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An 11 a.m. interview the morning after your 21st birthday is rarely a good idea. Which is why River Viiperi has rescheduled for 4 p.m. and is now sitting in WWD’s offices, rubbing his eyelids on what he has declared “hungover day.” Despite his big night, Viiperi perks up when he starts to discuss his career, which was a quick success ever since he got snapped up at the age of 17. Initially cajoled into the biz by his mother (a former model herself), the Madrid-born Viiperi first took an interest in it because he “wasn’t very good in school.” The self-proclaimed “troublemaker” was in the principal’s office at least once a month.
After signing with his mother agency, Elite London, Viiperi began tallying up a slew of huge gigs, such as GQ and V magazine shoots, and walking for Calvin Klein. His ascent is well documented, not only via photographs but in “Never Back Down,” the career-chronicling blog he began three years ago.
WWD: Happy 21st birthday. What’s your go-to hangover cure?
River Viiperi: A good meal — eggs with some kind of bread — and a beer. Beer has vitamin B12 in it.
WWD: Your mother is a former model. Do you look like her?
R.V.: People say the top part of my face looks like my dad’s and the bottom part like my mom’s. I have his eyes and her nose and mouth.
WWD: Did you consider yourself good looking when you were growing up?
R.V.: I mean, I didn’t consider myself the best-looking guy but I was happy with myself. I had a few pimples here and there when I was 14. Never had braces though, thank God. A girl in my class had like the big helmet of head gear. I felt so bad for her. People always made fun of me enough because of my name. When you’re that age, kids can be a--holes.
WWD: You’ve been modeling for a few years now. Any crazy experiences?
R.V.: The weirdest I’ve felt was my first job ever. It was an editorial in London. They made me take my underwear off and cover myself with a shower curtain. It was almost see-through so I was like, “What’s this all about?” I used to be quite shy, but modeling has made me more comfortable in those types of situations.
WWD: What’s the biggest stereotype about male models?
R.V.: That we don’t eat s--t like McDonald’s and that we go to the gym every day for like three hours. I just started working out like four days ago. I swear to God. I surf, that’s how I stay healthy, not because of the gym.
WWD: Besides travel, what’s modeling’s best perk?
R.V.: Sometimes you get free stuff.
WWD: Are you really into fashion?
R.V.: Not really. I dress like I do now, I wear lots of shorts and T-shirts, and a hat, always. And they always have to match my shoes. My booker always says I’m like Lil Wayne because he does that.
WWD: What’s the story behind your blog, called “Never Back Down?”
R.V.: When I first came to New York I was so bored. My friends were like, “Do a blog. It’s the hip thing to do for male models.”
WWD: A lot of its content is very self-help-y, with tips on how to become a model, what to do at a casting, etc. Would you ever want to become a booker or work on that end of the industry?
R.V.: Never. My agents are always stressed. I would never want to be on their side of it. It was mostly started so I could write about what I was doing and explain the real life of a model. It’s not as exciting as everyone thinks it is!
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