Bronx Boy and Model Yuri Pleskun Can’t Keep Out of Trouble
PHOTO BY JUERGEN TELLER
COURTESY SELF SERVICE
Since he was scouted in the wee hours of the morning in 2008, Yuri Pleskun (Re:quest Models) hasn’t done too badly for a skinny 19-year-old kid from the Bronx. He comes out of a line of young, punky models that includes Cole Mohr and Luke Worrall—models with ambitious, irreverent personalities that seem primed for a one-liner on a flipcam phone as much as for a runway show.
Pleskun’s trajectory began when he was chosen by TopShop to sport a brightly-printed polo in their Spring 09 ads; and he was shot perched on barbells and sprawled on a bed in Marc by Marc’s Fall 09 looks. The latter, shot of course by Juergen Teller, would prove the beginning of a beautiful collaboration that found its peak, to date, in Pleskun getting almost a full issue of photos in Self Service. Now working the catwalks for men’s fashion weeks worldwide, a homesick Yuri from the block phones us from Paris to tell us about commercial bullshit, the drunk chick who started his career, and an un-model0-like affinity for cheap chicken wings.
KATHARINE ZARRELLA: How was Milan?
YURI PLESKUN: It was all right. I’m in Paris now. I walked in Fujiwara and Frankie Morello.
ZARRELLA: Did you have any favorites?
PLESKUN: Not really, I’m not like into this whole thing. I’m just doing whatever. Whoever tells me to do it, I just go.
ZARRELLA: Do you enjoy yourself?
PLESKUN: It’s definitely fun. I get to have a lot of free time. And I’m gonna get to meet some of my friends while I’m out here.
ZARRELLA: But you grew up in the Bronx, right? Which must be different from the modeling circuit!
PLESKUN: Yeah. I guess I was kind of a bad kid. I was like, getting kicked out of high school and all that bullshit. I never went. I always had a lot of problems in high school with the police and all that stuff. Fighting.
ZARRELLA: So what do your childhood friends think of your newfound career?
PLESKUN: At first they thought I was really gay. But now they actually see that it’s doing something for me so they’re proud of me. They support me.
ZARRELLA: So the friends you are meeting in Paris, are these buddies from home or model friends?
PLESKUN: Model friends. I don’t hang out with a bunch of them but there are a certain few people who I enjoy being with.
ZARRELLA: What do you kids do when you’re not stomping the catwalk?
PLESKUN: Get drunk. I love vodka. Vodka is the shit.
ZARRELLA: Word on the street is that you love chicken wings. Is that a fact?
PLESKUN: Yeah, of course! Kennedy’s Fried Chicken makes the best ones in New York. They have the cheapest chicken wings and the best chicken wings.
ZARRELLA: What have you been eating over in Milan and Paris? Have they been accommodating you?
PLESKUN: I’ve been eating cold cuts. My friend actually introduced me to cold cuts as a way to save money. But I found a little chicken spot out here today so I had to get those.
ZARRELLA: So how did you get into modeling?
PLESKUN: I got scouted at three o’clock in the morning by some drunk chick. She came up to me in the street and she just started harassing me about modeling and I was just like, “whatever.” But she ended up calling me the next day and now I’m in Paris for the third time.
ZARRELLA: And do you think modeling has helped your luck with the ladies?
PLESKUN: I don’t know if I should answer that question.
ZARRELLA: Can you tell me if you have a girlfriend?
PLESKUN: I don’t have a girlfriend.
ZARRELLA: You have a lot of tattoos in your pictures. What’s the story there?
PLESKUN: I actually just have two, the ones on my arms. I got them both when I was about 14. The left one means “shine” because I stick out like a sore thumb where I live. I’m the only white boy there.
ZARRELLA:What kind of music are you into?
PLESKUN: Hip hop. I like Jay-Z, 50-Cent. Little Wayne. I like the regular, commercial shit.
ZARRELLA: I heard you were doing a shoot for i-D and Lenz Johnston broke your nose.
PLESKUN: Well, he didn’t exactly break my nose. He smashed me with a pipe. It was by accident though. The photographer set us up with metal pipes and we were breaking mirrors in the middle of the floor. He positioned Lenz in front of me with his back turned towards me and he swung back and the pipe just kind of grazed my face and it cut my nose and my eyebrow so I had to be rushed to the hospital.
ZARRELLA: Oh my God! Are you OK now?
PLESKUN: I’m fine! I had a plastic surgeon do the stitches. I had five stitches.
ZARRELLA: Do you ever get into fights these days?
PLESKUN: Somehow trouble always follows me. I can’t get away from it. And I’m not one of those types of people who walks away. I’ve gotta finish it off right.
ZARRELLA: Are you a “bad boy”?
PLESKUN: No, I’m a good boy! I’m innocent!