By Troy N. Diggs
In medieval times, a renaissance man was someone who could "do it all". Christopher Curry seems to fit that bill as a successful print model, personal trainer, and Web designer. Chris's success comes from lots of hard work and devotion to what he does, and in a recent online interview, Chris shared his thoughts and feelings about his life.
Oasis: First question... when you were younger, did you think you'd be doing what you're doing now?
Chris: No way. When I was a kid, I had this huge imagination that was into building these special places for myself and other kids. My dream was to design theme parks, that's what I studied in college...a lot of what I do now professionally is all stuff that happened by chance or accidentally.
Oasis: Think you'll ever get back to that dream?
Chris: I think someday it might turn into that. What's interesting, is that I can create these new environments "virtual playgrounds" by using the web...that plays a lot into my imagination and creativity...as does my modeling work. To me, all my work is about expression and creativity, although I typically don't follow traditional mean of expressing that.
Oasis: About that... you said that what's happened so far has been mostly chance?
Chris: It is and it isn't. I feel that things are all interconnected in my life. I see these cycles of creativity coming up in my work and the actual place these things are being conducted may change, but they all come back to the same things. I'm actually studying some Verdic philosophy right now, and I find the concept of dharma very interesting...because that is really playing itself out in my life...
Oasis: "dharma"? Please elaborate.
Chris: Yea...basically dharma says that you have one talent or ability that is what you should follow. It is your pathway in essence. Part of our life should be to listen to this and follow that path...career, etc...
Oasis: Interesting. In another interview you did, you talked about how younger guys will sometimes eMail you, treating you like a big brother... you commented that it was hard to go from model to role model... how hard is that transition?
Chris: I wouldn't say it's necessarily hard to do. What I realize more and more is that I can help people out in being a motivator for some. I get a good amount of mail from people, absolute strangers, saying that I have helped them in fitness or health or being out or just following your heart to do their own best. That is the strength that I really love about the work that I do ... it's very motivating back to me to do my best ... I just feel like there are many other people who are worthy of being role models but, if I can help someone with their own self-image or getting into shape or pursuing your dreams, then that's what it's all about.
Oasis: Is the support you get what "keeps you going" at times?
Chris: Sometimes. I have a real passion that burns inside to do my best and be very creative as an artist. When the chips are down sometimes, I get a mail from someone that will help me refocus on where my own motivation needs to be.
Oasis: An artist?
Chris: Certainly ... I think modeling, acting, designing ... these are all artists. There is a lot to doing all these branches of work ... it's not showing up for a photo shoot and just standing there ... it might be for some, but I've never looked at it that way. I always think of emotion and motivation. Not to mention just preparing myself physically and mentally for photo work.
Oasis: You've commented elsewhere that your brother is gay?
Oasis: Has that helped out in terms of your own sexuality? I mean, does it give you a little more support?
Chris: I think it did at first. When I first moved to San Francisco, I stayed with him for a few months. That period in my life was very magic and special to me. It was an entire reawakening of my own self identity and sexuality.
Chris: Certainly. After 4 years in a college farm town ... ANYTHING was a reawakening! I can remember him picking me up from college, me being depressed over some guy and we had a talk in the car. That's when we came out to each other. We had no idea each of us were gay. The next weekend, we went to the Russian River for Memorial Day; that was amazing to be among so many other gay people that I could identify with. Amazing summer.
Oasis: Where were you before SF?
Chris: Oh. I was at school at University of California at Davis ... a farm/college town in Northern California.
Oasis: While you were living there, did you know/think you were gay?
Chris: I knew I was gay. I think everyone who is gay, knows very early on that they are. I remember being in serious denial of it all...and that was a great source of depression for me. I figured out that I was just going to spend my life alone...because it wasn't really working out dating women. My first crush was in 2nd grade.....I mean, that was a strong indication to me! These guys I had a crush on...it blew me away when one of them started to kiss me in the 6th grade! Whew....that sure was a magic moment for a young kid! THAT was the turning point for me!
Oasis: Have you been in any long-term relationships?
Chris: Yes. One longer term one...four years....someone who I still hold very close to my heart and with long regret for losing him.
Oasis: If it's not too personal... what happened?
Chris: That's complicated. But, it was a difficult time in both of our lives. In some respects, I am very happy for having real love in my life; on the other, I regret for not really having the tools and maturity that I have today, because I could have understood it deeper back then. There is a great song I heard this morning in my car, by the Cure, "Letter to Elise", that really sets up the way I feel about him.
