How many former Marine corporals have 346,643 likes on their Facebook fan page and 193,000 Instagram followers? The only one I can think of is Alex Minsky, retired Marine corporeal-turned-model.
While deployed in Afghanistan in 2009 Minsky’s Humvee struck a roadside bomb and he was seriously injured, losing his right leg to amputation and gaining a prosthesis he named Clark. The accident also caused a traumatic brain injury and Minsky lay in a coma, up to 58 days according to some reports. All told, his injuries kept him in the hospital for 17 months.
Minsky received a Purple Heart for his injuries but it couldn’t relieve his suffering from extreme post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His answer to the problem? Binge drinking. And when his brother died of a heroin overdose, the situation escalated, pushing Minsky into a binge that lasted 23-months.
Eventually, Minsky decided to give up drinking and escape PTSD by working out. He had enjoyed the discipline of the Marines so he quickly adapted to his new fitness regime and began working out twice a day at a Los Angeles gym—fitness had become Minsky’s sport. It was then he was discovered by famed fashion photographer Tom Cullis.
The photographer was intrigued by the recovering alcoholic’s dedication to fitness, especially considering his physical disability. Cullis photographed the veteran and the pictures went viral – others were equally fascinated by Minsky. As his visibility grew, Minsky was later photographed by Michael Stokes and a number of other prominent photographers; he began to be regarded as a gay icon.
While Minsky may be one of Stokes’ most famous veteran models, Stokes has photographed a number of wounded combat veterans for his projects, both male and female. This photographer looks at his models more deeply than most, beyond their physical injuries. In fact, he chooses to shoot his military subjects just as he would shoot any other model—without playing up their injuries.
As an ally of the LGBT community, Minsky gained popularity across print and online media and began making a name for himself in the gay community – his revealing photos developed a cult following. But when some nude photos of Minsky leaked online, the model was admittedly shaken. However, he moved on from the incident and continued to model.
In 2015 photographer Eric Schwabel produced a 2016 photoshoot and calendar with Minsky. The shoot produced an art exhibit at the Ted Casablanca Art Gallery in Palm Springs as well as the cover of Compete Magazine. Some of Schwabel’s colorful work is still available online at
When we caught up with Minsky last month he was eager to talk to Compete but was physically and emotionally drained from a long trip to Europe. Recent Facebook posts appear to showcase a stockier, less well-kempt version of Minsky. He even admitted he’s gained some weight and has not been modeling. He recently posted a short online video titled, “When You Gained a Few Pounds But Don’t Care” that has garnered 1,600 likes and 92 comments. In an unexpected twist, instead of featuring Minsky, it features two dogs.
Whether or not Minsky decides to take some time off from his modeling career to enjoy life is really up to him. The only thing I know for sure is that Minsky is definitely a supermodel, or even better, a super role model, especially for others in a similar situation.
By Ian Colgate
Photo by Eric Schwabel
Ian Colgate has been a Compete Magazine contributing writer since 2012.