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Interview with Johnny Donovan

We sat down with Johnny, one of the winners of our 2021 Model Search Contest, to talk about his thoughts and gather insight from his point-of-view on the trip to St. Croix, USVI.

Johnny Donovan is a model and social media influ- encer based out of Las Vegas, NV. HöN Magazine staff sat down with the contest winner to chat about his thoughts and gather insight from his point-of-view on the trip to St. Croix, USVI. It’s a consensus that we all had a blast hanging out and getting to know him, but we’ll let Johnny tell you all about it below.

Where are you from and what's your background?

I was born in Lancaster California in the Antelope Valley of Southern California. When I was 3 we moved to Wilder Idaho (a migrant farm camp town). I was one of 3-4 white kids in my grade during elementary school, which really shaped how I came to understand my role as a white cisgender male. I was at a disadvantage for not speaking Spanish, but it was very apparent how differently I was treated by authority figures from my friends growing up. Even in Middle School and high school when we moved to another small farm town that had a more balanced racial population, I stuck with playing soccer and hanging out predominantly with my Mexican peers. It was a big LDS community, so everyone that looked like me was likely a Mormon. I felt more belonging in my “outsider” role as the Guerro than I ever did hanging out with Mormons. That’s just the way it always was for me. I liked feeling like the odd one out and I detested doing anything just because it was expected of me or what I was good at. My family was mixed, with my mom having three kids from three separate fathers. So I was used to not looking like the people around me. My dad ended up sticking around and raising all of us (making me the youngest). I learned hard work and responsibility from him. He worked his way up from welder to mechanic to electrical mechanic and has done everything in his power to support our little family. My family is big on validation and support, so I try to bring that into the world wherever I am (practicing for a family of my own).

How did you first hear about the HAUS of NAVI and HöN Magazine model search contest, and what inspired you to enter?

My partner Ricky got me involved with the contest. He followed John Bronco, who shot with HöN magazine in DC and so he started following the magazine as well (Because... beautiful men). So when it was announced on your IG, he told me about it. I have been a fitness model for 11 years, and we both do a lot of erotic male modeling now that we are porn stars. He was entering the contest as well but thought I would fit the magazine and encouraged me to try. Once we were in it, however, he sort of fell off the responsibilities of sending in photos and taking the necessary steps. I’m a stickler for rules, so I fared well in the contest. I was inspired by the physiques of the men in the magazine, and I wanted to count myself among those amazing specimen. I’m proud to say now I can.

What do you think about the brand?

HAUS of NAVI is a beautiful convergence of gay culture and American patriotism. For generations, the military has been a staple of masculinity in America. For the last decade (since don’t ask don’t tell was repealed), we have seen that institution become more accepting, tolerant, and socially responsible. Art in this generation should represent that; or at least, if art is to be the expression of a generation, those new ideals of what it means to be American should be represented in it. This brand brings the wide array of our LGBTQ+ community together on these pages.

What did you think about traveling to St. Croix, USVI to shoot on location?

This was my first time on an island of any kind. I had no idea what to expect, but it blew me out of the water. I was taken aback by the beauty of the rainforest. When I think of islands, I think of the beaches, but what existed between the beaches there was stunning nature, vibrant culture, and some of the kindest people I have ever been around.

What was your favorite location or shoot?

My favorite location for a shoot was Downtown Christiansted at night. I have been modeling for over a decade now, and I have never done a night shoot. The architecture in St. Croix is unique, but that darkened shadowy look on the brick archways and cobblestone walkways was just stunning.

If you had to describe your experience in one word, what would that be and why?

One word = Frisson. It means a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear. My fear of the unknown is only outmatched by my addiction to thrill. I love this word and I love when I feel it, because it reminds me I am alive. Being on a tiny island I have never been to, with people I had never met, was a good way to create fear. But the thrill of doing a photoshoot in this new environment and working with Sumner Gleason and John Bronco was all the excitement I needed to reach that tipping point from Fear to Frisson.

How was it working with Ivan Edgardo Photography and the HöN Magazine staff, and essentially becoming part of the HöN Magazine family?

Ivan, Pam, and Brian were the easiest team to work with. Maybe it helped me to understand working with Ivan by being on the island. With all the urgency and seriousness of shooting products for a magazine, he still had the laid-back island mentality that all things will be done in their time. I’m not gonna lie, there were some clutch moments where a more temperamental person could have lost their shit. But Ivan never broke a sweat (on a humid island). It was actually a thrill watching him and his team work together under pressure. The shoots turned out great and the photos are amazing. I’m inspired.

