QUESTIONS on age touched a raw nerve in top male model Marcus Schenkenberg.
When this reporter caught up with the Swedish hunk, 39, at an event here a day after our interview with him, he was still angry.
He brushed off an attempt to chat with him and refused requests to have his photo taken by a photojournalist.
He said: 'You were so mean to me, saying that I'm old and that I should retire.'
He then walked away, with his minders.
We had asked him in the interview if people had ever remarked he's over the hill in a youth-driven industry.
Marcus said he didn't think his age was slowing him down because he's 'still booked all over the world for big money.'
His appearance at the Singapore Fashion Festival reportedly cost local men's underwear distributor Vizon something in the five figures.
And he feels he doesn't look different from what he did in his heyday in the '90s.
That was when he shot to fame in the steamy Calvin Klein Jeans campaign, where he appears nearly naked in the shower.
And he could be right, judging from the reaction of some in the crowd at Sex-Y In the City, a men's underwear show at the Tent@Orchard outside Ngee Ann City on Friday.
Miss Wendy Ho, 35, an artiste manager at the show, was particularly impressed with the 'man factor' he displayed, in comparison with younger models who were like 'little boys'.
She said: 'He looked fun, he looked like he was enjoying himself and was high on style.
'At 39, he has a very good body, and I like a little bit of flesh on my man anyway.'
Another fan, Ms Shannon Yee, 27, who is in marketing, noted that his confidence in strutting down the runway made him stand out. 'Age isn't an issue for me,' she said.
For some, it was his muscular appearance that got them swooning.
Miss Miki Terayama, 19, a polytechnic student, said: 'He's hot and has a good body.'
Local actor Chen Hanwei who was also at the show joked: 'I'm also 39, so we should take a photograph together.'
Still, there were those who felt the 1.9m-tall hunk was no longer in his prime.
Mr Bhakt Yap, director of Quest Model Management, got to see him at a show on Wednesday afternoon.
FACE LOOKS 'BLOATED'
He said: 'I was quite shocked and disappointed, he doesn't look good anymore. He looks dull and his face is bloated.
'If you look at him you wouldn't think he is a model, more like an actor maybe.'
One show observer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: 'He seemed bigger and bulkier than the other models.'
But the same observer said: 'A lot of models finish their careers in their 20s, so for him to be still modelling at 39 is impressive.'
Singapore Tatler managing director Gilbert Cheah had the opportunity to meet the supermodel several times in the '90s, while working in New York.
And he said Schenkenberg had clearly aged. 'It took me a while to recognise him.'
Mr Cheah recalled that back then, he was 'every inch a top model'.
In contrast, he observed now that the supermodel looked more like an 'aging rock star', who had partied a lot.
Said Mr Cheah: 'He's still got a great body, but his face looked puffy and lined.
'He has definitely aged, especially when he was standing next to all the 20-something male models from Brazil.'
Were these people simply being too critical?
Mr Yap felt this was only natural, as many industry insiders had high expectations of Schenkenberg, given his reputation as a top model.
And it wasn't simply a case of him being older.
Mr Yap noted that former top local models, like Hanis Hussey and Nora Ariffin, both in their 40s, had aged gracefully. 'They still look good, they have maintained themselves,' he said.
Mr Cheah agreed. He said: 'It's not a question of aging, but keeping yourself looking good and healthy.'
But no matter what critics say, retirement isn't on the horizon for Schenkenberg.
He said: 'I'm getting big money jobs. So why should I say no to that?'
He goes on to Zurich, where he will be a judge at a modelling competition, and Italy, before returning to New York where he is based.
Schenkenberg, who has movies like Hostage and Prince Valiant under his belt, hopes to go into acting full-time.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Apr 6, 2008.