Tuesday, November 27, 2012


There are certain models whose faces (or physiques) are quite familiar to viewers even if they don't know the names of the people in the photographs. In many cases these are the guys who are featured in wonderful publications like Beautiful Mag and then begin appearing in countless blogs. Michelangelo DiNapoli is one of those models whose exposure is beyond what I am guessing even he is aware of, and he is raising the appreciation for beautiful men whom we can relate to, or as a friend said to me - "the kind of man I would want to marry".

On the surface it may seem like a backhanded compliment to say that someone does not look like a traditional model, but perhaps not so much so when the fact that fitness models also don't fit the image is taken into account. The traditional model has to fit a standard in terms of looks, height and body type and this is often not the body type that is lusted after. Falling outside of that particular norm could be regarded as a plus. Michelangelo is far from a mere standard and his beauty has resonated with a wide audience, not to mention photographers who desire to work with him...myself included.

Mr. DiNapoli was wonderful about the idea of answering so many questions and being very candid with his responses so BLISS is proud to showcase this beauty who has brains and humility. 


BLISS:  When people generally think of models there is a certain image that comes to mind in regards to how they look and physicality. You, in many ways, represent the opposite of that standard and are the type of handsome and sexy man that we might encounter in our daily lives. What led to your decision to get into modeling and what has the reaction been so far?

MICHELANGELO DiNAPOLI: I take this as a compliment because I don’t want to be the “standard” and look like everyone else; I don’t want to blend in and conform.  It is much better that I have a unique look.  However, is it a compliment that I don’t look like a model , but more like an average person in everyday life?  Did I interpret that correctly?  I am fine with not being the typical model who is tall and thin.  I have no desire to do runway; it was best that I accepted that fact a long time ago.  What is sad is that fashion designers and the fashion world have not opened their minds to shorter models, and that nothing has changed in the fashion industry, which likes to think that it is progressive, but in reality it is not.  A photographer gave me wonderful advice when she told me that I am too fabulous to be a hanger.  I rather believe that as opposed to my height—something biological that I cannot change—being the cause for my failure as a model.  I make it very clear that I know my limitations as a model, and I don’t need others to remind me.  I want to model because I want to create art, create memories, work with talented people, be a muse for an artist, and make extra money to pay for my student loans (there is always a pragmatic reason, too).  I have profound personal reasons for wanting to model.  Look, I just turned 37 in October, so whatever journey I have as a model will be incredible one.   

B:  It is clear that I am just one of many fans and you’ve been recognized and featured multiple times in Beautiful Mag. Did the increased exposure give you more face recognition with fans of male art?

MD: I am flattered that you are one of my fans, but honestly, I have no idea that I have fans.  Let’s keep it modest; I don’t have to disguise myself in order to leave my home.  I don’t want to become delusional; I don’t want to be that type of person.  I prefer to be genuine and humble.  Is that trite?  However, yes, Beautiful Mag gave me more exposure and people told me that they like my work.  I am extremely humble to the folks at Beautiful Mag, especially Rob, the editor. 

B:  You first came to my attention when I saw photos taken by Kevin D. Hoover, who I am a fan of as a person as well as an artist, and some of these were featured in Beautiful Mag as part of as editorial concept featuring other models in addition to yourself. What was it like working with Kevin?

MD: For some inexplicable reason, Kevin and I share a bond.  No, I can explain it: he and I have similar histories, backgrounds, and philosophies.  We have a brotherly connection.  He made me feel special when he first contacted me and told me that he had wanted to work with me for the longest time, and had been following my work.  “Me?,” I thought.  We worked together three times.  Each photo shoot is a special event.  Our joke is that we need to clear our calendars for the entire day because our shoots go on for hours; we talk more than we shoot.  We truly enjoy each other’s company and talent; we respect each other as human beings.  And I think that the results of our shoots are always amazing.  We come together and create magic.  How many photographers and models can say this? 

B:  You’ve also been shot by another photographer that was featured in BLISS - the wonderfully talented Chris Teel. How did that shoot come about and what was the concept?

