Tag Archives: romance cover models

top-ten-bookish-people romance genre

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People I’d Like to Meet

For this Top Ten Tuesday post, Jacqueline Diaz lists ten bookish people she’d like to meet. Almost all her choices are relevant to the books in the romance genre.

top-ten bookish people romance genre

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, where we post a list of 10 of our best/favorite/most important bookish-related items, depending on the week’s theme. Thank you to That Artsy Reader Girl for providing us with this feature and creative ideas.

“Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.”

top ten tuesday

10 Bookish People (Alive, Dead, or Fictional) I Would Like Meet

This Top Ten Tuesday theme is: “pick a previous topic that you missed or would like to re-do/update.” I missed posting on March 7 (and I almost missed posting today!). The topic that week was “10 Bookish People I’d Like To Meet,” which is my list for Tuesday March 21.

The subject was rather broad, and I chose people from different segments of the book industry, living, deceased, or fictional.

Because there are so many choices, this was a tough one.The bloggers section was particularly hard; there are so many people I would adore meeting in real life, but I was limited to just one person per category!

1. All-Around Bookish Renaissance Woman: Kathryn Le Veque

bookish people romance genre Kathryn Le Veque
Kathryn Le Veque

If I had to name one bookish person who inspires me, it would be Kathryn Le Veque. Her achievements are amazing–intimidating, even. LeVeque is an inspirational success story proving an author’s dreams can come true.

A USA Today bestselling author, an Amazon All-Star author, and a #1 bestsellier of medieval historical romance and contemporary romance, she has blazed a trail for others to follow.

Le Veque is a tour-de force leader in the industry. She pens unique novels, mostly medievals, and is the founder of several publishing houses, including Dragonblade Publishing.

bookish people romance genre the wolfe kathryn le veque

When Le Veque started out the big publishers rejected her manuscripts. They said her chosen genre not being considered “marketable enough.” Defiant and determined, Kathryn had vision and saw it through.

She uploaded her first novel for purchase on Amazon’s Kindle platform in May 2012. A year later, she was able to quit her day job to focus on her writing full-time. All thanks to the phenomenal success of her e-books.

She writes remarkable stories about knights, kings, and queens. History plays a starring role in her books, not merely a backdrop. Her stories are unique, emotional and deeply touching. Through her many novels and hard work Le Veque has earned the admiration of her peers and fans.

Publishers shut her out of mainstream because she didn’t adhere to the current trends. Kathryn proved them to be fools, self-publishing the books she wanted to to write–and read. She found a large and devoted audience eager to read her stories. On top of that, she built an indie publishing empire to help others succeed.

Who wouldn’t want to talk to a renaissance woman like Kathryn Le Veque?

2. Author (Deceased): Jackie Collins

bookish people romance genre jackie collins

Have you ever wished you could talk to a great writer whois no longer living? For me, that would be Jackie Collins. She was the brilliant, bold, and wildly successful author of over 30 novels that shocked and entertained readers worldwide.

Her career spanned from 1968 with The World Is Full of Married Men to her final work, The Santangelos in 2015. Her bestsellers detailed the glamorous and sordid lives of celebrities.

As actress Joan Collins’ younger sister, Jackie had access to the inner workings of the showbiz industry. She smashed through the conventions of polite society with her books. Collins penned raunchy romantic thrillers. Filled with crimes, sex, drugs, and rock & roll, they went beyond what other writers of her era would touch.

bookish people romance genre jackie collins

With over 500 million books sold, Collins was one of the most influential and fun icons of American literary history. Some of her acclaimed works include Chances, Lucky and Hollywood Wives.

Chatting with her would be a dream come true. What stories she could tell!

bookish people romance genre lucky jackie collins

3. Author (Living): Rebecca Brandewyne

bookish people romance genre rebecca brandewyne
Rebeca Brandewyne
Source: Wichita State University, The Shocker

Rebecca Brandewyne is a romance author who has not written in years. I would be delighted to sit down and see what she has been up to

When I started reading romances in the early to mid-1990s, Rebecca Brandewyne, along with Jude Deveraux and Johanna Lindsey, was one of my favorite authors. Her books were grandiose and epic. They began with a prologue and ended with a happy epilogue, and included a poem and cast of characters at the beginning of the book.

As Brandwyne’s health issues were one of the reasons behind her leaving the writing field, I would ask her how she is faring now. It would be fascinating to learn what she has been up to all these years. I’d want to talk about her works, her writing style, and her current ideas on the genre.

Finally, I would inquire about the two series she never completed. How she would have ended her fantasy trilogy of the Chronicles of Tintagel, which began in Passion Moon Rising?

Most importantly, what was to be the conclusion for her unfinished Highclyffe Hall trilogy? What was to happen with the “twins” Ransom and Rhodes Chandler, who were born in Across a Starlit Sea? And what of their parents and grandparents?

I would love to know the answers to those questions!

