Not everything you work on for a magazine gets published (as many of you know). My interview with Brad Fisher for Fantastic Man Magazine never made it to print (but you can find my Jonathan Adler interview here, on Jonathan’s site). The photoshoot I conceived to accompany the interview, with Brad as a Tom Selleck-y, late 70’s, “Sexy Professor”, was published, and Brad looked great in it. I had asked Brad to grow his moustache for the shoot.
I’m posting a short version of my interview, but keep in mind that this was in 2007, and of course things have changed; Brad’s move to NY is now ancient history, and he feels completely settled in. What hasn’t changed is the frequency of the modeling gigs (Brad is with Ford Models) that pull him away from the canvases he works on (see Brad’s work here). Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen his face in J. Crew, Polo or Versace campaigns, or in one of many international editorials.
Anyway, here’s a drastically edited version of my 2007 interview with Brad.
BRAD FISHER: LIVIN’ HIS DREAM—IN WRINKLED PANTS
By Tim Groen
Brad Fisher is a self-described ‘nice Jewish boy from Southern California’. He grew up near the beach, but ever since Jaws, he has been terrified of the ocean.
The first time Brad showed his art was at an underground gallery, an experience he reflects upon as “a small scale situation, but the biggest thrill of my life in LA, it felt exactly right”. Consequently he decided to focus more on his art than on modeling/acting, and kept going at it. “I didn’t want to be in my mid-fifties to find myself saying: What if? What if?”
A couple of years later his work started adorning the walls of (don’t forget, this is in Hollywood after all) Renee Zellweger, Drew Barrymore, Bruce Weber and the late author Julia Philips.
Despite experiencing a certain degree of success, Los Angeles began to feel like a better idea looking in from the outside. “And it wasn’t very hard to let it all go ‘cause I was always sort of on the fringe anyway.” So, bags were packed and the move was made.
New York was not a foreign place to Brad, “I grew up coming here, visiting my much older, really smart, liberal, Jewish Upper West Side relatives. And it was always fantastic to be around them, and to be dragged around by my aunt in her high heels, visiting all these weird artists that she knew.”
His first year in town Brad immersed himself in the art world. He went to every gallery, museum, and art opening, to learn just what the deal is. His research made him feel confident, and he found himself looking at galleries thinking, “My stuff could hang here”. As an artist you have to have a bit of a mad ego, he says, because without that “it’s going to go nowhere, and you’re just going to get crushed. About nothing in my life, do I have as much confidence as I do about my work.”
Living the artist’s life can be bit of a financial struggle, he admits, but the payoff is that he gets to participate in a world more real than the one he left behind. “The New York art scene is not dissimilar to Hollywood; they like their stars and the money, and there’s a definite hierarchy amongst the galleries”. It reminds him of the big talent agencies in LA, but he points out one major difference, “New York actually loves talent. They like an interesting package as much as the next one, however, in New York, a one-eyed, limping Polish immigrant can make it big, if he has a talent for something.
Brad philosophizes that we are in the middle of a period of generally shallow ideas, and compares the situation to the 1950’s. “When everything was sugar-coated, and glossy and colorful, look what happened; the sixties hit us like a truck.”
His train of thought leads to talking about how men’s styles of earlier decades had a certain, sexy je ne sais quoi. “I was up late the other day and saw “love Story” again with Ryan O’Neal,” he says, “and I was blown away by the styling. The cars, the aviator sunglasses, the moustaches and sideburns, the collegiate look, the whole thing. No matter what they did in the seventies, it always ended up looking really hot, like great porn almost. The clothes were beautiful, but there’s always something really sexy and dirty about it.”
Movie styling can’t pull that off now, says Brad, and he partially blames the stars. “Current actors pale in comparison. I mean, Tom Cruise, puh-leaze.”
His own casual style is not nearly as coordinated as the leading men he admires, “Being a native Californian, I can’t help it, but my favorite things to wear are jeans, a t-shirt and flip-flops, and maybe a baseball hat—done, love it,” he says almost apologetically. However, since his transition to New York, with its colder climates (“I still love how the seasons here actually change”), he has started appreciating finer outerwear, suits even. “The weather here”, he explains, “got me into pea coats, and tailored three-quarter length overcoats. In LA, where you can show up anywhere in flip-flops, he never even owned a suit. Now Brad owns three Dries van Nooten suits. “I love Dries, his stuff’s perfectly timeless.” Many other designers don’t cater to his body type, Brad laments, “Prada, Dior or Gucci, I can’t even fit into it. I don’t know why they make suits for fifteen year-old boy sizes, but that’s why my Drieses come out of the closet every fall.”
Recently he acquired his first bespoke Tuxedo (“Ralph Lauren, absolutely!”). But there’s something about him he can’t shake, it’s why, in his LA acting days, he was always sent to castings for the ‘cute-but-scruffy-guy’ roles. “Even wearing a tuxedo I look really unkempt. No matter what I wear, shirts come untucked and pants get wrinkled, and everything dishevels. But I guess that’s my style: I’m clean, but I’m messy. I’m a classic American male,” he laughs, “Livin’ my dream. In wrinkled pants.”