Stunning Max Rhyser is a New York stage and screen actor, producer, writer and director.
Max first caught our eye at Stunning Men when we came across a photo by amazing London photographer Dylan Rosser.
While doing some research on Max we stumbled across an episode of In Between Men and it was like love at first sight.
Max has graced the pages and covers of Beautiful and Instinct magazines. He has worked with many great photographers and although modelling isn't his main focuss, Max's portfolio is one of the richest and most diverse I have ever seen.
We got in touch with Max a few months back regarding a possible feature at Stunning Men and Max was up for it straight away. But being a very busy guy it has taken all this time to set everything up and we are proud and thrilled to be able to finally feature Max today and interview him.
If you don’t know Max already, you will discover that he is not just a pretty face (or rather a gorgeous one in his case!) but has got his finger in many pies ...
Passionate is probably the one single word which could describe Max the best. Passionate about life and about love, Max says he is a hopeless romantic! He is “passionate about the power of love and people; people and their humanity, as well as their spirit”.
Some of Max’s work as an actor:
A Four Letter Word, Requited, The Teacher, The Walk Home, Razortooth, Homeland, Violet Tendencies, Dawns, Heads and Tails, A Fallen Glass, Gangster, Scotch, One Life to Live, The Lair, Decent Men, In Between Men, My Hero ... Max is currently filming The Genesis of Lincoln
All photographic copyrights to their rightful owners
Here is the interview in full
Stunning Men – Welcome to Stunning Men Max and thank you for doing the interview.
Max Rhyser – My pleasure Didier – Thank you for taking the interest in me and my baby Chaser.
SM – The pleasure is really ours. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself? I believe you are from Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
MR – Yes. Amsterdam, The Netherlands is certainly where I was born and spent most of my childhood. My mother is American Israeli and my father is Danish… so there aren’t any actual Dutch roots and yet Amsterdam is where the family has settled. All 3 of my brothers left Amsterdam but have all returned. I’m the odd one out in that respect, and a few others! (Max winks and smiles)
SM – Well you definitely have an interesting family background in term of nationalities.
MR – We are quite the mix, yes. But we don’t know any other way. As a family we moved throughout Europe rather regularly attending International schools and American schools and soaking up various cultures… We’re mutts, there’s really no way around it!
SM – You lived in London before moving to New York. How does life compare between the two?
MR – Life in London was inherently different from New York for a few reasons… Mostly, I was in College! Even though I had a money job during summers and bartended once a week at a local North-London dive, Life was fairly simple. I was attending Mountview, an acting conservatory that was very strict regarding attendance, punctuality and structure… It was great! Simple. An intense routine – which I loved. I was also younger and a lot wilder… (laughs)… in some ways.
Life in New York has been very different. I’ve really had to discover myself in a world with no structure other than that which I have created for myself. But New York feels the most like home, right from day one and still to this very day, even on the hardest days. Everyone is welcome here, and no matter who you are, there is a place for you… New York and its people are amazing! I’m proud to call NYC my home.
SM – You started your career as a model about 7 years ago; was this your first love?
MR – Funny! A lot of people think I modelled before I started acting. This could not be any less true… Once upon a time I fell in love with a boy and moved to Montreal to live with him. And that’s when and why modeling started… But let me put it this way… Having grown up as an overweight child with image issues and a low self-confidence… well, that made being a model, for however brief a period, a dream come true. A dream I quickly realized held no real value for me in the scope of the bigger picture. Don’t get me wrong, I love to model; it’s like starring in your own little silent film… If I had known so many of my images would go viral, I probably would have played it all a little smarter, but you live and learn, and I do not believe in regret. I hope to do more… but a career in modeling or it being my first love, no. A dream come true, yes, short lived as it may have been.
SM – What about acting? Was this something you dreamt of when you were young?
MR – Yeah for sure! Largely influenced by my older brother Joshua Rubin, who is also an actor. But also largely inspired by Whoopi Goldberg… but that’s an entirely different story. I was blessed with some amazing acting teachers in my early years, they inspired me not so much with going on to an acting career but in helping shape the person I wanted to become. Didier, I dreamed of a lot of things. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. I’m really grateful to see so many of my early dreams coming to fruition. Surprised to see how many previous dreams have lost their importance… and mostly grateful to still be dreaming… (Max smiles)
SM – Are you still modelling or have you moved on? We were just wondering what career you would rather pursue; acting or modeling.
MR – Well I’m an actor! I love directing and I am happy to produce when I feel strongly about a project… If a modeling opportunity presents itself – I’d be thrilled to do it… but I’m not chasing it. I don’t want to chase anything at this point. Not at the risk of chasing so hard, I risk loosing the now… and the new dreams currently shaping my future…
SM – You have many strings to your bow; acting, modeling, directing, producing and more. Could you tell us a little bit about Namaste/The Way Back Up?
