'The ugly duckling doesn't grow into a swan... it doesn't know its a duck. It believes its a swan.'
I was fortunate last fall to have discovered the work of Chicago artist Ray from Covetimage. Since November, Ray has graciously shared both his images, and the stories behind their creation. Usually when I get a set of images, I shoot back a few questions to both artist and model to help me pull together words to accompany their work. With this series featuring model Brian Porcello, Ray again sent back a few words about their work and in the last sentence, added that he felt for this piece, the focus of story should be on Brian's story. That last sentence proved fortuitous, as whenBrian returned my questions, there was more than a few words, but a detailed account of what led him to stepping in front of the camera.
Brian's story is both compelling and inspiring and it's trajectory of events mirrors that of many. In front of Ray's lens, Brian is strong, sexy and confident. It is always fascinating to learn that for many, those feelings don't always come easily. No matter how many times we hear, 'you can't judge a book by it's cover', when we view an image of a sexy, fit and muscular model, we still tend to assume there confidence comes naturally and their life must be easy. Below, in his own words, Brian shares his journey from the little red headed boy who didn't fit in, to the man, now surrounded by love and family, you see in these images from Ray. With intent, Ray kept poses uniform, usually in a standing position, stoic, facing the camera so the focus remained where it belonged, on Brian. Thanks again to Ray for sharing his work, and to Brian, for detailing the story behind them.
My real name is Brian Anthony Porcello. Also known as Anthony, Canelo ( a nickname I received growing up ill explain why later), and bow tie Bri ... but of coarse the typical Ginger gets thrown around a lot but I own up to at as long as you mean well! I grew up very Italian, I am a mix of Caucasian descent but I pride myself on being Sicilian. As the last name is very Italian we definitely grew up on pasta and pizza. No lie, I really loved the spotlight. I am not one of those kids that will swear I wanted this all my life. You'll hear a cop say I have been wanting to be a cop as long as I can remember.... not my case. But I definitely grew up trying to make people look at me. I wanted to be a fire fighter, a skateboarder, a famous singer, an actor, a musician, and a more practical field of study - a mechanic.
I have the craziest passion for cars... my closest friends and family know I go through them like water. Since my first car an Astro van at 17, blew the engine real quick and am now on my 25th car! nothing amazing until now... I would buy a beater or something with potential to look cool for about 1000 then a few months later id be bored. never had the money to really invest so it was easier to keep changing them. One car I owned for literally 6 days and I let it go for dirt cheap cuz I was so unhappy. I made a lot of very quick decisions growing up. Nobody really being a remodel either. I never really knew what I wanted out of life. Just did whatever came along.
I grew up being different. Seriously if I grew up in this generation I might have had a chance at sitting at the cool kids lunch table. But man I got picked on so much growing up. I am born and raised in Chicago the city. Getting picked on, pushed around, and turned down by all the girls, and never getting picked to be on the team with the guys. I used to pretty much be alone and just cause a mess of things. I had decent grades. Never failed a class of anything. just not cool enough I guess. My neighbourhood was on 63rd and Kedzie, just east of midway airport. Being one of the only white kids let alone, ginger, in my area made for a rough start. I got called names, pushed around and it didn't make it an easier that I was super pale, super short, and stuck out like a sore thumb.
Through high school I took up music trying at my ambitions to be a musician I went from playing the guitar to the cello. Found myself a place to be me in the Improv team my junior year at Curie High School. AS well as joining the tennis team my Sophomore year through senior year. That's about all I was good at at the time, super skinny, very energetic, sociable, good at reading music, and looking for attention. I finally got some height and grew my hair out my senior year. I swear I went from 5'2 to 5'11 between April to October of 2006. Downfall was I was only 140 lbs!now I really stuck out. started dating this girl middle of senior year and she denied me for prom, already had the ticket and took this random girl who used me for a free ticket and ditched me when we got there. yea I wasn't the cool kid. not even close. Graduated 2007 and I honestly don't really see anyone from my school. A few on facebook but none of them are very close with me.
