Tony Ward and I have know each other since 1986, which makes both of us very old. The details of our meeting are described in this interview. Since then, Tony has been my #1 muse and was the star of my first feature film Hustler White, that I co-directed and wrote with Bruce LaBruce.
He has also worked with Jim French, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Herb Ritts, Greg Gorman, Tony K, Terry Richardson, Ellen Von Unwerth, Karl Lagerfeld and Steven Klein. He has been the campaign spokesman for Calvin Klein, (his body was featured on the first underwear box cover), Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, (with Linda Evangelista) Hugo Boss, Roberto Cavalli, Sisley and JLindberg.
He was the grand finale for John Galliano's debut menswear line, (loosely based on Hustler White street hustlers) and I shot him for Andrew Mackenzie, (also based on Hustler White inspired street hustlers).
He has appeared in music videos for Madonna- Cherish, Justify My Love, Erotica, Belinda Carlisle- I Get Weak, The Spice Girls- I'll Give You Anything, and George Michael- Fast Love. Paris Vogue gave him a page in their “Male Icons of the Century.”
When I asked Tony Ward if he was up for an interview, this is what he said-
"Honestly, I never thought that anybody would want to know anything about my "REAL LIFE," cause there is so much juicy misinformation i.e.: anything written about Madonna's life concerning me is...SO FAR OFF and the FAGS THAT THINK THEY KNOW ME and their funny fantasy dreams...gayboy, porno star, street hustler, all the fag boy friends, la la la... Well whether you guys or girls want it or not, here it is in Technicolor. Take notes, there will be an exam after class. If you get any wrong, you will be executed on the spot..
Rick Castro- where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
Tony Ward- I was born to Robert Borden Ward, from Kansas, and Karen Elizabeth Castro, (RC- no relation, but a coincidence!) a little ballerina dolly, who grew up on farm fields of Northern California. I grew up in Santa Cruz California, but we seemed to move every seven months. After my parents divorce, when I was seven years old... I remember after our Christmas festivities, on the drive home from the grandparents, I would stare out the window of our Datsun B210 wondering when my "REAL" parents would come back to take me away from this planet of a very confused and horrible world of lost, frightened, stupid and angry people. I was in misery to see all the pain in this world. When I wasn't being a surrogate husband for my mother, I was being the father, protector for my younger brother, in constant battle with my older brother. My childhood was not terrible, because I practiced self-will and reliance. Anything that I learned of any importance in my life, I taught to myself. I would devour books, research every way I could, mastered it, then I would go apply it... Music, martial arts, bodybuilding, gymnastics, dance...I was restless to say the least...
RC- How old were you when you modeled for the 1st time? What were the circumstances?
TW- 18 years old was my first modeling job, if you can call it that. Joe House was the man who discovered me at a San Jose City College campus parking lot... Joe found me, and he set me on the path to my life... He wasn't an extraordinary man, but he taught me a few things about myself, He said he was going to make me a star. I went home and told my grandmother, (whom I was living with at the time) and she said, "great, HOW?" I didn't know, but I would take anything other than going to school learning bullshit that wasn't useful in any way to my future "stardom."
Ok, so my first modeling job, I meet Joe at this local Saratoga mini mall... I got into his car and we drove to the other end of the parking lot. He told me he had to talk to the client that I was modeling for, a sportswear store in the mini strip. He had to pick up the clothes and talk over details... "Here listen to this." He turned on the stereo he had a new Panasonic car stereo with four speakers. I was impressed with the speakers, and that he remembered I liked Prince's, Controversy. He's like, "get in the mood. I'm gonna take incredible pictures of you." I don't know if Joe even had film in his booty little camera, but he had me stand next to a tree in the far reaches of the parking lot wearing those candy stripey dolphin shorts and top, ( remember those???). I never saw the pictures, but he did pay me $70 dollars.
RC- Who were your idols? Who are your idols now?
TW- As a child my idols were...Bruce Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lisa Lyon, (first female bodybuilder) Robbie Robinson, (motivational speaker & bodybuilder) Mike Mentzer, (bodybuilder & author) Samir Benoit, (French long distance runner) Tom Platz, (bodybuilder- Mr. Teen America- 1974) Anne Rice, Stephen King, Noam Chomsky, (writer- Rogue States) Leonardo Di Vinci, Vincent Van Gough, Picasso, Toulouse Le Trec, Richard Gere, Jesus Christo on the cross, and PRINCE! He could make his guitar scream the way I felt, and he knows how to throw a mutha funkin party.
Today my idol...myself... going on in this life strong and serving you.
RC- What was your experience with Jim French?
TW- Joe House, I had eventually figured out, was a scout for the esteemed Mr. Jim French- originator of the super buff oiled up blue daddy studs of the Colt Studios. He was a pure gentleman. He took care of the young boy on his first trip to big time LA. Jim flew me out to la la land I stayed with him at his house in the Hollywood Hills.
it was a great experience, I was a baby with these men. Jim and his assistant fawning all over me, whatever I needed, great healthy foods, baby oil, sunshine, costumes, hairdo's, make-up, music, photographs of me... Hell, I was naked all day and I loved it, and as far as I could tell they really loved it too... I developed serious, aphrodisiac, euphoria to the scent of baby oil...so powerful just the slightest scent of it, to this day, gives me immediate aroused. if you know what I mean.
RC- How did you and I meet? What was the 1st shoot we did together?
TW- Rick, Rick you and I met sooo long ago I hesitate to reply... I think we met on the Paul Cadmus shoot for, I haven't a clue what mag it was for, but Albert Sanchez was the photographer... Oh oh oh... you shot pictures of me in hotty leather get ups with a whip stickin outa my ass...right? uuuuuugh...oh forget it, you tell it...