MR – Namaste… among my all-time favorite words… there are several definitions for it, among them: My Soul recognizes your Soul… That one really tickles me! It is also a standard greeting in the Easter world and among many spiritualists…
As far as Always Rising / www.thewaybackup.com goes, this is my Spiritual Healing and Transformational Coaching Practice here in Chelsea NYC. I’ve studied various modalities with various different teachers, the first of which was an Indian Guru to whom I will always feel a lot of gratitude. Among the various titles I hold, the most widely recognized is Reiki Master. I’ve been very blessed in my life but growing up also experienced a lot of pain and turmoil, admittedly often self-inflicted. I like to think it is my shameless humanity and my own acceptance of my flaws, which makes me the Healer I am today.
SM – Your latest project, and it seems to me the one closest to your heart, is the movie project Chaser directed by Sal Bardo, whom you worked with on the movie Requited. How did this project come about?
MR – This film started germinating in my mind when I read an article while living in Amsterdam at the ripe age of 18. It was titled ‘The Kiss of Death’ and exposed an increasing amount of men who were using sex as Russian Roulette, i.e. had ceased using protection/exposed themselves to HIV because of the thrill… This article played a huge role in my life. It wasn’t until I turned 30 just this past summer that I explored having sex (SAFE SEX mind you) outside of a loving relationship. I brought this up to Sal when we started collaborating on Requited and he too had his own reasons for wanting to make this film… and so CHASER was born.
My work as a Spiritual Healer was a very strong reinforcement to the sexual deviancy that plays a role in many peoples lives and in all cultures and communities… but none quite like our own, the LGBT community. Which makes total sense of course considering how ‘our’ sex was ‘in the closet,’ forbidden, shunned and repressed; and largely still is taboo! Anything involving shame/secrecy; anything kept in the dark will lead to unhealthy manifestations… And so while touching on a dark subject, we aim to bring light to it by revealing the truth about it… The truth will set you free… it really will!
My own research – and NO I am not a method actor – was the darkest, scariest and loneliest period of my life. What was most disturbing to me was the amount of LGBT youth being exposed to the same experiences I was faced with during my research mostly on-line or via Smartphone technology and the unfortunate probability that they are growing up viewing this as “normal” behaviour. We didn’t have these resources growing up but kids today do… And there are a lot of people making a lot of money out of it! BUT – another story for another time…
Chaser tell the story of Zachary Gold, a young promising high school teacher who, disconnected from his family, culture, and community, seeks solace in the fringes of the gay bareback community. Our goal is to challenge our community (and all communities!!!) and raise the simple question of why. It was essential for us as filmmakers to refrain from placing judgement on Zach and his actions and choices. We hope the audiences will fall in love with Zach and his presence in the greater community (namely as a wonderful teacher,) enough to be affected when they follow him and bare witness to the choices he makes. The idea being this could be your son, brother, friend, your child... Women are the second most affected by the lack of condom usage...(take a look at GRANT FURY': READ MY LIPS - Venice Penis,) and mostly within the minority cultures. Young Black gay men have the highest rate of infection... and there is an increase of HIV infections within the older generation... I have friends who don't get tested... I have friends who aren't careful... Some people still claim a top cannot contract the virus! What? What? How can that even make sense? I don't understand the ongoing myths around HIV... this however I know to be true... The interviews I conducted of various different people, some anonymous, all had ONE thing in common... SELF LOVE... That was the unanimous conclusion... a lack of it and a need for it! SELF LOVE. I see it all around me, in my practice and somehow the Universe has brought along a lot of similar themed projects... it just happened... I have to tell this story. And luckily the awesome Sal Bardo is telling this story with me... his inspirations are here:
SM – Is ‘bug chasing’ as it is known, really an issue in America?
MR – Well my friend, ISSUE, is a relative term? And from discussing this ‘issue’ with friends and fellow-artists exploring the same issue in London, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, I guarantee you… this phenomenon is not partial to the US. Chasers were first documented in the early 80’s. While the psychology behind chasing has morphed over the decades, much as the virus has morphed into becoming a “manageable condition” – YES – bug chasing is very real! Our goal with the film is to raise questions and begin a dialogue about risky behaviour and the self-injury involved in unprotected sex, namely bare backing. Our film focuses on a Chaser but our commentary is on the drastic increase of bare backing within our community (and all communities?) For me I am exploring SELF LOVE. Zach's SELF LOVE? The essential difference between chasing and bare backing, is the “intent” to contract the virus. I guess what we are really exploring is those individuals who may not consider themselves “chasers” and yet consistently expose themselves to the virus… and why? Zachary Gold himself may not consider himself a Chaser... maybe he just stopped caring... You decide for yourself... and Sal and I will discover it for Zach.
SM – How can people help with the project?
MR – Being the controversial ‘issue’ that this is… we are relying on you, as individuals, to step forward and aid us in our cause… For this very reason we are receiving anonymous donations from people who support the importance/need to see this film come to Life but do not want their names associated with it – which is fine – we appreciate your help immensely… we all have our own battles to fight along our unique journeys… and I totally respect that… In the same way I respect fellow actors who chose to remain in the closet to “protect” their careers… Not my way… but who am I?
So… whether you want to remain anonymous or not – please believe this is real and a manifestation of growing up in a society that treats us as second-class citizens.