Oasis: What prompted you to get started with your training? What motivated you to start hitting the gym?
Chris: I always wanted to have a great body. I tried getting motivated back and forth at the gym, but had a lot of struggles or obstacles in my way. It was the last 4 years that really has changed my focus into making my health and fitness the center of my physical lifestyle. There is still a ton of work to do, so we aren't done yet!
Oasis: What kind of obstacles stood in your way 4 years ago? How did you overcome them?
Chris: Knowledge. I feel that most people miss direction and knowledge when they try to change these inborn ideas of health and fitness. And, when they do try to adopt a fit lifestyle, it can be confusing to figure out what to do. What it comes down to is applying knowledge and learning about yourself and your own special body...and mixing it all together. I was very lucky to have Vince Gironda pop into my life, and learn from his knowledge. He was the motivation for me.
Oasis: And Vince Gironda is....?
Chris: Ah ... he's the Iron Guru ... :) He's a very well-known bodybuilder and trainer. He's one of the all time great bodybuilders of the 40s-70s. And, was an innovator for so much of the training practice used today...for instance, he developed the "ab crunch" and so many of the gym equipment you see today. Not to mention, he has trained so many celebrities here in Los Angeles.
Oasis: Nice segue. Do you consider yourself to be a celebrity?
Chris: No way. I'm getting more and more surprised that people are recognizing me off the street. That is something that is been happening the last month or so. That freaks me out, and sometimes if I'm with a friend, it freaks THEM out! But...a celebrity?...no way....I always said that I'm the only model with a great fan base, but not much traditional exposure in the traditional media...
Oasis: What kind of fan base do you have?
Chris: Mostly younger men. Which is really cool;I can identify more with them. But, I get all types...lately, lots of teenaged girls...cant quite figure that one out...
Oasis: Well, you never say specifically on the site that you are gay...?
Chris: No I don't. I don't feel like labelling myself like that should be an issue. If we go around and wear these badges on ourselves like that, we are only discriminating ourselves further.
Oasis: Do you consider yourself to be an activist?
Chris: No. I'm not active. Political, I can be...which is something I miss terribly about San Francisco and the political process that lesbian and gay people play. I sometimes wish that I could play a more important role in activism but I'm not sure how to carry that one out.
Oasis: How supportive was your family when you came out?
Chris: Very. I was lucky...
Oasis: Go on.
Chris: Well, I hear a lot of horror stories from people about their families being unable to handle the reality of having a gay or lesbian child. I get some mail from people that awakens that. Some ask for advice... others just for someone to talk to about it all. I think what it comes down to is guys, particularly those living with families, need to be concerned about their own safety and at the same time try to keep their own self esteem and image up. That's where the struggle/juggle is. Their own safety and well-being is paramount in my mind... getting school done and being anxious to be part of a community that is getting stronger and stronger; that should be the main priority.
The Internet and things like PNO and AOL are such a great resource for young gay people. I was never exposed to that when I came out, but had I done that, I probably would have avoided a lot of the issues that we all face when we come out to friends and family and trying to get a social routine together.
Oasis: How supportive has your family been towards your career?
Chris: Extremely. My mom carries my zed card around in her purse and shows it to all the ladies at the bank or when she goes to the store....that always cracks me up...
Oasis: They never had any doubts?
Chris: They've never had doubts...at least none that they have ever told me about...they are pretty interested in my work and my parents are always eager to see my latest and greatest.
Oasis: Generally, parents tend not to be able to handle it when their children go into "artistic fields".
Chris: I think they realized that I was very artistic and creative at an early age, so whether they prepared in advance I dunno. They probably thought I would turn out to be a pool hall rackman or a floor polisher...
Oasis: So... after all that, are you happy?
Chris: Haha! That's a loaded question! I've been in a mid-life crisis since I was about 15 ... but, as I always try to do the best I can at things, I'm happy with the turn-out on a lot of things...other areas of my life, still need some attention and hopefully they will get that soon! I get lost along the way sometimes, but that's only normal human nature.
Chris: Dharma. AND ... finding the dharmic path ...It's not the goal, but getting to my goals that has been fun ...
Oasis: That it?
Chris: Well, geez ... I can go on ... what else? C'mon what kinda interview is this anyway?
Oasis: I was hoping for some witty, funny closing line.
Chris: OK ... then let's close 'This is Troy N Diggs signing off ... same time same place ... keep those cards and letters coming and see you soon.'