Life model to reveal all

Veteran actor and life model talks about his new one-man show

LIFE drawing model Philip Herbert has been getting naked in front of strangers for the past 33 years.

Now the 54-year-old is set to reveal all in more ways than one.

He will be breaking the first rule of life modelling – speak only when spoken to – with a one-man theatre show.

The talkative Highbury resident, of Hamilton Park West, says: “Life modelling generally has a ‘speak when spoken to rule’, which I usually adhere to.

“When you’re sitting there quietly, lots goes through your head – and there are lots of funny situations that occur that you want to talk about but can’t. I started writing down all the stories and thought it would make a good show.”

In the show, Naked Splendour: A Life Model Speaks, which is performed in the buff, Philip combines his twin careers of modelling and acting.

Most Read

The one-man play-cum-art class had a successful run in Edinburgh last summer and is now coming to the Soho Theatre, in Soho, later this month.

Its star has a lengthy acting CV, with credits in many of British television’s best-known serials, including EastEnders, Casualty and The Bill, countless pantomimes, the Sooty Show, and as one of Jabba the Hutt’s henchmen in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. He got into life modelling while a drama student in Essex.

“The art college next door kept running short of life models and thought drama students wouldn’t mind getting their kit off,” he says. “My mate suggested me because I did meditation, and he knew I could sit still for a period of time.”

Naked Splendour promises to unveil the life of a nude sitter and begins with a short, silent sitting to set the mood of an art class. The audience is given art materials and encouraged to draw throughout.

Philip then begins to talk, spinning yarns from his three decades of nakedness. He tells one of the many funny stories: “A guy once phoned me up and asked if he could draw me in the nude. I said ‘yes – I’m a life model’. He said ‘no, I want to draw you while I’m in the nude’.

“There was nothing seedy about him, he was in fact a naturist barrister who hated his work, and was only happy when drawing big fat hairy men. He only booked me the once – I’m not sure I was hairy enough for him.”

And after all these years, Philip still enjoys his work. He adds: “I love it because you sit still and can zone out and bliss out. Your breathing slows down and you just let the thoughts drift like a waterfall.”

l Naked Splendour: A Life Model Speaks is at the Soho Theatre from April 20 to 23.