I met John Bonilla recently at Boxers while sipping a shot of fireball. I looked up and there he stood from behind the bar, smiling and being extremely cute and friendly. He asked if my drink was OK and allowed me to touch his unique hair style. Shortly afterwards I was emailed some pictures of him, all done professionally, and I thought it would be a good idea to share him with New York.
Where are you originally from? Your phone number is from Pennsylvania.
I lived there for a couple of years, but I was born here. I was born in Queens.
So tell me a little about John.
I am a graphic design student, and as of now I’m looking to work somewhere between fashion, doing photo retouching, along with trying to launch a t-shirt company. I’m trying to present like a lifestyle brand.
So you’re looking to be a fashion designer?
Yeah. I’ve been a senior for… I don’t even know how long, because I changed schools.
I saw pictures of you, and you are very modelesque.
Thank you. I don’t like to say so, but I will anyway. I used to be fat, so once I lost my weight, people are like, “Wow, you really should get into modeling.” I never thought that. I didn’t know where to begin. I did try it when I was 20. I went to do a simple shoot, and I got scammed actually. I paid for the shoot. It was a shady little underground spot on 33rd St. I never got the pictures, and obviously he got the money. That kind of veered me off, so I didn’t know what to do or where to go. Then last year someone approached me and said I should really do modeling. “Would you mind if I did a small shoot?” I said sure. I wasn’t paying so I felt like I had nothing to lose. That worked out. He said every time he did pictures he sent them over to Wilhelmina. I didn’t know what that was at the time. I made a Model Mayhem page.
What is that?
It’s like a social networking for fashion. It’s for models, photographers and all that. It’s a way of networking. So I did that, and then photographers approached me for photo shoots after that. I was signed, but I’m not right now. He said he had issues trying to get me jobs because of my height.
Honey, wear heels.
Yeah, he offered to break the contract last month, and then I broke it up last week actually.
So now you bartend at Boxers. When can someone find you there?
I work Wednesday through Friday. I open Wednesday and Thursday and then Friday I close.
How do you like working at Boxers Chelsea?
I love it! I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of it. Work is always work, but I look froward to seeing the rest of the bartenders, I’m glad we all click and work well as a team and seeing all the variety of patrons coming thru the door is exciting.
So what else would you like to promote for yourself?
I want to be signed. I want to do commercial modeling. I want to get out there in reference for business opportunities. I have a year left to graduate, and it’s New York, and everybody says it’s a competitive city and all, but I was born here. It doesn’t scare me. It’s more that I don’t want to waste time.
John Anthony Bonilla