4. Book Blogger/ Reviewer: Nenia Campbell

bookish people I want to meet Nenia Campbell
Nenia Campbell
Source: Goodreads

Nenia Campbell is a multi-talented lady whose name can go in at least four other bookish categories. I chose her for the book blogger I’d want to meet.

Campbell has written books such as Fearscape and Horrorscape, dark (un)romances that feature villainous heroes. She runs Readasaurus Reviews, a blog where she posts book reviews. She is one of the top reviewers on Goodreads where she runs the Unapologetic Romance Readers group.

What’s cool about Nenia is she reads everything. Nonfiction, general fiction, and the entire spectrum of the romance genre. She reads sweet teen romances, bodice rippers, the latest contemporaries, vintage Harlequins, and bizarre treats like Mating with the Mantis!

 “I don’t typically like what’s popular because I don’t like what’s predictable or easy; I like books that are raw and difficult and dark and challenge me and the way that I see the world, even if it means heartbreak and tears and playing hours of Animal Crossing to get myself back into the happy zone.”

From Nenia’s Review for Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Plus, Nenia is very prolific on social media. She discussws all things bookish and posts images ofholding many beautiful books and of herself in lovely colorful wigs.

Nenia seems like such a passionate and creative reader and book lover that I could glean so much from a conversation with her. I also adore her sense of fashion, so I’m sure our talks would be an enlightening and hair-raising experience!

5. Character from a Book: Hercule Poirot

As far as fictional bookish people I’d love to meet, it would be the egg-headed protagonist from Agatha Christie’s long-running mystery series. The elegantly dressed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is a most fascinating character. He solved the mysteries of the Murder on The Orient Express, The ABC Murders and Death on the Nile, and many more.

Poirot is one of the most iconic crime-solvers in fiction, far more interesting to me than Sherlock Holmes. I’d like to pick his brain and learn some detective tips and tricks. And some fashion tips! Il est un homme très sophistiqué.

I would start the conversation by expressing admiration for Poirot’s skills and intellect and asking him to share the secrets of his success. His perspective on human psychology is pivotal to his investigations. How does he know what he knows? What techniques does he uses to solve murders?

I’d also ask him about the cases that were the most memorable or challenging for him. What is his opinion on the state of modern detective work? What advice he would give to aspiring detectives?

Then I’d dive into the details of his fashion sense, which is always so dapper. I’d love to hear his advice on how to look smart and stay stylish, as well as his thoughts on current trends in men’s clothing.

6. Cover Artist: Victor Gadino

victor gadino and apollo bookish people I want to meet
Victor Gadino and Apollo

If I could talk to any book cover artist, it would be Victor Gadino. He is one of the top romance novel cover artists of all time. Gadino has created hundreds of beautiful and sensual covers.

His amazing stepbacks make him one of Sweet Savage Flame’s favorite illustrators.

I would love to talk to him about his creative process and how he designs such beautiful and sensual covers.

Victor Gadino was born in New York in 1949. His big break in book illustration came in the late 1970s when he designed romantic-styled covers for gay fiction. Avon reissued Gordon Merrick’s backlist of books, for which Gadino did al the new artwork.

He was a designed covers for many years, but his rise to prominence in the genre came with Johanna Lindsey’s Prisoner of My Desire in 1991, making him a highly sought-after romance illustrator.

rafe gadino

He has also designed album covers for well-known performers, Broadway play posters, and collectibles for the Bradford Exchange and Franklin Mint. His work is in the homes of celebrities such as George Lucas and Clint Eastwood, as well as many famous New York City families.

A creator of sensual images, Victor Gadino is the artist I would be honored to meet. I’d be delighted to hear whatever he had to say and, if possible, to observe him at work on his paintings.

7. Cover Model: Fabio

If I could talk to any romance book cover model, it would be the great Fabio Lanzoni. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the details about Fabio. After all, he’s the supermodel whose face and body have been launched millions of covers.

Plus, he’s also a romance writer himself (even if he had some help from ghostwriters.)

Being a successful cover model and the author, I’m sure he has a great deal of creative insight and inspiration to share.

Fabio’s unique perspective as a romance genre celebrity would provide a lot of fun stories and anecdotes.

The questions I’d ask Fabio would be simple: I’d ask him about his modeling experiences, his favorite covers, which artists he thinks painted him best.

Honestly, Fabio wouldn’t have to say much. At 60, he’s still fine. As I’m 45 now and not the 13-year-old girl who imagined him as the hero of numerous romances, it’s okay to appreciate that eye candy that is Fabio Lanzoni.

gideons fall ginsburg

I’m certain a chat with Fabio would spark the creative energy to follow my own dreams with renewed vigor.

And maybe he’d let me squeeze his biceps to get a feel those rock-hard muscles? Would that be wrong? Oh, well a girl can dream…

8. Bookstagrammer: Mary Lynne Nielsen

mary lynne nielsen bookish people
Mary Lynne Nielsen
Source: Romance Ruminations
  1. Bookstagrammer: Mary Lynne Nielsen

Mary Lynne Nielsen has been reading romance for 45 years and has a wealth of information about books and the business.

