Meet Josh Mario John, Breast Cancer Awareness Advocate

Social worker by day, Instagram star by night, the 32-year-old Sudbury, Ont.-based extreme hottie stars in Rethink Breast Cancer’s newest campaign

Male model, Instagram sensation and ultimate imaginary boyfriend Josh Mario John is a lot more than a pretty (okay, fine, drop-dead gorgeous) face. When he’s not steaming up your Instagram feed, the 32-year-old works in social services in his hometown of Sudbury, Ont.—and is one of  Rethink Breast Cancer’s new spokes-hunks for their Your Man Reminder campaign. Here, he tells FLARE about the photo that started it all, why he’s not much of a party boy and what it’s like to have your face tattooed on a stranger’s body (it’s happened more than once).

  First things first: what do topless hunks have to do with breast cancer? I think it’s sort of a cheeky take on a very serious topic. Overall, the goal of the new Rethink campaign is to provide research-based tips and facts [about breast cancer detection and prevention], but also to present the information in a way that people are going to get excited about. Particularly with the power of social media, you want something that people are going to find engaging and want to share. You have nearly 700,000 followers in Instagram. Was there one photo in particular that made the world take notice? Well originally my account was more tattoo-themed. I did some [modeling in] tattoo magazines, but the appeal for that sort of wore thin. It was just me standing there with my shirt off. I’m going to interject here and say it’s hard to imagine how that would cease to be appealing. Ha! I guess it just wasn’t interesting anymore. Then I styled a shoot where I was wearing dress pants, a white button-up shirt and suspenders. It was a lot more clean cut and I think that was the first photo that had people viewing me in a more diverse way. I started working with a Toronto photographer, Lane Dorsey. We really clicked and my social following grew exponentially from there. Aside from being the handsomest man on Instagram, you have a pretty significant day job. As well as modeling, I work for a child welfare agency. I’m also retained as a clinician; which means that on any given day I am acting as a case manager or doing assessments for family court—making recommendations relative to custody and access.  The people I work with are often in crisis situations; sometimes I’m meeting someone on the worst day of their life. It’s valuable work that I take very seriously, and of course it can be stressful. With the modeling, it’s nice to have something that is totally different. There’s no pressure. If I don’t get a job, it’s not a big deal. What are some of the other perks? I’ve gotten to travel quite a bit over the last year. And I don’t think I’ll ever have to shop for clothing again. How often do people compliment you on your good looks? I imagine it’s a daily occurrence. No, not daily. It depends where I am. Of course in Sudbury, people know me and recognize me. In Toronto, sometimes people will come and say hi, and sometimes ask for a photo. I went to Italy in December to shoot a campaign for Pyrex Original. When I got off the plane, I had five people come over and ask for photos and autographs. I don’t think they had any clue who I was though. Do you ever get mistaken for Jax from Sons of AnarchyA lot of people have pointed out similarities between me and that character [played by Charlie Hunnam], and also the guy on Vikings. Both of those shows were really peaking as I was growing on Instagram, which was really great timing. What is the craziest thing a woman, or man for that matter, has done to flirt with you? I don’t know. People send unsolicited photos sometimes. I’m in a committed relationship, so I don’t really put it out there that I’m available. There are some people who have gotten tattoos of me. Wait, what? Strangers have permanently tattooed your image onto their bodies? Yes. I’ll get tagged in a photo [on social media] and it’s of someone who has a portrait of me tattooed on them. I’ve seen some beautiful work. You must get a lot of people flirting with you at events and parties. I don’t really go to a lot of those. I’m kind of a homebody. There isn’t that social scene here in Sudbury and I’m not going to drive to Toronto to go to a party. Have you considered a move to the city? Right now I feel like I have the best of both worlds, so I’m just enjoying that. This probably isn’t a forever thing. Models come and go. I want stability for myself, eventually I want to have a family. My job is here, my parents and sisters are here, I have a house here. To leave that, a pretty massive opportunity would have to come along.  

Sudbury is a long way from the fashion capitals of the world. What was the style like when you were growing up? Oh man. Before internet shopping, my friends and I would drive to different Winners locations in Sudbury, North Bay and Barrie. Maybe you would find a pair of Diesel jeans. That was considered a huge score. I went through a period that I was wearing the baggiest jeans I could find and hoodies and a visor. And then there was the David Beckham look that became big.

Do your hometown buddies tease you about being a model? They did when I was first starting. They would get a real kick out of some of the photos and didn’t really see it as amounting to much. I did a fashion show a few years back where I was wearing six-inch white platform shoes, pink carpet pants and a little school girl back pack. One of my friends found the photo and next thing I know they’re making memes about me.

Are you excited for Zoolander 2Oh, absolutely. My friends and I are still quoting the original 10 years later or however long ago it was.

What would you say is your “Blue Steel” signature look? I don’t really have a name for it, but my recurring pose is where my hand is almost covering my beard. I don’t know what we can coin it. Hand face? Hand beard?

I think we’d better keep working on that. There has long been a lot of attention about how female models perpetuate unattainable beauty standards for women. Do male models do the same for men?  Oh, certainly. I’ll look at some of the bodies you see in the modeling industry and I’m like, Oh my god. I work out hard and I eat well, and even I am sometimes down on myself. It’s always an upward comparison.

God help your typical Joe No-Six Pack! I think it’s all relative. I think models are probably hyper-sensitive to these issues.

Speaking of sensitive issues, you’ve been sporting the man bun for ages. Is it annoying to see the look adopted by the hipster masses? Well, obviously I didn’t invent it, so no. I guess when I see someone in my small town it can be kind of weird. Like if I’m at the gym and there are two guys in there with the exact same hair as me, it looks a little suspect.

Where do you stand on the man braid trend? The fashion world is calling it the man bun for 2016. I had a braid a couple of years ago at the first Toronto Men’s Fashion Week. I think it looks really cool, but it’s not something I could ever do myself.

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