Celebrity Photographer Mike Ruiz

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

We sat with celebrity photographer and reality TV personality Mike Ruiz for a fun chat about his latest campaign - Flex Your Vote - as well as coming out, Pride season, the reality of reality TV, and inclusivity.  

This is metro source minis, the official podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It's natal source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundred and ninety. Well, hello, this is metro source minis. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez, and today we want you to flex your vote. One out of five members of the LGBTQ community is not registered to vote, and that is one too many. Now is not the time. Joining me today about about it all is celebrity photographer microwe's. Mike's longlist of celebrity and clients include everyone under the Sun, from Kelly Clarkson to betty white and literally everybody in between. He's also gone on to direct several music videos for artists such as Kelly Rowland, Vanessa Williams, Erica Jane Rupaul, and he made his feature film debut with the uproaring of Comedy Star Booty, starring Rootball. He has also appeared frequently on America's and Canada's next top model, rupaul's drag race, along with dozens of other television appearances as an expert in his field. He's also a due gooder and is proud of his community service, having supported such organizations as the Alley Forty Center gmh see the Trevor Project. How's IT works? It gets better. Campaign live out loud, project Angel Food and glad. He's on the Honorary Board of let there be Hope Research Foundation. He also works with various animal rights organizations and animal rescues throughout the US, including stand up for pits foundation and numerous animal rescues nationwide. His latest campaign, Flex your vote, include seven other fitness photographers with a series on hot muscle picks. To get everyone up there, ass and vote please. Welcome to the show, Mr Mike Rui's hello, what a what a what an introduction. I know, I wish I got paid by the words for all of it. So I had to know what, what exactly inspired flex the vote? Um, you know, there's you know, like I mean, I don't primarily shoot fitness models, but I do shoot a fair share of them and oddly a lot of the American ones are trump supporters. Would they just thought was really weird and you know, like, you know, like a lot of guys that are shot. I would get into it on, you know, on social media within you know, like you know, I just I you know, I wouldn't, I wouldn't take it very far, but like they would like respond to like my anti trump stuff, and it was it was alarming to me that so many of them, you know, who depend on us. You know, there's a you know, the whole range of photographers that do mostly fitness stuff. You know, we're all gay, you know, and all of these guys pretty much depend on us. These fitness guys depend on us to, you know, to kind of propel their careers, and yet they're willing to throw US under the bus. So, anyway, I just, you know,...

...that kind of that kind of made me really mad and and I reached out to all the other photographers, you know, who do this that you know, who shoot fitness stuff, and we, you know, we were going to you know, I mean I was calling for like a boycott, and but I would talk to out of that by the more rational of the photographers and we decided to just do this campaign to, you know, to promote people, you know, to encourage people to vote because, you know, so many in our community are not even registered. Well, and I was really taken a back by that fact, you know, and I would think that in our current social and political climate, people are more inclined to get out and vote, but I really did not know that so many of us were not registered, which is just insane to me. Why do you think we're not as involved as we should be? I mean, I'm surprised it's not like ninety nine point nine percent of US registered to vote. Why do you think that is? You know, I think it. I think it has mostly to do with people thinking that they don't matter and that their vote doesn't count, you know, and that's what the people are just complacent. You know, forty four percent of the general population of registered voters didn't vote in the last election. That's a that's a you know, the almost half of the country didn't vote who were registered. So I think it's just a byproduct of feeling like, you know, that their vote doesn't count. Well, it was funny because of the last election, you know, we were told that hilary was in the lead and, you know, it was going to be a done deal and we thought there's no way this guy could win, and I remember watching the election results and and then I actually asked my friends, you know, what did you go vote? Did you go vote? And and sadly, you know, some of them said, Oh, well, no, I didn't make it or this or that, because we thought that we had it in the bag and look what happened. HMM, it's so well, I mean the good thing about well, I mean it's not a good thing. I mean, unfortunately, we had to go through that for years to shake us out of complacency. You know, like, yeah, imagine that the turnout is not going to be a hundred percent of our community, you know. I mean, you know, aside from the rare trump supporting lgb you know, gay, Gay guys. I don't know what's wrong with them, but you know, I think we're going to turn out in you know, in droves to our house to wicked witch, fingers crossed and you know, and everything else crossed. But you know, with everybody pointing out who's racist, WHO's made racist comments and their career, and you finding out that a lot of the personalities whose careers you, your photography has helped build having to work in the same environments. You know, it's funny when we look and we're like guy. I didn't know that they were race just I didn't know that they stood up for this and we still have to work with them. We're still in the entertainment field. How are you going to kind of counteract that, because tension is at an all time high? We still have to work with certain personalities and now everybody is being super, super vocal about it. That makes a very interesting work environment, entertainment environment, even creatively. How do you creatively work on a photo shoot...