“I’ve been reading romance for a long time–over forty years. And over that time I’ve managed to produce a few pieces of writing of my own. Rather than having them scattered hither and yon, or not even available, I decided to create a centralized home for them. Hence, my ruminations on romance.

“I make no claims of expertise, wisdom, knowledge, or the like. But I do have, as so many readers do, a deep and abiding love of the often maligned genre of romance.”

-Mary Lynn Nielsen

A prolific bookstagrammer under the handle @emmelnie, she is one of many people whom I’d like to chat with in person. Social media is great for meeting lots of great folks. Unfortunately, because I am a slow typist with ADHD, I am unable to participate in lengthy debates.

Mary Lynne has written articles for blogs and magazines, posted educational videos about the genre, attended conventions, and spoken with/interviewed prominent figures in the industry, academics and fans alike.

Her website, Romance Ruminations is an excellent resource for readers.

I’d be delighted to meet at a coffee shop near a used book store and hear her thoughts on the evolution of the genre, her favorite books and authors, and her advice for aspiring writers and readers.

Basically, we would discuss everything there is possible about our romance and then go book shopping!

9. Publisher or Editor: Steven Zacharius, President & CEO at Kensington Publishing Corp

  1. Publisher or Editor: Steven Zacharius

As far as bookish people on the business side of the industry, I’d enjoy a sit-down with Steve Zacharius. He is the president and CEO of Kensington Books, the parent company of Zebra and Pinnacle. Kenisgton is a multi-million dollar family-run company founded in 1974 by Steve’s dad, Walter Zacharius.

With almost 30 years of experience in the company, Steve has led Kensington’s growth and expansion. I am curious to hear his thoughts on the industry and how he has kept Kensington relevant and successful for so long.

Steve is married with two kids and three grandkids. His son, Adam Zacharius, has also been working there since 2008.

Kensington is one of the last large, privately owned book publishers in the United States. It releases over 500 fiction and nonfiction titles each year.

I would ask him about the challenges that Kensington and the industry as a whole have faced, as well as his insights on the current state and future of the publishing industry.

I’d love to hear his thoughts about the potential death of the mass market paperback, as sales have dropped rapidly for that format in the past several years. E-books have usurped their position as the most convenient and cheapest way to read.

Although romance is genre that still thrives in MMP, trade and hardcover are rising in popularity, especially for the readers who love to display their books on shelves.

Might Kensington’s Zebra imprint also return its focus to dazzling cover art as it did when his father Walter was alive?

10. Podcaster: Andrea Martucci, of Shelf Love

There a several bookish people in podcasting I would appreciate having a chat with. To start , I’d talktot the staff of Shelf Love, particularly the woman-in-charge of it all: Andrea Martucci.

Shelf Love explores fictional stories of romantic love across media, time, and cultures. Their knowledge of romance novels and bodice rippers is vast, and I would enjoy discussing different genres of romance novels with them.

The podcast invites experts to share their knowledge and love for diverse genres and explore romantic love in romance novels, comic books, soap operas, romantic comedies, video games, oral stories, advertisements, and more.

Andrea has presented a paper at the Popular Culture Association and has released nearly 100 episodes since the podcast’s launch in 2019.

Andrea is familiar with so many facets of romance, not just in books, but throughout all pop culture. I’d be thrilled to converse with Andrea about anything and everything. I would ask her about her favorite romance books, her thoughts on different genres, and her insights on the role of love stories in popular culture. What are her favorite couples and love stories in other forms of entertainment?

I could pick her brain for hours. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I’m no zombie!

First episode of Shelf Love Podcast w/ Andrea Martucci

Your Opinion

What do you think of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme of “bookish people I want to meet”? Do you like Jacqueline’s list? Would you like to meet any of her choices?

What bookish people would you like to meet?

As always, please drop a comment and let’s talk romance.


Romance Cover Model: Tracy James, A Heartthrob Then & Now

Tracy James wasn’t just a romance cover model but a supermodel, fitness icon, actor, entertainer, businessman, philanthropist, & mentor. What a guy!

tracy james

Super Model, 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 & modeling to artist & entertainer to entrepreneur & mentor.

tracy james romance cover model dark carpathian
Dark Secret, Christine Feehan, Berkley, 2005

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 3 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
tracy james headshot

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 eyes of Abrams Artists, a New York modeling agency. They quickly signed him on to a contract. 

From there, his modeling career rocketed off 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.

tracy james romance calendar
The calendar that got Joan Rivers’ attention (Front)
tracy james calendar
The calendar that got Joan Rivers’ attention (Back & Interior)

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. 


Firming Up

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. 

tracy james model the firm

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

Tracy James: Underwear and Fashion Super Model

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 underwear model

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

tracy james fitness model

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.

tracy james underwear model

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. 

tracy james underwear model

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 to be photographed by almost every major publication, including the prestigious Italian Vogue

The Ladies Love Tracy James

a tempting engagement 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!

tracy james miranda lee

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.

tracy james romance cover

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!

tracy james model cosmo

From Fitness and Super Model 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 tri-athlete. 

