Would I have to start planning outfits around the tattoo like I plan for weather?
First published in 1964 — that’s almost as old as Jane! — the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is an inescapably iconic symbol of feminine sexuality. It was originally conceived as a means of filling the magazine’s pages during sports’ winter lull, but over the years has evolved into its own juggernaut, shifting from a brief pictorial to a full special annual issue in 1997.
At xoJane, we’re always interested in asking questions about the cultural forces that affect women’s lives, both in the sense of how women are perceived, as well as how women perceive themselves, and it’s tough to overestimate the influence of SI’s swimsuit issue as shaping what counts as beautiful and sexy for women. And given the xoHistory of offering alternatives — such as when we did our own “beach bodies” photoshoot (remember that?) — we thought, “Hey, what if we reproduced the typical Swimsuit Issue photo shoot, only with men?”
We had to throw the shoot together in a week, which — trust us — is impressive given the usual amount of planning that goes into these kinds of things. And we learned a few things in the process, like that dude’s bodies are not as flexible as women’s, which you can kiiinda tell in some of the shots.
Also, male models actually eat on set — all of the food we had, in fact.
Ashley Graham, one of this year’s “Rookies” — that’s what Sports Illustrated calls a model who’s new to the Swimsuit Issue — even stopped by the shoot. Ashley joins a very small group of plus-size models to be featured in the Swimsuit Issue, although Sports Illustrated doesn’t like to make a big deal out of the “plus size” distinction. They did put her on one of the covers, though.
Ashley was also kind enough to give some sexy back-arching posing tips to our own “plus-size” male model, Miguel (we think he did a pretty fantastic job, but gauge for yourself).
Another interesting — if obvious — revelation that came out of this experiment is how what is normal to women trying to look sexy can seem very strange when applied to men. The best example of this is our recreation of the women-lying-practically-on-top-of-each-other shot that you see versions of throughout women’s media.
While this is all in a days’ work for women models, it was slightly odd for the men (who, as an interesting aside, use the expression “nuts to butts” to describe situations in which they need to stand very close together). When women are posed this way, it’s such a common image that any sexual suggestiveness is almost invisible; women are socially “allowed” to be physically close to each other, and that big sexy lovepile pose is all about meeting the male gaze in a culturally acceptable way. But because it’s coded as so deeply feminine, when men do it, it’s tough to read this pose as anything other than straight-up homoerotic — which honestly wasn’t what we were intentionally going for, but it’s how it turned out.
You can hear more from our models in the interviews below. Of course, we weren’t going to do this without also asking them some of the same questions women get asked. Or posing them in ways that women are asked to pose time and time again. Modeling is one of the few industries in which men are paid less than women, and there are fewer jobs for them out there, and we’re glad these guys were such good sports for our little experiment here.
Overall, our efforts to objectify men in a traditionally feminine setting really just drove home the point that women’s sexuality, as created in SI’s Swimsuit Issue or even in many women’s magazines, is a performance that looks totally natural on women but a little bizarre on men. We’re not opposed to the Swimsuit Issue as a concept, but it would be nice to see a little more equity on this issue.
Or maybe we just want to see more hot guys in swimsuits. Judge us all you like on that.
Height: 6’2 | Shoes: 11
XO: Have you ever been asked to stuff a sock in your bulge on a modeling job?ADAM: [LAUGHTER] No, not yet. Hopefully, uh, that speaks for itself. I shouldn't have to do that. [LAUGHTER]XO: So you're saying your junk is large.ADAM: Big enough I don't need a sock. [LAUGHTER]
XO: Were you the skinny, ugly duckling in grade school and did other girls have mean nicknames for you like "Stork Legs," "Chicken Legs," "Skeletor," etc.?ADAM: Yeah, uh, I actually grew wide before tall when I was growing up. So I was usually the chunky kid. But luckily I didn't get picked on too much 'cause I played football. So it kind of counterbalanced each other.
XO: Have you tried Botox, lasers, or fillers?ADAM: No. I don't even know what a filler is. So [LAUGHTER] if that answers your question...XO: Would you ever get work done later in life?ADAM: Definitely not. I— I— I'm a guy. I want to age gracefully. Uh, too many people get caught up on staying young forever.
