In what could be seen as God’s cruel irony, Karl Giant is a short man. “I grew up with it,” says the 5’ 4” Giant, on his name. “My mom is Mrs. Giant, Dad was Mr. Giant; we have Giants in California.” All kidding aside, his last name didn’t exactly translate into easy-going growing-up. “Kids are assholes,” he says. “I’m gay and I have a weird last name.”
The smartest misfits use their perceived handicaps as strength to pursue their dreams, and the Boston native smartly took that route.
“I went to New York to be Madonna; it didn’t work out that way,” Giant says, in what’s to become a pattern of sweet self-deprecation. “I met her once and she was a little snotty.” He continues: “Just being creative faggots, you’re never satisfied. I started out in acting and never made it, I did TV stuff, and somewhere in there I started directing music videos. I wanted to be a singer, just to get out of my small town and live my dreams. I switched to makeup because it was a continuation of my art.”
Today, Giant’s resume is gigantic. Past accomplishments aside, he’s become a top photographer, with clients including Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, and Tyra Banks, among others. He’s also one of the stars of the Style Network’s reality TV series Jerseylicious, the show that turns the “Garden State” into the “Glamour State.” To that end, Giant and his co-stars, Olivia Blois Sharpe and Anthony Lombardi, have put together a pictorial tribute to the oft-bad-mouthed country, The Glamour State: 225 Years of Stylish Innovation.
For a New Yorker, the show and book were not a match made in heaven.
“Typically, New Yorkers…there seems to be, let’s just say it’s not for everyone,” says Giant on Jersey. “At times it’s lacking in the refinement area. It’s small towns where people go to malls. People view it as tacky; it has mob elements.”
If you’re wondering why producers plucked Giant for their show, it’s at least in part of his reluctance to embrace a state that has to its resume Newark, considered one of the worst crime capitals in the country. If anything, Giant’s the cautious observer, which led to some self-examination and a lot of research into Snookie-ville.
“Maybe I’m not going to give New Jersey such a bad rap,” says Giant on deciding to do the book. “It’s grown on me in a way, but I will never go out there and party. I came to New York to be extraordinary, and it’s ordinary. I’m inspired by all the things that are created there.”
Among those New Jersey creations are the gay-friendly lightbulb, the fabulous movie projector, and even the ‘mo staple, glitter. “Everything we associate with glamour or are associated with glamour, “says Giant on the fun-fact discoveries placed in the book. “It’s the 225th anniversary, and it was like a thank-you to the state. Everyone made fun of me, but the facts are, these things were created there.”
Not that Giant’s changing residences anytime soon. “Every once in a while I go to Atlantic City and then wonder why I did,” he says, pointing out, however, that the Boardwalk is the longest in the world. And then, just in case I was worried, he reminds me that “I’m not a bitch.”
I couldn’t let the New York Giant go without asking about one of his most notorious photography subjects, Kim Kardashian. He was happy to oblige.
“In person, she’s disgustingly super beautiful and she doesn’t wear as much makeup as people think she does,” he says. “She’s super sweet and super nice, and super short.”