TYSON BECKFORD

By Dan Prince, Photographs by Álex Soto August 2016 LIFESTYLE Read in PDF format N11/2016
TYSON BECKFORD The kid from the streets of the Bronx who became the world’s first black male supermodel hits Ibiza…

You are usually in Ibiza chilling but this time it’s work?

I’m here to host three parties at STK but it’s not what I call real work. That would be an 18-hour day on a movie set or a week-long photo hoot, but even then it’s no drama as I love what I do.

Is the STK steak as good as Peter Luger in New York or The Forge in Miami?

Well, I stopped eating steak a while back, but my son Jordan who’s with me has been to these places you mentioned and he thinks the meat at STK is amazing, if not better.

Born in the Bronx – you recall that as a dark time with most of your old friends now dead or in jail. You ever go back?

I do. The Bronx still has a place in my heart. Sometimes it’s good to go back, get grounded and see where you came from.

How bad a kid were you?

Oh, I was bad man. My nickname on the streets was ‘2 Guns’. That ought to give you an idea what I was like.

Glad you mentioned guns. The US is going through hell at the moment with the whole police shootings. What’s your take on it all?

Of course there are some bad cops who have a problem with people of colour, but nothing has been done about it as they have all walked free. It’s a sad time in the States right now to be an African American male, but you can find a bad bunch of people in every walk of life.

I interviewed Jazzy Jeff and Moby recently. They said if Trump gets in power they are leaving America for good…

I worked on both of Obama’s campaigns and I’ve been working on Hilary’s too and we are all confident. But if Trump jumps in, I am 100% moving to Ibiza.

So let’s talk about the modeling. Skinny and gapped teeth once upon a time?

Yes sir. But a long time ago!

How did the whole Polo Sport campaign happen ?

I was sent there for a casting where Bruce Webber took some Polaroids and sent them upstairs to the powers that be. Ralph Lauren took one look at my shots, turned to everyone and said ‘Wow, this kid is nice! Who is he?’. And they were like, ‘He’s from the Bronx, just like you Mr Lauren’. And I have been with him ever since.

You still tight with Ralph?

Oh yeah man. We have four topics of conversation: family, abs, cars and bikes. He’s stopped messing with the Ducatis now though, he’s put them down to concentrate on his ‘exotic cars’ as he calls them! They are his inspiration to keep going with his clothing line.

You were heralded as the world’s first black male supermodel – did y ou find it easy coping with that tag?

I came into the market and was immediately snatched off the market. I remember other designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Armani were like ‘This guy hasn’t had a chance to do the catwalk shows or anything yet’ – they weren’t happy. But I was a kid from the Bronx with no money, no real prospects and all of a sudden someone was offering me a huge deal that I couldn’t say no to. What’s a kid to do?

How much?

Over $300,000. It was a crazy time. I was suddenly on the front covers of GQ and Details and getting so much attention. I couldn’t go to the store, couldn’t hang out with friends, normal life was over. I was also putting up with so much jealousy in the modeling world and getting the vibe that people thought I’d changed into this arrogant asshole. But I hadn’t – I have always just been really confident in what I do. Put me in front of a camera and I know how to turn it on.

You have appeared in videos for 50 Cent, Notorious B.I.G., Mariah Carey and Toni Braxton – what is on your current playlist?

So much variety! Today I’ve been listening to Disclosure, Phil Collins, King Tubby and Bob Marley. I love all music; the TV is never on in my house.

Did you hear about Justin Bieber kicking off with Orlando Blom a while back here in Ibiza?

Ha ha, yes I did. I was here when it happened and I bumped into him at Amnesia. He was like, ‘Hey Tyson we gotta hang out this week!’ and I was thinking, ‘Er, no we don’t dude…’.

Your third year here – what clubs you been checking?

Amnesia again, Pacha and DC10. I keep driving past Sankeys and seeing all these British kids rolling out with the chin action going on and I always say to myself, I gotta check this place out one time!

I saw you supporting Portugal at the Euros – you know Ronaldo is here on a yacht moored next to Messi?

“I heard that, but I haven’t seen them yet. Beating France was such a huge moment for me, I was running round all these French hangouts in New York looking for some fun but they were all deserted. Then my friend Thierry Henry called me and was like ‘I thought you were my friend, I thought you loved Arsenal’. Which I do, but still…

Tell me about your Drift car racing…

What started as a hobby has gotten way out of hand. I have put so much money into my 350Z but it’s currently on bricks with a blown valve. Move on!

After your terrible car accident a few years back you told Oprah Winfrey that the experience had a huge impact on y our spirituality.

Is it still im - portant to you? Consistently. Every time I turn the key in my car or on my bike I always think about what’s important in life. One minute I was being called a supermodel and feeling invincible, the next I was crawling out of a wreck covered in blood. Never take life for granted, it can be taken away from you at the drop of a dime.

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