will.

©2009 Sean Dibble


Photographer Credits:

1 - JW2Photo

2, 4, 5, 11 - Mark Grantham

3- Ovier Photographie

6, 7, 10 - Justin Monroe

8 - Tim Ricks

9, 13 - Mike Tossy

12 - Jeff Slater

Model Credits:

Photo 4, 6, 12 - Frank Fanucchi (Turk Mason)

Photo 6, 10 - Johnny Raymond, Jr

David Costa