... Ummm, yes, well, it leaves us a bit breathless too, Ash!
First I want to say that, while this interview comes to you from "Vic's Place", it was truly an RBL Team Project. Beth2 and jaycee and I came up with the questions, and they coordinated and worked on "announcements" while giving me the immoral support I needed all along the way. And, of course, Judy, who makes it all come together and makes us look great! Thanks to all of you. (Oh, and special thanks to Beth2 for a continual supply of drool bibs! ;- )
I'm not sure what I expected when I spoke to Rob Ashton on the telephone to do this interview. I was very nervous to be sure, but within minutes he had me laughing and relaxed, feeling as if I'd known him for a very long time. He is intelligent, thoughtful, funny, insightful, sensitive, and philosophical. He has been honest and very candid in this interview, and he gives us a look at himself beyond the gorgeous face and body we all know and love. He gives us his views on life, love, romance, and sex, and reflects on his past and talks about his future. I hope you will enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.
BTW, must I admit that I spent TWO HOURS with Rob Ashton and we only talked?
Newuuuu, of course not! A good HeadMistress would never admit to such a
thing. So, as I flip my ostrich feather boa over my shoulder and make my
dramatic exit, I can only say ... On with the "shoe"! *Wink-wink*
Vic: You've been out of the limelight for awhile. Why did you leave modeling and what have you been doing since?
(Rob after leaving modeling - still as gorgeous as ever!)
Rob: I went to real estate school and passed my course, and I have been bartending on the side.
As far as why did I leave the business? As you know, covers are shot in New York City, and that's why a lot of the guys who win the RT Mr. Romance contest don't end up doing many covers. To do the covers, you have to live in New York City full time. If you recall, the Bartling brothers used to trade out. There were three of them and they still found it hard to live in New York City full time. I did go up to New York, and I did a lot more than just my one cover (what you win is that one cover). And I really made a go of it for about nine months. In the beginning, I went not knowing what to expect. I toughed it out, I paid my dues. I stayed in the basement of Romantic Times in Brooklyn with no heat, sleeping on a futon while I did my first four covers.
Vic: You ultimately did a lot of covers though, didn't you?
Rob: I did pretty well. Obviously John D'Salvo and Fabio have done a ton more than me, and Steve Sandalis too, of course. But considering it was only nine months, I think I did all right.
Vic: You did VERY well, and I think that's why we're all wondering why you didn't stay with it - because you really are one of the top three in the world as far as we're concerned. After you did that first cover, did you have to seek others out, or did they come to you?
Rob: Some of both. It certainly wasn't handed to me on a silver platter. There are basically four big name photographers and agency houses that shoot all the covers, and I went to visit them and took my book and my card, and I went through the regular process just like everybody else. The good news is, it's pretty rare to find a long-haired guy who's built and good looking in the middle of New York City, who's ready to shoot covers. That was to my advantage.
Vic: Did you just get tired of being in New York? Or tired of the business?
Rob: It's a tough lifestyle, and to explain it, Steve Sandalis and John D'Salvo were from New York and when you live there and grow up there, it makes it easier. But when you move to the city, you need to understand that the rent is really high, and the lifestyle is exactly like this: You wake up early in the morning and, say, you have two or three covers to shoot that day. Part of your day is spent just trying to get around in New York City - by cab or subway, or if it's only ten or fifteen blocks you walk it - and you've got to be there early, because if you're prompt and on time, that's as important as who you are. Their time is money. So you show up, you take maybe an hour or maybe two, then you're off to your next cover. Then you take maybe an hour or two and have lunch in between. Then it's near the end of the day and you're in New York City, so of course you don't go out at night. It's very dangerous. So really, the only thing you do, especially when you're doing covers, is you stay focused and you go to the gym. And it's good in a way because it's very focused. It's bad in a way because that is your life. It's very isolating, you know?
That's probably why Ryan Storm and a couple of guys that have won the RT Mr. Romance contest never really did more than one cover, didn't pursue it - because you've got to go up there. And you know, I personally am very proud of the fact that I did go and I gave it my all for nine months. I didn't give up, I didn't say, "Oh well, maybe in the future this will happen," because after I won I knew I had the Nan Ryan cover, but that was it. RT didn't promise me anything - nobody promised me anything. I went up there on my own saying, "This is it - I'm going to make it".
Vic: And you did quite well.
Rob: Thank you.
Vic: Now that you're getting in touch via the internet with your fans, has it revitalized you in any way to go back into modeling? After all, you are a beautiful man and you still have a tremendous following.
Rob: Absolutely! (Hear Vic cheering wildly in the background???) In fact, there's really a two or threefold answer to this question. One thing is seeing the overwhelming response that I've gotten so far, which is really nice. I mean, I'm a very humble guy. I'm not conceited or anything like that. I was really surprised at the amount of fans that are still out there.
Vic: You really weren't aware of how great your following is?
Rob: No, I wasn't!
Vic: Your popularity is still "up there" with the most coveted men in the world.
Rob: I didn't think it was! But (he chuckles) you're making a believer out of me.
Vic: You better believe it! I don't think there is any other cover model, or man for that matter, who gets more talk or attention at RBL Romantica than you. You do realize you are up for RBL Bod Of The Year, don't you???
Rob: That's a good thing. (He chuckles shyly.)
Vic: So you really are considering getting back into it! Is that your point in getting in touch with your fans?
Rob: Yeah. Getting in touch with the fans. And the website is really important to me because over the last three years, I went to KSU and studied computers and became a webmaster, and I've done probably over thirty sites on my own, from the ground up. Most of them are medical websites, but I know PhotoShop and Dreamweaver and all of that. It was quite interesting, because I didn't really think about even purchasing robashton.com. I just kind of thought that was the end of an era, and what I did in my twenties was really the whole Chippendales thing for about seven years, and I did the RT thing and did the book covers and such, and that kind of occupied my twenties.