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!

tracy james model bulova-ad

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 in Shania Twain’s 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!

tracy james burn

Philanthropical 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 model

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.

tracy james excersice for men

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 super model romance

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

rob ashton

Romance Cover Model: Rob Ashton

rob ashton

Rob Ashton, A Cover Model Gone Too Soon

Fabio officially retired from modeling for romance covers–except for the books he “wrote”–in 1993. Afterward, there was a void that needed to be filled, and many hunky men lined up to fill it.

(Should I rewrite that? Nah, it sounds fine.)

In the 1990s and the 2000s, Rob Ashton was one of those cover models.

rob ashton blue shirt

Life and Career

Ashton was a stunning figure of a man at 6′ tall and 200 lbs with long black hair and hazel-green eyes. He was of Cherokee Indian, English, and Irish descent, a beautiful combination.

Rob Ashton attended 2 years of college and KSU Computer School. He worked many jobs before hitting it big as a model. He was a waiter, and bartender, and worked in retail sales.

Ashton was discovered on the Florida beaches at 19, his stunning physique and face standing out of the beaches of Florida.

rob ashton model

He would have a foray as a dancer with Chippendales before settling in as a model. As a dancer, he traveled worldwide in his early 20s. The many places Ashton lived included Orlando, Atlanta, New York City, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam, and Japan.

His first romance cover was still a year away when he modelled for Typewriter In the Sky by L. Ron Hubbard.

This brought him attention from other parts of the publishing industry–namely the romance genre.

Typewriter in the Sky, L. Ron Hubbard, 1995 Edition rob ashton
Typewriter in the Sky, L. Ron Hubbard, 1995 Edition

Rob Ashton the New King of Romance Covers

In 1995 Rob Ashton gained massive popularity after being voted Romantic Times Magazine‘s “Mr. Romance.”

rob pic

The title got him a job to pose on the cover of Janice Reams Hudson’s 1996 Zebra romance Apache Flame alongside Linda Ryan, which the artist Pino painted.

The novel is about Pace Colton, a handsome half-white half-Apache, who goes by the name Fire Seeker, and his romance with the red-haired Johanna,

Sharon Spiak, an artist who worked closely under Pino, was responsible for dressing Ashton for the photo shoot. Michel LeGirou was the photographer and a seasoned romance veteran.

Pino, in typical style, used the photos from the session to paint the cover art in his studio in New Jersey.

Apache Flame, Janis Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1996, Pino cover art Rob Ashton
Apache Flame, Janis Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1996, Pino cover art

“Pino really captured us perfectly! I love it!” Rob said of his first cover.

Many more were to follow. Artists adored using Rob as their muse. Ashton was so prolific that he got the title of “New King of Romance Novels.”

captive legacy
captive legacy assel

Pino Daeni on Rob Ashton

“It’s not easy to find good male models. When certain famous models started, I was almost laughing. The way they moved their bodies at the start did not coordinate with passion.

“The models have to be believable. I can only give so much direction. You can’t be just pretty.

Sultry looks like Rob’s are the best to paint.”


Trivia About Rob

  • Favorite Foods: Seared Steak, Spaghetti, Fajitas, Burgers, Beef or Chicken Lo Mein, Sushi, Cali Rolls, Shrimp, All Kinds of Seafood Including Lobster, Crab Legs, and Stuffed Crab, Seafood Platters!
  • Favorite Wine: White Zinfandel
  • Favorite Color: Blue
  • Favorite Author / Book: God / The Bible
  • Favorite Movies: Face/Off, True Lies, What Women Want, The Thomas Crown Affair
  • Favorite Actors: Pierce Brosnan, John Lithgow, David Spade
  • Favorite Actresses: Helen Hunt, Kelly Ripa
  • Pets: 2 Chihuahuas, a female named Bella and a male called Peanut.
You Belong to My Heart, Nan Ryan, Harper Monogram, 1996 Rob Ashton
you belong to my heART

Rob’s Testimony

“I believe that destiny and free will actually coexist at the same time and that everything we do is part of our destiny. We are all here for a reason, and we repeat behaviors to learn from them and grow.

I believe there’s a lot more to this life than just what’s seen, and as I grow, I find that my priorities have changed and that there are some truths that are as real as gravity, although unseen; there are laws of the universe that apply to us all.

For example, what you put out comes back to you even more, so. On my site we’re giving to several worthwhile causes-not because it’s the thing to do, but because it’s about real people caring, sharing, giving, and helping those who need it, and it returns in much greater amounts…that’s what life is really about!”

Rob Ashton, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH ROB ASHTON, 2001 Romantic Times

Rob Ashton’s Jobs and Hobbies

Besides modeling, Rob Ashton was a website developer and created his own official website. He loved talking to his fans and would chat with them in Q& A sessions.

He was a personal physical fitness trainer and created The European Nutritionist online training via Live Cam.

Ashton performed valuable work with various charities.

