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Fabio walking around NYC the day of our interview not taking selfies. (Photo: Getty Images)
Fabio’s reputation precedes him.
When I arrive to interview him at The London hotel in NYC, I half expect him to sweep me off my feet in greeting. After all, a decade ago, when I worked at a different media outlet, he visited my office and my female colleagues lined up for a chance to have the eternally youthful male model pick them up — in the same pose you’ve seen him strike on countless romance novel covers — for photo ops. Now that he’s 57, a milestone he reached just days before our sitdown, is he still asked to do it?
“All the time,” he tells Yahoo Celebrity with a smile while promoting his return to the small screen in a new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter commercial. “That’s a great way to work out when on the road, and it’s fun. I love to lift women up.” Men, however, need not apply. The model, whose real name is Fabio Lanzoni, has to shoot them down. “When it’s older men, I say, ‘Guys, come on. Give me a break,’” he laughs. “Like, hello.”
While I’d bet that every day in the life of Fabio is a good one, he’s having quite the week. Not only did he celebrate his birthday, but the day before our interview, he became an American citizen, which he described as a dream come true.
“It was an honor,” he says in a tone that makes us believe it. “It was the second best day of my life. The first was the day I came into this country when I was 14 years old and I fell madly in love. I felt really at home right off the plane. It was my first love. So yesterday was like I married my first love.”
Fabio is back on the small screen in a new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter ad:
Why did it take 43 years to make it happen? Lawyers. He says his advisors made the process seem more complicated than it was. Finally, he just went on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website himself and “discovered it’s not that difficult.”
Of course, there was the matter of the citizenship test, which you’ve probably attempted on Facebook — and maybe bombed. (Guilty!) Well, Fabio says he scored a 10 out of 10.
“It’s no big deal,” he shrugs. “You just have to reread and refresh your memory.” Though he does seem slightly impressed with himself, sharing, “I was on the street and a bunch of Americans were asking me questions and I was answering right. Then I was asking them questions about the Constitution and nobody knew. Even a lawyer I asked didn’t know.”
I couldn’t interview Fabio and not ask about his hair. While he seemed to ignore me when I asked if he gets blowouts, he was happy to talk about his famous flowing locks.
“I always tell people: It’s very simple. The composition of your hair is mineral and protein. So what do you have to do? [Consume] high quality protein and take your mineral supplement and you’re going to have very healthy hair,” he says. Then he put it in terms the follically challenged could understand. “It’s like a car. What do you have to do? Put the best gas you can buy and do the oil change. People tend to complicate things in life. But keep it simple. I think the best thing is to keep your life simple.”
Fabio showing off his guns on the set of his new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter commercial.
His simple life includes abstaining from alcohol and working out on the regular. Like in a gym. Not just picking up random strangers. “If it’s part of your life — like when you eat or sleep — it’s very hard to give up,” he says of working out, adding — in between bites of edamame — that his body needs it. “If you don’t work out for four, five, six days, your body feels like crap.”
A recent workout came courtesy of his latest I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter commercial — a brand he first started working with in the 1990s. This ad, which he shot in Spain, sees him getting shot out the blowhole of a talking whale.
“Life is too short to take yourself seriously,” he says. “It was not even work — it’s all fun… We were in Spain shooting. We had to go all the way to Spain to find a whale [laughs].”
Having access to unlimited amounts of ICBINB over the last two decades, I can’t resist asking him to tell me the strangest thing he’s put it on.
“If this was for a European magazine, I would tell you,” he replies with a wink.
But this is the Internet, I reply, and we all know anything goes on the Internet.
He thinks for a second, then replies, “Toast?” with a laugh. “Vegetables. Pasta.” Oh, Fabio.
“Life is too short to take yourself seriously,” Fabio says of his new ad, which sees him emerging from the blowhole of a whale.
When he isn’t working, the L.A.-based personality can be found in Stevenson, Washington, where he owns a 500-acre property on which he’s building his dream house. He spends time fishing for salmon in the Columbia River — and hopes to one day spend 50 percent of his time living there.
“Americans always say, ‘I want to go [to this country or that country]. No. You have some of the most beautiful places on Earth right here in America that are just incredible,” he says in a tone perfect for a tourism ad. “There’s nothing greener than Washington state. They have the most beautiful vegetation on the planet. And the water is so clean. The river is so clean. I have two lakes and then also I have the Columbia River. Most Americans don’t even know that it’s the biggest river on the Pacific Coast of North, Central, and South America. “
The dream house he’s working on will be “very modern” and “high tech,” but also “very independent.” It will be energy efficient thanks to “two major lakes and about seven creeks and six ponds” on the property and solar panels. It will also be dog-friendly. The bachelor has four dogs and they love the getaway as much as he does.
“When I go up there, they go nuts. They don’t want to come back,” he says. “I go up with my truck and a trailer. Every time I pack, as soon as I open the door, they stumble over each other to get into the truck. When we have to come back to Los Angeles, I have to chase them because they don’t want to go back. Up there they chase deer, bears. From a pond to a creek — they’re always in the water. They love to swim.”
Fabio doesn’t have to unplug while he’s there because he’s mostly unplugged anyway. When I looked him up on Facebook and Twitter, I came up empty. And he says that’s by design.
“No, I have a life,” he says with a laugh when I ask if he’s on social media. “I have people who run a fan club, but I have a life. You know what, something right now that drives me crazy is people are always taking a selfie. It’s like: Hello. Live life. You have to take a selfie and post it, ya know, ‘Look at me, I’m on Fifth Avenue. Now I’m on Sixth Avenue. Now I’m on Seventh.’ Who cares? Get a life.”
He continues, “A lot of people today don’t live life anymore. It’s computer, phone, tablet. Their brains are going to be fried 15 years from now. I love life and I spend every single minute living it.”
And if that includes hoisting up one female fan after another, then so be it.