Now, in my 30's, I'm moving on to another phase of life. And I do have a lot of knowledge. I consider myself "medium well" on the net knowledge, so to speak. And what I would really like to do is get a webcam, hook it up to robashton.com, and do more interactive things. I would like to consider myself as sort of - what's the proper wording? - the "#1 romance guy on the web"? I don't know anybody else who would do chat or who knows as much about the web as I do, and I'm not being conceited. I've been a webmaster, I've been a web designer for three years, so I know what I'm doing as far as that goes - I can hook up an ICHAT and a webcam 32 in like fifteen minutes, and be online and be chatting in real time and having the refresh rate of the frames come up very fast.
Vic: You know, we've found that some of the cover models don't make themselves real accessible - and we kinda thought you were one of them. Then you just showed up and we're all going, "Good God, I don't believe this!"
Rob: NO, NO, NO - not at all! I am not elusive and I am available nearly daily on the web!
Vic: Are you considering an acting career?
Rob: No I'm not. The truth is, and I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but I'm kinda shy and that's why I chose modeling. This is going to go kind of deep, but when I was growing up I was a "late bloomer". In high school I COULD NOT get a date, and that's the truth.
Vic: I'd heard that, but it is hard to believe. I guess the joke's on those who turned you down!
Rob: It really is the truth. In high school I could not get a date. The funny thing was, I was kind of a rebel - no pun intended on your site - but I was a rebel and, what happened was, I'd gone to a private school in middle school and then when I came back everybody was like, "Oh, little rich kid went to a private school." I then started hanging out with the wrong crowd. The truth was, I had a very high IQ - not a genius, but just below that. I was in the 99th percentile, which means out of the whole country, if you took a sampling of 100 people, there was only one person smarter than me. So I actually left high school a year and a half early and went to PJC, which is a junior college. And when you're going to a junior college in Florida, they don't care if you've graduated high school as long as you pass the college exam. You can go to college and get high school credit at the same time, which is exactly what I did.
Vic: That's very interesting, and very impressive! You don't seem too shy anymore! I mean, gee Rob, we're looking at naked pictures of you!!!
Rob: You know, everybody's got different sides to them in different moods. And I know we'll talk more about this later, but I don't equate nudity with shyness.
Vic: Ok, and yes, we will talk about that later! You've said you love walking on the beach - what do you reflect upon at those times?
Rob: I do love to walk on the beach. I try to do it almost daily. I go out at sunset. What do I reflect upon? Well, let me paint the scenario for you. I currently live about a three-to-four minute drive from the beach, and I pull up to the public access and I walk down on the beach. It's about a fifteen minute walk, and there's like this little tiki hut that has a swing in it, and I like to swing and watch the sun go down. And as I'm looking out, I view the beach and then the water and right where the water meets the horizon and I just look at the beauty of it all. I just breathe and take it all in. I really enjoy that. And what I'm thinking about is the beauty of it all, and at times I will reflect upon the past and try to focus on the fact that nothing in life is forever and what I've learned to do is ... a lot of times in my life, I've focused on the future and put my dreams in that. And sometimes I'll focus on the past and that's not healthy, either. What I like to do is keep in mind that balance is the key to life, and living in the present and enjoying the moment is really key because, as some of us who know, it's not the end result that matters but it's what happens along the way. And that is what we really call "life" - that's where we spend 90 to 95 percent of our time. I do believe in goals though - I mean, what happens if you climb up the ladder? As soon as you get to the top you realize "You know what? I'm on the wrong wall!!!"
Vic: So it's an important time then, for you to reflect on a lot of things, right? I do that, too. Just sit on the beach and lose myself and the real world - a time to regroup
Rob: Absolutely! It's so peaceful. I mean, when I'm at home I've got the TV going, the radio going, the computer going, and we all get trapped in that circle of, you know, so much buzz around. And when I go to the beach - the silence and the solitude and being out there - I can hear the waves crash and it's just beautiful.
Vic: We at RBL love furbabies of any kind - tell us about your chi!
Rob: I am a hugh, HUGH dog lover! I have a Chihuahua named Bella - which means beautiful in Spanish.
Vic: (Rob chuckles softly and I can "hear" his smile as he talks about his Bella - I can feel what a great source of pleasure and pride she is to him and that she's probably right there with him, listening!) How long have you had her?
Rob: I've had her for a year and a half, so she's actually like a young teenager. And she looks exactly like the Taco Bell dog - I mean EXACTLY - except she has green eyes and white gloves. Green eyes are extremely rare for that breed.
Vic: She's your girl, eh?
Rob: OH, TOTALLY! I take her everywhere I go.
Vic: We love dogs and animals at RBL, so we had to ask!
Rob: Oh, they're the best. Believe me, when I was going through the divorce, Bella pretty much saved me. You know, animals go down to the basic emotions. And that's really important when you're trying to figure out who/what/where, and you've got a pet there, and they're always positive
Vic: Yes, and unconditional love. You were a Chippendale Dancer! Tell us about that. You were with them for seven years! You must have enjoyed it. How did you get into it?
Rob: Chippendales came through town. I was living in Atlanta and modeling there.
Vic: How old were you at the time?
Rob: The first time they came through town, I was 19 and I was working for Elite. I took them my pictures, and one of the questions they asked was, "How do girls react to you in person?" I said, "I get compliments." I was being honest, being myself - but I wasn't chosen.
The very next week, an agency came from Japan. If you are chosen to go there and model, they pay all expenses - hotel, everything - and give you a contract up front. So you're guaranteed a certain amount whether you do a single job or not. It was a new agency and I went to Tokyo along with two guys and four girls for three and a half months. It was a small agency but it was very cool and I have some funny stories to tell you!