PLEASE HELP US TELL THIS STORY:
All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
And of course for those of you who are in the New York area…
Join us BENEATH THE SHEETS – our HIV/AIDS Awareness Event funding our film and benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
SM – Are we going to see a new series of In Between Men? You produced the show as well as having a part in it, didn’t you?
MR – Yes, that is all correct… but I am no longer a part of the show and will not be in the second season. The producing team and myself had some differences of opinion and so we parted ways… I hope the second season is more successful than the first season and I wish them well, but don’t expect to see me – Jacob Ross is no longer…
SM – Can I say that Jacob was my favourite character? ... You have a great physique. What kind of exercises do you do to keep in top shape? Do you practise any sports? Do you have time for it even?
MR – My physique… well to be honest my physique fluctuates for the very reason you suggest, sometimes I just do not prioritize looking ‘good.’ I’ve been so busy with my practice and acting, producing and writing and now being an event planner that my time has indeed been very limited… And… (should I even share this?) my mother has been staying with me for a month – which is great, but also a definite time constraint… But I have the best mom in the world – I really do - so no complaints there! (Max gives us a huge smile)
I am always sure to keep moving, whether that means speed-walking across tens of streets and avenues throughout the city as I get from place to place or dancing around in my bedroom. I always walk when possible and mostly climb the 243 steps from the subway to the street, up onto my avenue and up the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment…
And while I enjoy the occasional indulgence (who doesn’t right?) my diet is always healthy! Not so much limited in amounts but rather by what I eat – I do believe we are what we eat… Some of the lucky ones have bodies that don’t put on weight but that doesn’t mean they aren’t affecting their health… A little awareness and sensibility will take you a long way.
SM – Besides acting and modeling, what gets your interest and what are your hobbies?
MR – Psychology, humanity, healing, growth, challenge, romance, passion… I love food, the beach and sunshine rock my world, I love connecting and learning about individuals, their stories… I’m about to start kick-boxing (Yay!) and as the weather becomes warmer and sunnier I look forward to just being outdoors, whether rolling in the grass in Central Park or strolling along the river bank.
SM – And what do you do to have fun and relax?
MR – I love to have a good time, I do my best to treat myself with love and respect but also like to let go and enjoy a little late night boogie… a good cocktail… and romance… being in the arms of a loved one is definitely a favourite pass-time! Yup! I’m a lover! Don’t get me started on that either…
SM – Do you have any role models? People who inspire you?
MR – Yes, and honestly, way too many to list just a few… However, what I will say is that on the top of the list of people I want to hug most in this lifetime: Oprah! (Max smiles)
SM – Now a few fun questions if we may? Do you think you are a good date?
MR – Tricky, tricky… but YES I do! I think I’m an amazing date… (laughs), if only I could date myself… I’m kind of joking but there’s truth to that though… I look forward to the day I put myself first and not the other way around… It is impossible for me not to be affected by another person’s energy, especially when in engaging in something like a date… so rest assured I’ll make you feel comfortable… HOWEVER – Max Rhyser can be pretty intense, I’d much rather talk about the truth and what really matters in Life than everyday pleasantries and B.S. chit chat… if you don’t want the truth – stay away… Also, I tend to look people very directly in the eyes, so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t feel comfortable with eye contact, run the other way… And lastly while I can be very serious – that is only inspired by my passion and the same is true for the joy and laughter I so cherish in my life – it is fuelled by my intense love of life and people… While sex will not happen on a first date – ever – if I had to nickname myself I would dub myself CUDDLE MASTER! (Max gives us his stunning smile)
SM – Aww ... I do love a good cuddle too! Now tell me Max, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
MR – I’d say my soul choosing to enter this body in this lifetime is the craziest thing EVER – but I’m so grateful to be here! The rest we’ll save for our next interview…
SM – OK, that’s a date! Are you a brief man or a boxer kind of guy?
MR – Brief and boxer-briefs are my way… Luckily I have a friend at Calvin Klein who ships me boxes of underwear all the way from London because someone who ‘loves to shop,’ I am not.
SM – What do you listen to on your iPod?
MR – Oy… I honestly haven’t collected music since the 80’ and 90’s so I’ve got a mixture of old stuff and music people share with me… and whatever Pandora station I’m in the mood for that day, hour, minute. My taste has always been eclectic so that works out just fine!
SM – One last question Max, where do you see yourself and what would you like to be doing in 10 years time?
MR – Where I will be I cannot even begin to imagine Didier… Or maybe I just do not want to address the specifics of that just yet… Who am I to say what life and time will bring… I’m hoping my acting career will still be progressing, flourishing… That I will be back to writing much more full-time and that I will be affecting change somehow, somewhere… I hope to be happily in love and perhaps already starting a family… I hope to be grateful for all that I have and all that I have experienced, just as I am today… and I hope to be dreaming as much as I am today… As RUMI says, “Not for one instant has this flowing towards me ceased.” I hope to always be in a place to accept this truth no matter what Life throws my way… and be in the flow always… Life is a beautiful thing… Namaste.
SM – Max, you have been a real pleasure to interview! Thank you for your time and all the very best for the future!
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