He’s the hippy surfer who was plucked from a beach and thrust into a jet-set life of endless parties, beautiful women and more money than he knew what to do with. Bruce Hulse was the original male supermodel. The man who they once called ‘The Incredible Hulse’, spent the ‘80s oiling up his chiseled torso for steamy Calvin Klein ads and as he has put it “banging the bejesus out of” fellow models Elle Macpherson, Andie MacDowell, Paulina Porizkova and Tatjana Patitz. Some even argue that the movie Zoolander was based on the silver fox’s former playboy model life.
Elise Pitt: You have walked the runways of Paris and posed for photo shoots in exotic locations, with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson. What is the memory from your modeling career that you look back on with the most nostalgia?
Bruce Hulse: I am very nostalgic about all the great friends I met and was able to work with. There are few things more fun than jetting off to some new location with a great photographer and crew and spending a week or so creating beautiful images. Great food, lots of laughs, creative work and coming back with amazing pictures that will remind you of that special moment and place in time.
Elise Pitt: Some say the movie Zoolander was based on your career but you’ve refuted that before. How sure are you that it’s not the case?
Bruce Hulse: One of my all time favourite movies! Well maybe it was, but I don’t remember having to eliminate an evil fashion queen! I did get to meet Ben Stiller at a celebrity Dodgeball event he was hosting for a charity. I thought my Blue Steel was far superior!! Ha! …. Hopefully, I will get a cameo if Zoolander 2 is made.
Elise Pitt: You were there for the beginning of the Supermodel era. You have described your early experience of the industry as “dysfunctional, promiscuous, incestuous, but tight knit – and very forgiving”. Would you do it all over again?
Bruce Hulse: Yes. I would do it all over again but I would be a little less wild and more focused on my photography. My best friends today are guys I met on the road and I would have never met my lovely wife and soul-mate Katrina.
Elise Pitt: You said in your book, Sex, Love & Fashion – Memoir of a Male Model, that your biggest weakness was women and I heard that when you met your wife Katrina, also a model, her friend warned her off you by making the sign of the cross. How did you win her (and her friend) over?
Bruce Hulse: We had a mutual interest in spiritual growth and she liked my ridiculous sense of humour. It took some time to gain her trust, which I think is probably the most important building block of a relationship. Her friend Lynette is still close to us. We are Godparents to her son.
Elise Pitt: You have said in the past that you are a romantic. Are you able to separate love and sex or are the two inextricably linked for you?
Bruce Hulse: I think if you are not sexually attracted to your partner, then romantic love is hard to come by. There should be that physical attraction that feeds the relationship. That being said, I think true love is a choice. I believe in the till death do us part and through sickness and health part of the wedding vows. And naturally, there are times in your marriage where you really are at odds with your partner and you have to fight the tendency to flee.
Elise Pitt: A little birdie told us that the female models thought it funny to try and get you hard on Victoria Secret photo shoots! Has it happened since?
Bruce Hulse: Not recently but my Pre-Alzheimer’s prevents me from remembering much!
Elise Pitt: In your experience, are there any other occupational hazards that we should know about?
Bruce Hulse: Jet lag is a killer and lets the clients who you end up partying all night with, who don’t have to get up the next morning at the crack of dawn, look great!
Elise Pitt: You have a degree in Asian studies from Cornell University and studied clinical psychology at West Chester University. Did you ever find yourself psychoanalysing situations in your modeling career?
Bruce Hulse: A lot of the personalities are fairly transparent, but I find it more helpful and fun to practice compassion and understanding. Everyone needs love, kindness and attention. That includes the photo assistants and PA’s.
Elise Pitt: It is decidedly unfair that men only get more attractive with age, but women are considered past their expiry date at the sight of their first wrinkle. How has growing older and wiser affected your career?
Bruce Hulse: I am working less, but appreciating it more. What fun to be able to hang out with a bunch of old and new friends creating beautiful images that inspire! It is really fun.
Elise Pitt: Speaking of wisdom, you are somewhat of a quiet philosopher, having spent years practicing yoga and meditation, and following yogis and gurus in a quest for happiness and peace. What poignant lessons have you learnt from your life?
Bruce Hulse: I am working on a book now that addresses those topics called Spiritual Muscle. Gratitude and kindness are two principals that guide me on a daily basis. The other is; there are always things you can do to make your life happier and more fulfilled. Usually that involves doing something for others.
Elise Pitt: Some paint, some write, others use fashion to express themselves. You have taken up photography of late. What’s it like being on the other side of the lens?
Bruce Hulse: I love taking pictures. I have studied at the feet of all the masters; Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Herb Ritts, Paolo Roversi and so many others. Joy of life, people, fashion and nature always trump technique. Technique is important, but it is the love of capturing the beauty of NOW that makes one great photographer. As much fun as it is composing and taking an image, it is more fun when someone really loves that image. Personally, I also love getting to know the people and places that I shoot. Bruce Weber, who mentored me when I first started shooting, really impressed upon me the importance of shooting what you love.
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