Looking at Mark Reay – handsome, immaculately groomed and sharply dressed – you would never guess the fashion photographer and former model had spent nearly six years sleeping rough on a New York rooftop. A regular shooting backstage at New York Fashion Week for Dazed, in his mid-20s he walked the runway for Versace, Moschino and Missoni, appeared in French Vogue and later on nabbed a small role in Sex and the City. A new documentary about his double life shot by friend and filmmaker Thomas Wirthenson, Homme Less comes out tomorrow.
Despite finding himself homeless after being bought out of his rent-controlled apartment, the 56-year-old managed to keep up appearances for years, fooling close friends as much as the fashion industry. During the day he’d get ready for shoots in public restrooms and at night he’d sit in Starbucks retouching before retiring to the roof of an East Village walk-up. His modest income just about covered a gym membership, a locker where he kept his suits, a mobile phone, health insurance and food.
The fruits of nearly three years filming, Homme Less casts the stigma of homelessness in a new and unexpected light. "The film is about the underbelly of the American Dream, the hidden backyard of our society,” the filmmakers say. It also asks, “how far are we from losing everything, even our homes, and with it a part of our dignity and humanity? How often do we have to pretend that everything is in fine order to keep up the facade of being a well-off member of society? And how far are we prepared to go to take the financial pressure off our shoulders to live a more carefree live, the life we want to live?”
Homme Less opens August 7 at the IFC Centre in New York.