At the Romantic Times conventions, he collected teddy bears, alongside his long-time friend, Kelli Salkin.

An avid motorcyclist, Ashton enjoyed riding with his father.

A Beautiful Life Cut Short

By all accounts, Rob Ashton was a friendly, down-to-earth, modest man. He had a big heart that overflowed with love and kindness.


Sadly, Rob’s Ashton career and life ended too soon.

Ashton had been suffering from an extended illness. On Monday, August 26, 2007, he passed away due to complications from heart surgery.

He left behind an extended family, including his loving father and mother. Many romance fans mourned his death and came together to celebrate Ashton on forums and websites.

Rob Ashton Interview Romantic Times, 2001

Playgirl Spread, 1996

Rob Ashton Romance Covers

Partial List of Covers

  1. Across a Moonlit Sea, Marsha Canham, Dell, 1996, Steve Assel cover art
  2. Angel Baby, Leandra Logan, Harlequin Temptation #564, 1995
  3. Apache Flame, Janis Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1996, Pino cover art
  4. Beyond A Highland Mist, Karen Marie Moning, Dell, 1999, John Ennis cover art
  5. Captive Legacy, Theresa Scott, Dorchester, 1996
  6. Captivated, Colleen Corbett, Avon, 1996
  7. Daughter of Fire: Merlin’s Legacy, Quinn Taylor Evans, Zebra, 1999
  8. Hawks Woman, Janice Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1998, Pino cover art
  9. Lakota Dawn, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1999
  10. Love’s Legacy, Anthology, Dorchester, 1996
  11. The Pirate, Kate Hoffman, Harlequin, 1996
  12. Surrender, Metsy Hingle, Silhouette Desire #978, 1996
  13. Stardust of Yesterday, Lynn Kurland, 1996
  14. White Wind, Susan Edwards, Dorchester, 1996
  15. You Belong to My Heart, Nan Ryan, Harper Monogram, 1996, Doreen Minuto cover art

Celebrities on Romance Book Covers


Six Famous People on Romance Covers

Before they were well-known, their faces were on book covers. While these celebrities appeared in various genres, we’re limiting our focus to romance. It’s always fun to track the career of the rich and famous to their humble beginnings, especially if they posed for clinches!

Another New Topaz Man

Mark Consuelos

Zoomers and Millenials may know Mark Consuelos from the tv show Riverdale or as the husband of morning television host Kelly Ripa. I recall first seeing Consuelos and Ripa together in the early 1990s on the ABC daytime drama All My Children as the super couple Matteo and Haley.

In 1996 Consuelos was chosen as one of three new “Topaz men” when Steve Sandalis branched out to other publishers and fields. One of the others selected was model/bodybuilder/actor Mike O’Hearn.

Consuelos posed for several romance covers before calling it quits. Below is the stepback for Catherine Coulter‘s The Heir.

mark consuelos
Mark Consuelos

The Heir, Catherine Coulter, Topaz, 1996, Gregg Gulbronson cover art

First Love From Silhouette

Teen romances were massive in the 1980s. They weren’t just limited to Scholastic Books, as mainstream romance publishers sought out younger readers. One of Silhouette’s lines in the 1980s was First Love From Silhouette. From 1981 to 1987, they published 236 romances aimed at the age 12 to 21 demographic.

Yasmine Bleeth

Yasmine Bleeth played LeeAnn Demerest on ABC daytime soap opera, One Life to Life. She shot to B-celebrity stardom as Caroline Holden on the syndicated television show Baywatch. Before acting, in the early 1980s, she was a model. A Touch of Love by Winifred Madison is one of her first covers.

famous people on romance covers
Yasmine Bleeth
yasmine bleeth book
A Touch of Love, Winifred Madison, Silhouette, 1983

Lori Loughlin

Yasmine Bleeth wasn’t the only celebrity to model for the First Love From Silhouette series in the 1980s. You may know her as Full House‘s Aunt Becky. Or you may know her for other reasons. Wherever you know her from, Lori Loughlin has been in the media most of her life. Here she is on the cover of Carrie Enfield’s Picture Perfect.

lori loughlin
celebrities on romance covers
Picture Perfect, Carrie Enfield, Silhouette, 1983

Jennifer Connelly

Yet another brunette actress who modeled for First Love From Silhouette is Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly. As a teenager, Connelly was a model, posing for many magazines and book covers. Of course, she was also an actress, gaining acclaim in films such as Labyrinth. Connelly posed for several teen romance books, but as far as we know, only one Silhouette cover.

jennifer-connelly image
Jennifer Connelly
Once In California, Becky Stuart, Silhouette, 1984

The Most Famous Cover Models

These two listed below were considered the King and Queen of romance from the mid-1980 to the late 1990s. They gained such fame through posing for covers that they became celebrities in their own rights.


