Hearing Unimpaired

By John Jameson

Originally published on Advocate.com September 09 2008 11:00 PM ET

Martin Ritchie
was just 16 when he moved to Los Angeles from his hometown
of Austin four years ago. On a mission to follow his heart,
Ritchie says he wasn’t about to let his gayness
-- or deafness -- hold him back from discovering his
true path, which has led him most recently to season 4 of
The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. Ritchie
is one of 12 new models recruited this time around.
Dickinson has vacated her Hollywood office and moved
the agency into a Big Brother–type “model
house” in the Hollywood hills, where she can keep
tabs on the models’ diets, exercise regimens,
and extracurricular activities. The Advocate caught
up with Ritchie on the eve of the season’s
premiere on the Oxygen channel (Tuesdays at 10; check
local listings).

Which is the bigger challenge: being the only gay
model in the JDMA house or the only deaf model?
I’d say being the only deaf model is the
bigger challenge. Also, J.P. Calderon [from season 2]
has moved into the house, and knowing he’s gay
makes me feel better and more comfortable in some ways.

Have any of the models attempted to learn sign language? They certainly have shown sincerity, kindness,
and respect toward me, which I appreciate. Some of
them really wanted to learn sign language, and I
thought that was really sweet.

Can you lip-read? If so, have you caught any of the
models talking trash about you?
I can read lips -- a few times I thought I saw
some of the models talking about me. But seriously,
who cares?

Janice lives in the house! Is she mommie dearest?[Laughs] I’d say the models see her as a
den mother -- it’s a good thing!

Janice loves the gays. Does this give you an advantage? Maybe, but truthfully, she loves everyone. I
believe she loves gay men because they know how to
pamper her!

Are you taken? I’m single.

Do you prefer hearing men or deaf men? Strangely, I prefer dating hearing men.

If modeling isn’t in your future, what would you
like to do?
I would be a dentist! I am so obsessed with
teeth. Seriously. Whitening, flossing, etc. I even
look out for my friends’ teeth!