DA MAN: What do you think the maestro saw in you that day?
Chris Tschupp: I think Calvin saw the rawness in a character that was a bit outside the box for such a high-profile advertising job. He was always pushing the limits, which is what contributed to his success as a visionary. I was as far removed from the fashion world as a person could be, and I feel that he was drawn to that to some degree. I had the pleasure to work with the great Craig McDean and Edward Enninful and still remain friends with Edward today. He recently booked me in a W Magazine editorial with the extraordinarily talented Mert & Marcus.
DA MAN: Now, with years of photo shoots, campaigns, editorials and so on under your belt, do you think that those initial qualities are still as important as back then?
Chris Tschupp: Those initial qualities have served me well. I remain raw, despite the vast experience I have gained over the years, as there is always more to learn. I try to bring “character” to every image I shoot as I feel it is more interesting for the people who see them. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of the camera and going to a place in your mind that evokes emotion will translate to film.
DA MAN: On the flip side, what would you say are the most important lessons that you’ve learned as a model?
Chris Tschupp: The most important lesson I’ve learned is to appreciate the opportunities you are granted. Traveling to remote, exotic places; meeting people from all around the world that, otherwise, you may have never met; learning other languages; respecting other people’s cultures without judgment and enjoying the journey. As model, you only have a few responsibilities: don’t miss your flight and look rested and healthy. It’s not that much to ask, so be responsible and realize that there are a lot of people around you who work extremely hard. Be courteous and professional.
“Set your sights high, almost out of reach then go after them with a relentless work ethic”
DA MAN: What’s the most unexpected thing that you’ve had to do on set so far?
Chris Tschupp: The most unexpected thing I’ve been asked to do on set was to voluntarily jump into the water, deep in the Everglades of Florida, and wade down Alligator Alley while multiple “gator guides” armed with shotguns tossed marshmallows on either side of me to divert the gators’ appetite. I hesitated at first but made the plunge but with a caveat: the photographer couldn’t shoot from inside the confines of the boat; he had to get in with me. If I was going to have to wrestle an alligator, so was he.
DA MAN: How about the most exciting? Or perhaps the most memorable modeling gig you’ve ever done.
Chris Tschupp: The most exciting was my first ever runway show. I had the honor to walk in what ended up being Gianni Versace’s last show. It was in Florence during the Milan show, and it was simply majestic. Unfortunately, my most memorable is one of sadness and pain. After doing the Versace show, I was booked for his Couture, jeans and eyewear campaign shot by the extraordinary Bruce Weber. And soon thereafter, I was booked for the unprecedented Versace show on the Spanish Steps of Rome that was to be the first show ever to be broadcasted live worldwide. I was in good company: Kate, Naomi [Campbell], Amber [Valletta], Christy [Turlington], etc., and was on a flight with Mark Vanderloo, Alex Lundqvist, and Jason Shaw. Upon landing in Rome, the press at the airport was swarming and I remember thinking, “Wow, this is a big event.” But much to our dismay, we were informed that Gianni had been murdered. We were swept away in SUVs to the hotel where we mourned with Gianni’s family members, Donatella, Santo and Paul Beck.
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