Friday, September 2, 2011
Max Emerson: Let The Wild Rumpus start!
Above: Max by Michael McCloud
'Making it in New York City is difficult, even when you’re willing to sell your body. I spent my summer vacation as the Shirtless Dude in front of the new Hollister Epic store in Soho and it was far from the easy day job that the Abercrombie/Hollister Corporation’s recruiters -- similar to the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz -- made it out to be.'
Often when people have multiple adjectives pretentiously in front of their name, (you know, actor, writer, model, director, brain surgeon, agent) only one word, usually only the last one, really fits; Actress, singer and dancer Britney Spears- Dancer, singer, reality show host Paula Abdul- actor, comedian, asshole, Tracy Morgan. In the case of model, actor, director, filmmaker and writer Max Emerson, each of the adjectives fits, but the last one, writer, was the one most impressive to me.
Above: Max by Bon Ton
Director & Filmmaker:
My first introduction to Max was not through his modeling, but through reading previews for Earwig and DipSpit, two films Max both wrote and directed which premiered at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival this past April.
Earwig, a drama, is an adaptation of two stories: Where the Wild Things Are and The Bacchae. It's a tragedy about drug abuse, self-abuse and finally self-acceptance. DipSpit is a comedy about two [straight] male models who are kicked out of the 8th [street] and Ocean [drive] model dorms and go to live with a gay college student down the street. Disaster ensues.
While both films are based on personal experiences, Max says Earwig is the most important to him. The film is loosely based on an actual experience when he was a freshman dealing with his own sexuality and social anxiety at UM.
Above: DipStick Trailer.
Max's Youtube Channel
I asked Max what was going through his head on the night of April 26th as the lights dimmed in the Theatre just before audiences first saw his film?
'I hope the projector does not fuck up” Then the projector fucked up during DipSpit and the movie didn’t get to finish. I don’t really know what I was thinking (other than “FML”) but I made sure to publicly thank my dad and brothers for sitting through films that must have made them wildly uncomfortable.'
As for what;s next for Earwig and DipSpit, both films recently played at the North Carolina GLFF, and Max has submitted them a few other places and is awaiting word back.
'I plan to make two more shorts and package them all as a feature film comprised of shorts... should make it easier to get the stuff out there.'
Above: Max in Earwig.
Below: Max in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (2009)
Max has been acting in theatre productions since middle school and says his family is very supportive with his dad being his biggest fan. He has appeared in everything from Mowgli in Jungle Book to a pimp in An Adult Evening w/ Shel Silverstein. Max's favorite role was Matt from Dog Sees God at UMiami in 2009. The play features Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters (Matt being Pigpen) in situations and stories a little too provocative for your average small town newspaper. Max would love a turn in Broadway's current smash, Book of Mormon, but says he is no singer and avoids musicals if he can help it
Where the Wild Things Are, besides being an inspiration for Earwig, has impacted many area's of Max's life. Like the character of Max in Maurice Sendak's award winning children's book, imagination, creativity and most importantly, the courage to be wild, guide Max in his work and in his life. Acting wild is something often something we think is reserved for children and the emotionally disturbed, but it is the smartest of adults who is able to retain a bit of the wild and the wicked as they age.
Above: Max by Doug Inglish
I began this post with a quote from Epic, one of my favorite entries from Max's blog 'Max's Petting Zoo'. In the post, Max details his first summer in New York working outside Hollister as one of two shirtless 'hunks' there to entice women, and gay guys with cash, into the store. The entries are more than just blog posts, they, like Max, are adjective filled; creative, witty, intelligent, often sexy and highly enjoyable short stories. InEpic Max brings up an adjective, an aspect of modeling, especially for new models, often glossed over, humiliation. It might be just fine for many to be asked to remove your shirt, even your pants for a modeling audition when the end result is a a job and a paycheck. The feelings may be a bit different however when the results are not as positive.
Above: Another great shot by Doug Inglish
Since I began this profile with the first paragraph from Epic, I shall begin my conclusion with the last. As you will see, Max's first summer in New York ended better than it began;
'My first summer in New York and to survive I was closeted, humiliated, and welcomed to the team of flying monkeys. Just when I was ready to give up I got a call from my agent: I booked the new Hollister campaign photo-shoot! I’ll be shooting with Bruce Weber on a beach somewhere in Australia for almost a week! I asked my agent if they said anything about me being too gay. She paused and I braced myself for it. “Max, there are plenty of handsome guys. They picked you because you are who you are. Just relax and get ready for a week in Oz!'
Below: Max by Bruce Weber
Given Bruce Weber is considered by many to be the 'Holy Grail' for male models, I had to ask about the experience. Somehow even though it was Weber, I doubt Max will, or should, take his advice...
' I heard a lot of rumors but the experience was entirely professional, since it was for Hollister. He seemed to like the bigger guys on set more. He gave one piece of good advice, “You’re absolutely beautiful, when you shut the fuck up.”'
'Most photographers try to at least get you naked (or put you in a white pair of undies and spray water on you), the bad ones try to get you to do porn. The only time I have a problem is when people are sneaky about it. I’ve had at least a dozen offers to do porn, and it’s always when people think you’re at your most vulnerable.'
Not all of Max's experiences in the industry were as positive as working with Rick Day and Bruce Weber. Max has little positive to say about a certain photographer, famous for their polaroids, who interestingly enough got him in what... a pair of white undies, and then got him wet...
'I have an entire book out called Love. Hate. Nature. It’s me and a tiger in a shower. Look it up, but don’t buy it because it’s like $150 a copy and I won’t see a cent of it.'
For a writer, each humiliation and bad experience make, in time, the beginnings of a story. Max's blog is weaved with stories from the modeling business, some rather raw, some far too real, many fun and exciting and all equally hilarious and intelligent. I personally loved 'Why No Shoot is Free' and 'The FAGGYOGRAPHER', which gives new models helpful tips on what to look for and when to run.
Modeling is by no means the only subject on Max's Blog, like a real petting zoo, there are many subjects from politics, dating advice, gay marriage and helpful tips to pick up and scratch. Max's Petting Zoo is also filled with images (some difficult to describe) and is highly educational. In his Facebook application post I finally found the correct definition of Tangibles (many of my fb friends and most of my blog readers).
I encourage you all to check out Max's blog, can you tell I like it?
'I like the way my life is going now. I want to continue with creating my own projects as well as working on larger productions... just on a bigger and bigger scale every year.'
Above: Max by Jonathan Morffi
Thanks to Max Emerson for sharing his images and insight with FH!
Thanks also to Miami NewTimes for some of the info on DipSpit and Earwig.