Friday, June 3, 2011
Q and A with Ricky Berens' Bare Butt
At the 2009 World Championships, the headlines were dominated by the stunning amount of world records set in technical suits and the rematch between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic in the 100 fly, but nothing brought swimming into mainstream news more than the entrance of Ricky Berens' bare butt to international competition. Ricky's butt is laid back, muscular and carries himself with a quiet sort of confidence. He is after all, a successful athlete and model in the prime of his career. As I arrive at his apartment in Los Angeles, he is in a robe, drinking coffee and relaxing on a leather recliner.
TSB: "We haven't seen you in a while. At Rome in 2009 you really made a splash and since then you have been laying low. Are you still training?"
RBB: "Oh yeah, still training. My agent, and Ricky's, have asked me to keep a low profile in the world of swimming. That is always how the relationship has been with Ricky and I. Special occasions, major events, stuff like that. Our careers are very different. Sometimes we are able to partner up though; we are actually working on a joint endorsement deal with pro-active. We both have great skin, and people really noticed that in the pictures from the suit ripping incident."
TSB: "My wife noticed that too. And yes, I can imagine your careers are very different. When you are a bare butt, especially one as physically fit as you, there are probably very different expectations for you professionally."
RBB: "Absolutely. We have to be careful about where and when I make appearances. It is not just a paparazzi issue either. You have to remember that my fan base potentially covers 85-90% of women and about 15% of men across the world-- not just within the swimming community. It would be irresponsible to not keep under wraps during everyday life. Sometimes it feels like Beatlemania with everyone wanting to touch me and get my autograph. I really want to use that broad-reaching marketability to help make swimming a better sport. I have actually considered making a public statement to help John Leonard with his campaign to reorganize FINA. My agent is working out the details."
TSB: "Why did you choose Rome to be your big debut?"
RBB: "Europe has a very different attitude about exposure, and even very different laws. Back in school, Ricky and I could just drive by and moon people and stuff like that, but now that Ricky is older it is not seen as cute in America. If we aren't careful we could end up on some kind of 'offenders registry.' It is actually scary. In Europe, I am a lot more free to be myself. A bare butt just fits in better there. Same with guys in speedos-- they don't just wear them to practice over there. Speedo's are everywhere. I hope Americans some day learn to lighten up and embrace the brief. "
TSB: "I bet you have some great stories about hanging out with other national team members and their butts, eh?"
RBB: "I have a lot of great stories in general. Those trips are a blast. Speaking of national team members, you know who else has a nice butt? Rebecca Soni. Now that Ricky and Rebecca are dating, we have gotten to really know each other. She is really something special. She has thought about modeling, and I want to encourage her, but then again I know how tough it is in that business. Now that we are based in LA, I have also wanted to move on to a career in acting, but I am afraid that I might be typecast as the 'sexy best friend' and after Rome that will be hard to overcome. There is a lot of work out there for bare butts, but I have to be selective and stay away from the easy money on the seedier side of the business. Know what I'm sayin'?"
TSB: "Absolutely. Now, I have to ask... any big plans for 2012?"
RBB: "Yeah, but I am not gonna get into that. Let's just say I will be making an appearance and it is gonna be a lot of fun for swim fans That's all I can say."
TSB: "Well, good luck with your career. I will be rooting for you at Trials and with your ventures in Hollywood. Maybe next time we can chat with Rebecca's butt too, eh?"
RBB: "Yeah, man. I will ask her. I am sure she would love that. It was great talking to you."