MD: Chris was visiting New York City.  He contacted me via Model Mayhem to ask me if I wanted to shoot with him.  I admire his work, so I said yes.  Because of other aspects of my life, it is difficult for me to travel for photographers, so when a talented photographer visits New York, and wants to shoot me, then I would be stupid to say no.  It was the most convenient shoot because Chris stayed in a hotel one block away from my apartment.  Although it was an early morning shoot (and who looks good in the morning?... not me), I woke up, got ready quickly, and walked down the block.  The concept was Chris’ idea, which was me in my hotel room, waiting for someone. It was a sexy shoot, so obviously I was waiting for someone to fuck, not someone to play Monopoly with.  I think that the photos make that very clear; I think that Chris and I succeeded in bringing that concept to life.  

B:  Living in NYC has many advantages and one of them is the proximity to uber photographers like Rick Day, whom everyone wants a chance to work with. Having been in front of his lens, what would you say sets him apart from his contemporaries and makes his work so consistently great?

MD: Rick was precise, professional, talented, an amazing director, encouraging, respectful, kind, generous, brilliant, funny, honest, and genuine.  He was simply genius.  It was an honor to be in front of his camera.  And he made me look so damn good.  I would love to work with him many more times!  (Hey, Rick, call me.)  He has a signature and one is always able to identify a photo by Rick Day.  His talent, skills, experience, confidence, and passion are obvious in his art/work.  He knows how to make men look sexy.  And he is simply a kind, gentle, and funny soul. 

B:  There are quite a few other photographers in NYC that would be well worth any effort to get in front of their lenses like Joseph Smileuske, Seth London and Thomas Synnamon. Are any of them on your personal wish list and what other photographers are you interested in collaborating with?

MD: Seth London contacted me and wants to shoot me; we simply have to schedule the shoot.  The other two have not asked to shoot me, but I would love to work with both of them.  My look is not for everyone; they may not be interested in me.  I have a long list of photographers with whom I want to collaborate.  They know who they are because they have contacted me or I have contacted them.  Some want to shoot me, some don’t; some never replied. 

B: If I asked you to pick 3 images that best represent who you are as a model today, which one’s would they be and why?

MD: Any three images of my face because I think that I give good face.  I think that one of my strengths is my face and facial features.  However, some folks do not like my bald head, but that is their problem; nothing I can do about that.  I have been told that I do great poses with my eyes and lips, so I’ll believe that and use that advice to combat the negative comments that I receive.  Isn’t it best to focus on one’s strengths instead of one’s weaknesses, in order to evolve and become better? 

B:  How do you prepare yourself for a new shoot? Do you have any specific ritual that you adhere to?

MD: I don’t have any specific rituals.  But I prepare my look for a shoot, depending on how the photographer wants me to look.  I take each shoot seriously and want to look and feel my best.  So, the usual things are important before a shoot: exercise, proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep.  And then simply showing up on time to a shoot and being mindful and present, and concentrating, are also very important aspects of a successful photo shoot.  

B: Are there any male models in your genre whose work you admire?

MD: Yes, Adrian Armas, Kevin Ashlee, Kit Balcuns, Drew Chanlin, D.W. Chase, Justin Thomas Clynes, Maurice Cooper, Paul Francis, J. Franco, Philip Fusco, Keith Gaspari, Benjamin Godfre, Jeff Halston, Dionisio Heiderscheid, Matthew Kirk, Jonathan Luke, Hugh Plummer, Bryan Slater, Dee Whitt; to name a few. 

B:  When viewing your work, I am particularly drawn to your beautiful, soulful eyes, your lips and wonderful skin tone. What do you consider your best features?

MD: Thank you!  I am truly flattered.  And I must agree with you; I consider my eyes and lips to be two of my best features.  I also consider my legs to be one of my best features.  I like my lower body more than my upper body. 

B:  It’s a beautiful blend of physical features. What is your racial and or ethnic heritage?

