Tom Sandoval on His Modeling Past: 'I Dealt with So Much Harassment and Creepiness'
Tom Sandoval gets real about the way male models are treated in the industry
Vanderpump Rules‘ Tom Sandoval is a master mixologist and veteran reality TV star. But before he gained popularity on the hit Bravo reality show, he was a male model (you may remember him from the Bon Jovi video “Misunderstood“) — and sometimes not treated very fairly within the industry.
“I dealt with so much f—g harassment and so much creepiness,” Sandoval revealed on the podcast, Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino. “In my experience, 15 f—g years of experience, in every major market — Chicago, L.A., New York, Miami — at 10 agencies across the U.S., with [female models], they were always paid more, treated far better. If they were young, they had a parent with them. They make more, they’re treated better, they’re put way more on a pedestal. And I don’t disagree with that.”
But what he said he took issue with were the ways male models were treated. “The girl would get a dressing room and a robe if she was in a bathing suit and lingerie. And a guy would have to change naked next to the clothing rack. This was standard for a shoot. Even runway shows… the guys were like, ‘You need to change next to a clothing rack.’ The stylists is like, watching you change buck naked. ‘Let me adjust that underwear.'”
He witnessed bullying to those who attempted to change in privacy. “Guys had no problem being like, pulling rank. If I wanted to go change in the bathroom they would scuff and laugh.”
When asked if there were ever “fondling situations” between models and photographers, he responded, “for sure” noting that some photographers would only work with new, naive models.
“But the girls were always [taken care of]. ‘Cause think about it, if you’re a male photographer and it gets out that a girl felt uncomfortable or a girl felt a certain way, it’s a huge deal. But if a guy, it’s like, ‘Deal with it. You’re a male model. This is what it is. This is what it takes.’ It was just like a normal f—g thing.”
Sandoval said he’s worked some of the photographers who was disgraced after the #MeToo movement began.
Mario Testino, who’s known for his work for Vogue and shooting the royal family and Bruce Webber, known for his sexually provocative Calvin Klein and Abercomribe & Fitch ads in the ’90s, are among two famous photographers who have been accused of sexual harassment by dozens of male assistants and models following #MeToo. Condé Nast, which publishes Vogue, released a statement saying they would not be commissioning any new work from them for the “foreseeable future.”
“I remember when I shot for Abercrombie, we had a fitting. And this one dude in particular, he didn’t get a fitting because he wasn’t going to shoot with clothing on,” Sandoval recalled. “He was going to shoot naked the whole time. And whoever’s the easiest to work with, or photographs best, stays more days. And you get paid by the day.”
But he concluded by saying that modeling wasn’t all bad. “It was cool, it was great. It’s a young kids game, for sure.”
And if it wasn’t for his modeling days he may have never met fellow co-star Jax Taylor and the rest of the Pump Rules crew.
Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino releases new episodes every Monday and Thursday, wherever podcasts are heard.