Monday December 07, 2015

Former homeless model Mark Reay on keeping up appearances

Mark is a former male model-turned-fashion-photographer who spent years secretly roughing it on New York rooftops.

Mark is a former male model-turned-fashion-photographer who spent years secretly roughing it on New York rooftops. (Thomas Wirthensohn)

Listen 19:49

Yes, a guy who looks "like Richard Gere in an Armani jacket" can be homeless. Just ask Mark Reay, a model turned fashion photographer who knows how to rough it on a New York rooftop.

For years, Reay kept up appearances — wearing designer suits, using a cell phone, maintaining a bank account — while stealthily spending his nights in a makeshift tarp cocoon.

"I went from the south of France to sleeping south of a fence of a roof. I planned on staying a few days. I left six years later," he tells Gill. 

Reay's long-secret story is recounted in Homme Less, a new documentary by filmmaker Thomas Wirthensohn. Both men join guest host Gill Deacon to explain how Reay's story came to light, the logistics of his lifestyle, and why Reay, who called himself as an urban camper, doesn't consider himself a victim. 

WEB EXTRA | Watch the evocative trailer for Homme Less below. The film has just had its U.S. iTunes release, and will be on the CBC documentary channel soon. It will also be available on Canadian iTunes next year.