We went over there - four girls and two guys. And they put us up in our own apartments. But the apartments are about the size of half of a normal bedroom in the U.S. And they were twelve hundred a month! It was amazing how they incorporated everything all in one! I had my bed, and my TV was at an angle above my bed. The bathroom curved into the shower all in one, and the washer and dryer were all one! It was ONE THING! A washer and dryer all in one. And my kitchen was a closet! I would open these closet doors and there was a faucet and one burner and a mini fridge underneath! That was my apartment! They are very space-saving, so to speak.
Vic: Well, that must have been quite an adventure for a nineteen year old!
Rob: Oh it was! It was pretty amazing, actually. And I have some great stories to tell you about my time there!
Vic: Do tell! Give us your best. (Rob is cracking up just thinking of these stories!)
Rob: We were lucky in the fact that we were one of the top two agencies, so every morning a minivan would come between six and eight a.m. We would all get in with our books and visit wherever we had to go for interviews that day. And the great thing was, the jobs there were not "hour" bookings. It was all "full day" rate, and full day rate is two grand, which is awesome. At age nineteen - two grand? Hello! So anyway, we would show them our books, and usually they would serve us hot tea or something. And one day they served us a white liquid. We were sitting there and the guy is looking at our books and he looks over at the new girl - she was from Georgia - and he says, "How do you like the drink?". She says, "Umm, it's very good. What is it?" He says, "It's cow piss!!!!!!"
Vic: COME ONNNNN ...
Rob: (Laughing his ass off!) I promise!!!
Vic: And you're all sitting there enjoying it, eh?!
Rob: I started busting out laughing - I was cracking up!
Vic: OMIGOD! Why would they give you COW PISS?
Rob: I was busting up laughing and I was going "Sema san? Sema san?" - which means, "Excuse me?" So the whole table was roaring laughing - we couldn't stop, and you know, you're not supposed to do that there. It turns out, there's an isotonic sports drink called "Cal.pis" as in "California protein isolation system". So that's what it was - it was a SPORTS DRINK!!! But because of the dialect it came out "cow piss"! We just ROARED! So anyway, that's story number one.
Another time, we went to Kyoto - which is the third largest modeling city in Japan - and we went on the bullet train, which goes 120 mph, and that was really cool. Anyway, the guy met us in the afternoon in the van and he asked us if we wanted to take the rest of the day off and go to Monkey Mountain? We asked, "What is Monkey Mountain?" He says, "There are wild monkeys on this mountain." So we said, "Yeah, let's go up!" Sure enough, there were chimpanzees running around everywhere in the wild. It was very steep, and we pulled off into a rest stop area and walked down to this waterfall. It was really cool. Then, on the way back, there's this pissed-off monkey and he won't let anyone go by! A couple tried to go by and he almost bit them. It was this wild-ass monkey!!! And he starts chasing us! And I'm not kidding, the girls are running out into the road and everybody's screaming! It's wild! Oh, and I forgot to say, when we first pulled up, we thought it was the cutest thing - there was a monkey sitting on the edge of the garbage can and he - I'm not kidding you - grabs a Coke and he's drinking what's left out of a can and we're going, "Oh look, that's so cute, the monkey's drinking a Coca-Cola." So then this one girl and I went back to the van to get a drink and when we got back, the other guy had locked us out of the van so we couldn't get in. We looked around and there's a monkey about fifteen feet from us. He lets us in and everybody laughs and oh, that's so funny. Well then he says, "Hold on, I've gotta go get a drink," and he goes out there, and we say to the others, "Let's lock HIM out!" (Not knowing what's going to happen - we really didn't know!) But, he gets a drink, and I had been throwing banana peels (I was really eating healthy at the time) and I threw these banana peels out, and all the monkeys were eating the banana - AND the whole peels!
So the guy comes back - and I'll never forget this - he comes back to the van and the monkey starts RUNNING after the him! And he's jerking on the van door really hard and his eyes get as big as silver dollars and the monkey starts chasing him - I swear on my life - just like in a movie - all around the parking lot!!! It was SO FUNNY ! And we were all in the van just rolling, laughing! And this guy is scared for his life - the monkey could have really scratched him up and sent him "home"! So he's running at full speed and he rears up his Coca-Cola and throws it straight at the monkey. He misses the monkey but it hits the ground and the monkey stops chasing him and goes for the coke. And we're still ROLLING in the van laughing because, literally, he's run probably all around the parking lot twice with a monkey on his ass!!!!! Oh, it was toooo funny. And there wasn't time to open the door or we would have, really! ("Yeahhhh," says Vic, "Right!!" Rob laughs like, "Umm, well maybe we wouldn't have?!") But it was toooooo funny!
And then the last thing I would mention is, all the models used to go out and hang out together. Well, in Japan the clubs are dancing and dining clubs all in one and the food's free - it's really good - and when you're dancing, everyone imitates the DJ. Well, the DJ does dances like the macarana, different things with his hands, and everyone does the exact same thing - like line dancing, kind of, and it's great fun. So we would go and do that, but the bad thing was, all the clubs except one closed at midnight and all the trains stop running at midnight, too. But we'd all want to stay out maybe another hour or two. There was one club that stayed open late and it was a little hole-in-the-wall. It was so much fun, because, and I'm not lying, they had, and this sounds kind of wild, but they had beer cans up to your knees! All empty, of course. Everybody in the entire bar had to wade through beer cans to move around! So that one bar stayed open late, but they did have two extremely cool things. They had rafters on the ceiling that were beamed in, and you could literally swing from the rafters when you got real drunk! And they had these guitars on the wall, and if you got up on the bar, you could reach over and pick up one of them and play air guitar, and we all thought that was really cool!! We had a great time!
