Tracy James wasn’t just a romance cover model but a supermodel, fitness icon, actor, entertainer, businessman, philanthropist, and mentor. What a guy!
Supermodel, Actor, Fitness Expert, and All-Around Cutie
Remember this smoldering hunk who graced the covers of steamy romance novels in the 90s and 2000s? That’s Tracy James, the heartthrob who set the world ablaze with his chiseled physique and charming smile.
The six-foot-tall, olive-skinned, brown-haired, brown-eyed model has captivated millions of admiring eyes for almost 30 years. At the peak of his career, this cutie from New Jersey was a top underwear and fitness model—and so much more!
With his chiseled physique and charming smile, Tracy has appeared in commercials, television shows, music videos, workout videos, on stage, in magazines, calendars, and print ads—in addition to romance novel covers. He has almost 2,000 credits to his name!
But James isn’t just a pretty face. He is a man of many talents, and his career took him from fitness and modeling to artist and entertainer to entrepreneur and mentor.
The Early Life and Career of Tracy James
Early Life: The Jersey Kid
Born in 1970 in Bayonne, New Jersey, Tracy was the youngest of three boys. His hardworking single mother raised them alone.
“My dad left before I was one, and he did not maintain good communication with us. He has since passed away. My mother was forced to move into the projects. She tried to juggle three boys and work, which was pretty brutal. My brothers always had a type of sibling rivalry, which made life even harder. Later in life, things worked out, and one became a civil engineer and the other a law agency.”Shauni.Blogspot: Interview-With Tracy James
Little Brother Gets Big
Tracy aspired to be like his older brothers, even though he was too young to compete with them. As a result, he became a dedicated athlete, participating in various athletic activities, which helped him develop an incredible physique.
“Since I had relatively no father figure and my brothers didn’t want to hang out with the youngest, I turned to sports… I started playing baseball at age 5… I also started playing football at age 9, as well as tennis and fencing... Other sports I enjoy are… swimming, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics.“Shauni.Blogspot: Interview-With Tracy James
Early Career: Starting Out
While James was in high school, his muscular form attracted the eye of an agent after he spent a day relaxing on the Jersey shore. This would lead to a few modeling gigs and an appearance in a Clearasil commercial.
Eventually, the TV spot caught the eye of Abrams Artists, a New York modeling agency. They quickly signed him up for a contract.
From there, his modeling career rocketed into the stratosphere.
Joan Rivers Leads Tracy’s Big Break
Tracy then appeared on the cover of a famous international calendar called Rock Shots, which brought him to the attention of Joan Rivers. The comedienne invited him to chat with her on her popular talk show.
Due to the media whirlwind around Tracy, it was impossible not to notice this up-and-comer. Subsequently, Tracy’s newfound fame landed him more events.
A photo of him with Joan on the cover of the National Enquirer gave him his breakthrough. The folks at Soloflex, a revolutionary all-in-one exercise machine, came knocking on his door.
How the Original Soloflex Man Captivated A Nation
Every Night, Jacqueline!
Soloflex offered the young Tracy $500,000 to appear in their infomercials and promotional materials.
“I was the face of Soloflex for about six years. I was actually still delivering pizzas for Mike’s Pizza at the time I started the campaign, so I would deliver pizzas, and people would recognize me from the infomercials.”Shauni.Blogspot: Interview-With Tracy James
Can you imagine being the fortunate customer who had Tracy James show up at their door to deliver a pie? That’s a fantasy that’s come to life. (Cue music…)
He became a national fixture, appearing daily on late-night TV in a 2-hour infomercial. His career as one of the original Soloflex men captivated audiences from coast to coast and border to border.
If you were alive in the nineties, you couldn’t miss seeing Tracy James at night on TV after regular programming concluded. As an insomniac, watching Tracy’s workouts kept me up later than dull M*A*S*H re-runs would! Still, the groggy mornings were worth it.
This was the first of dozens of commercials that would follow. Top clients such as Chrysler, 7-Up, 24-Hour Fitness, and Bacardi Rum wanted him for promotions.
The Soloflex ads garnered Tracy the recognition of the fitness community. In 1992, he released his first fitness video for “The Firm” series. It was one of the bestselling workout videos of its day, selling over 3 million copies in its first year.
Following that, Tracy was enlisted to appear in several exercise videos for Crush Productions and The Harpers Group.
At the age of 20, Tracy James had earned enough money from his lucrative Soloflex commercials to quit his job as a pizza delivery boy.
He moved to Manhattan to pursue modeling full-time. His new apartment on ritzy Park Avenue was just a few blocks from Wilhelmina Models, one of the world’s largest agencies.
Not long after, Wilhelmina signed him to a major contract.
