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Credit: Hunter Harden

Something that always resonates with me, especially in gay men, is the ability to have an idea for yourself and really make it work. Many of the ones that have been profiled on Manhattan Digest are men that have excelled in certain industries, yet got there by relying on their own talents and abilities and not using someone else to get there.  Someone in particular that does that, and then some, is up and coming model Hunter Harden, who is originally from Reno, Nevada, currently resides in South Carolina, and has plans to make it big in New York City this year as his portfolio continues to expand.

The gorgeous and handsome Hunter has had quite a bit of modeling experience already, posing for legendary photographers like Mack Sturgis and more.  His muscular & hairy physique, along with his gorgeous face has him all over the internet, with quite the following on social media (almost 8,000 followers on Instagram alone!).

Hunter recently sat down with us to discuss his career in modeling, array of inspirations that got himself there, setbacks that he has to overcome, and what’s next for the talented chap.  Take a look.

Credit: Victor Crulich
Credit: Victor Crulich

How did you get involved in modeling?

I am an extrovert with social anxiety.  This may sound like an oxymoron.  I love parties and being around people but often times in those situations I overthink everything I do and say to the point where it’s impossible to enjoy myself.  Because of this, I am constantly trying to push myself outside of my comfort zone.  It’s what got me into modeling.  I started a couple of years ago and I really loved it, so I began to pursue it more and more.  Usually before a big shoot I am a bundle of nerves, but once I start I begin to relax and just let go.  Sometimes it’s like an out of body experience.  I see the finished product when I’m done and I can’t believe it’s me.

What models or designers inspire you? 

I have always been a huge fan of Tom Ford.  His menswear collections are masculine and classic, but with a modern flair.  Alexander McQueen’s provocative collections inspire me because he was a risk taker and he just did not give a fuck about what was proper or expected.  Viktor Luna has some of the most innovative designs I have seen in recent memory.  I actually met Viktor the last time I was in New York as well and he’s an amazing person.  One model that really stood out to me growing up was Mark Wahlberg.  When he did the Calvin Klein underwear ads back in the 90’s, it was the first time I can remember a beefy, muscular model being represented as a national male spokesmodel, as opposed to the usual, skinny, androgynous male models.

Credit: Mack Sturgis
Credit: Mack Sturgis

What are your thoughts on more “real” type of men being models and how do you feel you call fill that niche market?

There seems to be a trend happening in the world of male modeling lately.  Men with body hair and larger frames used to be frowned upon, but now you see models like Matt Lister who is very hairy but is doing runway and print ads.  There’s also plus sized model Zach Miko who has begun to make his mark on the modeling industry.  I believe that I can be a part of this trend.  My look is masculine, but youthful.  I am very versatile, and I look good in a variety of different hair styles and facial hair styles.

What is your training regimen at the gym?

I always try to be healthy and train hard, but when I know I have a big photo shoot coming up I get really serious.  I will train 3 days on, with one day off, paying attention to every muscle group, lifting heavy with high weights and low reps, and I spend about an hour each day in the gym.  I make sure to change up my workout to something completely different every 2 to 3 weeks, just to keep my muscles from getting used to anything.  As far as nutrition is concerned I drink a gallon of water a day, and when I’m trying to bulk up I eat about 4000 calories a day, eating every 3 hours 5 to 6 times a day.  I try to eat lean meats and fresh veggies, and good carbs like brown rice, but I have a weakness for potatoes of any kind.  I may never have washboard abs, but I have gained about 30 pounds in the past year and a half and am pretty happy with my progress.

Credit: Mack Sturgis
Credit: Mack Sturgis

What are your hobbies, or things that you’re interested in or passionate about?

Basically I’m just a big kid.  I hate to “adult”.  I love fitness, video games, traveling, and pop culture in general.  I have dabbled in photography and even had one of my photos featured in a photography book called “Identities Now”.  Obviously I am passionate about modeling and would like to pursue that as far as I can.  I have an associate’s degree in Graphic Design and I worked for Custom Ink for several years as a graphic designer.  With the knowledge I gained there, I am starting my own t-shirt company called MNKYBOY.  The designs are playful and fun, with a little bit of dark sexual humor mixed in.  You can check out my designs at www.mnkyboy.com.

What obstacles have you had to overcome to pursue modeling?

I have had to deal with migraines practically my whole life.  They first started to manifest when I was 5 years old.  Eventually I was diagnosed with cluster migraines, which is the most severe case of this disorder.  There is no rhyme or reason to what causes them or when they will occur.  Sometimes I will go a week or so without a single migraine, and then other times they happen every day, multiple times a day.  They can range from a dull headache that lasts an hour or so, to headaches so severe that I am completely paralyzed by the pain, and they will last all day.  I have tried every known FDA approved treatment for migraines, including Botox shots to my forehead and skull.  Some help to ease the symptoms but there is no known cure for my migraines.  It limits what I’m able to do because when they occur and they are severe I have to stop whatever I’m doing and lay down in a dark room until they pass.

Projects you are working on or have coming up?

In September I have a photo shoot planned with the photographer Mack Sturgis.  I shot with them in October of last year, and it was a great collaboration.  While I’m there I’m also going to do some modeling for Burly Shirts clothing, and a pictorial for the online magazine PlayBear.  I am scheduled to be their October/November cover model, and I will be featured in a pictorial in the magazine as well.

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