XO: What Kardashian sister do you relate most to?ADAM: None of them.XO: [Laughter] Do you even know their names?ADAM: No. Uh, I know obviously Kim Kardashian but I don't— and then I— there's Khloe— and I don't— I don't even know all of 'em. I don't watch much TV.
XO: What's the strangest request or job you've ever had as a model?ADAM: Um [PAUSES] — I don't — okay, so like right whenever I first started modeling for promotions, uh, we were doing a charity event, um, fresh out the gate, like the first thing like I'm going and meeting famous photographers and, um, his vision for his campaign was that the models would be naked and they would hold a sign in front of their "no, no" areas [LAUGHTER] and uh, they uh, and that would be where the sign would be and it'd show you what website to go to give to the charity. And, uh, that was a little bit awkward right out the gate.XO: Was it a big sign at least? Were you like—ADAM: Oh no, it's a sheet of paper. [LAUGHTER]
Height: 6’1 | Shoes: 10
XO: What age did you realize you were hot?WENDELL: [LAUGHTER] What age did I realize I was hot? Probably when I was in the ninth grade and my mom told me, she was like, "You're gonna get a lot of attention from everyone." And she was like, "Just be nice and respectful." And I was like, "What do you mean everyone?" She was like, "There's gonna be men and women that are gonna find you very attractive." I was like, "Really?" I was like, "No way." And then I was walking around and— yeah, around ninth grade is when everyone started just hitting on me. Guys. Girls. Older men.
XO: Have you ever been asked to stuff a sock in your bulge on a modeling job?WENDELL: Have I ever been asked to stuff a sock in my bulge? No I haven't. I've been— but I've been— I have been asked to fluff up, though, backstage.XO: Really? How does that request even come in?WENDELL: It's— it was— well, first of all, let me start off by saying it was extremely cold outside. It was wintertime.XO: Okay. Okay.WENDELL: Uh, fashion week in Milan. And so you know, winter equals shrinkage. So I was backstage and they were like, "You know, Wendell, what— what's going on? You know? You— you're a black guy." And I was like, "It's cold out here. Give me— cut me some slack. You know?" [LAUGHTER] And they were like "Listen— listen, we're oiling you up. We're putting these Speedos on you. You have the best Speedos on. This is the key piece in the show. We need you to—" and I was like, "All right, give me one second." I went backstage, got to attention, came out and it was a great show. [LAUGHTER]
XO: Were you the skinny, ugly duckling in grade school and did other girls have mean nicknames for you like "Stork Legs," "Chicken Legs," "Skeletor," etc.?WENDELL: Yes. Oh man. I used to trim my eyebrows and cut my— my eyelashes because they were too long and too bushy. And everyone used to make fun of me. So all the girls were like, "They're too thick, they're too long." So I used to go in my bathroom and cut 'em. And yeah, everyone was like, "You're— you're so skinny, why are you so skinny? Why is your face like that? Why does your mouth pout like that? Or what are you doing with your lips?" I'm like, "I'm not doing anything with my lips."XO: What were the specific nicknames they called you?WENDELL: I got— Oh, I got "Skeletor." I got the "Chicken Legs." Someone said I looked like a frog. I had, um, Rolling Stones face 'cause my mouth was, like, pouty, so it was lips. Yeah. Rolling Stone. They used to call me Rolling Stone a lot.
XO: What Kardashian sister do you relate to most?WENDELL: Probably Kourtney because she's like the one who's kind of under the radar and just very simple. She's not too lavish. She's not too out there. And— and she's very— you know, she's really fucking hot. That's my favorite one, you know? Because I'm— like I'm in the business but I'm not like out there. I don't go out. I don't party like that.