We’ve highlighted Fabio‘s career before on Sweet Savage Flame, and we can’t talk about him enough. After retiring from modeling, Fabio starred in commercials, tv shows, and movies.

fabio lanzoni model
Fabio Lanzoni
golden temptress franco fabio
Golden Temptress, Patricia Roenbeck, Dorchester, 1991, Franco Accornero cover art

Cindy Guyer

Cindy Guyer started her modeling career at the age of 14. She was the face of Nancy Drew mysteries before moving on to the more sensual romance genre. Called the “female Fabio,” she would appear on over 2,000 book and magazine covers.

Besides appearing in print media, Guyer is a restauranteur, a reality-tv star, and has appeared in film and scripted tv shows. She also posed for Playboy magazine.

While Guyer no longer models for romance covers, she maintains a strong presence on social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and her website.

Cindy Guyer
stormfire pino
Stormfire, Christine Monson, Avon, 1984, Pino cover art

Your Opinion on Celebrities on Romance Covers

Did you know these celebrities posed on romance covers? What other celebrities do you know posed on book covers, be they romance or other genres?

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

model fabio

Romance Cover Model: Fabio Lanzoni

model featured on many romance novel covers fabio

Fabio Lanzoni: A Controversial Romance Icon

When one thinks of old-school romance books, often the first name associated with them is the male model Fabio and “cheesy covers.”

The granite-jawed male model was featured on many romance novel covers in the 198s and 1990s. “Back in the day,” Fabio Lanzoni posed for hundreds of romances–to the delight of many readers.

Fabio was often painted by artists such as Sharon Spiak, Melissa-Duillo Gallo, and her mother, Elaine Duillo. She discovered Fabio, leading to his fame skyrocketing after he appeared on her covers for Johanna Lindsey.

Like bodice rippers of yesteryear, model Fabio Lanzoni has been unfairly maligned and mocked by many modern romance readers. There’s a sentiment of contempt displayed at the old clinch covers, with some even declaring that they, along with Fabio, represented a low point in the genre.

the conqueror duillo
The Conqueror, Brenda Joyce, Dell, Elaine Duillo cover art.

As a fan of Fabio and old-school romance, I cannot emphasize how wrong I think these detractors are.

The painted covers of vintage romances were created by talented artists who used beautiful men and women as models. The covers were works of art, despite–or perhaps because of–their gratuitous sexual nature.

Fabio, More Than Meets the Eye

Lovers of romance should embrace that period in history. They fail to understand that model Fabio Lanzoni was supposed to be over-the-top and outlandish. He was advertising an exaggerated fantasy that we all knew was a bit ridiculous.

fabio lanzoni model on many romance covers
Fabio is in the shower

In trying to defend their beloved books, some fans take them too seriously. The romance novel industry has always been outrageous and irreverent by its nature, which is part of the fun.

We romance readers in the 1990s were far savvier than our contemporaries give us credit for. We were in on the joke. It was about all of us enjoying the show. Fabio always laughed along with us, embracing his beefcake status.

fabio lanzoni model featured on many romance novel covers
Master of the Heart, Terri Valentine, Zebra, Franco cover art

The Beginning

Early Life

Fabio Lanzoni was born in Milan, Italy, on March 15, 1961. His father was Sauro Lanzoni, a mechanical engineer and owner of a conveyor-belt company. Flora Carnicelli Lanzoni, his mother, was a former beauty queen. He was raised in a loving family with siblings. As a child, Fabio was even an altar boy.

Fabio grew into a handsome young man. His large, muscular figure made him natural for the camera.

fabio Lanzoni
Fabio looking fab

His career began at age 14 when he was discovered by a photographer who asked him to model for Italian Vogue magazine.

Following a stint in the army, Lanzoni came to the United States to further develop his career. He moved to New York City to become a fashion and catalog model and signed with the Ford Agency.

Fabio Lanzoni cover model GQ
Fabio Lanzoni, GQ Magazi

Early Career

During the early part of his modeling career, Fabio obtained many jobs in print ads, magazines, and books. He also posed on video game covers.

model on many romance novel covers

Fabio made his first appearance on the cover of a romance novel in 1987. He posed on the back of the Bertrice Small bodice ripper, Enchantress Mine, as the ironically and unfortunately misnamed villain, Eric Longsword.

Legendary artist Elaine Duillo discovered Fabio through photos. She thought there was something unique about him that would make him a natural fit for her colorful work.

fabio meodel on many romance novel covers
Enchantress Mine, Bertrice Small, Elaine Duillo cover artists
fabio model enchantress mine back
Enchantress Mine, Bertrice Small, Signet, 1987, Elaine Duillo cover art (BACK COVER)

When Duillo designed her first cover for Johanna Lindsey, she used Fabio as the hero. This was the 1987 Viking romance Hearts Aflame. It was a smash hit, reaching number 3 on the N.Y. Times bestseller list.

Duillo would continue to paint Lindsey’s covers for the next decade until she retired in the early 2000s. She used Fabio as her primary male model for Lindsey’s books.

fabio johanna lindsey cover
Hearts Aflame, Johanna Lindsey, 1987, Elaine Duillo cover art

The Covers: Part I

Some Fabio covers:

A Romance Sensation

Fabio was not Duillo’s official muse as a model. Even so, no other artist captured Fabio’s look better than she did. However, Elain and Fabio only worked together on fewer than twenty books. Duillo painted other models— female and male– much more than that, including Chad Deal. (40+ vs. 19).