Anyway, I'm way off on a tangent - where are we?
Vic: I don't know!! But it sounds like you had a helluva lot of fun!
Rob: I did. I had a really good time.
Vic: So when did you get into Chippendales?
Rob: I went back to Atlanta and Chippendales came through a second time - this was in 1991. I actually felt quite honored, because they only picked up two guys that entire year. It was Dave Ely and I. That was really an honor. Anyway, we went out to Chippendales and I was really fortunate in a way, because I caught Chippendales at the end of an era. I actually got to work at the Los Angeles club the last couple of months it was open, which is right on Sunset Boulevard, which was, of course, THE place to be on the weekends.
Then another really fortunate thing happened. Things were starting to fade out in the U.S. and they were preparing to go to Europe. In Europe, they don't tip, so what they decided to do was, they hooked up with Brian Adams' worldwide manager, Carl Layton Pope. And they made a deal with them (it's an agency), and what they did was, they turned Chippendales into a Broadway style theater show and there was no tipping allowed. They sold the tickets for $30.00 each, and they sold the first ten rows for $60.00 each. And I'm not exaggerating, they sold out six months in advance! There were three different groups which had eighteen guys per group, and we were literally like the Beatles in England all over again. They treated us like rock stars! We did BBC, all the magazine covers, all the press, all the interviews, all the radio, all the talk shows - we were on the number one show in England and we were on the number one show in Germany.
Chippendales also put out a song in England that went to number two, I believe, and to number one in Denmark.
But in the Broadway style theater show, what they would do is go over there three months at a time - I was over there for three years actually, but we'd go over there for three months and back home one month. So we were actually out of the country nine months per year. And we were out of the country for one video a year and one calendar a year. We went to Bora-Bora and Hawaii to do the calendars.
But in Europe, it really took off. When you consider you've got three groups of eighteen guys touring - we always had one group in London, one group touring the rest of England, and one group in other parts of Europe - and it also took off really big in Denmark and Holland. We were huge in Amsterdam. I actually lived in Amsterdam for three months, which was really amazing. And I lived three months over the summer in London, and we would take the Tube to work every day. We were performing in Covent Garden, which is the Broadway of London. We were one block from the Broadway play, "Miss Saigon," in a very nice theater. It was a great experience.
Vic: I guess the rest of that question was, was there any particular event or incident that stands out in your mind that you'd like to tell us about?
Rob: From Chippendales? Tons of events! I could tell you stories for hours from Chippendales. I was in it for several years and I loved it. You know, the funny thing was, when I was in Atlanta modeling I was working in a dance club, also. And there was a morning radio station and they came and interviewed us and asked us what we would like to do. And I said, "I want to be a Chippendale dancer," and all the guys were like, "Oh-haw-haw." So in the end it was, "Ok, the laugh's are on you, buddies - I made it!"
And you know, the good part was - and I'm not being cocky - but the good part was, I was on the cover of the calendar in 1993 and they only put 3 or 4 guys, depending on the year. But you consider at the time I did it, there had been like twelve calendars. Twelve times three or twelve times four - there've only been about 40 guys in the entire world that have done the cover. I was one of 40, so I thought that was very lucky.
Vic: Did you do more than one calendar?
Rob: Yes, I did two. The first year I did the calendar is when I did the cover, and that was the last year they actually shot the calendar on location and we went to Bora-Bora, which was incredible.
Vic: And how old were you at that time?
Rob: At that time, I was just in Chippendales. It was the 1993 calendar but it was shot in 1992, because they shoot them in advance and I must have been about 23 or 24.
Vic: Did you save all your mementos?
Rob: I didn't save all I should have. You know, 1993 was actually the last year they did two calendars. They had always done the Chippendales calendar as well as an oversized calendar called the "Hot Calendar," and that was sold only in Spencer's. Spencer's had an exclusive deal to sell the "Hot Calendar." I also did a poster, one of the Little Black Books, and I also had my own air freshener!
Vic: Did you keep any of these things?
Rob: I kept the air freshener!
Vic: You said in an interview that you've read romance books to give you insight into what makes women tick. What did you learn from them, and do you think what you learned has been valuable in your relationships with women?
Rob: Yes, that is true. I think the number one thing women want in a relationship is security. The number two thing women are looking for in a relationship would be adventure, spice, "keeping it alive" - and I think the number one thing men are looking for is respect. In a nice way, of course. And I think, like I said before, the key to life is balance. The whole Mars and Venus thing. We really are two different creatures. And understanding that, number one, people don't change. And to embrace each other's differences is really the key. If he likes golf and maybe you hate golf, but you deal with it and learn or listen about it - whatever it is that makes some sort of a connection. That's important. Golf may not be the best example, but ...
Maybe, for example, football on a Sunday afternoon - and say there's a female friend here that I'm dating and she says, "You know, I really don't understand about football," but at least she takes the time to watch it with me, ask questions, and she's showing an interest. If she shows the interest in football, I'll show interest in something that may not be my forte. So it gives common ground and it gives common interest. You know what, she may really not even care about football but if she cares about me enough to at least watch the game with me and ask questions and I explain things to her, there is a common ground of bonding. So I think that's very important.
And, in my opinion, women want to be shown that they are cared for. That's the underlying statement I hear from all women. It's a constant thing. And guys do care, but they don't quite know how to show it. And if guys understood that, from romance books in fact, they would understand that sex is not just sex. Sex for a woman includes the cuddling, the intimacy, the fact that two bodies actually become one, and it's a very emotional experience. And that's why the whole "show me" thing comes into play. And I think it's very important for a woman to feel like she's number one. If she calls her man at the office, and he puts everything to the side and takes her call first and lets the secretary know her call is more important than anything else, that means so much - it's showing her. And I understand that. So that's an example.