...with somebody who's ideals are literally putting your rights at risk? That's a that's a great question. I'm with where I'm concerned, I think you know, because I'm so vocal about it publicly, that I you know, I don't think anyone would dare bring up the topic on a shoot. You know, if they were they had contrary views to mine, I don't think they would bring up bring up on a shoot because you know, like I I mean, I'm not I'm not beholden to anybody, you know what I mean, and like if somebody were to be a really offensive to me, I would I would pack my stuff and walk out, plain and simple. You know. Unfortunately, you know I can do that, but you know what? But I feel like, because I can do that, that I need to do that. Yeah, and you're right, but also, you know, I mean the reality is is like. I mean who in entertainment is you know, who's going to be vocal about that? You and Enterpinion, I mean without this right now. Yeah, Poor Mary Heart didn't know what was happening to her. Oh really, I don't even know about her. She entered. Don't even worry about it. I mean, who's Mary Heart Now? But but back then, you know, it's like why Mary Hearts? Who Knew? But, speaking of blurring the lines between, you know, our personal life and political life and and our professional life. You have done a lot of reality TV. I remember you from the a list New York. Did you like doing that show? It was all right, you know, it's very powerful. It was very calculated for me, or I did. I you know? I mean you know clearly I didn't. You know, I wasn't. I wasn't a puppet for that for the producers, like right, and not not that the rest of the cast was. But the rest of the cast wanted more, you know, they wanted that full reality TV experience out of it and they wanted to be noisy and and seeing and famous, and I just wanted to use it to, you know, to have a little bit of a platform to yes, I could, one of my sap box and pretty and you have used your platform for so many causes, from animal rights to equal rights, you know, and now for getting the word out to vote. What do you say to people that say that reality TV kind of support and capitalizes on the idea of stereotypes, especially with the LGBT community? HMM, it kind of does, you know. I mean, I never really I never really thought about it, but I mean they're the reality. Reality TV is basically, you know, not an accurate representation of any entire group. You know, it's not an accurate representation of Atlanta Housewat you know, like of all the housewives who read it. You know what I mean? Yeah, like loose cannons, but you know, so I mean, you know, I think everyone should just take it with a grain of salt and and realize it's just entertainment and and not not try...

...and make it such a you know, like it, you know, shouldn't be a representation of anything. It's just, you know, it's just fun entertainment. As far you know, as far as I can say. You know, because I mean I don't I mean, I never even thought of that. You know about like you know, I mean you know. I mean I'm entertained by like you know, flamboyant can't be sort of personalities. I mean, nobody wants to watch a bunch of like, you know, what normal days, a couch, you know, like like wings. Yeah, I don't agree that, but no, Mike. What is your creative process when you're creating a photos shoot, especially with with a high profile celebrity? You kind of storyboarded out in your mind? Are you looking at different colors and textures? Are you just kind of going with it? What's your process? I kind of you know, it's sort of like an organic process. It's not that rigid. I don't like storyboarded meticulously. You know, I come up with a general idea and I disseminate that idea to my team and and then we all like have input and, you know, on the day to shoot things inevitably morph into something else and you know, it just it just kind of like I don't know, I mean honestly, how to hold my creative process is just it's very organic, like I could come up with a very rigid idea and because this is what I want to shoot, and then, you know, it end up changing completely by the time we all is said and done. So I'm very flexible that way. I'm not I'm not super you know well and you've worked for so many celebrities and what you get out of them. I mean you distinctly know this is a microwi's photo or a photo shoot as a very certain theme, and you kind of get their trust. I've seen you do all kinds of creative things with, like, like I said, with celebrities of all different types. Mike, what we like to do on the show is also we like to share our journey in the LGBT community. What was your coming out story? My coming out story was was pretty funny. I used to I'm from Montreal and we I used to go to to a club with all of my friends, my high school friends used to go to club like we, you know, because you could go to clubs when you're like, yeah, it's back then. So we're going to this club that was a three level club and one club with a new wave, with you wave, where we would go and hang out, and then they're the one of about. It was a leather bar in the one about that was like a big, big, like flashy, you know, big, crowded gay bar, you know, like Ala Saint in your like in the good old, you know, like we so we'd all hang out and go to the new wave club on the first floor and then I was always like sneaking off and going up to the gay bar. And then I got bust in one time and I would seventeen at the time and I got busted in. My friends like what are you doing up there? So I just hit you know, fuck it, this is what. What can I say that? I said, you know, I'm this is me. So I came out to all my friends when I was seventeen and then and then I came out to my family when I was twenty five. For you know, I was a little more apprehensive about coming out to them.

