Monday, May 10, 2010

Interview with Charles Paz, Mr. Romance 2009

This year I attended my first Romance Times Booklover’s Convention. I really enjoyed it although you return tired, very tired. Promotion and schmoozing is tiring as is attending various panels during the day and then dressing up and attending the various balls each night. Still, I met a lot of people I only knew online and reconnected with those I had met in the past. RT is full of lots of interesting events and people. I had fun.

One of the greatly touted events is the annual Mr. Romance Contest. The winner graces the cover of a romance novel and hopefully continues on a successful path in modeling or the entertainment field. Think Fabio, John DeSalvo, and Jimmy Thomas.

Now, I’ve heard much about the Mr. Romance contest—pros and cons. I’ve seen women curl their lips disdainfully at the whole beefcake contest, contestants, and speak disparaging of the whole process both verbally and in print. I also read some of the comments on the RT forum posted while the judging of 2010 contest was taking place. Then there are others that love the whole process and the photo ops with the contestants. Talking to them, they loved having the models intermingling with them during panels/workshops, and their willingness to dance with the RT guests during the Balls.

One of the interesting people I met was, Charles Paz, 2009’s Mr. Romance. I thought I was tired, my word, he was everywhere helping out, talking to people, posing for picture after picture with what seemed like hundreds of readers and authors.

I was curious about him and how he got into this and what his plans were now that his reign had ended. I had a chance to sit down with him and talk a bit after he finished being an emcee for an event. Charles is a genuinely sweet guy, a gentlemen, with a great personality, smart, and a wicked sense of humor. He is also very buff with well-defined body with a chest and arms all the 90 lb weaklings would love to have and many women practically swoon over. Let’s just say, if I was stupid enough to be in a dark city alley, I’d feel much better if he was with me, lol! Although, after speaking with him and getting to know him a bit, I can tell you, he’d also be delivering a big brother lecture on harebrained moves and safety to me.

I was surprised to find he hadn’t been involved with weight lifting while growing up but had only been doing it the last few years. In fact he told me the reason he had gotten into body building to begin with was to lose weight and get into shape—boy, he succeeded.

Sia: You really were close to 300 lbs and overweight?

Charles: I really was out of shape and weighed 290 lbs. I started working out at the gym. It built my up confidence and self image.

Sia: So, how did you get from working out at the gym to becoming a model and being Mr. Romance?

Charles: After getting into shape I entered 2007 SACRAMENTO NPC BODYBUILDING SHOW and took 5th place. A friend of mine from the gym encouraged me to post my pictures and profile on Model Mayhem. I did another show in July 2008 and after that, I had one shoot, which led to another shoot and so on. Model Mayhem is what got me noticed. Over a year later, I got noticed to do a Tear sheet for RT and then that led to the invite for MR.ROMANCE.

Sia: I know for aspiring authors and published authors, conventions such as RT is an opportunity to get to know industry people to further your career. How does that work for a contestant?

Charles: You get to know the authors and the type of books they write and opportunities for doing the cover model work.

Sia: So you made connections?

Charles: After the MR.ROMANCE COMPETITION. People promised me *big things* and said I needed to fly out to Florida and shoot book covers for Bobbie Smith, whom I met personally at RT.

Sia: They flew you to Florida?

Charles: No. I spent money out of my pocket. For nothing. It was at a time where I had nothing and eating was a struggle. The price for *the big things* promised was more than I wanted to pay.

Sia: Hmmm, sounds like the *casting couch* isn’t just for Hollywood, huh? Moving along, Pageants traditionally have a lot of cattiness and jealousy behind the scenes. Is it different in a contest such as Mr. Romance? Did you see that jealousy continue AFTER you became Mr. Romance? How did it affect, or how did it make you feel?

Charles: There is jealousy at these things. Lol! I think only one guy from last year was the one who made a big deal of losing. Feel? It goes back to me wondering if this was a fluke for me winning. At the same time, a lot of people online were jealous as well. Apparently, getting shown love [and support] from women makes any man Jealous. Lol! You deal with it.

Sia: What are the duties of Mr. Romance during the year?

Charles: I had NO DUTIES. I tried my best to do shoots for the fans and show them pretty pictures.. At the same time, I wish there was more for me to do. I didn’t have publishers or anyone fly me out to book events or signings or even do anything to promote me. I learned the hard way that I am my own manager and should have done a better job at selling myself, I guess.

Sia: I noticed you were very busy during this RT convention. Was this required? Or did you feel you needed to step in and help where you could?

Charles: At RT, I could do what ever I wanted. I could have stayed in the hotel room. I could have gone sightseeing. OR, I could have spent my time kissing up to the publishers and [industry] people who could get me more covers. INSTEAD, I made sure to keep my face seen for the fans and people who wanted to get pictures and autographs. I did workshops where I would be involved with the people and made sure they had a GREAT time. That was my JOB this year. I loved every minute of it. And wouldn’t change a thing.

