By Vicki Gilhula
If you meet Josh Negusanti on an airplane or in a bar and get talking, you might think he’s pulling your leg about his career as an international fashion model and social media influencer.
He’s jet setting to London, Milan or Barcelona for a weekend fashion shoot, mingling with the rich and famous, and then heading home to his nine-to-five job. In Sudbury. Huh?
The 37-year-old with Scandinavian good looks leads a double life. He is a mild-mannered and well-spoken child welfare supervisor and part-time Cambrian instructor. As Josh Mario John, he is a chunk of hunk, a Norse god promoting brands in magazines such as Elle, Rolling Stone, Inked, Schön, and Maxim.
Sudbury born and raised, Negusanti has a BA in psychology and an MA in experimental psychology from Laurentian University. Lean and wiry, and a little shy in person, he is extremely photogenic. He’s got the look.
Here is how The Unstitchd Men’s Fashion Blog describes Josh Mario John: “Tattoo + Beard + Undercut+ Physique + Fashion Sense – trust me it’s a deadly combination. Every man desires this look as it’s absolute fashion magic. Social media is flooded with this look but one person that stands out is Josh Mario John. He is a tattooed man with stunning hairstyle, an outstanding physique, and ace variety of fashion styles…in a nutshell is a perfect inspiration for men.” (He no longer has the undercut.)
Negusanti describes his tattoos as “permanent fashion accessories.”
Tattoos have become something of a trademark for millenniums. A Harris Poll in 2015 found almost 50 percent of American millenniums (aged 18 to 35) have at least one tattoo. Music superstar Justin Bieber has an estimated 56 and his contemporary Ed Sheeran has more than 60. In Canada, it is estimated that 38 percent of adults have a tattoo.
“I saw them on other people and I thought they were cool…but my parents weren’t too keen,” says Negusanti. He was 24 when he had his upper arm tattooed to honour his grandmother who was an artist.
“I took a lot of her sketches (of flowers) and took them to the (tattoo) artist for inspiration.
“I was very concerned having anything visible would impact on my career (in social work). My first tattoo I got to there (mid-upper arm), so I could cover it with a short-sleeved shirt. I thought I would never do my hands or my neck because you can’t hide that…Then I started with my fingers…”
Did Negusanti dream of becoming one of the top bearded tattooed models in the world? No. Never.
He was about 30 when he started posting selfies his Instragram account that soon got noticed by Toronto photographer who wanted to build a portfolio. Those photographs were published in a magazine, and that led to a cover of a tattoo magazine.
He eventually signed with a modelling agency and contracted a social media manager. He signed with Next Models Canada (Montreal) Plutino Models (Toronto) Lap (Milan) Front (Miami), and Fifth (Barcelona).
“Social media has changed the way people view models, book models and the value people play on models. There was a time when your bookings were contingent on an agent. Now your portfolio, shared on social media and brands, will reach out directly.
“Most often if I sign a contract with a brand for a modeling job, they will also want to incorporate social media posting or promotion in that contract. So now it is not who you are a model but now how many eyes are on you…that adds value.”
His Instagram feed, @spizoiky, has one million followers who click on to admire his abs, take note of what he’s wearing and the grooming products he uses, and read about his adventures test driving a Harley or on a camping adventure with his family.
Google Josh Mario John. There are almost 29 million results.
He and his wife, Jana, met on social media. She is from Los Angeles and moved here four years ago where she is an independent consultant with Arbonne, a health and wellness beauty products company. She also does some modelling.
“I have two separate lives. Partly why I don’t use my full name (as a model) is I want to keep those things separate. When I first started, I was still working in the community with families and I didn’t want something like that (modelling) to take away from my creditability.”
To keep him fully grounded, he and his wife bought a house across the street from his parents, Mario and Glenda.
“I really never left the street I grew up on,” says the international model.
“I get to travel quite a bit, and it is good that with the job I have right now, I have that flexibility.
“(Usually) I get there and I have that day to travel to the location. I’ll work the Saturday and I am back home on the Sunday.”
He enjoys his double life. “When I am doing child welfare, that is very serious and very heavy. I can go from being in the office to the next day (when) I am on flight to London or New York…great hotels, parties, and stuff like that. Then Monday I am back in the office. It is nice to come back to reality.”
And that’s the truth.