XO: Have you ever tried Botox, lasers, fillers, etc.?WENDELL: No I haven't. I mean, I'm black, so usually, you know, most black people, we have big lips, we have all the exaggerated features already, so we— we kind of come already Botoxed. [LAUGHTER]
XO: Do you find that there's a lack of great roles in Hollywood for men?WENDELL: For women, yeah. I mean it's— it's a man's world, so I mean even though the— the women make the world go round, it's still a man's world. So I think that any time you're looking for any position to fill, you know, it's always gonna go to a man first, and then, you know, woman second. So that's kind of—XO: Do you feel like that's changing at all?WENDELL: I do feel that it's changing now. I'm starting to see more women in like— even on my way walking from my apartment over here I saw like three women, one was in like an Aston Martin, one was in like a Bentley, the other— I was like, damn, you didn't really see a lot of that like 10 years ago. So I feel like women are making a lot more money now...probably more than men, you know. So I don't know if they're getting the positions but I know they're definitely starting to make more money and hopefully with that the positions will come, because, you know, it shouldn't be like that.XO: Does that scare you at all?WENDELL: No, not for me. I'm— I'm— I'm very secure with myself. I wouldn't mind dating a woman who makes more money than me. I mean my girlfriend works on Wall Street so she makes a ton of money.
XO: Do you feel discriminated against because there is so much more work for women models?WENDELL: Yes I do feel discriminated against because there is so much work for women. This is a women's business. This is all women. Yeah. [LAUGHTER] All women and gay men get all the jobs. But I mean, listen, it's— it's the easiest fucking job ever. You show up. You look good. I mean, you know, I look good when I fucking wake up in the morning, so it's like I'm walking over here [LAUGHTER] and they just— you know, and they just do something with my hair, they put a little bit of makeup on me and you know, barely no makeup. The skin is great. You know, the body's amazing. [LAUGHTER] And I just go on set and I just take pictures. Like, how hard is it? You know? Like, I can't really complain. I love my job. I love fashion.
XO: Do you watch porn?WENDELL: Of course. Of course I watch porn.XO: Have you ever considered doing porn?WENDELL: One time I was like down on my— this was before I was modeling. And my mom was always asking me, "What the hell are you gonna do with your life?" You know? "You didn't— you know, you're not going to school, like, what are you gonna do?" She's like, "You look really good, you need to, you know, do something with that face and body." And I was like, "Okay." And then it hit me, I was, like, I could do porn. And I was like, nah, I can't do porn. So then I started watching porn and researching it. And I was like, damn, could I really do— and I was— I probably really— I would probably be the skinniest porn star ever. But I was like, I probably could. And then I found my agent and then— so luckily I didn't have to go uh, you know—XO: So you feel you escaped porn?WENDELL: I definitely escaped the possibility of exploring porn.
XO: Do you hang dong on your Instagram?WENDELL: No. I wouldn't. I— I don't— I wouldn't pull it out on Instagram. You know? But, um, I save that for my girl, you know, 'cause I— I told 'em earlier I do sext. I am an avid sexter, like full on. It's good— it's healthy for you, for the relationship, spontaneous. She'll be at a business meeting, you know, with clients. She'll check her phone. Dick on the screen. It's perfect, you know?XO: So you're not opposed to dick pics in general...WENDELL: No way.XO: How about the video medium?WENDELL: Video medium, nah, but if my girl wanted a video for her birthday or something like that, oh yeah. Dick out for her birthday.XO: So it's reserved for special occasions?WENDELL: Happy birthday, some whip cream on it, whatever. You know. We go all out for the— for the girlfriends and the wives.
Height: 6’2 | Shoes: 12
XO: What is the strangest request or job you've had as a model?MIGUEL: The strangest request, um, I think to— I mean, it's gonna sound crazy, but to do porn. And I said no.XO: Now how did your agency bring that to you or was it kind of like—MIGUEL: No, no. The client itself. The job was, um— I don't want to disclose the name, but it was, uh, you know, a sports athletic company. I guess he does— he does side projects, like, on his own. And he was— "Hey, would you mind, you know, like— if we paid you such and such, would you— would you mind doing porn?" And I said, uh, "The money sounds great, but I'm not one of those people that is just gonna jump out of it." And, um, porn, I love porn, but I don't want to be in it. And it was— it was funny because, you know, after the shoot it was like, "Yo, you know, we— we want to talk to you outside of here." "That's all right, cool." So we went to a bar and then he proposed that to me. And I was like, "Nah, I'm good." And then— but I— I referred him to somebody that would like to do it. XO: All right, cool. Share the wealth.MIGUEL: I know another model guy that was down for it.XO: Do a lot of male models moonlight?MIGUEL: I mean, I guess because of the fact that you're always naked, and you know, you're just comfortable being on camera, so it's kind of like it falls in the same category. But as far as, like, having sex on camera, I'm not— I'm not like too fond of that.