Vic: What I'm thinking, though, is that women are much more amiable about taking an interest in the man's "thing" to get his attention than a man is in the reverse. You know, we will sit down and we will ask about football because we want to be with you. But there are countless numbers of women who will say to her man, "Why don't you read this book? This is what I'm interested in," and he goes, "Uhh, no thanks" and either snickers at her interest (romance) or just turns away. And that's the truth of it, Rob.
Vic: You know, he's saying, "Oh, that's fantasy, and not real life," and that sort of thing. So I think that maybe women are more apt to go out of their way for their man for that "bonding" thing than men are to for their women.
Rob: I agree
Vic: And you know, we have lost women on the website because of their men not wanting them there, or feeling threatened by it without trying to understand the sisterhood of it or the common bond we share in our love of reading romance.
Rob: Yes, if they could understand the sisterhood part really is just that - a sisterhood - and if they took an active role, they would actually get back to the very important thing which is, during that initial courting phase were you into the fantasies? Buying the flowers? Buying the cards? Why aren't you doing that now? Why did that have to stop when you got married? That's so important.
Vic: Yeah, it is. It's absolutely important. And I think this is what all women are trying to tell men. And there are many who are very lucky and do have that, but not all - not nearly enough
Rob: I was reading at RBL the other day and one of the women (RobinH) was talking about how lucky she was that her husband made great mashed potatoes! I thought that was so great!
Vic: Yes it was! But I think for the most part, men just do not want to get into this romance thing and they are afraid their women are going to start to expect more than they want to give. And we just don't understand that. Romance takes time and effort, and maybe that's the problem. I think if every man in the world read one romance book a month, the world would be a whole lot nicer place to be! These are written by women and it is women saying what they want. Wouldn't it be smart for a man to listen?
Rob: It would be a much better place! They are a one-on-one guide for men! "Open the book, dummies!!" Really, it's very true. It's amazing. It's RIGHT THERE!
Vic: Yes, and you're a very smart man!
Rob: Well, it is! You know, like I said before, why does the initial courting phase have to stop? Why do people have to change after they get married? You know, it's like once you have someone - why can't it just grow and intensify? Why can't you keep doing the same things? And you know, it's very interesting, I was thinking about it and I almost think it goes into the subconscious. And if men were sat down and plainly asked, "Hey honey, do you remember what it was like when we were dating? What did you used to do when you first met me? Describe your feelings, what you thought about me and what you were doing to actively pursue me." The guy would get back into that mental state and he'd be like, oh yeah, you know what, I did do that. And the next question would be, "Was it fun? Did you enjoy thinking about whether she really likes me? What are her interests in me? Should I call? Should I not call? And you know, those are some great feelings and some great times." And if you make the guy think back about those times, it brings up and it stirs up those old passions, and I think that's the way to ignite it.
Vic: Stir up sweet memories, huh? Well, maybe some will try it and see! Obviously you consider yourself a romantic person! And you obviously have romance in your heart.
Rob: For the most part, yes, I think so.
Vic: Do you like romancing women? I mean, is it something you really enjoy or something you just really need to do because women like it?
Rob: No, personally, it's something I really enjoy. Romance is where you make the connection. That, to me, is what it's really all about. And if you understand women, and understand that romance is really where you get to a woman's heart, and the passion and the lust and the desire and the sex are all rolled into one big ball called romance, then you've got it! If you're a guy that realizes that, you really will captivate a woman - mind, body, and soul.
Vic: Gawwwd, and you're single again?
Rob: (Laughs out loud!)
Vic: Ah well, let's go on to the next subject. And it's a little hard for me to ask you about this. You are recently divorced. Can you talk about that with me?
Rob: A little. Not too much
Vic: Okay. That's ok, just tell me whatever you can.
Rob: Okay. I think what's important in life - first off, I don't believe in divorce - I think there are only two reasons for divorce and I think 99% of divorces should not happen. I really do.
Vic: Is it a religious thing?
Rob: (Long thoughtful pause.)
Vic: Don't feel as if you have to tell me anything you don't feel comfortable with.
Rob: I think that people can pretend to be someone during the initial courting phase and after you're married - and people have said this, and I heard this before I was even married - that things change after you're married. And it happened to me. I was stunned, I was shocked - but it actually did happen and I just think that the person I married was not the person I thought I was marrying.
Vic: How long a courtship did you have?
Rob: About nine months. I think if marriage lasts a lifetime it's wonderful. But I think for those of us that it didn't, I feel that it's really important to say this: It took me a while to figure out. I was focusing on the end of the relationship for a while and I think it's really important to think back about the good parts. Like I said before, the courting phase, the stuff that initially attracted you, and the good times you had. Because you know what? That is a chunk of life, that's a portion of life that is never going to come back. You need to think about all the good stuff that happened - and maybe 25% of it was bad, but you know, 75% of it was really good. So you count your blessings because there are a lot of people that never even get to experience that
Vic: That's very true. So out of your experience do you feel like you have learned something that's going to be really valuable the next time around, or has it made you more cautious? Or bitter perhaps?
Rob: It's not made me bitter. It's made me cautious, yes. It made me learn just what a sacred pact it is before God. And how important it is to truly value your mate, and how truly important it is to focus on spending an adequate amount of time, energy, and commitment to the relationship. And I think the most important thing of all is that both know that nothing is going to happen to break them apart, no matter what happens. Then you have true security in a relationship. And unfortunately, I did not have that. And I was not the one who ended the relationship. I was kind of shocked, actually.
