Samir Crush: Barely Getting Started
How One Male Model ‘Pulled A Madonna’ To Rediscover Himself Through Fashion
Photography by Leo Malevanchik
Let’s take a step back from the wigs, makeup, high heels and tight pants (if you aren’t stuck in them) and dive into what it really means to make it as an androgynous male model in San Diego and LA.
Before becoming a professional Runway Instructor at Mimi Models Academy, or taking selfies with Ellen Degeneres at People’s Choice Awards, or rocking stilettos as a Runway and Editorial Model for PUSH Models and Craze Agency, Samir Crush was a young boy in Mexico obsessing over Top Model and dreaming about his popstar future.
Discovered years later throwing designers’ clothes over his shoulder and draping himself in his favorite designs, Samir has transformed his days writing endless fan mail to the Queen of the “Smeyes” to gaining an international following from a compassionate fanbase in Japan--and yes, he guiltily admits that Tyra Banks’ staff eventually sent him an autographed photo, which he still keeps close for a rainy day.
“It wasn’t that I walked in one day and said, ‘Ta-dah! Dress me in heels!’” Samir laughs as he opens up about his first day modeling in women’s fashion. “Designers were fascinated by the way I looked with makeup and hair. I was very grateful to have the opportunity.”
Samir’s unique style sets him apart regularly: known as a fly on the wall at fashion shows and runways, it’s not uncommon for heads to turn when this male model suddenly dawns a pair of heels and the quiet professional transforms into somebody else.
“For a second, I hated it,” Samir admits when I ask him if he ever had second thoughts about modeling in women’s clothes, “I felt I always had to pretend to be somebody else.”
But today he shares a different story. “I did a photoshoot not too long ago and the photographer told me, ‘You need to wear these heels.’ I said okay, here we go. And then none of the pictures showed my feet!” He grins and clasps his hands, shaking his head. “Now I know why he did it. I transform when I’m wearing heels, or makeup. I’m still Samir, but in heels, it’s different. When I saw the photos, I knew.”
With a background in digital and audio recording and dreams of becoming a fashion designer and actor, Samir struggles at times with the reality that being underestimated has challenged him personally and professionally. “Before I moved to the states I grew up in Mexico and I used to get bullied. People would tell me I had ‘green pea eyes’ or ‘antennae ears’. Kids can be really cruel, especially in Mexico. So I grew up thinking that I was very unattractive, or not good enough.”
Shortly into his adult life Samir experienced a significant loss that paralyzed him in doubt and asked him to reconsider his dreams. Today he reassures the young girls in his runway classes about the importance of staying healthy and composed in a sometimes grueling industry. Just as importantly, he knows what it means to set aside fear and dive into life head-first.
“I’ve spent so many years pretending and wasting time. Now that I feel able to do what I want, I’m just going to go for it. What you see is what you get.”
What does fashion mean to him? “I think people often have the wrong idea about what fashion is. To me, it’s you, it’s expressing yourself, it’s who you are. Sometimes I feel like having hair. Sometimes I feel like not having any hair! Sometimes I’ll have hair while I’m cleaning: luscious blonde locks while I’m sweeping my kitchen. And that’s okay, you know? If you feel like it, look like it. It’s all about expressing yourself.”
Samir’s sacred modeling advice for others includes placing family before money, and always looking polished in his presentation in front of others. Most of all, he encourages local models, “If you don’t believe in something, don’t do it. But if someone really inspires you, you can really work hard and put your heart into it you can make it what you want.”
What’s next for Samir? Maybe it’s acting. Maybe it’s fashion design, or the next editorial shoot. Samir’s humble expression and refreshing honesty reveal his excitement for life.
“I want to build a f—ing empire. I do! If I had the money, I would open a modeling agency and it would be the best, kickass modeling agency in the world, because even though I may not be the most attractive or best model out there, I do feel like I have an eye for what is good. I have so much more to give... I feel like I’m barely getting started.”
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