Other artists, such as Elaine’s daughter, Melissa Duillo-Gallo, Sharon Spiak, Max Ginsburg, John Ennis, and Pino, also painted his form. Fabio’s face is so unique that he looks different from cover to cover, depending on the artist.

Mystic Rebel VI, Ryder Syvertsen, Pinnacle, cover artist TBD

Fabio posed solo for a couple of Laura Kinsale’s books. The first and most notable was The Prince of Midnight. This romance was a roaring success. This was not just because of the fine quality of Kinsale’s writing.

prince of midnight
The Prince of Midnight, Laura Kinsale, Avon, Steve Assel

Editors found that Fabio’s image boosted book sales. All the major publishers were eager to use him. Avon, Bantam, Dell, Dorchester, Harlequin, Warner Books, Kensington (Zebra), and others had him pose as their leading men.

Model Lianna Loggins was undoubtedly one of the female models who appeared on most romance novel covers with Fabio: at least a hundred.

romance novel covers female models
Dark Whispers, Marylyle Rogers, Avon, 1992, Elaine Duillo

Pop Culture Status

By the early 1990s, Fabio was fully entrenched as a romance genre staple. The now-defunct Romantic Times had him as their centerfold in 1992. Fabio appeared at numerous conventions, to the delight of his many fans.

Fabio’s fame grew more prominent in the cultural zeitgeist after being made the official face of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! He starred in a series of campy commercials that were enormously successful. 

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Ad

Later, he was a spokesman for the American Cancer Society. This was personal to him, as he lost a sister to the deadly disease.

Eventually, Fabio made his way to screen and television, such as in the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and in movies like Dude, Where’s My Car?

bold and the beautiful
Fabio & Darlene Conelly on The Bold and the Beautiful

Fabio, the Romance Author & Modelling Legacy

As time went on, Fabio even wrote a few novels himself. He published several books that–naturally–featured him on the cover. Fabio came up with an overall plot and gave dictation for dialogue.

Journey-woman Eugenia Riley ghostwrote most of his books for Avon. He also wrote three more books in collaboration with Wendy Corsi Staub that Pinnacle Books published.

model featured on many romanc novel covers
Rogue, Fabio, Avon, Elaine Duillo cover art.

As a model, Fabio was featured on many romance covers, posing for 466 novels (or more).

Fabio officially retired in the late 1990s, except to pose for the books “he” wrote.

Nevertheless, some of his photos from previous assignments were recycled into new covers. Elaine Duillo used the sketches from the shoot for Rebecca Brandewyne’s Swan Road stepback to transform them into a new stepback cover for Johanna Lindsey’s Joining.

swan road duillo
Swan Road, Rebecca Brandewyne, Warner, 1994, Elaine Duillo cover art

Joining, Johanna Lindsey, Avon, 1999, Elaine Duillo cover art

Fabio Today

Fabio became a U.S. citizen in 2016.

He still maintains a grueling workout regimen to keep his body in tip-top shape. Fabio also purportedly sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber, which he says “Helps reverse the aging process.”

Now in 2021, Fabio is still as handsome as ever at the age of 61.

To this day, he remains a bachelor. However, the word is out he’s finally looking for a lady to settle down with. So there is still hope for that special someone!

Fabio lanzoni
Fabio today

Final Thoughts on Fabio

Fabio was not the first, and likely, he won’t be the last superstar cover model. During Fabio’s reign as “King of the Romance Covers,” other sunning men like John DeSalvo and Steve Sandalis achieved acclaim.

After his retirement, Rob Ashton, Cherif Fortin, and Joe Anselmo rose to stardom. All of them had long hair like Fabio–although they were brunets. (So is Fabio, naturally. He dyed his hair blond.)

A few male cover models who came after gained huge success, like Jason Baca, who appeared on almost 500 covers. You can read about him here: The Male Model Who Has Appeared on More Romance Novel Covers Than Fabio.

But though he may have his imitators, there was one and only one Fabio.

fabio in loin cloth
Fabio in a loin cloth

I always considered Fabio easy on the eyes. He certainly was pleasing to look upon. Even so, I never pictured him as my ideal hero.

Regardless, I treasured his charm, his ultra-macho yet sensitive aura, and his ability for self-deprecation. Fabio embraced who he was: a romance icon.

Plus, above all, he loved his fans. In turn, Fabio’s fans adored him for who he was!

Fabio haters, please go and enjoy your favorite hunky models in peace. We Fabio lovers will be here to have a good time smiling over his hundreds of beautiful covers.

The Covers: Part II


michael o'hearn

Romance Cover Model: Michael O’Hearn

mike ohearn

Michael O’Hearn, A “Titan” of Romance

Michael O’Hearn has a body that’s impossible to forget.

