Mike Ruiz is a lumber-jack of all trades. He started as
a high fashion model. That led to his career as a
celebrity photographer. Then came reality TV and his
starring role on “A List: New York.” Now he is a
designer. Yes, you heard that right, designer. Mike
unveils his new tee shirt collection – called The Mike
Ruiz Collection, of course – at
The Living Room in
Fort Lauderdale on February 25th from 10:30 p.m. to
not just a man anymore, Mike. With your new tee line,
you’re now a brand. Was that always the vision?
My entire life has been a series of unexpected
surprises. I have the ability to recognize an
opportunity when I see one and that is exactly how these
T-shirts came to fruition. I can't say that I knew that
this is exactly what I had planned when I was 12 but I
did know that I had a very unique skill set.
Let’s take it back to the beginning. You began
your career as a model. Can you tell us about the early
days in NYC?
I moved to New York in 1988 and started modeling with
the Men/Women Agency (now called Women) and then moved
over to Boss Models. Those were some pretty lean times.
I waited on tables to pay my bills but I knew that
something was coming. Rather, I knew I was going to make
something happen. I didn't really begin to earn a living
at modeling until I moved to Los Angeles in 1993 where I
modeled with Wilhelmina Models. That's when I got the
turned you on to photography?
I received a camera as a gift and became immediately
How did you create your unique photography
My style is really an extension of my subconscious.
After years of shooting, I realized that what I was
doing was trying to manifest the perfect fantasy that
lived in my head.
You then became a director of music videos.
My favorite video to direct has to be Erika Jayne's
"Pretty Mess" video. It was glam, edgy and super sexy.
Then came reality TV.
I've lost count with how many shows I have done. Maybe
six or seven? I have yet to fully discover the reasons
that I have gravitated to television. All that I know at
this point is that I feel a growing sense of
responsibility with every appearance I make.
“A List: New York” was the first time cameras
followed you in your real life. Was it strange?
Nothing seems weird to me anymore. I’ve become pretty
comfortable with cameras. Now you’re donning a designer
hat. What inspired you to create your own tee line?
These days everything I do has several components to it.
Based on the overwhelmingly positive response I received
from a handful of tee-shirt that I made as promotional
gifts, I decided to give a go at merchandising them.
do you want fans to know about the collection?
There’s a philanthropic component to the endeavor.
Two-dollars from the sale of every tee shirt will be
donated to The Ali Forney Center. I want people to know
that not only are they getting a piece of pop culture
but they are also supporting an amazing cause.
What’s next? Underwear? You can name them
UnderRuiz. Get it? Underoos… UnderRuiz.
See! That is how ideas come to me; completely
haphazardly! I'm afraid I'm going to have to end this
interview because I have to get on the phone with the
www.mikeruiz.com/store to check out his entire