XO: At what age in life did you realize you were hot?MIGUEL: [LAUGHTER] Uh, I would say when I was born. [LAUGHTER] My mom told me that when I was born. I guess, you know, I would say— yeah, at the hospital.
XO: Growing up, were you a skinny guy? Were you kind of, like, on the chubby side? Where did you fit in?MIGUEL: I started off chubby and then when I got into sports I got skinny. But then as I gradually I started getting my muscle— my muscle build, little by little. Really.
XO: What were some of the mean names that you got growing up?MIGUEL: Oh, I got, uh, "Fat Back." I got—XO: Fat bag?MIGUEL: Fat— no, fat back. Like my back — when you got a lot of back fat, you know, stuff like that. They used to call me that. They used to call me, uh, "Pancake Chest" when I was skinny. [LAUGHTER] They used to call me— um, what else? Uh, fat— "Fat Leroy". I don't even know who the hell that is, but yeah. [LAUGHTER] They used to call me a bunch of names, but, uh, I think "Fat Back" is the one that stood out the most 'cause I used to hate that 'cause— and all— also uh— uh, "Wet Back." I used to sweat in my t-shirt in the back and it used to always make shapes. [LAUGHTER]
XO: Have you tried Botox, lasers or fillers?MIGUEL: Laser, yes, my— one of my friends, she— she uh— she's a laser tech— technician. And, uh, she pretty much burned my stomach trying— you know, [LAUGHTER] like— it was her first test run— so she burnt my stomach pretty much, like, in four places.
XO: Who are you voting for?MIGUEL: I don't even know. I'm on— I'm on the fence still about Hilary and Bernie. XO: Why's that?MIGUEL: I think— 'cause I think Bernie's too old. I think— [LAUGHTER] he might croak, yeah. I think he— if he wins, it's gonna— he's gonna have a heart attack on the podium.
XO: What's your favorite body part?MIGUEL: My favorite body part, I would say my eyes.XO: Why?MIGUEL: 'Cause that's like the only thing that doesn't change. [LAUGHTER] XO: What's your least favorite body part?MIGUEL: My least favorite body part, I would say, uh, my nose. I think sometimes my nose is too big. But you know...
XO: Have you ever been drunk or high on set?MIGUEL: I've been drunk on set before, yes. And it's been hilarious. Um, pretty much I was sweating— uh, sweat— I— I mean I'm sweating on set. I never sweat on set when I'm shooting. But that time we was in Miami, it was about 95 degrees. And, uh, I just came from— I literally just got there from the club.XO: Which club?MIGUEL: From— from Liv.XO: [HESITATION] Okay. Yeah, I've been to Liv...MIGUEL: And it was Monday morning, it was 95 degrees—XO: [LAUGHTER] So hold on, hold on. You went out all night and went straight to setMIGUEL: Literally. I— like, the— the car took me from the club to— to the set. And everyone's looking at me like, "Are you crazy?" 'Cause I smelled like cigarettes, weed, I smelled like everything. You know how it is when you get that club residue, smell like everywhere. And then the clothes, it was like, "Where were you, in a brothel?" I was like, "No, [LAUGHTER] I was in the club." But they didn't believe me. And then of course, uh, one of the girls that was with me, she— she brought me my water on set 'cause I was— I was gone. I pretty much smelled like a lot of strong Hennessy, 'cause that's what I drink.XO: Was it hard to shoot that day?MIGUEL: Well, in the beginning it was, but then midday after I threw up a couple times, I was fine. The worst part is that I threw up in the— in the— you know, they had the refreshments, the sodas and all that. I threw up in that— in that cooler. So— [LAUGHTER] they were mad at me.XO: You threw up in craft service?MIGUEL: Pretty much. They was mad as hell, but hey.
