The It Boy
By Aaron Krach
"For breakfast I had crackers," Marcus Schenkenberg says. "Crackers with caviar on them." He seems genuinely embarrassed. "I was in a bit of a rush because I had to go stand in line for a new passport. But lunch was macaroni and cheese," he adds.
That, in a nutshell (or in a caviar tin), is Schenkenberg. He's half supermodel and half Average Joe -- or Average Johann, since he's Swedish.
Carbs and dairy? "No, not the best thing before a shoot," he says, rubbing his stomach backstage after our photo shoot. "I thought it was just a portrait. But it always ends up me without my shirt on." Schenkenberg stops to think. Does he feel exploited? Nope. "Oh well," he says. "That's OK.”
Shirtlessness is certainly OK with his fans, a group of which hovered until they could take their own pictures with him. And his 43-year-old body is certainly OK with macaroni and cheese. When he takes off his shirt for the camera, he reveals a body as ripped as it was 20 years ago, when he burst on the scene in a 116-page Calvin Klein advertising supplement in Vanity Fair. A few tiny lines around his eyes are the only detail that hints at Schenkenberg's age. But when he jumps off stage for a dozen pump-up-his-chest push-ups, there's no sign of slowing down.
Schenkenberg doesn't have time to waste. He has a fragrance line and a bodywear collection. He also has workout videos and a jeans line in the works. "I'm making more money now than I ever did at any point in my career," he says. An impressive claim from the man heralded as the highest-paid male model of the '90s.
While female models may get a bad rap, Schenkenberg explains that male models are usually friendly with one another. But it's when he speaks about Versace that the brightest smile appears on the subdued Swede's face.
"Gianni was such a nice man. He was so sweet and respectful and always so nice," Schenkenberg says. "I did a lot of fashion shows for him, so I got to know him. When Men Without Ties came out, he flew Naomi and me to London for a book signing. And we went to Elton John's house for lunch, which was quite amazing."
Schenkenberg can see the same wide-eyed wonder in the male models waiting for his autograph now. He even takes photos with his admirers, most of whom are too young to remember his golden years. But they all want a picture with him, and Schenkenberg is eager to pose until the very last shot.