All about the Boss.
In 2007 a critically acclaimed and highly controversial Westcountry based photographer named John Langley had his work exhibited at the internationally prestigious Tate Modern gallery in London, in a show called 'Personality Plus' - which he founded and featured a collection of work based on his own mental health condition of unwellness and partly due to his previous drug and alcohol issues.
Not many have achieved this in England, but more importantly this was a first for the South West: and he's the only Westcountry photographer to have ever had his images on display there to date. Quite an achievement given that there are cutting edge photographers from all over the world who would give life and limb for the same opportunity. An ambition which few, if any, will ever reach.
This was headline making material which the media jumped on. The story ran on radio, television, and in the press. The Westcountry had won the equivalent of an Olympic gold medal in the arts, and the profile of this relatively unknown photographer took him to another level overnight. As a result of this his life and work was filmed by the BBC for broadcast later in 2008.
Never being one to shy away from highly emotive subjects his most radical work reflects suicide, violent attack, and sexuality: all in graphic detail which quite deliberately provokes a viewer's response. He's the bad boy of photo and video. A porn-again Christian anarchist who American Christian artists ganged up on to have his work banned from a number of high profile USA internet art sites for being too honest and reflective of life for their particular sensitivities. Somewhat hysterically they saw his work as dangerous and him as the anti-Christ, or Devil incarnate. Yet his whole ethos is one of reflecting life, the extremities of human behaviour: and a small aspect of the viewer's own personality which they, in some way, feel uncomfortable with. And it works!
Whether as vanilla John Langley, or his alter-ego Johnny Rockard, eleven years later he still makes the news all over the world in both broadcast and print media, and is featured on thousands of sites around the world with viewers, fans, supporters and followers running into the millions.
He is more commonly known nowadays for his involvement in politics. Both as an election candidate and activist (especially on issues of housing and homelessness), and his views have been featured widely on television, radio, on-line news media, and in local, national and international newspapers.
"He is the yin and he is the yang. A three-bird roast of riddles wrapped in mysteries wrapped in enigmas." Joel Golby, Vice Mag.
The things you don't know interview.
Johnny, what drives your success?
Success has always driven my success, because success itself is only ever temporary. Too many people are fooled into believing that once they are successful, that's it. I've always worked in the principle that there's always been someone on my heels ready to jump in my shoes and be equally as, or more successful than myself, and it's that which has kept me ahead all the time. Success doesn't just happen once. You have to build on every success, and it's constant. I never forget that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
You're very focused.
Yes, I think someone has to be if they want to genuinely be successful. Having tunnel vision and allowing nothing to distract you or get in the way is of paramount importance. It's of no use whatsoever to regret opportunities you may have had once you've allowed them to pass without grabbing them.
You've spent an entire lifetime in this industry since the 1970's and sent models up to the Sun newspaper. Why are you still in it?
I basically started as a young teenager because I saw an opportunity in the market place at that time for models in national newspapers and there were only really two main model agents around, Yvonne Paul and Samantha Bond in terms of Page 3 girls. I'm as driven now as I was then. If not more so because you don't just have to have a passion for what you do, you need to feel it in the blood to the point where it feeds you through your veins and becomes the lifeblood pumps through your heart, and so all these years later I'm still going.
You must have made a fortune over the years.
Back in the day, yes, I was extremely wealthy because there was a lot of money to be made and I loved the high-life. A bank account and store card at Harrods - where I used to do most of my shopping, bars and clubbing every night where spending £200-£300 was loose change in my pocket and there was always a wad more to be made the next day. I spent it as fast as I made it until it turned me into a drug and alcohol fuelled wreck which took me to the brink of death, and I eventually lost it all. Including my sanity.
Nowadays I have no reason to do this business any more, to be honest. Financially I'm comfortable, so I don't do it for the money because there's no necessity for it. If I make a few pounds along the way it's a handy bit of spare change. Other than that I live modestly but comfortably, and I'm no longer into all the material possessions which drove my previous life in this industry, like the expensive properties, jacuzzi's, Rolex's, Havanna cigars at £30 a pop, and £200 bottles of booze which were shared and guzzled like tap water, and I find more comfort and pleasure in a mug of hot chocolate and a packet of cigarettes.
I see little point in accumulating wealth from investments and property again just to leave it all to the tax man when I die.
So, if you don't need the money why have you built up and operate what appears to be a global empire?
