Clack, clack, clack. It started with those Instagram videos where a person in crazy high heels squeal across the platform of a commuter station. The cell phone camera is placed on the ground, the person runs away from the camera, that is, you first see the pumps, then these insanely muscular calves. That must be an extreme athlete! The man wears a pencil skirt and a men’s shirt with functional anoral. In his hand he holds a fancier version of a briefcase. He is apparently on his way to work, and because he wanted to quickly upload a video of his current outfit, he came a little earlier so that no one but him would be on the platform.
The man’s name is Mark Bryan and he is one of the most admired high-heels wearers in the world. His Instagram profile @markbryan911, on which he has been demonstrating his stately collection of pumps, ankle boots and high-heeled boots since February 2020, has more than half a million followers, among the most famous among them are fashion designer Marc Jacobs and pop singer Rihanna. “There are thousands of profiles on Instagram of men wearing heels and skirts, so please don’t ask me why I, of all people, get so much attention,” says Bryan, 61, when asked about it. But he does have an interpretation: “Maybe it’s because I’m straight and show that you can wear heels and skirts and stay masculine. In any case, I do not want to express any feminine side of myself. They don’t exist.”
Mark Bryan is a father of three and grandfather of four – well, you could be that as a homosexual man. But it is precisely this assumption that Bryan opposes: that a man wearing a heel must be gay or queer or drag queen. “Clothes and shoes should not dictate a person’s sexual orientation or gender,” he writes under each of his Instagram posts, because that’s his credo: You shouldn’t induce a person’s sexual orientation or gender based on clothing or shoes. From the mouth of a family man, who thanks to shoe size 41 fits easily into the standard women’s sizes of Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo, you have not often heard such a sentence. But this is somehow logical: For years, fashion has been talking about sexlessness or fluidity and the softening of rigid gender boundaries. Why shouldn’t someone like him feel encouraged by it?
His wife has no problems with his outfit
In fashion, in any case, people tear themselves around him. He was engaged as a model, from Balenciaga to Zalando, and since the American Interview Magazine in March printed a photo series with him, the editors rang Sturm. Greek, German, Czech and Slovak Vogue have reported on him. It can’t be long before Anna Wintour calls? “Anna who?” asks Mark Bryan. By the editor-in-chief of the Vogue in New York, he has allegedly never heard.
He first tried high-heeled shoes 40 years ago as a college student, Bryan says. His girlfriend at the time was taller than him in pumps, so he also put on some – to meet her at eye level. Bryan, who comes from a “small country and western town” in Texas, USA, didn’t find this strange. Don’t the boots of the cowboys in Texas have some kind of heels? And wasn’t it quite normal for dukes and kings in Europe to wear heels in the 17th century? Think of louis XIV’s famous painting of the French Sun King putting his slender, silk-stocked calves in red-heeled shoes. “When men wore heels back then, it only showed that they belonged to the nobility. It’s really not something new,” says Mark Bryan.
His girlfriend in Texas liked him in heels, and his current wife, for whom he moved to Baden-Württemberg eleven years ago, doesn’t mind either. “I don’t become the other person when I put on high heels and a skirt, I just feel fancier,” he says. “I also don’t get a sexual kick out of it.” The football would hurt him at some point, but on the other hand he was quite pain-free. “I can easily run 200 or 300 meters with twelve-centimeter heels,” he says proudly.
Bryan’s specialty is robotics
What reactions does he experience on the street? Women come up to him to tell him that he looks great and that he makes them want to put on heels again, he says. And men? Glotzen the not when he sits in the morning in the regional express to Crailsheim in the district of Schwäbisch Hall? “Well, some people look at me with this look that says: What are you doing there? But then they take care of themselves again. Younger men are often even more curious, they sometimes talk to me.” What about your colleagues in the company? Bryan has been a mechanical engineer specializing in robotics for 35 years, working for a company specializing in packaging equipment. The colleagues have no problem with his appearance, he says. Either do the robots.
There are actually only problems with homosexuals. “Many people seem to only see my photos on Instagram and don’t read my bio. These are the worst! They don’t believe how many photos I get that I don’t want to see,” says Bryan. He rolls his eyes and you understand: He gets thick pics Sent. In his spare time, Bryan does a lot of sports, see the calves. On Instagram, he sometimes posts photos from his study, during the video call with him you can see a road bike and football helmets in the background. He used to be a semi-professional mountain biker, today he coaches the Crailsheim Titans, a Franconian club for American football.
In the hypermascular football world, it is important to him as a coach not only to convey the sport and ambition, but also respect for each other. It has happened that teenage boys have confided in him: “Coach, I think I’m not like the other guys, I feel different, what should I do?” He replied, “Don’t worry, that’s fine. And then I told the team, ‘Not everyone here is the same as you. We are all different. But we are a team.'”
He is attacked and always remains friendly
Don’t you just have to love him, this Mark Bryan? While others at his age don’t want to let anything new or different get to him, at the age of 60 he learns what it means to be “cis” – namely to live with a male gender identity in a biologically male body. By celebrating his coming out as a pumps lover on Instagram, he voluntarily makes himself vulnerable. You only have to read the comment columns on your profile once – the range of insults is large. Bryan responds with an angelic patient, always friendly. He takes care of his Instagram account for three hours a day.
The picture is rounded off with his love for Pos and Porsches. Since he gets so much attention, he trains even harder, three times a week, “to get my bottom firmer and more shaped, which is not so easy for an old man like me,” he grins. In his spare time, he stands in the garage and tinkers with his Porsche 911 from 1967. He was “quite rusty”, he wanted to bring him into shape himself. Does a 911 with stilettos drive differently, slower or faster? “No,” says Mark Bryan. “But in a Porsche, I take off my heels anyway because the heels break the carpet under the pedals.”