Hit & Run: I'm with Mr Gorgeous

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The Independent Online

The perils of going out with someone better-looking than you are numerous: the anxiety that they’ll realise that they could do better; the contempt of those who think you’re superficial for apparently choosing a partner for their looks alone; fighting off the numerous rivals who become hypnotised by your lover’s obvious attractions. It’s bad enough when your other half is simply blessed with a great body or nice smile, but when it’s their professional duty to look gorgeous, things get even harder.

Still, we fall for it – Kylie Minogue is just the latest female celebrity to be honoured with a moniker that is usually reserved for men: as a serial romancer of paid-for posers, she’s a “modeliser”.

Kylie’s new Spanish squeeze, Andres Velencoso, is the face of high-street chains H&M and Banana Republic, and was recently voted German GQ’s Model of the Year. She also used to step out with the French actor Olivier Martinez, who has modelled for Yves Saint Laurent, and before that fellow-mannequin James Gooding. Both Jennifer Aniston and, currently, Cameron Diaz have fallen for the charms of the Essex-born brickie-turned-model Paul Sculfor, while Halle Berry has a baby with Gabriel Aubry, one-time face of Versace and Calvin Klein (they met on the set of a Versace ad campaign).

Kelly Osbourne is rumoured to be engaged to the blue-eyed face of Topman, Luke Worrall, while Keira Knightley dated the Dior model Jamie Dornan for three years.

Successful men have enjoyed squiring supermodels since the beginning of time. And now a generation of actresses and models, needing a photogenic chap on their arm at red-carpet events, but seemingly fed up with dating fellow-actors and musicians, are copying the trick. But aren’t male models self-absorbed, vain himbos?

They are, indeed, a curious breed, often seen as extravagantly paid |egoists. But the truth is more complex. “Compared with female models, there’s a more relaxed, fun-loving attitude,” says the men’s-fashion journalist Adam Welch. “They get to travel the world for free and they get free drinks. They’re very happy to do it.”

There is less at stake for male models than for their female counterparts. For a start, their pay and career prospects are lower. “Male modelling is a foray into the male psyche,” explains Christophe

Sanchez-Vahle, director of the men’s division at the Premier model agency. “It’s less a career than a lifestyle choice. It’s about having fun rather than being successful. Men used to dismiss them as pansies, but with the success of Paul Sculfor and Andres Velencoso, other men now envy them – if they’re not too macho to admit it!”

The archetypal male model was once Adam Perry, the Athena poster boy, whose good looks and baby-cuddling abilities reportedly led to him bedding more than 3,000 women in the late Eighties. But, ladies, if you’re undeterred and looking to bag yourself a boy beauty, take some tips from a recent article on snaring male models in the American teen mag ElleGirl: “Tell them they’re smart – they’re characterised as feeble-minded and a cultural joke.”

You could also try asking about their blossoming career in music or film. I once dated a male model myself. Backstage after a fashion show in which he was modelling, I remember having to join a queue behind other girls, simply to speak to him. So here’s my advice: find yourself a nice boy who just happens to scrub up well, not one who does it for a living.

Harriet Walker

Scottish tennis ace Andy Murray looks more muscular than ever ahead of next week’s Australian Open. What’s less manly, however, is the 21-year-old’s chest hair – or lack of it. It’s not that he’s a waxer. After all, Rafael Nadal (proud owner of the biggest left bicep in tennis history) goes for the smooth look, and you wouldn’t call him effete to his face. It’s just that Murray has a decidedly un-macho torso tuft. And for the modern sportsman, it’s all or nothing. If he’s going to inherit the hairy mantle of Sampras, he has a long way to go. This could be one battle with Federer that Murray will never win.

Rob Sharp

When offices just don't work

“I haven’t seen that thing on YouTube, no, and she did tell you – twice, actually – that she wanted to take holiday next week, and isn’t it your turn to make the tea...” So it is for those of us working in an openplan office, a format invented in the 1890s by engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor to more closely supervise large numbers of employees. Public health experts now think that openplan working causes stress, conflict, insecurity and high blood pressure; that instead, small, private, closed offices are preferable. But then, I wouldn’t be able to see those nice pictures of your cats.

Susie Rushton

Feast your eyes on this

Who are these two men bellowing at each other on BBC2 – the bald cockney geezer and the Aussie fella with the dandy shirts? “Andrew’s got a great palate,” the cockney’s shouting. “Yes, and he makes his own parsta. Anyone who makes his own parsta can go all the way,” booms the Aussie. All the way where? And what is parsta? Come on now; forget boring Celebrity Big Brother – MasterChef is back, along with John Torode and Gregg Wallace. “Cooking doesn’t get any tougher than this,” blares Torode nightly. What, not even during a busy lunchtime at El Bulli?

It’s a winning formula – Jamie’s Kitchen meets The Apprentice as, in every episode, six wannabe Jamies and Nigellas have 50 minutes to create something out of the same ingredients. This is where the Home Counties housewife looks at the assembled duck breast, chilli, cardamom, noodles, samphire, rhubarb, mackerel fillet and sweet potatoes and makes… a rhubarb crumble.

Contestants must simultaneously cook and emote about how winning MasterChef would change their lives and allow them to chuck in their white-collar careers and index-linked pensions for a thankless, underpaid job being yelled at in a blinding hot kitchen. But there’s no time to be horrified because the three finalists are off to wreck the lunch service at some swank London eatery before heading back to MasterChef HQ to cook their own menus.

Of course, it’s not really about food; it’s about people under pressure. And everyone’s a winner so long as they remember: don’t give up the day job.

Gerard Gilbert

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