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04/28/14 Model & Dancer Otto Pierce for Hercules Universal

Spanish magazine Hercules Universal has broken boundaries in men’s fashion and lifestyle. The biannual magazine always manages to make a strong statement, be it through features that hop from Hong Kong to Sharjah or compelling editorials that infuse art and architecture (one runs New York models’ magnificent bone structure alongside their city’s skyscrapers). Given its tendency to tread off the beaten path, the magazine gets a kindred spirit to cover Issue Six, its Spring-Summer 2014 release. Photographed by Paola Kudacki in Mexico, model-dancer-farmer Otto Pierce is the embodiment of the magazine’s dynamism.

Amazingly, Pierce has struck the perfect harmony between his provenance and pursuits. Beyond modeling, which had him breaking a little dance out in water for a Kudacki-shot fashion clip, he founded The Sable Project, a summer artist residency in his bucolic hometown: Stockbridge, Vermont. On a farm free of modern distractions, 12 artists will be left to cultivate, harvest, and create, culminating in an exhibition open to the public.

On a little break from tilling the land for the project, Pierce talked to NOUS about his best crop of shoots and where he likes to chow down when he’s in the city.

Any interesting story on how you wound up on the cover of Hercules? 

No crazy story here—Francesco Sourigues, the editor of Hercules, saw me in some shows in Europe, then I got called in to meet with Paola [Kudacki, the photographer]. I almost think she might have been a bit skeptical until she found out I was a dancer and I got to bust some moves at the casting. As for concept, they basically just told me I would be blonde, and that sounded good to me!

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And what was it like working Paola?

Paola is the most careful and thoughtful photographer I have ever worked with. She truly composes a shot. She shoots like she is using film—every time she pushes the shutter, she is working towards her final image. Pretty inspiring to watch, actually. Interesting story? Well, the first day of the shoot I wound up swimming in an underground lake with a bunch of catfish, all while very scantily clad.

Besides working with Paola, what have been some highlights of your modeling career thus far?

Some highlights would be walking exclusively for CK for two seasons, hanging out with Ricardo Tisci of Givenchy on an almost daily basis for a month, and definitely the Hercules shoot. I recently shot a cool story for Numeró with Jack Pierson and that should be coming out soon. Pretty excited about that.

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Can you tell us about your hometown in Vermont and maybe some things you miss about it?  

My hometown is Stockbridge and it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. There’s less than 750 people that live there, the woods are verdant and fresh, and everyone is kind and giving. I don’t miss it much these days because I actually spend a good amount of my time there working on a project I have for this upcoming summer.

I am founding an alternative artist residency called The Sable Project on a 15-acre piece of land I bought in Stockbridge, largely with money from modeling. We will be 12 artists living and working for 3 months, off the grid—no electricity, Internet, or cell service—growing all of our own food and making art to culminate in a final showcase open to the public (Check out their recently launched Indiegogo fundraiser here). This is a project that I am extremely excited about and proud of. Can’t wait to see what happens. If you want to find out more, check out our website at thesableproject.tumblr.com.

Is Stockbridge where you learned to farm? When did dance figure in?

I have been farming my whole life but ran an organic farm called Simple Livin’ Farm for three years, growing and selling organic veggies, herbs, and flowers. I picked up dance in my first year at Middlebury College and have been hooked since. It’s actually what drew me to New York City, where I was discovered and my modeling career began! I am a modern/contemporary dancer, but when you play some music with a beat I can bust a few hip-hop moves.

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I’m curious what you consider an essential piece in your wardrobe.  

Well this may not be the answer the fashion crowd is looking for, but my pair of double-kneed Carhartt work pants. Essential for a day of hard work. Also a bit more protection against an axe or a chainsaw than a pair of skinny jeans! Yes, I am indeed a dirty hippie/redneck/model/dancer/artist/farmer.

And where do you stay in New York City? Best place to grab a bite or get a drink?

I stay in NoHo with an amazing family. Favorite spot to eat is Cafe Mogador, hands down. Best food around. Order anything on the menu and you won’t be disappointed. Best place to drink? Anywhere someone wants to buy me a drink!