Interview: Romance Cover Male Models: Sean & Michael Cover2Cover

Romance Cover Male Models:
Sean & Michael


This weekend we were lucky enough to go to the InD’Scribe Author Reader Conference in Burbank, California.  There were around 91 authors give or take.  Among all the showmanship of the weekend and there was a lot to see that is for sure.  It was all done beautifully may I add.  There were two men who stood out among them all.
     They were the men from Period Images.  Michael Foster was known as Foster (Although he is not a fan of it --that is what all the jocks in high school called him and he is not that guy anymore.  Plus they call him that because there was another model two years ago named Michael.  So, they call him Foster and he has pretty much hated it ever since.) and Sean Hampton was known as Sean.  Now, these two are hitting the ground running on a new venture they kicked off to all of us at the conference, “Cover2Cover.”
     They feel what they can bring to the table is a more intensive reviewing of books.  Which no one else is doing in the industry.  They feel with their background they can bring a way that looks at critical thinking, character breakdown and story structure and so much more.  Yes, you heard me right.  Story structure.  You see Michael was a high school English teacher back in Michigan and holds a Master’s degree.  When he moved to California he decided to try his hand at acting and producing.  Mastering both.  Although Sean is the quieter of the two Michael was happy to tell us he too is highly educated.  A man who writes screenplays.

When asked how they got into the business?

     One-day Michael saw an ad in the L.A. Break Down saying they were casting for romance covers and were in need of male model’s big, tall, and with long hair.  And the rest is history as they say.  Michael has now done over 600+ covers in a little over 2 years.
     Sean is also an actor and producer who is now screenwriting.  He is now shopping his project around and hopes to have an answer by December first.  The name of the project is “Till You Make It.”  So remember that title.
     When Michael was asked by Period Images if he knew of anyone else that would be good for this type work he right of way thought of Sean.  But Sean said he wasn’t sure.  Until Mary said come over, now.  Then, the younger overweight kid, that still lives in his mind said, “Today I can’t go today!”  (My thought was, has he not looked in the mirror?)  Then, when Sean thought about it, he knew that was crazy.  So did Michael. Michael understood for he had been overweight as a kid also.  (Stand in line guys so was I.)  So he told him to tell Mary, yes.  Sean has been doing this work now for over a year and loves every minute of it.    The thing he enjoys most is that the people he meets are truly very nice.  And truly sweet.

What the misconceptions that the public has about male models? 

     The reason they decide to start Cover2Cover is to change people’s misconceptions about male models.  Sean and Michael are highly educated.  Models overall are educated and they can speak in complete sentences.  They do have productive lives outside of modeling that is sometimes very challenging.  They are not, nor should they be confused with male strippers to let’s make that perfectly clear. 
     Sean feels another misconception is male models are not approachable.  That they single themselves off from others making them unapproachable.  Most are.  Not he and Michael.  He feels like that is the opposite of what they want they want to interact with their public.  Especially on the job like at InD’Scribe this weekend where I am sure they had no problems at all with interacting. He doesn’t want the public to think, “Do not talk to me.” “We want you to come and talk to us and meet us. Especially when they are having so much fun.   Why wouldn’t they want to meet everyone?” Sean said. 

What are your hopes for the future?

     Michael’s thoughts were since they are doing something that is radically different in the industry, with Cover2Cover, then all the other models. It would be nice to be the person that brought it to this industry, with male models, like the iPhone did, to that market industry. Change the industry.  Perhaps start a change on how people look at male models.  It does suck when someone says, “You’re a model!” With a goofy laugh or in a condescending way.  “Like wow, you can actually carry a conversation.”  To that, they say, “Yeah, we really can!”  It would be nice with what they are doing, “We are relatively intelligent people that would sort of change the misconception of not just being hunks of meat standing up there making blue steel and Magnum.” Or in Michael case the “Iron Gaze.”
     Sean’s thoughts were, no definite hopes.  Like I hope this one thing happens.  I want to grow with the industry and see it.  We are alive at such an amazing time for technology and education and learning.  Paperback books are almost a thing of the past.  My daughter is two, hopefully, she will know what a paperback is.  (I jumped in and said she probably knows how to run those machines better than you do.) Sean says she knows how to run a tablet and skip ad youtube. (Okay, no lie had to ask my teen what he meant. This is what it sounds like ( :) duh skipping the ads.) He wants to see that growth, I hope that we can see the next phase of evolution in the industry.  And be a part of it.  To do a show like we do. And no one else is doing it.  I want to see a copy cat.  I want to somebody else doing it.

Have you ever thought about writing a book your whole experience as being male models and bringing it to where you are now?

     Michael points to Sean, “He writes screenplays there’s a good chance that there might be one in the future.  They never considered, hey being at a conference we had to give them the obvious.  

     I asked Michael’s fiancĂ©, “How do you feel about all the women and the attention that happens around him?” 

