This article originally appeared on VICE Alps
All I've ever heard about models is that they all live together in big model flats, where they bitch about each other, judge each other's eating habits and pull dirty tricks to fuck with each other's chances at castings – like putting hot pepper in a flatmate's pillowcase. Models, in my mind, are beautiful, beautiful shells of human beings, who live in a world where they never have to think for themselves and take a line of coke instead of a Danish for breakfast.
To see if I was correct in my preconceptions, I get in touch with Rafael Beutl. The 31-year-old Swiss has been working as a model for the past six years, and he also took part in the Mister Switzerland competition in 2010. He suggests that we meet at the five-star hotel Kameha Grand in Zurich. We sit down at the shisha lounge – complete with Persian carpets and expensive vases – and he orders a green tea for me before we start.
VICE: Can you do anything besides model?
Rafael Beutl: I am a carpenter, a qualified fitness instructor and I have worked in sales. And I'm building some experience as a panel moderator. So yes, I dare say I have some skills besides modelling. I would also like to get into personal coaching someday. Interpersonal skills are my strong suit – I can be quite empathetic.
Have you ever exploited your good looks opportunistically?
Not consciously, no. But they do say that beautiful people have it easier in life and it's possible that some things came easier to me because of my looks. But good looks are not everything – the way you behave and approach others counts, too. And life hasn't always been easy for me, either.
Do you think you're handsome?
I don't think I'm super handsome, no. But I have come to accept myself the way I am. Having said that, I'm not always happy with the way I look. There's always something to improve here or there, but that's not a bad thing. We have to keep working on ourselves, much like we work on our relationships.
You probably don't have much of a brain to speak of, right?
People like to accuse models of that, yes. I'm often treated like a clothes hanger. Of course, as a model, you are quite literally a clothes hanger – you're a means to an end. You need to stand there, focus and pull yourself together in order to present the clothes in the best possible way. A lot of people are involved in a fashion shoot and each of them has an opinion – the marketing people, the stylists, the photographer. If a model starts to butt in too, then no work will get done.
So, as a model you just have to get over yourself in those situations and be okay with being just a clothes hanger. That's not always easy, because we all want validation. Getting praise in my line of work is rare – the only praise you might get at the end of the day is that they think you're easy to work with. So it's important to find your balance within yourself. What was the question again?
Whether you have a brain.
Oh, right. I think it's really just the job that makes models look dumb.
When was the last time you did a line?
A line of coke? There are models who take drugs, but I'm happy to say that I was never in that scene. I only started modelling when I was 25, when I wasn't very vulnerable to those kinds of temptations anymore. But most models, especially women, start when they're 16. They're so young and have never had any money for themselves before. Suddenly they're offered everything at parties – alcohol, pills, a few lines of coke.
I don't do that, but I have my own sins. I've always been fascinated with everything having to do with health, sports and fitness, and I've experimented a lot with that, often excessively. I ate nothing but cucumbers for a while.
How are you in bed? Are you worried you'll mess up your hair at all?
My performance in bed can only be judged by the people who've experienced it. I am a bit of a director in bed – I have a lot of fantasies I want to bring to life. That makes my sex life exciting to me and so far, I think my partners have also enjoyed it. That's all I'll say about it.
Are you a narcissist?
I think we're all a bit narcissistic in the sense that we all yearn for approval. We can't survive without it. So yes, I am a bit of a narcissist. You have to love yourself and be close to yourself.
How do you feel about the superficiality you represent?
The media feed on superficiality, that's just the reality we have to face. It's sad, but that's why I put a lot of work into coming across as authentic as possible.
Would you agree that as a model, you're part of a culture that can make people feel so bad about themselves that some develop eating disorders?
Certainly. But to be honest, I think the way people portray themselves on social media is much worse. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and blogs have pushed people's love for self portraits to new levels. It has always existed – kings would have themselves pictured in battle or slaying beasts. But these days everyone can show themselves in whatever way they want.
Because we constantly post stuff about ourselves online, life passes us by. I have been through that phase myself but I've managed to disentangled myself a little now. I don't just post "perfect" shots of myself anymore – I also post pictures of nature or other things that matter to me in life.
Would you ever date someone who's not that pretty?
Absolutely! I've had many experiences with people who might not be considered conventionally pretty at first sight. I don't care as long as someone has the right personality for me and we have a good time.
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