Don't judge a book by its cover
When I agreed to interview superstar male model Philip Fusco, I didn't know what to expect. I had never met any models, male or female. But like so many people, I had a preconceived notion of what his personality would be like: conceited, self-absorbed, superficial and certainly not at all likeable. I was in for a very pleasant surprise - and you will be too when you watch this interview.
Philip Fusco is incredibly handsome and I'm sure he knows it. Anyone pursuing a modeling career must be aware of his/her own physical attractiveness. Philip also has a beautiful body, and he willingly shows all of it - yes, in some photos he has indeed shown all of it - in his photographs. He gained superstar status as a model by focusing almost exclusively on photo shoots in which he is wearing scanty underwear and swimwear. His poses are clearly designed to stimulate the erotic senses. And of course he knows it. He is fully aware that sexy photos sell underwear and bathing suits. And he knows he is sexy.
Almost immediately after the interview started, I sensed that he was not at all the person I expected him to be. He is modest and humble, almost to the point of being self-effacing. He is intelligent; he learned his craft on his own without any instruction. He is savvy about the modeling industry and the importance of utilizing social media platforms to promote his personal brand. He has parlayed his good looks and industry know-how into the stratosphere, with over 1 million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Philip has relied on his instincts to steer clear of scandal or exploitation in an industry that is fraught with exploitation of the worst kind. He loves his family. He has kept the same friends he had in middle school, and they keep him grounded because to them, he is just Phil, the guy they grew up with. He is spiritual and described himself as a man of faith. He is grateful to his fans and personally answers all of his fan mail so he can show his gratitude. To my utter amazement, this man, who makes his living being a sexual fantasy figure for millions of women and gay men, is actually a shy, wholesome boy next door! His sweet nature was so palpable that it literally jumped off the screen!
Philip Fusco exemplifies the exact reason I love being an interviewer. He allowed me to expose the real person behind the public image. And he knew what he was in for when he agreed to be interviewed. He had checked me out. He told me so. He absolutely knew that this was not going to be a "sound bite" interview with shallow questions that reveal nothing about who he really is. He's already done hundreds of those kinds of interviews, and he was ready for something more profound. He trusted his judgment and took a chance on me, sensing that I was the right interviewer to help him show his true character and personality to the public.
After the interview ended, we had a chat. Phil was very happy with the interview because he felt I allowed him to express his true self in a non-threatening, supportive environment. I am gratified that our show provided the vehicle for him to be able to do that. And I must say, I learned - yet again - the age old lesson that you should never judge a book by its cover. Yes, Philip Fusco is a stunning cover boy, but when you open the book beyond the cover, you find a gentle, sweet, humble, respectful and kind man shimmering with sincerity.
I'm proud that I got to interview Philip. And I'm proud of him. Show business is often said to be an industry full of smug, arrogant, ambitious, unscrupulous, superficial, self-obsessed people who have nothing of value to offer when you scratch beneath the veneer of their public image. Philip Fusco - along with the other guests I've enjoyed having on our show - proved that there are some genuinely wonderful people in the business who are worth knowing. I am proud to call Philip Fusco my newest friend.