Tracy James: Underwear and Fashion Supermodel
Just a Guy in His Underwear
The 1990s were the heyday of Calvin Klein underwear ads. Actors and supermodels like Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Sabato Jr., Marcus Schenkenberg, and Tyson Beckford stripped down to their skivvies. Tracy James was also one of those memorable bodies—er, faces.
“I loved the underwear modeling jobs because the way that I would sway my hips and twist my body was natural for me, and the pictures came out great. Another bonus was that there was not a lot of fuss with the garments.”Shauni.Blogspot: Interview-With Tracy James
Underwear brand 2Xist sought the ideal model to represent them in 1991. They found the right guy in Tracy James. This job led to Calvin Klein taking note of Tracy’s talents. Klein hired him for several runway shows and advertisements.
Tracy James soon graced the covers of prominent fitness and fashion magazines such as GQ, W, Vogue, and Men’s Health (US and UK) and calendars for Hurst Publications’ Cosmopolitan Men.
Georgio Armani and Europe Come Calling
In 1993, he worked on a campaign for Armani. The following year, Giorgio Armani chose Tracy for all his company’s underwear packaging and advertisements due to his
great package in underwear good looks.
This choice was a no-brainer because what man wouldn’t want to look like Tracy in jockeys?
Other businesses jumped at the chance to sign him, with almost twenty underwear brands hiring him for their ads.
Check out the packages the next time you browse the underwear department of your favorite store. Chances are, you’ll see Tracy James. You should be able to identify him, even if you can’t see his face.
From then on, he traveled the world as a supermodel. He wowed the fashion industry in Europe, and names like Versace, Valentino, Fendi, D-Squared, Brioni, and Adolfo Domingez came knocking at his door.
This catapulted James into an elite group of models who were photographed by almost every major publication, including the prestigious Italian Vogue.
The Ladies Love Tracy James
The Rise of a Romance Novel Cover Model
Now, let’s take a look at Tracy James and his romance career! From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, his image was on the front of popular novels for almost every big publisher.
James’ celebrity grew as he graced the covers of some of the most-loved romance books of the day. Among the most notable ones are Christine Feehan’s Dark Secret and Gena Showalter’s Into the Dark.
It’s no surprise that James quickly became a fan favorite and an icon of the romance industry.
I’ll never forget him from the great Miranda Lee’s The Playboy in Pursuit. Admiring his hotness on the cover played a role in my having a great time with the book. But it didn’t hurt that this was one of Lee’s steamiest reads!
A Proud Icon of Romance Covers
“I also loved to do romance cover novels. I would work with a lot of the same models, photographers, and illustrators. We became sort of a family. Setting up the shots and knowing what they wanted was really easy after a while. Some of the covers took 20 minutes to shoot. When you are constantly shooting, you realize what works and does not.”Shauni.Blogspot: Interview-With Tracy James
If you go to his website you’ll see many images of his romance covers. It’s refreshing to see someone proud of their association with the romance genre.
And James should be proud of his career! He was a perfect fit for the role of a romance hero.
International Sex Symbol Part I
Of course, his success in romance drew even more attention, leading to a photo shoot for Cosmopolitan Magazine.
James’ Cosmo spread generated so much buzz that, for the first time ever, the magazine had to print an additional 500,000 copies to keep up with demand.
Because of his appeal, the editors picked him to be their “Cosmopolitan Man of the Year.”
As a result, he joined celebrities Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, and David Hasselhoff as one of the few men picked for the honor.
International Sex Symbol Part II
Readers liked him so much that Cosmo called him back for their 25th-anniversary issue in May 1996. He starred as their piece de resistance, as the pull-out centerfold.
I remember it well, as Marie-Claire, Glamour, and Cosmo were my fashion bibles back then!
From Fitness and Supermodel to Gladiator and Actor…
An American Gladiator
Do you think three thriving careers were enough for this driven demi-god? No way! Because he was a man of many talents, naturally, Tracy James turned his attention to other endeavors.
His physical endurance was evident during his guest appearance on American Gladiators, where James walked away with the gold medal after defeating a former Olympic triathlete.
A Talk Show Sensation
His charming good looks and ability to perform in front of an audience led to his appearances on stage and television in these (sadly now-defunct) daytime NYC-based soap operas: All My Children, One Life to Live, As the World Turns, and Another World.
This made all the talk shows come calling. Tracy made appearances on Oprah, Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, Extra, The Mike & Matty Show, Sally Jesse Raffael, NY 1, Good Morning America, and The Late Show with Conan O’Brien, to name just a few.
An Actor to Watch on Screen
Having made a mark on television, James naturally progressed into acting.
He dazzled prime-time TV viewers with his charm when he appeared on Tina Fey’s comedy series 30 Rock.