Vic: I think you're an exceptional man, Rob. Maybe you should write a correspondence course or something - I'm serious! I mean you really are an insightful and exceptional man.
Rob: (He chuckles.) I don't know - live and learn.
Vic: But some men twice your age never learn what you already know. Well, let's see, let's talk about ... You are very uninhibited about nudity and showing your body, and we as women appreciate that quality very much (and I am not being facetious about that). Do you have any regrets about the nude photos you did?
Rob: Not at all.
Vic: Okay. And where does your "liberated" attitude about nudity come from?
Rob: Chippendales - being a dancer. And I personally think that the female body is beautiful and the male body is not too bad, either.
Vic: Oh Yeahh, we'll agree on that! And you have proven that to be true!! We've all seen your Playgirl photos, but there are some other nude photos, too, that look like you're in someone's backyard. Was that a part of the Playgirl thing? You know, the one of you up against those shutters and other props in that same setting?
Vic: Those are Playgirl also?
Rob: Those are out-takes. We did the first part of the day in Miami. Vogue uses that house a lot, and we were in the backyard and it was fenced in. And those pictures - like the wallpaper at RBL last week - were done there.
Vic: There are some pretty naughty photos in that group!
Rob: Yes there were, there certainly were! I haven't even seen the whole group! The funny thing was, I looked at a ton of the slides because they had these huge files with everything that was taken, and there were tons of photos that were never used. They even had some circled that almost made it to the magazine, and there's a couple I wish had. And that photographer is extremely erotic, anyway. She's one of the best that they always use.
Vic: Well, she obviously got you in the mood! They are very nice pictures. They're extremely erotic, like the one where you're holding the front of your pants down and just kinda have your head thrown back. Verra nice.
Rob: Yes, she's really cool and she shoots a lot of erotica.
Vic: Well, how could she miss? She's shooting Rob Ashton! Hey, I could do it! You'd photograph gorgeous with a disposable camera!!!
Rob: Thank you.
Vic: Is there one picture of you that is a particular favorite of yours?
Rob: Yeah, my favorite picture of all time is the one at the opening of my website.
Vic: The one of you in the blue shirt, right?
Rob: Yeah. That picture was taken in L.A., and I flew home and went to Panama City Beach for the weekend and I laid out. I was tanning, having a good time with my friends, then flew back to Los Angeles. Well, I started peeling! Luckily they wanted a more reserved calendar that year. And I was peeling on my shoulders and arms, so they said let's open your shirt up. And I wore the blue shirt and the white pants.
What they did for the calendar that year is rent a house a day, and they gave a different motif for each guy. And that year, if you look at the 1994 calendar, there weren't many g-strings, if any at all by my recollection. It was all sort of like seductive shots.
Then what they do is take their 50 favorite pictures, and they go into malls and into other places and they have women rate the pictures. The women choose which 12 pictures make the calendar. That picture was voted number one that year, and I was very proud of that.
Vic: I'll bet! You know, even though you're fully clothed, it's very erotic and seductive.
Rob: I think so too, and that, in my opinion, is the best photo I've ever taken.
Vic: You MUST relate the story about your Playgirl photo shoot!
Rob: Okay. There are two funny stories to this. I got to the Playgirl shoot and the photographer was Annalee - she's really cool and, like I told you, she shoots a ton of erotica and works for Playgirl all the time. So when it was time to get excited, she would say, "Okay Rob, it's time for Mr. Happy." And that was a big joke all day, ya know what I mean?
So anyway, the second half of the day we went to a nude beach in Fort Lauderdale, and it just so happens that about 90% of the nude beach happens to be gay males. So, we get there and, well, around gay males I'm not exactly "MR. HAPPY"!!! So she's telling me, in her foreign accent "It's time for Mr. Hoppy!" And I'm saying, "I don't get Mr. Hoppy when I'm around Mr. Gay! I'm sorry Annalee, I don't know what you want me to do!" She says, "Okay, I tell you what, we cover you up with the big towel and you lay at the edge of the beach and you think hoppy thoughts, ok Rob?" So I lay at the edge of the beach and I've go this big towel around me when everyone else there is naked, and they're wondering why do I have this towel around me laying at the edge of the beach. And I told Annalie, "This is not working. Mr. Happy is not responding to Mr. Gay." So she says the female makeup artist will talk to me and tell me erotic stories. I say, "Ok, I'll close my eyes and visualize." The makeup artist sits down and she's really cool and she starts telling me this scenario. In the meantime, all the guys have started going into the water, and I'm not kidding when I say there were four or five guys and they're moving around in the water and trying to look up my beach towel!!! And we started laughing and we were busting up, and she says, "They look like sharks! The sharks are swimming, Rob!" So the "sharks" were out in full force trying to look up my beach towel; meanwhile I'm trying to get a "Mr. Happy" and the makeup artist is trying to tell me a story. So she goes into this story about a beautiful southern belle and an antebellum mansion and she's telling it really slowly and I'm saying, "Get to the good part! Get to the good part!!!" So she starts talking about how the man and woman were getting really excited, like in a romance novel. It's working! Mr. Happy comes along and it's all good - but Mr. Happy couldn't last quite as long on the beach, though, because Mr. Happy was out in the open and everyone got to see Mr. Happy, and I was trying to be erotic and think about females and there's a beach full of gay males staring at me!!! THE SHARKS!!!
Vic: Well, whatever you did, it worked! Those are most erotic pictures!
Rob: I hope this story comes through effectively, because it was terribly funny and we laughed about it the whole way back and I still laugh about it today!
Vic: Well, it got me rolling on the floor! So, what qualities attract you in a woman? Tell us the "look" you like, then go deeper and tell us what qualities would make her your life's mate?