MD: I am third generation Italian American.  My ancestors were from Naples and Sicily.  I was lucky to get the Mediterranean genes.    

B:  Is there anything about your appearance that you wish you could change? If so, why?

MD: I would love my full head of thick, shiny, wavy dark brown hair back.  I would love a more muscular body.  Why?  Because I think that those things are sexy.  I never liked my height, but I am becoming more comfortable with it.  I would like to be taller, and not because of modeling. 

B:  Little by little, the stigma is fading and more males are willing to strip down and pose nude. You, clearly, do not have a problem with putting your own nude body on display. Were you always comfortable with nude modeling and what made you decide to do so?

MD: That is an assumption.  Just because I pose nude does not mean that I am always eager to be nude or that I am fully comfortable with being nude.  There is always a bit of awkwardness being nude in front of a camera and a stranger who is behind the camera.  But then, as the shoot progresses, and the photographer and I become familiar with each other, I become more comfortable.  You know, I have also posed many times with clothes on.  Most of my life, I was not comfortable with my body and being naked, so I made a decision to become comfortable and accepting of my body and being nude.  With each year and shoot, I become more comfortable with myself, my body, and being nude.  It is much better to be comfortable in one’s own skin.  As for the stigma of males posing nude, I hope that it is fading because if we can see women pose nude, then why not men?  I like looking at nude men, and I am sure that many other people do, too.  It is time for men to become more sexy and sexual. 

 B:  What has been the reaction to your decision from friends and family?

MD: My family does not know, which is a good thing, and that is how I want to it to be.  They are not as open-minded as I am, and would not understand.  Some of my friends know, and they are supportive. 

B: What advice would you give to a new male model who was considering shooting nudes?

MD: If you don’t want to do it, then don’t do it.  If you want to do it, then do it.  It is that simple.  For whatever reason, if you are not comfortable with posing nude, then you should not do it.  A young model asked me if he should pose nude because he did not want to because he wants to be a lawyer in the future.  My advice to him was not to pose nude.  I don’t force my opinions on others.  I don’t judge others, and I don’t want others to judge me. 

B:  In spite of the numerous photographers and models that create full frontal art, there still seems to be a certain element of shock associated when the penis is shown outside of pornography. Why do you think the penis makes people react in such a strong manner, either negatively or positively?

MD: In our patriarchal society, men are not supposed to be viewed as sex objects; therefore, the penis is supposed to be sacred, worshipped, and not seen by everyone.  It is to be kept hidden because of its power.  It’s all about power, right?  Such bullshit.  A part of me poses nude on purpose, in order to rebel against such ideology and nonsense.  More males need to pose nude; more penises need to be seen. 

B:  Speaking of pornography, what is your viewpoint of it?

MD: Wow, how did we go from posing nude to pornography?  Nudity does not have to be pornographic or even sexual.  Nudity can simply be natural.  Our society makes too much of nudity and makes it negative.  There is nothing wrong with pornography.  Let’s be real, in our puritanical society, pornography teaches many people about sex.  It is fantasy and fun, and should not be taken seriously.  If I were younger and had a different career path and goals (and I am not only speaking of my modeling goals), then maybe I would do porn.  Or, if our society did not ostracize people for doing porn, then I would do it.  It is just sex on camera.  There is no reason to judge those who do it.  There is nothing wrong with it.  And those who watch it and enjoy it should not judge those who do it.  

B:  You have posed with a full erection for some photographers and partially erect for others. What type of feedback have you received in regards to those images and how did you get comfortable enough to pose for them?

MD: I have only received positive feedback, and whether or not they were lying to me is another story.  And those folks who think negatively of those images have not given me any feedback.  But I am sure that some people dislike those images and judge me for doing it.  I am not sure that I was fully comfortable, exactly, because it was/is an awkward situation.  I used my imagination to get into the sexy moment and I pretended that the photographer and camera did not exist.  Fluffing myself is always awkward.  Watching porn helps to create the mood.  It is all very technical and not as easy as it looks. 

