Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Marc Jacobs

New York born fashion designer Marc Jacobs (b. 1963) loves the spotlight. He’s not just a famous designer, he’s a celebrity whose personal life fills the gossip columns, and he likes it that way. When he gets a new tattoo, enters or exits rehab, takes up with another ex-prostitute or ex-porn-star boyfriend, the paparazzi are there in force. Jacobs (photo at right by Ed Kavishe) eats it up. His New York office is adorned by a framed cartoon of a woman selling her soul to the devil for tickets to a Marc Jacobs runway show.

His talent has made him very rich. The former stock boy is today worth well over 100 million dollars. A private chef tends the kitchen of his Parisian home that sports a knock-out view of the Eiffel Tower. The chubby, long-haired nerdy Jewish kid in glasses has transformed himself into a gym-buffed jet setter who hob-nobs with the rich and famous, all the while collecting serious art (Georges Braque, Andy Warhol, David Hockney). A restless spirit, Jacobs has just announced his departure as the creative director of the iconic French brand Louis Vuitton, a post he held for more than 15 years. During the first decade of Jacob’s tenure with Louis Vuitton, business at the couture house quadrupled. The reason for his departure? To concentrate on his own work. Jacobs sells his products – clothing, perfumes and luxury accessories (notably handbags that sell for thousands of dollars) – from more than 200 stores in 80 countries.

In 2010 he was ranked as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine, and in 2012 Out magazine declared him one of the “50 most powerful gay men and women in America.” France named him a “Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres,” an award whose purpose is “the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.”

In 1989 Jacobs posed for Vanity Fair magazine wearing nothing but his signature motorcycle boots and a yellow sheet. He topped that in 2006 when he posed with long-time business partner Robert Duffy in the buff for Protect Your Largest Organ T-shirts, sold to benefit skin cancer. That same year he designed ballet costumes for Amoveo, with music by Philip Glass, which debuted at the Opéra Garnier in Paris. In 2007 he posed nude on the cover of Out, the gay monthly magazine. In 2009 Jacobs dressed Muppets diva Miss Piggy in a custom stone-studded, black taffeta evening gown for her appearance at Macy’s Glamorama party. To promote his new men’s fragrance, Bang (“I like the sexual innuendo of it,” Jacobs said - photo above) he again posed nude, this time with his naked thighs splayed around an enormous bottle of the scent.

At a talk at Manhattan’s 92Y earlier this year, Jacobs confessed, “I love attention. Maybe my desire for attention is a little too out of control, but I’m very honest.”

And very rich.

In a New Yorker magazine feature in 2008, Jacobs told interviewer Ariel Levy, “I love frogs...this sort of fairy-tale frog that became a prince, and the chameleon who changes colors with his environment. ‘Zelig’ is my favorite film. I understand that. I can hang out in a sports bar with a bunch of straight guys and say ‘Go, Knicks’ and I can run around in the art scene and I can also be at the Met ball and be Mr. Fashion Designer with Anna Wintour. I can go wherever I want; I can be whatever I choose.” This, in the end, is Marc Jacobs’s superpower: “I can change colors – for my own amusement and, perhaps, the entertainment of others...That’s what I think everyone should aspire to in life – shamelessness.”

Full New Yorker magazine feature (2008):

While Duffy describes Jacobs as someone who is very insecure about his designing talent, it’s not reflected in the global end product. Jacobs just continues to chain-smoke his way from the runway to the bank. He seems to have an endless supply of ideas for ways to make money. In February of this year he was named the new creative director for Diet Coke. In honor of the brand's 30th anniversary, Jacobs will spend one year giving the brand a "stylish and light-hearted" make-over. Really.

Here Jacobs unveils his newly buffed physique on a balcony in Paris.

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