Rob: Well, here's what I think. Personality. I honestly believe that. And I think if people would just speak the truth, it would be a nice change of pace from the "lines" people are fed. So, here's the real deal. I think there's an initial attraction people always feel, a connection people make. It doesn't have to be a "nine" or a "ten" body, a perfect body. Maybe it's an attraction to someone's eyes, someone's lips, breasts. So you feel that attraction and start talking to the person - and everyone has a certain body part or feature that they like, and that's generally what the other person likes, too. So you have a conversation and within that first ten to fifteen minutes, if that body part translates into a connection that the other person feels, then I think that is what takes it to the second, or the next "level". And that, to me, really continues the initial phase. And that's what either turns me on or turns me off, is that second part. But in my opinion, after the first initial attraction, whatever the body part may be, the second part is when we get to who are you? What are you really about? Do you like to laugh? Are you fun to be with? Have we made that connection? Are we really feeling the vibe between each other? Is that certain excitement in the air? That's what I'm about. That's what I feel. That's what matters to me.
Vic: That's very insightful. But I'm wondering, what is that first "body part" that catches Rob Ashton?s eye?? A blonde, a brunette, redhead? Okay, we're walking down the street, three of us women, which one is going to snap your head around as we walk by? What catches your attention first?
Rob: It depends on what the body part is.
Vic: Okay. Do you have a favorite body part? There's got to be a certain type of woman you look at.
Rob: (He's chuckling and trying to get out of this! But ...) Sure, but not a certain "type" of woman. If you say "body part", yeah. If I had to rank them in order, I would say breasts would be first, eyes would be second, and lips would be third. So I'm a breast man! Yeah!
Vic: You are an extremely beautiful and sensuous man, so there can be no doubt that you are an exquisite lover. What do you think makes you a lover extraordinaire???
Rob: Here we go ... Ohhh ...
Vic: Let's don't be humble - do you think you?re a lover extraordinaire?
Rob: Yes, I do. Absolutely. And what I think makes me that way is that I think most guys just want to have sex. But to me, at LEAST half the fun is getting there, if not more fun. Because if you're really a smart guy, you know that pleasing and teasing a woman is key. You know ultimately you're going to have sex, so why not enjoy the foreplay? Why not enjoy all that goes with it? Because you know what? That's where the excitement really is. The suspense builds, the excitement builds, and that is so erotic. That's so much fun! Guys are missing out if they miss this. They're missing out on the best part! Some just have no idea!
Vic: Yep Rob, you really do need to write that correspondence course I mentioned earlier!
Rob: (Chuckling ...) I know, I know. Maybe so!
Vic: I mean, how is it - you're in this gorgeous male body but you have this female part in your brain?
Rob: That's an interesting point - I think I do. I really think so.
Vic: I think all men do, Rob, but they're not smart enough to use it!
Rob: They don't tap into it.
Vic: You got that right! Okay, in that same vein, what qualities do you think make a woman a lover extraordinaire?
Rob: Well, you're separating men and women here and I think what comes to mind initially is what I need to say, and that is, to me, it's all about that "connection" and it's all about becoming one. And for me, the connection starts with foreplay, it starts with the visuals that are in my mind while foreplay is happening - and that can start as early as the room being lit with candles - and I think it's really important for me, to make it last a long time. Why does it have to last only a few minutes? Why can't it be like a four hour lovefest? And maybe sex is only the last hour. I think that's incredible - I mean, why not? It's awesome, you know? Who wouldn't, male or female, like to take a bubble bath with their lover, have candles lit all over the room and pour hot wax on each other? I think that's extremely erotic. And that could be only one phase of the process. Why not enjoy all of it?
Vic: (Swallowing hard ...) Do you know how many women are going to be throwing rocks at their partners after they read this?!?!?!?!
Rob: (As he's laughing ...) Wellll, this is how I feel. I mean, I just have to be me, I can't be anybody else, you know? And you know what else is really important to me?
Vic: I don't know if I can bear to hear it, Rob, but what?
Rob: What's so intense to me is not just the sex itself. I mean, that's incredible, but when we connect and we're one, it is using all the five senses. I mean hearing a woman and the sounds she makes. Touching a woman. It's not just being inside a woman, it's touching a woman. I love to run my fingers through her hair. I love to feel her skin - whether it's her back, her breasts, the entire time. That feels SO GOOD to me. Why not enjoy it all while it's happening? It's like the whole thing, why not use all your senses and everything that can incorporate those five senses at the same time - it's like WOW, like INCREDIBLE! That, to me, is equal to an orgasm. I mean, THAT'S incredible. That whole connection. Literally, two people becoming one. That's incredible, and it's an incredible experience if it's done right.
Vic: Yes it is. You do realize my toes are curled at this moment?
Rob: (Cracking up!) I just get into IT!!!
Vic: (Hooo boy, does he ever!!!)
Rob: That's where it's at! That's IT! That's the experience!
Vic: (HUGH deep breath.) Yes, well, that's really wonderful, but I need one of Beth2's drool bibs! *Siiiiiiiigh* Next question. Yes, next question! Ummmm ... Oh! Happy belated birthday, by the way! You recently turned 34, right?
Rob: No, that's incorrect. I turned 32.
Vic: Really? Okay, can you give us some other vital statistics, such as where you were born, how many siblings do you have, how tall you are, eye color ... SHOE SIZE? *Wink-wink*
Rob: Haha! Wink-wink? Okay. Statistics: I am exactly six feet tall, I weigh 195, my eye color is hazel - it's between brown and green. I have one brother and one sister. My brother lives in Northern California, my sister lives in Louisiana.
Vic: Hold the show!!! You have a brother who lives in Northern California?
Vic: How old is he? *EG*
Rob: He's 38.