XO: Do you feel discriminated against because there is so much more work for women models and how can we correct this injustice?MIGUEL: No [LAUGHTER] I— I don't feel discriminated. We can't go against women. Like men, you can never work against women. Women run the fashion world. We're just— we're just the props. [LAUGHTER] At the end of the day we're just the props. That's— that's the way I look at it. I don't look at it as discriminated at all.
Height: 6'0 | Shoes: 11
XO: How big is your junk?KEVIN: You really want me to answer that?XO: I would not have asked. I mean, like, do you actually know the measurement off the top of your head?KEVIN: I don't, no.XO: Do you want to give an adjective — like, you know? — "sizable?" KEVIN: Um. Enough that every girl is very satiated.
XO: At what age did you realize that you were hot?KEVIN: Um. Wow, that's a tough one. I don't know, I would say probably around the time I was 20. Twenty? I don't know — 22. Definitely got a lot more attention from women. Um, and from gay men.
XO: What do you look for in a man?KEVIN: Um, nothing, 'Cause I don't look at men. [LAUGHTER]
XO: Were you the skinny, ugly duckling in grade school and did the girls have mean nicknames for you?KEVIN: Not the ugly duckling but I was just skinny — just a scrawny, short kid growing up. Uh, when I was younger, kids used to call— well, yeah, a few kids used to call me "Dumbo" 'cause I had big ears.
XO: How did you get your body back after childbirth?KEVIN: [LAUGHTER] Pilates.
XO: Do you find that there's a lack of great roles in Hollywood for men?KEVIN: A lack of great roles in Hollywood— jeez, these are tough questions. Um, [PAUSES] I don't know, I haven't gone to enough Hollywood castings to know that.
XO: What's your life philosophy?KEVIN: Life philosophy? Oh man. [PAUSES] Practice altruism.
XO: What is the strangest request or job that you have ever had as a model?KEVIN: Hmm. I haven't been in the industry that long. So requests have been pretty limited. It's normally just for male companionship by another man — tends to be people find me via Instagram, so...
Height: 6’1 | Shoes: 12
XO: What's the strangest request or job you've ever had as a model?LOGAN: [LAUGHTER] Um, being, uh, balls-to-butt earlier on today. Yeah, super recent. About an hour ago. Probably 30 minutes ago. [LAUGHTER]
XO: What social platforms have you traded dirty pictures on?LOGAN: [LAUGHTER] Oh, God. Uh, I think back when I was younger maybe Facebook over like, you know, DM. And then, uh, texts, of course. You know...
XO: How big is your junk?LOGAN: Oh, uh, suitable, very suitable.
XO: How'd you get your body back after childbirth?LOGAN: I would say stay away from the red meat and, you know, chicken, fish, exercise a good bit. A lot of water.
XO: What Kardashian sister do you relate to most?LOGAN: Huh. Kendall. Let's go Kendall. Yeah. She's a model and she's younger. I'm younger. I've got an older brother.
XO: What's your favorite body part?LOGAN: Abs. No... butt, butt, my butt.XO: Your butt, okay.LOGAN: My butt.XO: What's your least favorite body part?LOGAN: My kneecap? I don't... know.
XO: Do you watch porn?LOGAN: Oh yeah. What guy doesn't?XO: Have you ever considered doing porn?LOGAN: I mean, the thought has raced through my mind once— once or twice, but— I don't think I could do it.