Yeah, you know, ther rejection and I'll actual crap, but I I came out to them and they, you know, my mom and dad looked at each other and I like come, tell us something we don't know. So kind of antichlimactic. I was hoping for like meltdown, at least dirt, you know, like teers like love you anyway. They're like whatever, yeah, I love that, and that is a very positive experience to have. You know, this year's pride season looks totally different. We're not going to the pride, we're not traveling around the nation. There's a lot of digital stuff going on, but I think there's a lot of throwback to how pride was formed, where we came from. We're being a little bit more retrospective as to our history rather than focusing on the parting aspect. But what does this pride season mean to you differently than it has and in any other year? M Gosh, Um, what does it mean to me or mean, you know, because we weren't we weren't able to like do the you know, the very visible sort of like celebrating that we ordinarily do. I mean, what it means to me, I think, is just, you know, just like live authentically and, you know, kind of be myself and not not worry about, you know, speak, be happy with myself. I mean, like I'm I think I'm just beyond like the how I don't know how to articulate this. I think I'm just beyond the you know, the need to like to like express, you know, like my pride for, you know, like I've done all of that, you know, or just like you know, I spend all my time and energy just trying to propel you, all of us forward, and you know, I still support the community, you know, immensely, but I don't I don't do it in the loud and proud way that I used to well. And but what I love about flex your vote it's hitting all of our sensibilities, things that we love. Obviously we love muscles, we love that kind of physical beauty, but it's kind of putting that spin on it. It's like yeah, pay attention, like look at me. And then here's what I have to tell you is you need to go vote this year or all of this could be taken away, all of these joys that we have. We've been kind of in this bubble in the last few years where we're represented the media and, you know, we think we're out and proud and then we realize, especially lately, we're kind of danger and going back many different ways with the Trans community, with our minority groups within the LGBT community. It's kind of scary that that bubble is is kind of popping. Yeah, it's some it's terrifying actually, and that's that's what really, you know, inspired me to want to do this because, you know I mean and you know the way that I do. You know, I feel like the percentage of people who are not registered to vote in our community, you know, are just young and you know they're you know they're it's not like you know, because I remember when I was here, I was trying to put myself in their shoes. You know, when I when I when I was young. What, you know, what was my outlook on all of it? You...

...know, I didn't care. I just want to have a good time on party and older clubs. So that's why I use, you know I'm using this approach, is to kind of, you know, get them with their current sensibility, but deliver the message, you know, through the back door. You know what I mean, like like Oh, Honky guys, and then you know, and then they and then they get the message. And you know what I've been doing is I've been posting images in my instagram story stories where, you know, it's like a really hot guy. Now, I'll say, swipe up to see more. And Yeah, the voting, the voter registration page you know, voked God, and actually a lot of them have reached out to me, like, you know, that was really funny what you did, you know, and as a result, I end up registering the vote. Well, I love that and it was really effective because I'm a huge fan of yours. I follow you. I'm also a huge fan of Eric Turner, who you photographed for one of the and car I was swiping. I couldn't swipe fast enough. I'm like, this is a great campaign, like I said that, you know it. It kind of hit everything I'm interested in. Well, get Michael. I just want to I just want to say go back to like pride. You know, that's that's because because I do so much stuff, so much like visibly gay stuff, that's that's my expression of pride. So I don't I don't feel like I need to separate, you know, like to do something specifically for pride, because I'm always doing it anyway. So right, you just made me realize that. So that's that's kind of what pride means to me. To just do three hundred sixty five days a year. Well, I think that that's a that's a good call to action for all of us. You know, live our pride on a daily basis. And Pride doesn't mean like, you know, I'm waving the Gay Pride flag or I'm wearing glitter every day. Pride also means that I'm becoming actively involved in the community, I'm inspiring other people to become active in the community. That also is a very powerful sense of pride. Mike, we're seeing a lot of selfies at home in the same rooms and the same outfits, for shirtless, because we have nowhere to go. So can you give me the best hints on how to smize perfectly for your at Home Instagram Selfie? Do you have? Do you have any tips? Yeah, well, first of all, you have to find like a like a window. See, I'm sitting in front of a window right now. I guess a couple of extra filters, but but you know, it's nice even lighting. You know, if I was if I was if I was sidelighting it or something, you know, I wouldn't see you. was going to find like a nice window and just stand about three feet behind you know, like into the room from the window and and that's usually how you get the best selfies. Well, definitely, you have this angelic glow. Mic I'm not sure you're that angelic. By the way, I don't know if you've been noticing, but I've been like very like Geisha, like because I had two veneers that cracked off. You know what I'm like. I didn't even I told my dentist I don't even put a tempt in because we's going to see me. It's gorgeous. Your beautiful inside and and and out. Okay, Mike, we're going to end. We're going to play a little rapid fire. Are you game? Yeah, okay, okay, so let's go the most awkward or worst celebrity meeting and you've met...