     “You have to be confident in yourself and in your relationship and most of all we trust each other.” 
     Michael says, “Coming from a man’s perspective she encourages me.”  He then tells a story of having to do a movie where he is going to have to be kissing an actress the next four days when he reminds her on his way out the door that first morning she says, “Just do your best job.”  As a man speaking in like a shoot from the hip way.  How could I possibly cheat on someone who lets me do that?  It’s never going to happen.” 
     I jump in and said, “It’s a role.  It’s not for real.” 
     Michael adds, “That’s what people don’t understand.  The kissing on screen there’s twenty other people checking your makeup, there’s boom mikes.
     Sean says, “You're worried about how you look.  You look at your partner and ask, “How do I look?  Do I look okay in this shot?  Am I turned the right way?”

Do you work independently or do you have an agent?

     They choose to work through” Period Imagines” so there’s no formal agent relationship but that’s how we handle it because the people at period look out for us.  It’s like we’re family members.  So, there’s nothing we don’t ever feel exploited.  If an author wants an exclusive shoot and they want something that might be uncomfortable. (I jump in and ask, “I was just going to ask how do you handle things that make you feel uncomfortable?) we don’t have to worry about it.  They handle it for us.  Period says, they wanted you to do this, but we told them no. So, that’s why we work with them exclusively. Because we trust them and they trust us.  It’s one less thing to worry about on shoot day.
     Michael says, “We might be LA now, but we really are small town guys.  To a relationship with someone that feels like, well this here is my family, he extents his arm out to Sean, Sean’s wife & daughter, his fiancĂ© and her sister, you’re looking at it right here.  And that’s Mary and the girls over at Period Images feels the same way.  If our house wasn’t under construction I would have had them stay over at our house.  Instead of getting a hotel.  Just, it was under construction.
What are some of the struggles you’ve seen in this industry as it's grown?  Obliviously, a huge thing when you have people groping and hugging on you. 
     Michael says, “I’m going to disagree on one word you said right now.  We both are absolutely amazed at the fact at how classy everyone has been.  They love coming up and taking pictures with us.  I have never once had anyone give me a grab.  Not ever,n not even close.” 
     He looks to Sean and he says, “No, not ever.  Not even close. also.  But you know part of it is how you conduct yourself.  We don’t conduct ourselves like Chippendale dancers.”
     I say, “People see male models and they see you without your shirts on and right away people see you without your shirt on and they put you in the same category.  And you’re not.”
     Michael says, “I’m a professional model.  I’m an educated person and so is he.  We’re professional models were not strippers.”
     I say, “That’s the thing you have to differentiate.  It’s neat that you guys are actually letting people know that you are educated, that you are work in a professional manner, and that you have an agency that works for you.  I glad that we are going to be able to be a part of helping to spread your message. 

How did you and Sean meet?

     They both showed us the Horns.  We just laughed.  “Gene Simmons brought us together.”  Then Michael shows us his tongue. YIKES!  He said, “They had this program “Family Jewels.  And we both got cast for it.  His daughter was trying to do a startup company right.  It was called, “Hunks with Hammers” because she didn’t want to see guys with butt crack all that sort of stuff when they came to work on the house.  So she was going to hire these model type guys that could do it instead.”
     Sean says, “It was kindred spirits.  You know you meet someone and you, “I feel like I’ve known you my entire life” that was 2008.  We met by going on the set Gene Simmons was there he is one of the most gracious people I have ever met.  It wasn’t even his house. It was just a set.  He was walking out shaking hands, saying “Hi, I’m Gene.  Welcome to our house.” There’s his wife.  He’s just a very nice gentleman. To have that and talk to him and we were on the same page about everything. 
     Michael says, “It was just coincidental that the fitness industry is what brought us together.  Because at the time I was doing some stuff that brought me to trade shows like this one, meaning the InD’Scribe, I would see Sean and we kept seeing each other.  So, I knew this is my Pal.

Then I said if there is any question you think I should have asked that you think my readers would be interested in?

     Foster said and I quote, “Just don’t ask what we like better Cowboys or Highlanders? There was a vicious fight going on in there.”  As he pointed to a classroom.   All those standing around watching the interview started laughing.

     I would like to thank Sean and Michael for taking the time to share their new venture with us.  They are two of the nicest people you could ever want to meet.  Any man who wants to promote reading to are pretty cool in my book.  They are businessmen with heart and love their families.  With a strong bond for friendships too.  They are going to do a wonderful job I’m sure at whatever they do. They take their jobs seriously and do it in a professional manner and are always respectful while providing good clean fun.  They made us laugh never said no to anyone who wanted a picture with them that I know of unless they needed to make a shoot in one of the classrooms or in the photo room I'm sure. With a roomful of Authors breathing down their necks asking for an answer to the Cowboy Verses Highlander question and they still made it out alive. Now that is good.  I hope to see them again next year at the InD'Scribe conference. Until then…
Char & Pat
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