Nathan Kamp is the hottest romance novel cover model around. How does a faithful, married guy keep it real in the fast world of the New York City fashion industry? Part II of this exclusive ExtraView series.
MB: What don’t people understand about the work that you do for romance novel covers?
NK: There are a handful of studios here in New York, that do primarily all of the [romance cover work]. So we’re all – models, photographers, illustrators – we’re all good friends, because we work together so much. And it’s just hilarious, ironic, because we’ll be shooting some intense, passionate, love-type deal -- most of the women who do the covers are married, too -- and it’s just a whole different world from what you’d think.
MB: How so?
NK: Because it’s just not quite as steamy and hot as it seems. The poses are uncomfortable, unnatural. Then, we’re all sitting around laughing as we watch the images come up on the [video] screen – usually the illustrators are there, and the screen does a good job of creating the cover image [they’re going for].
MB: And the images are --
NK: Well, they’re hot, and definitely driven around sex. But at the same time, we know it’s not like that when we’re actually shooting it.
MB: I always think about you guys having to stay frozen in those “clinch cover” poses, taking shot after shot after shot.
NK: I think when you look at the cover images they look great. But, the overall vibe from the public is, ‘wow man, how could they do that,’ and, especially as a married guy, ‘how could he be doing that with all these different women?’
MB: How do you deal with it?
NK: I mean, of course, we as sexual beings are put in sexualized situations and what are you gonna do? If there is a physical attraction and you’re in this kind of position you’re setting yourself up for some really difficult moments. My knowing the photographers and models I work with as I do, their knowing my wife to some level, and my communicating professionally keep things from going overboard. But it’s just not [very sexy] when you’re [shooting] these things.
MB: An interesting point, especially since you’re a married guy around lots of beautiful women. Yet it’s clear you love your wife, Elizabeth. I’ve read that you and she are involved in a ministry called Models for Christ.
MB: From the outside looking in, it sounds almost like a “Saturday Night Live” skit –
NK: That’s funny; I guess it does.
MB: But I can see how young, pretty kids coming to New York could get their heads turned around by negative, unhealthy stuff, and could use some direction…
MB: I work with authors of inspirational, or Christian, romance, and have readers whose faith is very important to them.
NK: Wow. There’s Christian romance?
MB: Yes, although some joke that the term’s an oxymoron. The books very good and very popular. So, I was wondering if you might want to talk a little about your faith and Models for Christ?
NK: I’ve been involved with Models for Christ since before I was married, actually, since I first came to New York in 1999. I connected with them through a friend at church, and tried to volunteer as I could using what I felt were my gifts to help them out. For about 4 years now, I’ve been cooking a once-a-month outreach dinner. I help with some small group things and other things over the years when I’m in New York.
MB: Did you grow up going to church?
NK: I was raised in a Christian home and went to church my whole life. I wouldn’t say that I really bought into it too much as a teenager, you know, through those rebellious teenage years. I did my thing, but as I got older, the core beliefs that I was raised with -- or the things I always believed but never followed through on -- were still there.
MB: And once you started modeling?
NK: When I got more involved in the modeling business it was kind of evident to me that if I didn’t really try to make a stand for the stuff that I believed in I was going to be trampled. Basically because the opportunities for all sorts of [negative] things were everywhere. And so I tried to really stand strong in my beliefs. And my wife, Elizabeth, shares the same beliefs.
MB: How does that shared faith work for you?
NK: It makes it a little easier for us to bounce things off each other as far as what kind of impact we can make as a married couple in a business that is very difficult for marriages. And [a business that’s hard on] people just struggling to find themselves.
MB: That affects you --
NK: It’s really odd to me to think that the modeling/fashion world in general is so full of insecure people. And that they’re really beautiful insecure people is the sad thing, Elizabeth and I have tried over the years to really do our best to build relationships with people -- really encourage them through their strengths their weaknesses, as well as our own.
MB: In romance, we talk a lot about strength and heroics. Who’s the most heroic person you know?
NK: Most heroic is a hard one. I admire a lot of people, but I probably would say my parents. They’ve had a rollercoaster life and relationship, and they’ve worked hard to press through. They’ve taught me what it means to be a man, and about the most important things in life: Faith, relationships, and always being real, no matter who I’m around or what I’m doing.
MB: I appreciate your being so open in talking with me about those things. But let me ask to answer one final question, the ‘question you wish an interviewer would ask.’
NK: Most of the time the essence of a person -- faith issues and those core moral issues -- is just brushed through. No one really cares, they just want to know, ‘so how was it touching that person in that pose’ –
MB: ‘How many sit-ups do you do every day’ kinds of questions.
NK: Yes. That’s why when you see interviews with celebrities or models -- you [come away with] no idea of who they are as people. The interviewers aren’t talking about the person, the core, the depth. They’re talking about, ‘is he wearing a Dolce or Prada shirt?’ It’s not like I’m looking to cure cancer or anything like that. My whole attitude on life anyway is really personal -- especially where the relationships that I invest my life into are concerned.
I give it everything that I have and I really take it seriously -- not to the point of not enjoying life -- but seriously to the point of ‘this is what my legacy as a person should be: that I was a friend.’ I’m a friend unconditionally. I’m always going to try to be there for the people that I love and care for. That’s kind of the attitude I try to take in life.
Check out Part I of Nathan Kamp: Real Life Romance Hero here.