Mike Ruiz Interview
|Written by Scott Holland on September 30 2010|
When you hear the name Mike Ruiz, you think intense, unique and a surreal brand of celebrity and fashion photography that has not been seen before. He has worked with Kathy Griffin, Betty White, Vanessa Williams, Dolly Parton, Dennis Hopper, Kelly Clarkson, Linsay Lohan, the Jonas Brothers, Zac Efron and many more. His superb images has appeared in many American and international magazines including Vanity Fair, Flaunt, Conde Nast Traveler, Interview, Paper, Citizen K, Dazed and Confused, Arena, Italian Elle, Spanish and Brazilian Vogue, and he was a contributor to Dolce and Gabbana's "Hollywood" book and Iman's "The Beauty of Color" book. Ruiz made his feature film directorial debut with RuPaul's comedy "Starrbooty," a film festival favorite in 2007. He has also directed several music videos for such artists as Kelly Rowland, Kristine W, Jody Watley, Traci Lords, Erika Jayne and Shontelle. On June 3rd Logo announced that Ruiz had joined the cast of their new reality series, "The A-List:New York." The series, which is described as a "Real Housewives" style show, taped over the summer. It was a pleasure to sit down with sexy Mike for this exclusive Hotspots interview.
1) You have modeled and acted, but your passion seems to be photography. How did this happen?
My Life has been a succession of haphazard events! Six years ago, while I was still modeling, I received a camera for X-mas. Upon opening the box, I became completely obsessed with everything photography related. I taught myself all of the technical stuff and the rest is history.
2) Who were you're top 3 favorite celebrities to shoot and why?
Usually the last person I shoot is my favorite because the gratification is fresh in my mind. I just shot Kelly Rowland, who is such a warm, giving person. I loved shooting Kathy Griffin, she is also very generous of spirit. She is an awesome human being and I am always thrilled to work with her. RuPaul is another one that stands out because I love what he stands for and his contribution to the LGBTQ community. We get along creatively and we have the same demented sense of humor.
3) What has been your favorite location shoot so far?
I did a shoot in the Uluru in central Australia. It was a huge production that involved camels, extras and 4 jeep loads of gear! Australians are so incredibly warm, which also contributed to the fairy tale like circumstances.
4) You are very well known for your transformations. How did you get into that?
What inspires me creatively is the psychology behind an aesthetic so I try to look beneath a person's surface to try to identify what might be brewing underneath and manifest it through hair and make-up and wardrobe.
5) A lot of people may not know that you have gotten into directing. What do you love about it and not like about it?
Its an extension of my still work. Also, everything I do stems from my hopefulness and my need to create beauty all around me (which is an adult backlash to my dark formative years). I love both mediums for different reasons but prefer the more immediate gratification of still shooting.
6) Of the 4 reality shows you have been on (not including "A-List") what was your favorite and why?
"RuPaul's Drag Race." Everything Rupaul is about really resonates with me and I was honored to be a part of the making of pop culture history.
7) How did you get cast on Logo's "The A-List: New York?"
I've always been a risk taker when it comes to my career and this was just another one of many gambles I have taken on my professional upward mobility. So far, so good!
8) What can you tell me about the experience?
It played out as me being more of a mentor to the other guys. I didn't have any brawls, but that doesn't mean there isn't lots of good TV where I'm concerned! It is going to be a sinfully guilty pleasure and based on the early press, love it or hate it, it looks like it's gonna be a hit!
9) How did you get so involved with the Trevor Project?
My wanting to give back stems from my profound childhood feelings of alienation and isolation The Trevor Project does such great work that wasn't available when I was coming of age. When I went to my first Trevor Project fundraiser I cried my eyes out and I knew I had to be involved. I am very passionate about this organization for the many diverse ways they are available to LGBTQ youth struggling with sexual identity issues.
10) Are you single? If so, what is your perfect man? If not, tell us about your partner and how you met?
I am very happily partnered and he embodies everything anybody can ever want in a person. He is so selfless and giving while being strong and independent. Did I mention he is a total STUD! We met on a blind date and 20 minutes into it we knew something big was happening.
11) How does it feel to be a gay icon?
I wouldn't know, you'd have to ask one, but it does feel amazing to be called that. I am really grateful to be in a position to do stuff that has any impact at all on our community.
12) Tell me one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Nothing, as I wear everything on my sleeve. The only thing I can think of is I am a big kid. I am a 5 year old in a 45 year olds body (as the viewers of the A-List will see).
13) What's ahead for Mike Ruiz?
I don't know, but I am gearing towards TV since I have a bunch of stuff of my own in the works. I'm just excited for the ride.
Logo's highly-anticipated new docu-reality series will give viewers a VIP pass into the fabulous - and ferocious - lives of New York's gay elite. Watch the drama unfold as they attempt to have it all, juggling their careers, families, friends and perhaps most importantly, enemies. The nine-episode, one hour series is executive produced by True Entertainment, an Endemol Company. "The A-List: New York" premieres Monday, October 4th at 10/9c on Logo.