Vic: Ooooo ... and is he SINGLE?
Rob: Yeah, he's single.
Vic: Well, my goodness, I only live about an hour from where he lives - what a coincidence! You will, of course, mention me to him next time you talk, right?!
Vic: Okay ... now ... what is your shoe size?
Rob: My shoe size is ten and a half.
Vic: Ten and a half, ummmm ... (Swallow)
Rob: Yeah, and that's not far off from the "wink-wink" size.
Vic: Okay. (Then it dawns on her what he just said!) REALLLLY?!
Rob: Not too far, actually!
Rob: I mean, it depends, ya know.
Vic: What does it depend on, Rob?
Rob: Well, you know ... (He drawls in his slight, incredibly sexy southern accent. Gulp!)
(The Shadow Knows!!!!)
Vic: Umm, well, okay, we'll move on - if we must ... The ladies of romance are an extremely warm, loving, and supportive group of women, and you are now reaching out. How do you feel about your fans and the HUGE following you still have?
Rob: I am extremely surprised they're out there, and I'm reaching out nearly every day on the web, and I will definitely be at RT this year and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone!
Vic: Tell us something about Rob Ashton that no one knows! Something funny, something emotional, your most embarrassing moment, or that maybe you leave your underwear on the floor instead of putting them in the clothes hamper - SOMETHING that would tell us about Rob Ashton, the everyday guy and not just the gorgeous untouchable face we see in pictures. We won't tell anyone!
Rob: Well, I'm definitely an everyday guy.
Vic: No, I think you're quite exceptional.
Rob: I don't know about that. Just the fact that I've been on the web as a web designer for three years, and that I thought I was out of the modeling business and didn't even bother to buy my name or think about that, because I thought that phase of my life was over. I mean, I spent my 20's in Chippendales and on the covers of romance novels, and in my 30's I thought, now it's time for real estate school and a regular job. And realizing that this is still going on out there, the fan base and such, it does draw me back in because there's still a part of me that wants to do that. If I go back, I don't see myself doing a thousand covers, but I could see myself going to New York for maybe three to six months and getting sort of refreshed or updated. Book covers - I could see myself doing a certain number over that six month period.
And as far as something funny, cool, or different that no one knows ... Well, the part about trying to "make it" and no one knows that I slept in the basement of RT with no heat on a futon for my first four covers. Not that it's funny, but at this time, I doubt anyone knows that. I told you some funny stories that no one knows, AND, I want NO ONE (He's laughing here!) - and I hope everyone will respect my request - to call me "Mr. Happy" at the next RT convention!!! (He may be laughing, but he's serious ladies!)
Vic: We'll make that very clear!
Rob: Also, you would probably find it very surprising to know that I'm not that talkative.
Vic: (Yep, coulda fooled me as I'm typing the SIXTEENTH page of text!)
Rob: If I click, then I talk - if I don't, then I'm quiet. And in large groups I'm actually very quiet.
Vic: (I CLICKED WITH ROB ASHTON!!!!)
Rob: I really do prefer to talk to people one-on-one.
Vic: Well, you do quite well!
Rob: Some other funny things - let's see. Oh, here's one from Chippendale. The last night of our performance over a three month period, we'd always play practical jokes, and on my first tour I used to do a solo act on a bed. And they put ITCHING POWDER all over the bed and the sheets and I didn't know it until I was out there. And I'm supposed to be totally erotic, pretending to have sex on the bed. Meanwhile, my entire legs and my whole crotch had itching powder all over them!
Vic: (Dying laughing here.) And this was live, onstage?!
Rob: Oh yeahhh!
Vic: Okay, on to the last questions ... What is the most romantic thing you've ever done for a woman?
Rob: Umm, well, the most romantic thing I ever did, in my opinion, was I bought flowers for my mom on Valentine's Day. She never had flowers in her entire life. My dad just never learned about the romantic things in life, and so I just felt it was important to send her flowers because she'd never had them.
My father never learned - he didn't know. But if you ask who is my biggest hero, I will tell you my dad. Because I respect him a lot. When he was 16 and my mom was 15, she became pregnant. They got married; he's my hero because he mated and he did the right thing. He was there for her and he was a provider. He played football in high school and he got a scholarship to go to college, and he went and I really respect him because he raised a family while going to college, played football on a scholarship, got up every day at God knows what time and worked a job, all at once to support his family. So that says a lot. He did an amazing job of raising a family.
Vic: What a wonderful role model for you. You're a lucky person. What do you think is the most romantic thing a woman could do for you?
Rob: Good question. I like the fantasy thing where a woman sets up everything completely. Like booking a trip for the weekend, surprising me. We get on a plane to anywhere - Florida, the Bahamas, a tropical island, it's just the two of us, she's planned everything out - and it all falls into place and it's sort of like a magical romantic dream that we all fantasize about - making love on the beach and drinking wine and watching sunsets, walking on the beach holding hands. I often think about that because I've been to plenty of islands, but it's always been for work
Vic: So it would be very romantic to you to just let the woman take over.
Rob: Yeah, I do. I really do.
Vic: Just one more quick question. Do you think a new calendar is in your future? I think we'd all love one!
Rob: It depends on a lot of things. Who knows? But yes, I could maybe end up with a new calendar maybe in a year or two. Somewhere down the road it's definitely a possibility. You know, people tell me, when I'm at work - and I am NOT being conceited here - that I should model. But I just thought that part of my life was over, but maybe it's not. So far, I think it's a good possibility I'll get back into it.
Vic: I think "maybe not" too!!!
I would like to thank Rob Ashton for taking the time to be with us - and to invite him to join us at RBL Romantica any time! The Welcome Mat is ALWAYS out!
Index of Guy Interviews.
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