Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spawn: The Life of An Alternative Model by Melissa Aki

Spawn (Born Shawn Wesley Wu) is an alternative model from New York City. The 38-year-old has been modeling for fifteen years and has worked for companies such as Calvin Klein, Target, Old Navy, and many more. Agencies include Click, Fusion, and Rocket Garage. I sat down with Spawn to get a glimpse of his life as an alternative model as well as his personal side.

Q: Where does your name come from?
A: My birth name is Shawn. I'm an avid chess player and my favorite chess piece is the pawn. Shawn rhymes with pawn and one of my boys combined the two to create "Spawn".

Q: How did you get into modeling?
A: I was shirtless and on a smoke break while working at San Loco on 2nd Ave. and I was spotted by a talent scout.

Q: I can see why you caught his attention. You have a lot of tattoos. What are some of the meanings of them?
A: My tattoos are gifts that I give to myself. Some are family related, like the picture of my dad on my back. Some are hobbies and song titles                                                                                      that I adore and some are just whimsical.

Q: Like the Wendy's tattoo. Tell me about that one. (Spawn has the Wendy's logo tattooed at the base of the neck, but the red-headed, pig-tailed Wendy has been replaced by a middle finger.)
A: My grandpa used to take me to Wendy's as a kid and he showed me how lucky I was to be able to order a baked potato on a moment's notice, unlike when he was a kid growing up on a farm and having to wait until potatoes were in season. I got the tattoo to remind me of his lessons and how lucky I am to have been born in America. I still patronize Wendy's to this day!

Q: And the middle finger?
A: I originally wanted a skull with pigtails like the Wendy's girl, but when the tattoo artist created the logo, there ended up not being enough room in the circle for the skull, so I chose the middle finger instead because Wendy's fuckin' rules!

Q: Is it harder to get jobs with your tattoos compared to non-tattooed models?
A: I think that having tattoos has actually benefited me since I am not your traditional tall, dark, and handsome model.

                        Q: Do you like modeling? Is it fun?
A: It's not glamorous like most people think it is. The hours can be long, anywhere from a few hours to all day and it's tough because you have to look your best no matter if you're tired, hungover, or whatever. There are stylists and makeup artists all around you and the clients are watching you. Sometimes you just zone out while everyone fusses over you. The most fun for me is seeing my family and friends happy and proud of my work. Modeling has its perks, but it's a job like any other job.

Q: What are some of the perks of being a model? Is partying a lot one of them?
A: I'm sure some models party a lot, but I ain't one of them. The pay is good, but a big perk for me is being exposed to awesome food. The sets have really great catering!

Q: Do you like hanging out with other models while not working?
A: Most of my friends are not models. I've only remained friends with two models in the industry, one who became a mother and quit the biz and another who quit to become a full time painter and rapper.

Q: I see you're carrying that bass around. Are you a professional musician as well?
A: Playing bass is purely a hobby for me. I don't plan on becoming a full-time musician, nor do I feel like I'm capable of such!

Q: What are some of your other hobbies?
A: I always enjoy a nice game of chess. I also love playing basketball, skateboarding, bowling and watching films.

Q: What were some of the worse modeling gigs you've ever had?
A: The grand opening of Old Navy on 34th Street. They used me as a live mannequin and I had to stand there and be silent on a rotating platform. Also working for Delia's and freezing my ass off while modeling beach wear in the middle of December!

Q: What was the best gig?
A: Modeling with my dad in a New York Times article about bachelors in New York.

Q: Would you recommend modeling to others?
A: Only as a side gig and not a career because nothing is ever guaranteed. You could be big one day and nobody the next, that's why it's best to keep other options open.

Side Note: Spawn is also an actor and has had parts in TV programs such as Law and Order SVU and Person of Interest.

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