Photos of Ivan Rusilko, Mr. USA, by Steve Starr.
The reigning Mr. USA, Ivan Rusilko, can't stop smiling at me.
However, attraction is not the reason Rusilko is constantly flashing his pearly whites. We are in the Magnificent Mile office of Dr. Peter Harnois, and the cosmetic dentist has just fitted Rusilko with instantly whitening Lumineers, patented porcelain veneers that don't have users looking like Mr. Ed, as Rusilko's photos will attest. ( For more information on Lumineers, see www.YourLifeSmiles.com . )
After finding a corner, fitness model/wine steward/musician/medical student Rusilko talked about the Mr. USA contest, Lumineers and being a Rafael Nadal lookalike.
Windy City Times: How often are you mistaken for [ Spanish pro tennis player ] Rafael Nadal?
Ivan Rusilko: Oh, my God! It is hilarious!
I was at New York City's Fashion Week last September, and it was the first time I was on the scene. I was sitting there, acting all Joe Cool, with the sunglasses. Right after the show was over, people asked if they could take my picture. Finally, someone leans over and says, "Kick [ tennis player Roger ] Federer's ass tomorrow."
WCT: Has anyone asked you for an autograph, and you signed his name?
IR: Oh, yeah—once or twice. The way I look at it, it makes their day. They'll never know. It's not like I'm out there endorsing stuff.
WCT: And you know what? There are worse people to be compared to.
IR: That's exactly right! [ Laughs ] But, yes, I get that everywhere I go.
WCT: Meadville, Penn.: Where is it and what was it like growing up there?
IR: It's an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh. Growing up there? There were more cows in the town than people. I grew up milking cows, shoveling shit, baling hay. I played hockey, and hockey's what it's known for. I was a nice place to grow up as a kid; it's very family-oriented.
[ Also, ] Sharon Stone is from there; we've never met, though. It's also the home of the zipper.
WCT: I'm not touching that one.
IR: [ Laughs ] Fair enough.
WCT: Now, how did you hear about the Mr. USA competition?
IR: I was a model before, and was contacted by the owner; he said he liked my profile, including that I'm a fourth-year medical student. I thought about: I hadn't been to Boston, my mom had never been there. I just thought we'd go and have a good time, but we ended up winning and having a really good time.
WCT: What happens during the competition?
IR: It's modeled after the Miss America pageant. There's the evening wear [ portion ] ; there's the interview part, which is key; and then there's the swimsuit portion. This was actually the first year they had a competition for it; I'm the first elected one. The [ previous ] two [ Mr. USAs ] were cast.
WCT: How did this marriage with you and LifeSmiles come about?
IR: I was at a fashion show in Puerto Rico, and [ Your LifeSmiles' Beatriz Chalas ] is from there. I was referred to her, and she referred me here. It worked out well.
WCT: The Lumineers look great. What's the difference between those and standard veneers?
IR: With regular veneers, they'll take your teeth and shave [ off the enamel ] and build them back up. With these, it's like putting a contact in your eye; it's that easy. It's non-invasive and absolutely amazing, and they last for about 20 years.
WCT: You're all of these different things: model, wine steward, medical student and so on. Do you see yourself concentrating on just one career? Do you think you're spreading yourself too thin?
IR: That's funny, because I just picked up a manager in Los Angeles. I'm now hearing, "It's amazing that you can do all that stuff, but now you have to concentrate on one or two things." Now, I'm trying to weed things out, so being a musician is now a hobby and being a wine taster is more of a social thing. I love having my fingers in a lot of pies, but I'm now concentrating on the TV and acting thing.
WCT: On your Web site, you have this item called "Club Ivan." What is that?
IR: Basically, people [ for a certain fee ] can hunt or fish or do something else with me. You get a lot of weird offers, though; I have a lot of people helping me weed people out. Trust me, I've heard it all.
For more about Ivan Rusilko, see www.ivanrusilko.net . To enter the 2009 Mr. USA contest, visit misterusa.criticalbeauty.com/Become_Mr_USA.html.