B:  Do you prepare yourself differently for this type of erotic shoot than you would for other shoots?

MD: No, I don’t think so.  I make sure that I look the best that I can.  I concentrate and take it seriously.  I think about different poses and how I want to look on the camera.  I am not sure that there is much of a difference between the different types of shoots.  Don’t we always want to, and have to, make love to the camera? 

B:  Do you think penis size is an important factor when it comes to nude modeling? What about on a personal level…should men be wrapped up in the size of their members?

MD: Wow, these questions are going into fascinating territory.  There is no right or wrong way to answer this.  I don’t think that penis size matters and should matter.  We all have different tastes, likes, and perspectives.  Men should not be wrapped up in the size of their penises.  Our society is to blame for this nonsense.  However, I understand because I wanted to be bigger, thinking that it would make me better.  But that is simply false.  I prefer a pretty penis instead of a huge penis.  For nude modeling, I think that the penis must be aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  Of course, this, too, is subjective. 

B: The first shoot is usually the most difficult for models. Do you remember what your first shoot was like and who was the photographer?

MD: My first shoot was with Rick Day.  I think that I was pretty confident and comfortable posing nude.  Of course, I was nervous, too.  And I think that Rick would agree to that.  Of course, he also made me feel confident and comfortable.  It always helps when the photographer is nurturing and encouraging.  I always say that it is an equal relationship between the model and the photographer; one cannot do without the other.  I was extremely lucky that my first photo shoot was with Rick and that I learned so much so quickly.  

B:  Male models like Pablo Hernandez and yourself have chosen to keep their body hair. Do you think that this will be the new trend?

MD: I never thought of it as a trend.  I simply like my body hair and never thought of getting rid of it.  Photographers like it, too.  Only one photographer asked me to shave my body hair for our shoot in the future.  I am not sure whether or not I will do it.  When I shot with Stanley Stellar, he told me to shave or not, whatever makes me happy.  So, I kept the body hair.  I don’t prefer one to the other; I think that body hair is sexy on some men, and no body hair is sexy on other men.  I think that it is best that we have choices and a variety; it would be boring if we all looked the same.  Look, let’s be honest, most male models shave their body hair because they want to show off their muscles.  I don’t have those huge chest and ab muscles to show, so I have no reason to shave.

B:  What direction would you like to see your modeling go in 2013?

MD: I would like to do more underwear and swimwear, fashion, editorial, and commercial.  I would like to see myself in catalogs, advertisements, magazines, and photographers’ books and gallery shows. 

B:  What about the end of 2012? Do you have any big shoots planned for the rest of the year?

MD: I was hoping to have a 2013 calendar of my own in stores, but that is not going to happen.  I want to do many more photo shoots.  I will be shooting with David Vance in December or January; I have been looking forward to this one.  And I hope that other photographers contact me.  I hope to shoot with Sean Dibble because we admire each other’s work! 

B:  Looking back on all the shoots you’ve done, what is the best lesson you’ve learned as a model?

MD: I have learned to be prepared, present, observant, mindful, serious, and humble; communicate with the photographer, ask him/her questions, make suggestions, and ask to see the shots; trust the photographer and do my best.  Also, remember to smile, laugh, have fun, and enjoy myself. 

B:  You have let the world see all of your body in your images but there’s bound to be some surprises Can you tell me 5 things about yourself that even people who know you might be aware of?

MD: I am shy; I am a vegetarian and animal activist; I grew up poor; as a child, I stuttered and had many years of speech therapy; I wanted to be a stripper or go-go boy.  

B:  Thanksgiving just passed and we all have things to be thankful for. Can you list 5 things that you value most in your life?

MD: My partner, my family and friends, my education, my independence, my life.

B: Any last words for your fans?

MD: I didn't know that I had fans until a guy from Italy sent me a message on Facebook, asking me to send him an autographed photo of myself.  So, for my fans: I thank you for being supportive of and interested in me.  

©2012 – Sean Dibble

David Costa