RC- Ok, I will. During 1986, I was working as a wardrobe stylist for Interview magazine, . While thumbing through In Touch magazine, (now defunct gay porn mag) I came across a nude portfolio of this kid named Anthony Borden Ward. I knew he was better than this magazine. I knew he was a star. I showed the layout to Albert Sanchez, (photographer for Interview) and ask if we could use him for this fashion shoot we were creating based on the paintings of Paul Cadmus. Albert agreed that he was great.
I looked up the name of his "manager," that was listed at the end of the layout, and asked if he was available for our project. "If you can pay for his bus fare from San Diego, you got him," was the reply. I picked Tony up at the train station, we did one better than the bus. Tony was very shy, but we hit it off immediately. During breaks of our fashion shoot, I shot some photos of Tony nude, in full leather gear. These were some of my first photos.
RC- Take about your relationship with Herb Ritts, (working and otherwise) Calvin Klein campaign etc... How do you feel about his passing?
TW- Herb was a great friend to me. He was the one that really put me into the legitimate modeling world... gave me my career as a model
Herb and I where never boyfriends, but we may as well have been. We were together everyday, except when he was working. We went out for dinners, movies and parties. We even shared a bed at times, but never a sexual affair. He was always very respectful never pushing. He took care of me my first few years of living in LA... I'm forever indebted to his spirit. I think he wished there could have been more with me... Whenever I've had someone really good in my life, I always ran FAST the other way...my issues. Oh well, I had to grow up...
Herb had a great eye and researched his art well, plus he surrounded himself with great talent. GOD BLESS YOU HERB RITTS...
The only thing I can say about Calvin Klein is, they used many of my images for many years, (seven to be quite accurate) and I was not paid, and I still wear his godamned undies...You owe me Calvin.!..Get right with your god, and pay your debts- to me.
RC- Talk about your relationship with "that lady."
TW- THAT LADY, I was never a fan. I saw her in that silly "Lucky Star" video on the early days of MTV, and I knew I would be reunited with my mother/lover/teacher/friend/bitch/liar/goddess/student/ poetess/angel//broken-heart/inspiration/intrigue and human awe...We fell hard immediately. Too much, too soon for the both of us...In the end when you love something, let it go.
Madonna as a talent? Superior to all...She is a classic. I wish she would sing the standards. That is what her voice is made for... When she would sing around the house, I would close my eyes and melt. I was so privileged to be there... She never knew how I really felt with her, and to put all of the stories straight, those unauthorized biographies are all full of lies. You dummies don't buy it... I was not her toy-boy, or a gift to her from her brother Chris...We just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I love you always Lady...
RC- How did you come to work on Hustler White? What were your experiences?
TW- Silly, you asked me to be in your film and I said yes... I was a tad wary at first to do that there movie, but after I thought about it, it was most apropos... Funny how the lessons of life are cyclical. ��Until you pass through it enough. Then enough is ENOUGH. I think I learned that I wasn't an actor from doing that movie... but then there is no such thing as acting today, so now I don't mind doing it. Hell there is no such thing as movies today either, so maybe I'll be a producer & a director too. Hustler White...a perfect sick, cult, comedy, in gay hustler fantasyland...I feel it's a bit sad too...
RC- What did Boy George say to you? (We meet him after the HW premiere in London at the ICA) Where did you guys go?
TW- HHHMMM...I think that is one of those needless and pointless insipid, cynical, gay bitchy things that I flushed out of my mind the moment it was pooped out of the little girls mouth, (RC- what George said was, "Hustler White is filthy disgusting porn, but I want to meet Tony Ward. I want to see his arse hole"). aaahhh... Were did we go... uh, oh yeah...we went on a hell ride with Satan...
RC- How do you feel about your fame? Are you comfortable with it and yourself?
TW- I'm not famous, otherwise I'd be making a fuck of allot more money, and I could grow exceedingly accustomed to it if I got paid a fuck of allot more money...
RC- Why did you go on Oprah? Is she for real? (Tony went on a program about models with drug addiction).
TW- I was stupid to think that black bitch droid was a human...and that she gives a shit about anything but how good she looks to her fandroids...I'm not bitter about the experience though...god bless us, everyone...
RC- What was it like working with Linda Envangelista, Karl Lagerfield, Dolce & Gabbana and John Galliano? Paris Vogue called you a male icon of the century... do you agree?
TW- I'd like to sum this whole thing up...fashion. If fashion was a sewer with the agents being like big chunks of dookie floating down stream in a swishy way gettin there pooey selves all over the models biznass, and the fashionistas pouring into the sewer all along the way oozing all their new seasons gooey all in the mix, I'd just wanna rub it all over myself, bath and backstroke through it all... Meanwhile makin lotsa money poop... cuz I'd be the shit biggest supermodel icon there ever was...
RC-What will you do next?
TW- I just shot my second fashion story for Flaunt Magazine as a fotograffer. Just finished a shoot for L'Uomo Vogue. I'm the new JLindberg campaign man, it's an exact copy of the old classic Calvin Klein advert, quite funny... (Infinity) I will be a great husband to my beautiful savior wife, Shinobu Sato Ward...the best and ever learning father to my three children- Tora, (Tiger) Dali Sato Ward, Lilli Tatsu, (dragon) Sato Ward, Ruby Love Sato Ward...(Sato means sugar in Japanese)...FAMILY... Create my artworks for all of you to learn about yourselves...and Ricky, I will be your friend and humble servant forever, and know I will always be your avenue model boy as long as I am here.
And always, BROTHERS & SISTERS... peace, love, good fortune and happiness...
originally published in Attitude UK