Sia: How many book covers are you on?

Charles: Only on one cover...that I know of, lol! [There are] some *photographers* and I use that word loosely, who think that they can take my pictures and use it for profit. It’s really sad for them to take advantage of me like that, but its ok. I’m sure there are people who have stolen my image as well and used it for their gain. I wish them much success at that =-)

Sia: Are you still modeling?

Charles: Yes, still modeling. I’ve got agency testing next week for fashion and a commercial. Wish me luck.

Sia: You got it! You mentioned you are a body trainer and personal trainer. Do you work for a company or gym or is this something you do on your own?

Charles: I’m not 'CERTIFIED' but I do train people on the side and help them lose weight. I know my stuff and am good at what I do.

Sia: Any lessons you’ve learned from this experience or advice you'd like to share with us?

Charles: Advice? [Watch out for those who promise you the moon.] Don’t listen to the people who hide behind computers and talk down about you. There is a blog up after this RT talking about [the] cover models. It’s pretty sad, but okay, the person who wrote it is unhappy with herself and has a vendetta against cover models. Its okay though, I’m still Alive =-)

Sia: And doing well, I’d say. What are your plans now that your reign as Mr. Romance is over?

Charles: Shoot my own covers and get a DIFFRENT LOOK out there for all the authors to have. I’m changing the GAME so to say. There are certain shots that aren’t out there for authors to use. I listened to what they wanted and I will deliver. I think it would be nice to see something out of the NORM for these authors. I can only hope for the best and give them what they want.

Charles, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I wish you the best for your future.

  • Charles Paz, 2009 Mr. Romance and Jamie Ungaro, 2010 Mr. Romance. Stay tuned for my interview with Jamie a bit later.
All pictures provided courtesy of Charles Paz.


Tonya Kappes said...

Charles, Thanks for hanging out. It seems you have a really positive attitude and you roll with the punches. I find it interesting that men (it's usually women) were jealous of your success. As with writers, you've keep going until you achieved your dreams and you're still going.
That's great.
I'm sad I missed RT, but it may be a bit too 'exciting' for me:)

Mason Canyon said...

Great interview. I would have never guessed it was such a harsh business. Charles, hope you have continued success.

Thoughts in Progress

Kat Sheridan said...

Great interview! Modeling is a tough business, regardless of gender. I think Chaz has the look that could easily sell books! Wishing you all the best of luck and a successful career!

SueO said...

Charles, thanks for the insight. You've got a good look for cover art. You should consider Cowboy Romance fiction covers as well. :)

Another wonderful post, Sia!

VA said...

Thanks for the candid interview Charles, I hope the future unfolds your way. At the end of the day you have what you initially set out to do. Business is just that, business. There is no sweet and soft, but your dedication to fans is bound to be noticed. After all romantic fiction is anchored on a strong fan base. Good luck!

Helen Ginger said...

Very interesting, Sia. I loved this look behind the covers.

Straight From Hel

oliviacunning said...

I'm really surprised winning this contest didn't get you more good publicity for your modeling career, Charles. I do hope things go well with future endeavors. I'm not sure who would be the best group in publishing to focus your schmoozing on, but I'm glad you focused your attention on the fans. I'm sure they ate up every minute.

Thanks for the interview, Sia. It's always interesting (and often unfortunate) to see how expectations and reality don't always coincide.

~Sia McKye~ said...

He's an interesting man and he has a good attitude and is certainly wiser I think.

Olivia, that was my thought too, about expectations and reality.

Anonymous said...

WOW... It has been such a busy past few weeks and I am sorry for arriving at this party a lil late.

First, Thank you to SIA for taking the time to interview me. It actually gave ,me a chance to sit down and catch my breath at the convention, but more importantly, It was cool to have an actually face to face interview with someone. I do most my stuff online because its easier, But this was probably my first SIT DOWN with an actual person. I am always gratefull and Thankfull for any chance I get to let the FANS know a lil more about me. So thank you once again.

And thank you all for your support and enjoying the interview. I do apoologize for being so late to this and wish I came sooner.

It is a hard job, BUT, I love making the fans Happy and hope I can get some more covers to please them. If not, Ill just continue to make PRETTY PICTURES or some EYE CANDY

Find me on facebook and add me!!! Search MR.ROMANCE CHARLES PAZ and get to know me a lil better.

Everyone have an AWESOME WEEK and Ill be back later =-)


Nancy J. Parra said...

Great post. So sad to hear that it is as hard for models as it is for writers. I wish you the best of luck, Charles. Seriously as e-books grow authors will be looking for photos. Keep posing! cheers~

Cheryl Brooks said...

Charles certainly was a "presence" at RT. I saw him everywhere--always smiling and friendly. He's a great ambassador for the Mr. Romance contest, which was one of the best events at the conference!