Height: 6’0 | Shoes: 11
XO: Have you ever been asked to stuff a sock in your underwear or your swimsuit for a modeling job? WIL: I've heard it and I've seen it, but I haven't been asked. I'm not— I've heard a couple tricks for it, but I haven't— the sock thing is way too obvious. They wouldn't do a sock, I think.XO: So what are the tricks for the sock... other than the sock?WIL: I think, uh, they kind of put— [LAUGHTER] you get a paper towel and you kind of roll it and you put it behind so it just bumps to the front. But I think that's it. If you overdo it I think it's too much. [LAUGHTER]
XO: Do you find that there are a lack of great roles for men in Hollywood?WIL: Um, not really. Actually, I think it's the opposite. I think men have more opportunity in the acting, which is the opposite of modeling. In modeling we do lack a lot of, uh, options just because of, uh, sales and how people— women buy stuff. It's normal, I guess. Um, I think I chose the only career where men are behind, to be honest. Everything else I think men have a little bit of an advantage, even in— in acting stuff and any other— lawyers or accountants. Um, but in modeling it's like it's the complete opposite.XO: So male modeling is harder because there's less jobs and you get paid less, right?WIL: You get paid usually less than the— like, a woman. There's so much other stuff, like, girls can work on. Let's say, during the week, they do like a jewelry shoot, they do like a hair thing, they do, like— like, a catalogue. And women's, they sell more. That's how it is.
XO: Who are you voting for?WIL: Hmm. Pass.
XO: Have you ever considered doing porn? [LAUGHTER]WIL: Not yet. [LAUGHTER]
XO: What's the strangest request or job you've ever had as a model?WIL: As a model? Um, it would be actually at a shoot, it was kind of a meditation ritual with a photographer. He would like tell you to imagine you're, like, 30,000 feet high and you're falling, or you're in a shower getting, like, wet. He would just try to put your mind in some sort of like— let's say sexual ritual or something, just to put it out there.
XO: What social platform have you traded dirty pictures with someone on?WIL: Traded dirty pictures? I'm actually going to be boring in this one. I'm not— I'm a more of a personal guy. I haven't— actually if I'm going back I think I have never sent dirty pictures.XO: You've never sent a dick pic?WIL: Never a dick pic, to be honest. Um, I just think it's— to be honest, better to see it in person. It just— it has never been one of my turn up— turn ons. And I'm a very — let's say — horny person. But really, sexting is not my— my weakness.XO: So do you prefer phone sex as opposed to sexting?WIL: I used to when I was younger, and it was fun. But when you get older it just gets boring. Um, but dirty, dirty pictures, I don't actually have— I— you probably will see naked pictures of me from a photographer than from myself.XO: So you've done full nude shoots?WIL: Nude, yes, no problem.
XO: How did you get your body back after childbirth?WIL: Um...usually when I gain some weight, which is— I used to be a swimmer so it shouldn't— used to not be a problem. Now if that happens I usually just go back and I uh— I just run in the morning, like, empty stomach and then it takes me honestly just two or three days and I just get back in it.XO: So you're lucky?WIL: I'm— yeah, I have a fast metabolism, so it still works.
And if you just love this whole thing so much that you want to see one more image, this is what happened when, at the end of the shoot, the male models put Jane into their swimwear and taught her how hard it is to be a male model — for a change. She is still practicing the flexing moves and the "nuts to butts."
Pictures taken by Stephania Stanley, Lindsay Huggins got the guys dressed, Gozde Eker brought the props, Eric Vosburg did a light makeup application, and Natasha Leibel groomed them. Special thanks to Ashley Graham for the model posing tips.
What They're Wearing:
On Adam: Onia swim trunks, $195, onia.com; Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses, $150, ray-ban.comOn Wendell: parke & ronen bikini brief, $100, parkeandronen.comOn Miguel: Robert Graham board shorts, $188, bloomingdales.com; L.L. Bean panama hat, $89, llbean.comOn Kevin: Vilebrequin embroidered swim shorts, $780, us.vilebrequin.comOn Logan: Sundek swim shorts, $129, bloomingdales.comOn Wil: Saturdays Surf NYC board shorts $70, bloomingdales.com; Michael Kors tank, $37.50, c21stores.com; Lacoste rubber strap watch $135, lacoste.comGroup Shot: Wendell: BOSS Hugo Boss, $69, bloomingdales.com; Will: L.L. Bean, $34.95, llbean.com; Logan: Onia, $130, onia.com; Kevin: Onia, $130, onia.comOn Jane: Michael Kors tank $37.50, c21stores.com, Parke & Ronen paisley swim shorts, $145, parkeandronen.com