On the big screen, Tracy James had roles in a few films. He collaborated with Sex in the City director Susan Seidleman. Later, he went toe-to-toe with Keanu Reeves on the set of Henry’s Crime as Reeve’s stand-in.
Imagine being the lucky interns on the set with Keanu and Tracy… Grrrrr!
…To Performer and Musician
Las Legas & Theater Career
Tracy’s charisma and talent led to the creation of a triumphant theatrical show for Showboat Casino. The casino signed him to a yearly contract after a tremendous three-month run.
After that, James produced more variety shows with other well-known casinos. He wrote, starred in, produced, and directed his shows, and was quite charming in his role as Master of Ceremonies.
It was challenging to balance modeling and acting gigs in New York and Los Angeles with performing live shows in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
But Tracy had the drive, and he did it!
Music Video Guy
So then country singer Shania Twain chose Tracy James to play lead guitarist for the megahit “I Feel Like a Woman” and to star alongside her in the video.
Tracy James’ love of music and writing motivated him to form a music group. Naturally, he composed original songs that the band performed live for enthusiastic audiences.
Sony Music offered them a record deal, but they had to turn it down because even if Tracy James didn’t need a day of rest, the Lord sure did!
Tracy James’ Pursuits in Education and Business Ventures
Despite his hectic schedule, Tracy finished college, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. In addition, he took classes in Fashion Design, Business, Writing, and Computer Science, developing skills he would use to build his business ventures.
After that, he pursued a side career in the restaurant business, first opening Lucky Cheng’s in Las Vegas with a partner and then opening a second location in California. And to top it all off, Tracy James then developed a popular athletic clothing line.
What an amazing Master-of-All-Trades!
Philanthropic and Charity Work
For nearly 30 years, Tracy James has been committed to numerous philanthropic causes, expressing his passion for helping others.
“I love helping others… I guess it goes back to my childhood and the whole underdog thing. I feel more connected to the underdog—like I am there with them.”Shauni.Blogspot: Interview-With Tracy James
He has long supported many charitable organizations through volunteerism, donations, and advocacy. For example, he has worked with God’s Love We Deliver, Africa Peace Corps, The Bondi Group, PETA, AmFar, and the African Peace Project.
Is it even possible to believe that such a wonderful guy actually exists? Stunning looks, charm, sex appeal, drive, integrity, intelligence, and altruism! When the Heavens above created Tracy James, they truly broke the mold.
Tracy James Today
Fitness Philosophy and Legacy
Tracy James has had an incredible impact on the fitness world. He carved out his own name among those who are passionate about staying fit as a pioneer in the industry.
With a unique form of training emphasizing strength and flexibility, James is able to blend cardio and traditional strength training together successfully. His exercise classes and videos have made an impact, going by the many success stories gathered from past clients.
In recent years, James has generated more buzz in the fitness industry. Lovate Health Sciences, the makers of Hydroxycut and Six Star Pro Nutrition, hired him to represent their brand. Through a strict diet and exercise program, Tracy trimmed down to just 3% body fat, which led Exercise for Men Magazine to feature him in a huge layout.
Mentor to the New Generation of Male Super Models
Always looking to devote more time to helping others, James has been giving back to the modeling community through his NYC Model Network.
He started the network to help aspiring models break into the industry and provide a support system for established models. With his extensive work portfolio and connections, James is dedicated to providing a unique and honest environment for men to establish connections and fulfill their goals.
He began this business as a side project after being hired to speak at modeling seminars.
Thus, James, a constant source of inspiration, subsequently understands the hopes and dreams of aspiring models and offers practical advice to young men looking for a break in the industry.
To this day, Tracy works tirelessly on behalf of the Network he founded, reaching out to agencies in New York to ensure that the models he refers to meet their hiring requirements for maximum efficiency.
As a result, agents aren’t inundated with portfolios that don’t suit their needs, making them happy to work with Mr. James.
Tracy James: An Incredible Model of a Man
Tracy James is a man of many talents, far more than just a romance heartthrob of the 1990s and 2000s.
A juggernaut force in health and entertainment, his journey from a young boy in Bayonne, New Jersey, to a fitness star and romance cover model to actor and performer to mentor to the next generation of male supermodels to entrepreneurship is impressive.
In short, Tracy James’ success is a testament to his hard work and determination. Certainly, his impact on the modeling world, the fitness industry, and the romance genre should be a lasting legacy to inspire future generations.
Tracy James Romance Covers
- Tracy James Website
- Blog Talk Radio: Candi Fox Talk Tracy James
- NJ.com: Bayonne-Born Supermodel Moves Back…
- Shauni.Blogspot: Interview-With Tracy James
- YouTube: Tracy James Modeling Gigs & TV Spots