...everybody. Um, I would have to say it was billy Zane. He was just it was unplucked, poor billy. Or it was twenty something years ago. It was yeah, yeah, well, that's when he was at his beak. Billy, do better, billy. Okay, you're guilty. Pleasure food. We know you're super fit, but like, what's the food that you're like? Okay, we're giving a peanut butter. Yeah, I go through a hold guard peanut butter like into the every two days, and that's just in the bedroom. Mike, what would the title of your own reality TV show be HMM, Karen's gone wild now, well, that would be and I would be persecuting one wild and me putting the Kabash on them. I love that. Yeah, the COB on. Well, yeah, I got to think of a better title, but yes, okay, so about putting the Kabash on Karen. Okay, God, what celebrity who has passed would you have wanted to do a huge photo shoot with? It could be like old classic Hollywood. It could be you know, recently passed. Just a celebrity who's not with us. Um, WHO's not with us? Well, you know, I mean my first thought would be Marilyn Monroe. Yes, so, I was just looking some old stuff for her, but I'm trying to think of somebody passed recently. I mean, you know, I mean I worked with Prince a few times and I was so devastated that, because I was kind of a guy, you know at the end. Yeah, and it was I was like so devastated that I you know, the thought of never being able to work with him again, because it was just like every time I did it was I mean I'd be on cloud nine after yeah. So, I mean, yeah, Prince and Marilyn together. Yes, Oh my God, I'd be awesome. All right, microw's for president. I'm going to vote. What is your campaign slogan? Um, my campaign slogan is, Oh God, I don't know. Suggest one for me. What we're what would you say? What would you assign my campaign slogan to be? Make America hot again, or make America, I was in say Merica, gay again? But we already we already heard that a million times. Mike. Tell everybody where they can find and follow you. And how can we get involved with flex your vote? Well, you can go to the flex your vote instagram page, which is just at flex your vote, and you can also just register to vote at vote Dotorg. That's that's basically what the whole purpose of it is is to drive people to on to register and and you know, like I always give updates and stuff on my instagram page, which is at my crew. He's one, I'll spelled out, and my Ke are you, I zo and he and yeah, there's always a flurry of information and creative eye candy, I would say,...

...and definitely and beautiful shots to of all different types of celebrities and brands. I wonder if who has the instagram at Micrewui's, without the one that he ever message you and be like got some got some gay guys in my dms? Again. No, but I there's a micrewis that follows me and like we always go back and forth with each other and he'll say he'll like, like I'll post a picture of me and you'll begin like, oh, I look so and he'll say, Oh, I look so good today and we'll like wow, I look awesome. More. You know, way to go, me or corspondence going. I love that. I wish I was microwaves three. Okay, thank you so much, Mike. It's always a pleasure speaking with you. I'm glad to see that that you're doing well in quarantine. Everybody, go out and flex your vote. That has been another episode of Metro Source Minis. I'm your host and lead writer for Metro Source Magazine, Alexander Rodriguez. You can follow me on Instagram at Alexander is. On Air, you can binge, listen and watch all of our episodes featuring all of our celebrities at Natur sourcecom. Until next time, stay true and do you boo and flex your vote. Yeah, that has been another metro source mini like, share and subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latest issue of Metro Sports magazine on newstands or online at Metro sourcecom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram at metal source and on twitter at let's just course mad. UNTIL NEXT TIME HE FASTS.

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