Ah, the 'baron' tag is nothing more than a myth label attached to me by sensationalist headline writers because I make for good readable copy. Whereas in reality it's total crap. Look, the fact is I've been a master at marketing myself and built a brand name which is known from the USA to China with around 3 million fans and supporters, but it's not and never has been about the money as money doesn't interest me. This goes back to where we began and having an inbuilt driver to succeed because I enjoy the challenge far more than the financial side, and this is exactly the ethos I instil into models I engage with.
I don't think about the money because I have absolutely no need to whatsoever. If a model really has the inner desire to make money she will do so by having the passion and focus and genuine love for her work, as well as the business acumen to make as much as she wants.
But to achieve this she has to be prepared to put herself out there, knock flat every physical and emotional barrier in the way of her success and focus on where she is able to maximise her income every step of the way by grabbing every single well paid opportunity which is offered. Regardless of what it is or what it entails, providing it's both legal and safe. Everything is a stepping stone on her journey.
I continue in this business because I can, and not because I need to. I have the passion and motivation as well as the skills, wide variety of contacts and hard won experience to enable and empower others to become successful in their own right if, and only if they are prepared to listen and tread the path which I have spent my life in this industry clearing the way on the stepping stones I've walked myself in order to be where I am now, and without the mistakes I made in my previous life within this industry.
So my reward is in seeing the success of those I enable to succeed, and why at this point I'm in the good position of only engaging with and in models I select as those I believe in and choose to co-work with. Taking an endless number of girls on for the sake of it is a total waste of my time and energy, and even if I only take one new model on in a year or none at all it makes no difference to me whatsoever. It's quality I want, not quantity. The reality is that anyone here in 2017 can stand in front of a camera and be a model. You could take a chimpanzee from London zoo and train it to do that. Rocket science it isn't. The real skill is getting in front of and staying ahead of the rest among the crowd of thousands of others, and staying there! Only a life time like mine in this industry can teach someone that.
But surely being so focused and motivated is a complete contradiction to also having such a nonchalant stance about your Global Media brand?
I think you've been paying too much attention to the "you're a contradiction of yourself" label the media thrust upon me. Look. I have a philosophy of not giving a shit either way about anything in my life. What happens happens, and what doesn't happen doesn't. That's it. Simple. I'm very restrained in manner and rarely make decisions based on emotion as that can cloud good judgement. Step by step logic and applied lateral thinking delivers solutions.
However. When I smell just a hint of success in following a course of action, then follow it through to a positive and meaningfully productive outcome I will, and push aside everything else in my life until I reach that objective. I'm in for the win, and no or can't are unacceptable responses which don't feature in my vocabulary. There's always a way around any obstacles, and it's a lazy mind which doesn't seek to find them.
Therefore its about investing your energy wisely where it has the need to be invested, which then enables and empowers the targeted and desired conclusion to be reached successfully. One way or another.
Does your mind ever switch off?
In a word, no. Next question.
Okay. Do you take a holiday?
No. Never have and don't intend to either. I get bored quickly if my mind isn't constantly stimulated. Therefore I only ever go to places where there is both a logical and practical reason for me to be there, such as a specific task. We're back to my point about investing energy wisely again. Déjà vu. It serves no valid purpose to repeat myself. So, let's move on.
Right. Final question then, as I sense your focus needs to be elsewhere. There's never any mention anywhere with regards to your private life. Why?
Good call. Your intuition is right, my mind is jumping around like a box of frogs on the next campaign and other stuff.
My private life is exactly that, and before you say it again, yes the contradiction of myself comes back into the room. My life is of two polar opposites. My public life is just that, very public. Put a camera or a microphone in front of me and I'm on point straight away because there is both a practical and logical reason for it which has a specific outcome. Yet away from the camera I am completely the opposite. Very quiet, reserved, a little shy perhaps, aloof, and a virtual recluse. You will never see selfies of me, in fact I don't even like cameras, or pictures of me full stop, and strenuously avoid them.
Because I am quite a public figure, for the sake of my own sanity it's important to me to own and keep control of my private life. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to enjoy a private life at all because public and private can too easily slip into one, and before you know it I'd have nothing about me which I could call mine. I may well be public, but that doesn't mean I'm public property.
So off camera those I meet are often shocked by how quiet and a non-people person I am. But for me, and because in my public life I'm constantly engaging with others in one way or another, I actually enjoy my time being completely away from people, recovering, and relishing total silence. You'd struggle to see me out and about in bars due to my previous alcohol addiction, and I'm not a great socialiser. If anything I'm socially awkward.
Okay. Well, thank you for your time. It's late and perhaps you should sleep.
Sleep! What's that?
Interviewed by Tatiana Spencer. A freelance writer and researcher.
If you believe you have what it takes to co-work with GirlPowerUK as a model, hit this link to register.