Since the 1980s, male cover models have caught the admiring gazes of millions of romance readers. These hunks have gained legions of enthusiastic fans. Fabio was the most famous, but even his muscular physique seems slight when compared to the massive proportions of O’Hearn.

Fitness aficionados no doubt are familiar with the athletic phenom.

Romance novel enthusiasts may recognize Mike O’Hearn’s form–or face–as one of the cover models for Topaz books back in the mid to late 1990s.

mike o'hearn

Mike O’Hearn’s Early Life

Patrick Michael O’Hearn was born on January 26, 1969, in Seattle, Washington, USA.

He started life from humble beginnings, growing up on a farm in Kirkland, WA. O’Hearn hails from a large family of 9 siblings with four sisters and four brothers. He was the second youngest overall.

O’Hearn started bodybuilding at age 7, taking after his father and three older brothers. By age 15, he began professionally competing in bodybuilding. He quickly garnered awards and trophies on a statewide level.

Despite battling dyslexia, O’Hearn achieved good grades in school and attended college, where he played football.

After college, he left home and headed to Los Angeles, California to pursue his dreams of a Hollywood career. Soon, the 6′ 1 1/2″ blond Adonis caught the eye of talent scouts and agents. For four years O’Hearn worked from gig to gig, garnering slight success.

michael o'hearn

A New Topaz Man

In 1994, O’ Hearn appeared on Joan River’s “Mr. Romance Cover Model Pageant.” Although he didn’t win first prize, his second-place finish brought him more attention from those within the industry.

Soon, his face and physique would be seen on shelves and racks in all kinds of stores.

In 1996, superstar Steve Sandalis was working overtime posing for Topaz’s many romance releases. In the 1990s, Topaz was a remarkably successful division of New American Library (NAL).

From a select group of models, the publishers chose three recruits. These men would have their images painted into steamy clinches for stepbacks and covers of romances.

Michael O’Hearn was among the chosen. He made his debut on Justine Dare’s Heart of the Hawk, a book I highly recommend.

michael o'hearn model
Heart of the Hawk, Justine Dare, Topaz, 1996,

Mary Anne Patalla, a publicist with Topaz noted, “We searched through many photographs of celebrity models and actors and loved Michael’s looks. When he came for an interview, I knew that he was special.”

“I am flattered and honored that I was chosen to portray the heroes for Topaz,” Mike O’Hearn said of his appointment to Topaz Man status in August 1996.

Michael O’Hearn, One Sexy Cover Model

While O’Hearn wasn’t as prolific a cover model as his Topaz predecessor, he certainly left a memorable mark in the industry!

For one racy snap, photographer Michel Legrou shot O’Hearn with two female models who posed separately with Mike as he sported nothing but black-colored briefs.

This made it appear as if he was fully naked in the Pino-illustrated cover for Denise Domning‘s A Love for All Seasons, released in December 1996.

a love for all seasons pino
A Love For All Seasons, Denise Domning, Topaz, 1996, Pino

Mike O’Hearn, Actor, BodyBuilder, Reality Star, Influencer

mike o'hearn

Television, Film & All-Around Media Sensation

Besides modeling, O’Hearn has made many impressions in other media. He famously was Team Captain “Titan” on the television series American Gladiators for many years.

An advocate of the natural approach to health and exercise, O’Hearn authored “Proven Techniques for Drug-Free Bodybuilders” to inspire and teach others to achieve success without the use of illegal performance enhancers.

In addition to American Gladiators, he has performed in Battle Dome and World Championship Wrestling. O’Hearn has starred in the films Keeper Of Time and Barbarian. On television, he has been seen on programs such as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Days of Our Lives.

Plus, he has written and produced his own projects such as Alter Ego.

An Athlete at the Top of His Field

Michael O’Hearn is a well-rounded athlete with an amazing set of accomplishments perhaps only excelled by megastar bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. A martial artist with black belts in Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and Karate, O’Heaen is a former California Judo Champion.

He has earned the title of Iron Warrior in the Decathlon of Strength Strongman Champion. A four-time Mr. Universe, Mike O’Hearn is also a four-time California Power Lifting Champion and was Mr. Natural Universe, Mr. America, Mr. International, and Mr. World.

Not to mention, he was Model of The Year seven times!

In 2011 Mike was inducted into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame and then into the Hall of Fame for Martial Arts in 2014.

Mike O’Hearn Today

At 53 years old, Mike O’Hearn defies time by appearing more fit and vigorous than most men half his age.

O’Hearn now trains clients from Hollywood executives to heavy hitters nationwide. When not training, the athlete/model/artist is busy writing, producing, acting, and directing his many projects.

He has appeared as a cover model on over 500 issues of various fitness, martial arts, and bodybuilding magazines. He has also posed for more than 100 romance novel covers.

Michael O’Hearn is married to female wrestler Midajah of World Championship Wrestling fame. He is also a devoted father and an admirer of Husky dogs.

michael o;hearn model

Michael O’Hearn Romance Covers