How was it to work, play, and live with all the models and staff members while on the island?

This is an open love letter to Sumner Gleason. You are the light of my life... just kidding. But we did hit it off really well. We are both in committed relationships and had a lot of great talks surrounding that as well as our lives and careers in general. John was way sweeter and more genuine than I ever would have imagined. Not to say that I always expect the worst out of people, but I hold an intentional distance from straight men. But he proved very early on that he could be trusted. He was the first one to recommend taking pictures for social media together. We all had a good time hanging out by the pools and talking or joking around.

Looking back at the trip, what were your personal highlights, from shooting to just hanging out around the villa (both of them LOL)?

My personal highlights were the island culture and family that Ivan Edgardo shared with us. His Puerto Rican family has a well-established restaurant on the island, and we got to meet his mother and brothers who run it. The food was amazing, and they seemed to know everyone on the island. So I loved eating at their restaurant and taking their late father’s boat out to Buck Island with the siblings and nephews.

If the HAUS of NAVI and HöN Magazine do another model search contest in the future, what advice would you give to someone considering entering? (Obviously, we’d just ask you to join in and travel with us again since you are practically part of the family but what would you tell others?)

Really look into what this brand is about. I felt like I had an idea from the online presence I was passively exposed to, but there is so much more under the surface of attractive men in bathing suits. The culture and art that this family of creators put together each issue is a product of love and community. Understand that core concept and know that you are petitioning to become a part of that.

What kind of impact do you think this opportunity could have on your career?

I began this career as a fitness model in Idaho and Utah. I have a degree in Broadcast Journalism and have worked in mainstream television news. Eventually, I took the leap into adult entertainment and that comes with its own social biases. I would like for this and future opportunities to carve out a place in main- stream media for an adult entertainer. With the influx of webcam models and OnlyFans creators during the pandemic, the future has to include us. I hope this opportunity not only impacts my career by opening up doors for me to continue with commercial and editorial work but also impacts gay society to see adult entertainers in a different light.

What is something most people don’t know about you that you’d like to share with our readers?

Well I know something a lot of people want to know about me is why I am a white American man with foreskin. I don’t mind telling you that my parents just couldn’t afford the procedure on top of the hospital bills for their third birth. When I was 16 I asked my parents if I could still have it done, after watching a guy my age do it on NipTuck (the FX show). They said I could, but then the next episode revealed how tragic the procedure could actually be and I bailed on the idea. I’m really glad I did.

How do you navigate how and who you collaborate with?

This question has forced me to summarize this process for the first time. It begins with a broad net cast over all those I am initially attracted to. I sift that pool of content creators through Ricky’s lens and get a perspective of who he accepts. We research through their social media pages to make sure they match our ideals (no racists, colorists, transphobs etc...). Then we reach out to see if they are interested. If they are, we do everything we can to make it happen. Of all of those candidates, I would say 40 percent end up working out.

Peeling the onion back a bit so the readers get to know you better, what kind of music do you listen to most and why?

I listen to a lot of classic rock with strong female lead vocals. Specifically Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. There is something magical in those raw musical tones that just heal my soul. Billie Joel is another of my all-time favorites. My idea of a “workout song” is Benny and the Jets. I feel like when I’m in the gym listening to music nobody would ever suspect what’s actually going on. There was a really special rawness in the ’60s and ’70s that created beautiful music. It’s timeless.

What inspires you?

I consider myself a writer. I studied Broadcast Journalism because I didn’t think there would ever be a future in writing. But it’s truly my passion. When I need to find the words or prose for a certain piece I am working on, nothing inspires me like human emotion. It can be a celebration with family, birth or death, argument, or lovemaking. Witnessing others experience human emotion inspires me to write.

What is your favorite color?

I find peace in forest green. It adorns my favorite landscapes.

Any nicknames?

Some people call me Daddy.

Are you a boxers, bikini briefs, jockstrap, or none of the above kind of guy?

I wear underwear appropriate to the occasion. If my pants are very tight, a thong is great; If I’m collaborating as a bottom, the jock strap brings more to the table. One thing I would never wear is loose-fitting boxers. It makes me feel like I’m being kicked in the balls.

What do you think is the sexiest part of the male physique and why?

I love this question. I believe it is the chest, but I think it’s more a combination of the chest, lats, and shoulders (and armpits?). I am not particular about a man’s six-pack or v-shape if their upper torso area is well built. Hairy, shaven, or waxed; nude, tatted, or scarred; A big chest area is easily the sexiest part of the male physique.

How does it feel to be around so many beautifully fit men?

