Meet Myles Sexton, an androgynous male model (and jewellery designer and party host) who moonlights as Toronto’s newly minted online reality-TV star.
Move over, Gregory Gorgeous. There’s a new boy in your web-TV town—and he’s twice the man you’ll ever be. At 9:15 p.m. last Friday night, in the muggy July heat, several dozen of us squeezed into the upper level of Smith Bar on Church Street for the launch of a new reality web series following the exploits—and the exhilaration—of being Toronto’s incumbent fashion distraction. If you haven’t met Myles Sexton, well, shall we? (And—before you ask—yes, that is his real name.) His show, I Walk For Myles In These Shoes, made its debut last night on YouTube. It follows the 21-year-old Halifax-area native as the latest pretty young thing to juggle the ever-in-vogue hyphenated career: He’s a full-time makeup artist, an aspiring model for both men’s and womenswear collections, and a budding jewellery designer.
In the storybook of Toronto’s play-it-safe cultural/fashionable landscapes, Sexton is like the product of a unicorn mating with a dragon. He’s a man. He’s gay. He wears makeup. And high heels. Sometimes, like last Friday, he wears very little. Other days, he looks just like me—or you. By 9:45 p.m., Sexton still hasn’t arrived. While waiting, and waiting, for the fashionably late star, I chat with producer Lucia Sobral about the project. She signed onto the series after working with Myles on her Ryerson thesis about gender and sexuality in the fashion industry. She described that his appeal lies in the fluidity of his gender and androgyny, the manipulation of yin and yang. When he finally shows up, the six-foot-tall oversized pixie towers higher in four-inch heels. He’s wearing an original creation consisting of a beaded crystal top, with a sarong/shorts/lingerie (I can’t decide) to match. He’s got just the right amount of eyeliner on, with a blonde ponytail taking root in the centre of his shaved head. He’s so thin, I think to myself. Oh god, stop looking at his ribs. (I may be jealous.) His look is like a dream-mash-up of Grimes, Lady Gaga, The Blonds, and, um, Christina Aguilera at the VMAs that one time she presented with Britney Spears. When he speaks, he’s surprising eloquent, gracious, and “so shocked” at how many people came out to show their support.
Sexton is character-esque, but never a caricature. He’s lavishly experimental in his sartorial choices in ways that so few people with 416 public-ish profiles seem to want to be these days. Utterly boring is not something he does, and, sure, people stare, but only because he’s dripping in self-assurance. Sexton has been amassing a following on Lookbook.nu, appearing in the city’s society and party pages, walking the runways of both the official and the alternative Fashion Art Toronto weeks, and his jewellery’s been picked up by FASHION magazine. He also helps organize the unconventional and excessively fabulous Sodom dance parties. For the third anniversary on Aug. 18, the crew will celebrate Olympus, and Sexton will dress as Medusa. For this wild one, the games have just begun.
Why did you decide to participate in the web series?
I really wanted to show that dreams do come true, and that being different is okay, and share my story with the world. I hope that I can inspire someone to take a risk and take that first step of breaking outside the box, since I don’t think a lot of people can find confidence within themselves. Also, the series is meant to show the underground artists in this city trying to build their careers. This is our story before any sort of “fame.”
What can viewers expect?
The first episode is all about being behind the scenes at alternative arts and fashion week. Each episode will introduce more and more people, and you’ll be seeing fashion shoots and other work I do, and personal conversations between friends about life and our struggles, sharing our stories about coming out, or what growing up was like, or our failures. It will be about the work that people actually do in this city.
Did you find yourself able to be more “free” when you came to Toronto?
When I got here, I thought I dressed “edgy,” and in a cab driving from the airport, I realized my idea of edgy was everyone else’s street fashion, so I decided to expand my palette and play around. I also got my first pair of heels. I went to Parlour Salon on Ossington and came out looking like an albino alien and I never looked back. In terms of makeup, experimentation has always been there.
You declare yourself an “androgynous model” and you’ve become a favourite during fashion weeks, both official and otherwise. What’s it like for you to play both sides?
I find it really funny. Andrej Pejic came up on an international level right after I did alternative fashion week, and nothing really changed for me until then. When I go to a casting, I give them both portfolios: my work modelling female clothing and male clothing. The female models hate me most of the time, and wonder why designers are hiring a boy when they could hire a girl. There were only like five girls at a casting that could fit into this one dress, and I was one of the only ones that could fit into it. And male models, they’re just surprised I can walk in heels. Backstage, it is funny when someone doesn’t know what to call you and you can see them processing it in their eyes.
Your fashion choices often transcend heteronormative gender expressions. You don’t identify as transsexual, and you don’t perform drag. Tell me how you view yourself.
I really don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I’m two-spirited. Yes, I have a very wonderful group of supporters in the gay community, but I definitely feel like I’m an outcast. Drag queens think I should perform or they’ll joke how they hate me because I’m thinner. I don’t need a persona to be myself—that’s the difference. I just do me. Other gay guys don’t always get it either and don’t know how to take me. They don’t understand or like that I can wear heels and makeup or jeans and t-shirts. However, I do find there a lot more people who want to break out and experiment lately.
You also help out with the fabulously decadent Sodom parties south of the Village. Why did you decided to be a part of them?
I was more heavy involved when I first moved to Toronto, but now I stick to doing all the makeup and special effects for the posters. When I met Mitchel Raphael, the owner of Sodom, his drive and creativity really drew me in. I went to this party, and I felt like it was one of those moments in Queer As Folk when the glitter falls from the ceiling. I really loved that he was bringing all these creative people under one roof, and he was giving me a canvas to get out a lot of my creative fantasies.
Who should go to one?
I think that if you want to go out and be who you want to be—whoever that is—and not be judged and just dance your socks off, then I think Sodom is the place for you. Also, you’ll meet other super creative-minded people.
What is the reaction like when you go to a bar?
When I moved here, I used to dress hyper-masculine because, well, everyone wants to be loved and accepted. But then I realized if someone can’t love me with lipstick on, they couldn’t love me at all. I was once at this party with this really cute male model I was obsessed with. I wanted to run to the bathroom and take off all my makeup so he would want to talk to me. My friends thought I was being ridiculous, and pushed me in his direction. We talked all night, and he kissed me, and I really had no idea why I cared so much in the first place.
You’re single, right? If you engage in online dating, you’d know there’s a lot of talk lately about “straight-acting” and “masculine for masculine.” Do you find dating difficult?
I find it extremely difficult in this city. I have more long-distance relationships with people in New York or other parts of the world than people in the city. It’s like guys have their sunglasses on and they’re only seeing what they’re used to seeing. Gay people can be so judgmental, and we’ve been judged for being different all our lives, and yet here we are judging each other for being who we want to be. I feel like a normal, down-to-earth person should be able to look at me as a normal, down-to-earth person, not as a flamboyant person because of my clothing or whatever. I don’t even think I am very flamboyant. I think we all have personal preferences, but people put their walls up. If I put my “masc” pictures on a dating website, a guy will meet me and we’ll have a great time. Then I show him pictures of my other sides, and I’ll never hear from him again.
What do you hope to do in the future?
I’m working on getting signed in with a modeling agency in New York and Europe before my “expiry date.” Makeup will always be in my life, and my jewellery line. And, of course, the web series.
A new episode of I Walk For Myles In These Shoes will appear on the last Friday of each month on Myles Sexton’s YouTube channel. Sodom happens Saturday, August 18 at 120 Church Street. #CHS $7 at the door. 10 p.m.