Catching Up With Miss J
By Noah Michelson
Why do you think you made it? Let’s face it, you don’t fit the mold…
A lot of attitude! [Laughs] If you don’t fit the mold, shatter it and build a new one! Seriously, all you need to realize your dreams is talent, character, self-respect, class, and hard work. Also, it didn’t hurt that I was the best, child! [Laughs]
That you are. Let’s talk about being gay. You’ve always been out. Have you ever experienced any homophobia?
Oh, of course! More than my fair show. Being black and gay isn’t always easy. In our black culture, we are born with strikes against us. You think being gay in the white world is tough -- it’s not. But I’ve never cared what people thought of me. When I first entered the gay scene, I was called those imaginative names like, “faggot.” At the time, most of the black men I met were in the closet. For some, being gay to them just meant alley sex. They would treat me like a piece of meat -- which I didn’t really mind! [Laughs] They’d say, “Come meet me under the stairs and lick my head.” Luckily, I’ve never had to deal with those inner demons black gay men often struggle with. Luckily, being gay in the fashion world was much easier for me to deal with for obvious reasons.
The big question everyone wants answered is if you are indeed leaving Top Model. Vogue’s editor-at-large, Andre Leon Talley, has replaced you as one of the show’s judges….
As far as I know, it’s just for this season. I’m not going anywhere! I’m not sure where that rumor started. Yes, I won’t be judging this season, but I will still be helping out with the model challenges. Darling, please -- most people tend to outgrow these reality shows. You have to branch out and constantly challenge yourself with new projects. I think my sleeves outgrew the judging panel! [Laughs] The Top Model theme this year will be my disappearing act! The good news is fans will be able to see me from the waist down, and not just from the waist up! There will be a lot of new changes this season.
When did you know you wanted to become a catwalker?
Growing up, people would suggest I model. I didn’t think I was pretty enough to be a model but I knew how to walk, strut, and I was certainly tall enough. One day, a woman from Georgio Armani hired me because I was unusual. I was less “drag,” and more androgynous. After a few fashion shows and club appearances, my career took off.
How did your nickname, “Miss J,” originate?
In the first cycle of Top Model, one of our contestants, Robin, who is a traditional southern belle, called everyone Sir, and Miss, so she decided she was going to call me Miss J because Jay Manuel also shares my first name. And it stuck.
Are you single? You live part-time in Paris, France -- the city of amour!
Yes, I am single -- I think! I’m dating someone I call my “Parisian little rabbit.” We’ve been seeing each other for less than a year, so we’ll see where it leads. He’s not impressed with my celebrity life in America. He doesn’t even own a suit so….
And you have a son!
Yes, I do. He’s 7 and his name is Boris. I’m not the biological father, but my lesbian friend and I raise him together. Boris is very smart.
How do you keep looking so young and fresh?
Sex, sex and more sex! I don’t work out and I eat horribly! I’ve been to the gym twice -- and both times I wore high heels and a chiffon dress with T-shirt leggings. [Laughs]
America's Next Top Model airs Wednesday nights on The CW. Check your local listings for times and channels. Follow The Model is in stores now.
-- NELSON BRANCO
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