I really appreciate the male form. I think that shows on my Instagram where you can see a shrine to every inch of my own body. But as much as I love and appreciate the image I have created for myself, I never hide how amazed I am by other men I work with. I know that men can often be closed off and vapid with one another, but I really enjoy sharing my genuine thoughts and compliments with the beautiful men I get to work with because it breaks down walls and allows us to connect as humans. I’m trying to challenge masculine toxicity in gay culture through intentional actions in my own life.

How do you get ready for your photoshoots? Any particular diet / workout you focus on?

In preparation for a shoot, I cling hard to my staple diet of rice chicken and beans. I do really well with intermittent fasting, which I try to implement year-round, 2 weeks before a shoot I tighten it to 8 hours of feasting and 16 hours of fasting. I cut out all sugar (except one serving of fruit a day), and say no to alcohol. I maintain a workout regimen of 6 lifting days a week (Chest, Back, Legs, Shoulders, Arms, Legs) as well as two-a-days with HIIT for cardio. I shoot so often I have to just keep a light tan year-round at this point, but I still like to do a light spray-tan a day or two before a shoot to make sure I have some color (it can make lighting difficult for a shoot if I am considerably lighter than other models – especially since I shoot so often with Ricky, my mestizo partner). I also make sure to drink more than enough water leading up to a shoot so my skin and eyes glow. Another weird trick that some colored-eyed people out there might already know is the more I sweat the day before a shoot, the brighter my eyes are the day of.

What is your favorite movie or book? Why?

My favorite movie that I can watch over and over is Kill Bill (both volumes). I love a strong female lead, and I love assassin movies driven by vengeance. Plus Quinten Trentino is a genius.

What are 5 words your friends would use to describe you?

Witty, Brave, Outgoing, Handsome, Full-Of-Myself.

What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?

Introspective, Empathetic, Anxious, Impatient, Demanding.

Favorite place that you have traveled to?

I need to preface this by clarifying that I have been to many European countries and all over Mexico and Canada. But honestly, my favorite place I ever traveled to was New York City. My first time there I spent 10 days on my own visiting with various friends and meeting new ones through couch-surfing (the home share website). I met some of the nicest people in the world in NYC and had the best adventure of my life figuring out manhattan and Brooklyn. I stayed in East Harlem, the Upper West Side, Greenwich Village, Uptown, Downtown, and an apartment just off of Time Square on Broadway. I was 19 at the time and I didn’t drink, but it was the wildest adventure I can remember.

A Worst place that you have traveled to?

Paris France was the biggest let-down in terms of affordable accommodations and interactions with strangers.

What is your idea of a perfect date? Both person and setting ;).

A perfect date would be spontaneous. It would occur out of the inspiration of a moment, not a necessity of societal pressure. We would bike along a waterfront or hike into a wooded area up a mountain. There would be charcuterie and sweet nothings. The feelings between us would generate enough energy to keep us awake all night talking under the stars. It would have to be on April 25th, so it’s not too hot and not too cold. We might wear light jackets.

Where is one place that you would like to go to that you have not gotten the opportunity to travel to and why?

I have always wanted to visit ancient Greece. I have learned I have no ties to Greece whatsoever, but growing up I loved Greek Mythology and always imagined myself as an ancient explorer, like Odysseus. I thought we would pop over there when we were in Italy back in 2018, but it was more expensive than I thought. I don’t think I know enough about the Islands yet to really shoot my shot just yet anyway.

Favorite pastime?

Writing musings. I love to jot down random thoughts and observations throughout the day, and sometimes those flourish into full-on theatrical scenes in my head. I give each character their own motivation and dialogue, and I just have to write that down because you never know when it will come in handy.

Describe your best sexual experience to date.

I write about many of my sexual experiences on my Instagram, but one that I would consider to be the best to date would be the first time Ricky and I connected. The night we met was magnetic and we could not keep our hands off each other. I was also not that experienced at the time and thought I was a total top (now I consider myself verse). He took me back to his basement room and threw me on the bed and crawled on top. There were these bars or pipes above his head where the ceiling was unfinished. He grabbed onto those and twerked his hips up and down on top of me until I was satisfied. I had never had a bottom take control before, and I certainly never felt the level of control he had. I insisted on meeting his mother and grandmother the next day so he would have to keep me around.

Anything else that you’d like the readers to know that we haven’t covered?

Aliens are real, and we come in peace. When I was 9 I was hit by three different cars in one year and fell out of two large trees. I never broke a bone. I am superman.

To see additional images of Johnny from his trip to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands be sure to get a digital copy of Issue #21. You can also order a printed copy by clicking here.

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