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What Do Male Models Think of 'Zoolander'?

In celebration of the announcement of the long-awaited sequel to Ben Stiller's fashion parody, we talked to some real male models about what it got right about their industry and lives.

Screen grab via YouTube

Yesterday, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson walked the runway at Valentino's ready-to-wear womenswear show at Paris Fashion week. This is a big deal, and not because Stiller and Wilson are particularly fetching humans. This is a big deal because the runway cameo, in which Stiller and Wilson reprised their characters as Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald, served as the official announcement that the long-rumored sequel to Zoolander is on its way. The film's official release is slated for February 16, 2016, a cool 15 years after its 2001 release.


Among people of a certain age, Zoolander is an unimpeachable classic—a triumph of arch silliness that was as much a critique of the paranoia of the early 2000s as it was a send-up of a fashion industry that was all too willing to play along. It introduced a generation to the insanity of high fashion, and whenever we see Rick Owens sending models onto the runway with their wieners hanging out for everyone to see or people literally wearing trash as couture, we imagine Derek Zoolander's universe is brushing up against ours.

I was curious to know what actual male models thought of the classic, so in celebration of the coming sequel I called up a few to ask what they thought.


VICE: Did you hear they're making a sequel to Zoolander?
Randy Bowden: Yeah, I actually saw the little Valentino stunt [laughs].

Did you enjoy the first one?
Yeah. It's, like, amazing. I was waiting to see if the sequel was gonna come.

As a kid did it inspire you to become a model?
Yeah. I appreciate it more now than when I watched it as a kid. Like, retrospectively. I really appreciate the look and overall aesthetic of what they were wearing.

How do you feel it portrays male models? Is it realistic?
Male models… we are what we are. I think they pretty much got it. Some models are like that. I'm not your typical model like that, but yeah.

What's the most Zoolander-esque thing you've seen while modeling?
I had a show last season that was like… I can't say the designer's name, but there was just so much going on with what we were wearing, some of the models didn't know what was going on.


Have you ever participated in a walk-off?
Yeah, all the time. It's like, you and your model friends will try to do all those little crazy model moves. It's one of those things that just happens between shots, people will just start walk-offs.

Is there more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking?


VICE: How do you feel about the original Zoolander?
Nick Marini: I think it's hilarious.

What's your favorite scene?
The gasoline fight. Or the computer scene.

Do you think it's realistic in its portrayal of male models?
No. It depends. There are definitely some guys who are pretty stupid. I think there's as many people who are smart, interesting people as there are really dumb people. I've certainly had some dumb people talk to me.

The sense that I get is it's realistic in its articulation of the intense seriousness and silliness of fashion.
I was walking for a designer, and I had three outfits. And after my third outfit, I got off the runway, and the guy was like, "Hold on! I have one last thing for you." It was a full body-suit, except the only slit he'd made in it was from the neck-hole to the shoulder. There was no possible way to actually get in this fucking piece of clothing. There are a lot of designers whose true calling is probably not fashion. I knew we were fucked the moment that guy walked in. He was this chubby guy wearing sweatpants and a leotard/thong. He was wearing platform Converses with the toe cut off, and a du-rag. I was like, "If this is what the designer's wearing, I can't imagine we'll be wearing really cool clothing."


Have you ever participated in a walk-off?
Not professionally.

Is there anything more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking?
I'll answer that with a quote from Semi Precious Weapons: I can't pay the rent, but I'm fuckin' gorgeous.

Paul Berry

VICE: How do you feel about the Zoolander sequel?
Paul Berry: I thought the original was cool. That's what modeling is supposed to be like. It's super tight.

What's your favorite scene from it?
When Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller face off.

Do you think the movie portrays male models in a realistic way?
It's realistic in a way. Back when that film was made modeling was a different thing. Back then modeling was more of a performance.

What's the most Zoolander–esque thing you've seen in your career?
Probably the people who work on the set. They've got the craziest attitudes. Sometimes there will be a makeup artist on set who has a thousand followers who won't stop Instagramming everything.

Is there more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking?
Is there? You tell me.

No, there's not.

Cale Kobler

VICE: Did you enjoy the first Zoolander?
Cale Kobler: Yes.

When you were approached to model, did it inspire you to say yes?
What's funny is I definitely remembered Blue Steel, and I remembered it when I got the chance to model. When they were putting makeup on me I was looking in the mirror and doing it.

Do you think the movie is realistic in its portrayal of male models?
Yeah, actually. Definitely in terms of how ridiculous it is. When I was there, they were like, "Look mad. Look cool."


What was the most Zoolander–esque thing you've seen modeling?
My first show, I walked in and there was a chihuahua dressed in designer dog clothing.

Is there more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking?
I mean… yes? I want to design. But being a model is tempting because of how easy it is.

Luke Ditella

VICE: Did you enjoy the original Zoolander?
Luke Ditella: Yeah, I thought it was hysterical.

Do you think the movie was realistic in its portrayal of male models?
I dunno. I'm not the dude who hangs out with male models. I'm engaged and did all the traveling stuff when I was younger. I've seen some stupid behavior on castings and on jobs, though.

What's the most Zoolander-esque thing you've seen through modeling?
Probably dudes telling each other how good they look while sitting for castings. There were a couple guys checking each other out, big dudes sizing up the competition and wondering if they're in good shape.

Is there more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking?
I'd be a total asshole if I said no. Of course there is, man.

Brandon Zablocki

VICE: What did you think of the original Zoolander?
Brandon Zablocki: The original movie was what, 14 years ago? I thought it was funny, but I didn't get it. I didn't understand it or nothin'. Now that I'm in the modeling industry, it's interesting. I almost wanna watch it again now that I actually model.


What is your favorite scene?
Towards the end of the movie, where the reporter's asking him about his looks. Then he does Blue Steel. Then he does another one, and it's the same thing. It's funny how there are these looks embedded in models' souls.

Do you think the movie is realistic in its portrayals of male models?
I dunno. It's been so long since I watched the movie, I'd have to watch it again. I just started modeling a year ago. I'm pretty new, and I haven't seen the movie in so long.

What would you say is the most Zoolander-esque thing you've encountered?
I was in Brooklyn doing a shoot, and it was kind of a weird setup. It wasn't a very well-kept house. The people were real sketchy. They had me put makeup on, then they stuck a plastic bag over my head because they didn't wanna ruin my makeup. I was like, "Uh, I don't really feel comfortable about this." And they were like, "We'll hold the bag for you so you don't have to hold it when you take your shirt off." I was like, "I don't know about that." And then they took me into a room and there was a throne made out of concrete cinderblocks and asked, "How would you feel about posing nude on this?" I was like "Yeah, I dunno about that either."

Is there more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking?
Aw yeah, definitely. Not everybody is blessed with good looks. Just because you're not good-looking doesn't mean you can't enjoy your life.

Follow Drew Millard on Twitter.