'I decided to be a bit more practical and go to school for automotive tech. HATED IT! I love to work on cars but it isn't a career for me. Over a couple years I just tried to change myself, cleaned up the way I dressed, went from south pole and Timberlands, to Aldo shoes and Abercrombie t shirts. Started with the typical club scene with new friends when I hit 22 a friend of the family told me " you're such a nice guy, you make people laugh and you have everyone's attention, why don't you take advantage of that? and when you get that girl... how will you protect her with your skinny arms?" that might not be the most motivational speech to you, but not sure if it was his cool cars, hot girls, or confidence.... but the next day I bought a bench press set-up, curl bar and a few free weights.'
'I had no ideal what I was doing... all I did was lift lift lift. I bought p90x, looked up youtube videos.... I don't care whatever it was I just needed motivation and knowledge. I worked 6 days a week 60 hours a week overnight at a Subway killin it. go to work at 10pm work til 8 am, workout til 10am showered, slept til 8pm and do it all over again. On my day off my sleep pattern was so whacked I usually didn't go out and it was winter anyway. Every single day just doing anything I could think of with those weights. a few months went by with none of my friends seeing me... beach season came around and everyone flipped out, by summer I got to 160. Protein weights and sleep, that's that's all I did. Opportunities started rushing me. People nerve seen a redhead in shape. and I even think my face had more definition as well. After that, parties, clubs, bars, social events, beach, bbq's, and sooooo much love! not to say my body caused all of this... but I owned it.'
'I may not be large and in charge. I don't think I have a great body, I am always so critical of my self and deep inside not feeling good enough for the people around me but they don't know that. And this different sense of accomplishment allowed me to have a new confidence in life. I never thought id be the fit guy when I walk into the room. Constantly being told by people around me, even fellow gym goers, that I have great proportions or they wish they had my motivation. Maybe my story sucks, maybe growing up the way I did isn't the truth you expected, but it made me who I am. I always wish I didn't have it so hard but honestly I am very happy with who it made me.'
'That summer I had an awesome manager at my catering company offer me to join him for his bbq, a few days later we went out with another friend and he introduced me to Boystown on Halsted! we went into this bar named Mini-Bar. Upon entering they offered me a job. Flattered me so much with compliments, bartenders asking me where do I work, who am I, what do I do? I guess nobody there had ever seen a redhead before? hahaha They made me feel special.'
'While working there I had been approached by the nicest groups of people, most becoming friends.I met a few photographers and the rest is history. For about a year and a half I really did shoots for the fun of it. When I had time I would be in front of a camera. During that time I had met an amazing woman who honestly changed my life, Mae Montemayor. She was just this cute innocent girl I met in a best buy parking lot... to my proposing to her on a runway she did for LOLC.'
'She became an amazing model and I am so lucky to be a part of her life. She started off just wanted some professional shots, but when her pics were released she got call after call and now is walking for some amazing designers, hair companies, and photographers. I inspired her she said and then She inspired me to be a better me. And these past couple months I have been killing it. shoot after shoot but all because of this amazing woman who stole my heart and my attention. I hope I could be lucky enough to have her here with me for the rest of time... but until then I will continue to model and aspire for greater along her side.'
No matter where I am in life, how broke I have been or how cool my car is. When you have someone that truly just cares about you, stepping in front of the camera, or on stage for a runway... people there don't care about any of that. They have their eyes, cameras, attention on me! I feel like a million dollars in the spotlight. I don't ever want that to change. One day ill be in a commercial, a tv series, or a movie. My short term goal is to go from that skinny loser to the guy on a box of Calvin Klien underwear and have my story told. To be able to say.... the ugly duckling doesn't grow into a swan... it doesn't know its a duck. It believes its a swan. And as long as you see it, and take it. You can be what you see you are.