The Bob Mizer Foundation regularly profiles both experimental photographers and models in order to fulfill part of its mission statement. This week, we feature a Q&A with New York-based model, actor and bodybuilder Nick Dent, who has been working on a Mizer-inspired photo shoot with photographer Gabe Ayala.
How long have you been bodybuilding, and what is your routine?
I started lifting weights when I was 15 years old at the YMCA. I did my first competition when I was 20 years old. In the gym I usually go heavy with six reps.
Tell me about your life as an artist -- when you began acting and modeling, and some of your favorite roles or shoots up to this point.
Life as an artist can be tough. You're not understood. You’re seen as outside of the box. With my life as an artist I also like to incorporate my entrepreneurship, so the angle I look at my artistic product from is very much business-associated. My days as an adult star (Dent performed under the pseudonym 'Reese Rideout') were lots of fun. I was so happy to get onto one of the last covers of Playgirl. And getting Men Magazine's Man of the Year was amazing and such an honor.
When did you realize that you could mold your talent into a career? How did that realization feel?
Since my brother got a VHS camera on his 15th birthday we were filming movies constantly. I really looked up to Arnold Schwarzenegger. My original plan was to just get as big as I could be and then I couldn't be ignored. Then while doing one bodybuilding show a photographer scouted me out and started me in some magazines. Then some other offers came in to go down to LA and do some more modeling. I knew that that was a step in the right direction getting my feet wet down in LA.
Your parodies are wonderful -- you obviously have a sense of humor, and you obviously have fun doing what you do. Why do you believe it's important to not take yourself too seriously as an artist?
Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. I have so much fun doing the parodies. I like being goofy and off-the-wall! To be honest, the goal as an actor for me is action hero. I'm almost to Black Belt in karate as we speak. But anytime you can inject humor is a good time.
It seems you're a renaissance man -- that you not only perform, but you're also a writer and an editor. In your opinion, why is it crucial to have such a broad skill set?
Yes, I do write, edit, and act, plus many more things. I feel you have to be really well rounded. Yes, in the future I'll be bringing on board great editors and great filmographers. I do want to have a mastermind group because the expansion of multiple minds working together can't be beaten. Meanwhile, I'll do everything I have to do to get it done. And I do mean everything!
What was your first exposure to Bob Mizer and beefcake photography, and how did it make you feel?
Photographer Gabe Ayala and I have been wanting to shoot together for a little while now. When Gabe got a hold of me he mentioned Bob Mizer, so I started doing some research. I like the old feel of the photos, the era of the 1950s, when Bob did most of his earlier work. It really touches me – gladiators, cowboys. Who doesn't love cowboys?
What, in your opinion, sets Mizer's work apart from his contemporaries? From modern-day photographers?
There's something special to say about being the first one to carve a path down the direction of male sexuality. I still don't think we’re fully there with the quality in society of men's nude photos. But Bob started it off and we're on our way. Modern-day photographers can get really caught up in equipment and Photoshop. Classic film cameras give off such a different feel ... much more nostalgic.
How did you select which poses you would recreate?
Oh, it was lots of fun. We used Google to bring up all of Bob's work and searched around there for a while. I found the Bob Mizer Foundation, which really helped me get a great feel for Bob's work. I first thought of all the clothes I have around the room and I took a quick trip to a secondhand store. We directly worked on recreating a shoot with all jeans and a handkerchief.
In Bob Mizer's time, the photos that you took would have been controversial, but Mizer was known for his dogged support of freedom of artistic expression. Why is freedom of artistic expression important to you as an artist, actor and model?
If you're not free, what are you? If you're not free, you are in a cage, and your creative voice is stifled. I just love being able to create especially with film and images, I love people seeing it, enjoying it, and it being there forever.
What projects are you working on right now that you'd like to promote?
I just finished writing an 85-page script with my friend. It's a futuristic horror movie. In the coming weeks we will be shopping it around, then start filming shortly and be wrapped by the end of the year. Also at the moment, I'm really grateful for meeting Bryan Hawn, we've done some music videos together and he showed me some great ways to support my film goals. I have this great Onlyfans page set up. This is also where everyone can see the rest of the Bob Mizer-inspired photos. I do a daily blog/vlog of scandalous photos, videos and music videos.
You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @TheNickDent and online at TheNickDent.com
What advice do you have for those wanting a body like yours? Any advice for those wanting to go into acting and modeling?
If you'd like to get into better shape make sure you're in the gym 3 to 4 times a week lifting heavy. I personally also do karate a couple times a week as well, and I'll ride my mountain bike a couple times a week too. Diet is huge. It's 80% of how you'll reach your goals. And nowadays there are so many great supplements.
Acting and modeling may be two of the hardest things to get into. But like everything, don't give up. It's great to find mentors who can help you get on a fast track. And find inspiration. In Bob Mizer, countless artists, photographers and models have a man who paved the way for all of us to be doing what we’re enjoying today. The sacrifices he made and the risks he took were very real, and thanks to him, we are able to enjoy greater freedoms that must never be taken for granted.