On a quiet weekend night, I was scrolling on Instagram and out of the blue, the name “Preston Slack” slipped from the tip of my fingers as I typed on the search bar. Upon stumbling his page, my screen was graced with photos of an tanned athletic young man with corkscrew ringlets. As I continued to scroll, I couldn’t help my thoughts as he instantly reminded me of a young Brendan Fraser in George of the Jungle. However, finding his page was no accident, but rather a word of mouth discovery through a DM I received through a friend who lent him clothes to wear to a photoshoot.
While the single 21-year-old Oklahoma-based model and budding musician can be easily dismissed as another IG mannequin (think Jay Alvarrez), I honestly beg to differ. In the midst of making his first album (SPOILER ALERT: it’s gonna be a pop album with tribal influences!), the candid Cancer opens up about how he started modeling, how he dealt with the pressures of the modeling industry, what’s it like to try on clothes from different eras, his hidden talent (watch out, Jon Snow!) and why Instagram is the new Tinder.
What pushed you to become a model? Was it something that you always wanted to pursue since young?
PS: I actually said no to modeling at first. My sister signed with a local agency and was put in a runway show in our hometown. During one of their rehearsals, I get a call from my sister saying that “I need you to run home and grab the dress off my bed right now or I’ll be the only girl without one!!” Little did my sister know that I was on a mountain, with no shirt, covered in mud (not to mention 4 to 5 miles into a trail). So I ran back the 4 miles, hopped in my car and got the dress. When I walked into her agency, I realized that I was covered in dry mud with a poor excuse for a t-shirt on and surrounded by about 25 girls. As confused as I was, things got even stranger. The mother agent/owner quickly introduced herself and wanted to chat. My sister was furious that I had stuck around because she thought it was embracing her (I didn’t care lol). She asked me if I was interested in modeling and I quickly said no. Later that month I went to the local fashion show to support my sister. After seeing the show and getting a feel for the vibe, I quickly changed my mind. I told her mother agent I would give it a shot and so my modeling career began.
I feel like no one really discusses about men’s self-esteem issues. As a model, have you always felt that you had to compete with other men?
PS: It can be hard for a lot of male models to maintain a decent amount of self-esteem for a number of reasons. A lot of the models I have met with these issues tend to have one of the following problems. They either have no stability in their life, aren’t comfortable with who they are, tend to be involved in drugs, or have problems with their home life. In a business that mainly focusses on looks, the way you feel tends to get pushed aside by many people. I’ve been with clients before who have downright said they don’t treat models with respect and we never will (though it’s extremely rare). Other issues like no stability in their life is usually cause by them moving around too much from place to place. I know models who get shipped around from apartment to apartment with no idea where they are going to sleep next. Drugs don’t help either. You can’t find yourself if you aren’t fully there; you tend to feel adrift with no end in sight. The key to all of this going away is standing up for yourself. The words “be you no matter what” goes for every aspect of your life. There are a lot of boys in modeling and not enough men. They need to stand up for themselves and others by saying no to things that would affect who they are (both boys and girls). People will often test your patience and with these matter you should have none.
As far as competing goes, not really. Because of my hair and my certain skill set, I haven’t ever competed with anyone. Because I look different from a lot of models, if I don’t book something, it’s usually because they wanted an entirely different kind of look. Often times I land bigger jobs that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had gotten the first one.
These days, most models launch their careers on social media and agencies notice only after they see a lot of photoshoots posted on IG. Was it easy for you to be signed to an agency immediately? If not, can you tell us about the struggles you had to deal with?
PS: It was actually kind of easy for me to get signed. I went to a modeling and talent expo in Texas[,] where scouts from around the world would come to look for new and fresh faces. Since there was a multitude of agencies in one location, it wasn’t hard to find offers. I ended up with about 30 offers from multiple modeling and talent agencies.
It seems like you are constantly on the move from Oklahoma, Los Angeles and Hong Kong! If you have to pick a city, which one has been the most enjoyable for you and what do you like about working there?
PS: Good question! That’s hard because they all have a lot of fun stuff to do! Regardless of the choices, I would want to visit in the summer. Hong Kong is great because you can get just about everywhere for really cheap. Oklahoma is great because of the fresh air, the really nice people, and the amount of untouched nature. At the end of the day, I would have to go with LA. A lot of my music and parkour friends are out there and with the amount of things to do, it’s almost impossible to get bored. Whether it be longboarding in Venice, freerunning at Tempest, hiking Runyon Canyon, or playing a live show with some friends, LA is full of things to do!
Based on your shoots, I love how you can alternate between being a Hypebeast and a Renaissance Romeo (seriously, you look amazing in vintage clothing!). How do you feel when you model apparel from different eras and designers? Did you feel like you learned more about the designer/era when you tried them on?
PS: When you model clothes from different eras, you tend to feel how people moved differently throughout the ages. For instance, the Renaissance period style clothing for men is very flowy with room to move. This extra room provided people the ability to perform tasks that were necessary to everyday life. Nowadays, the movement available in fashion is more limited than what it used to be because of its purpose and intent when wearing it has changed. When you wear a designers clothes, you begin to move around and realize what their intent behind the clothing is. You learn what the lifestyle of someone who wears these clothes is like. Ask yourself, “Can I move freely in this outfit? Was this designed this way to be a statement, or does it have functionality? What would be the sort of lifestyle that this piece fits?” When I ask myself those kinds of questions, I tend to grasp the headspace of the designer and era.
PS: I think Instagram has become a replacement for a lot of dating sites. I think for a lot of people[,] Instagram may be a safer and easier way to find someone who you like.
Since a lot of people set up their dating profiles with a bunch of false information, Instagram can take that problem away because it’s hard to hide who you are with your everyday Instagram profile. Are there still fake accounts? Yes, but they are far easier to spot on Instagram than a mobile dating apps.
Have you ever had to deal with followers who DM you for dates?
PS: Many times. I get about two or three a week from random people and I either ignore them because some can be rather creepy, others turn out to be pretty chill and funny but usually[,] I tell them I’m not interested. I’ve actually been on a date through Instagram myself, but it’s a rare site.
What’s your hidden talent?
PS: Hmmmm…that’s a tough one. I would have to say my swordsmanship. I’ve been sword fighting with several styles throughout the years. With the amount of traveling I do, it’s hard to find the time to train, but since I’m home creating an album, I’ve picked it back up again.
If you have to save $1,000, what will be the first thing you spend on?
PS: I would either buy a surfboard for when I go back to LA, put it towards more acting classes, or use the money for supplies to live on an island in the Caribbean for a two weeks. One way or another, I would try to get one wild good time out of it!