It’s Valentine’s Week here at RT, and we are feeling the love — more so than usual! We’ve been talking about the RT Convention for a while now, but this week we want to focus on one very special aspect of the event: the Men of RT! It’s takes a special kind of man to not only attend a week-long affair dominated by women, but to make a mark of their very own. Readers, meet the Men of RT!
To start things off, we’re going to get to know one of RT’s famous cover models, CJ Hollenbach!
Occupation: Author, “Confessions Of A Romance Cover Model,” and cover model
Astrological sign: Sagittarius
Dream date: Having dinner in a restaurant overlooking the Hollywood Hills at night.
Best publishing industry anecdote: I remember years ago at my first RT convention in San Diego, I was standing near a huge poster of Fabio, who had been signing autographs for the book he had written. He was at the height of his career at the time. A man came up to me with a copy of Fabio’s book. The guy looks at me and looks at the poster and asks, “Are you him?” I said “Ahhhh … no, he’s gone!” The man said, “Oh, great! My wife asked me to stand in line and get his autograph on the book. There were too many women, so I thought I’d come back when it died down! She’s going to kill me!” As it turned out, Fabio’s signature was printed on the poster. I told the guy, “I’m as close as you’re going to get! I can copy his signature for you! I’ve been forging my brother’s name on my mother’s birthday card for years!” The guy said “Man, you just saved my marriage!” I signed it, and he was on his way …
What’s the dream cover you’d want to be on? I’m glad they used me on my own book, for starters, and not a younger look-a-like! I’ve always wanted to be on a Heather Graham novel. I met Heather and Dennis at my first RT and they were so incredibly nice to me. Christine Feehan is also a sweetheart. Being on one of her books wouldn’t kill me either. Reach for the stars, I always say!
CJ and Heather Graham
Tell us about your first RT convention: I had no idea what to expect. It was almost 25 years ago. I was in the first ever “Mr. Romance Novel Cover Model Pageant,” which is what they called it back then. The publicity was huge. We are talking national attention. There were over 45 contestants. I made a lot of lifelong friends. I even managed to meet Fabio, who I had been compared to for so long. It was crazy. It was a truly great experience and it changed my life.
You always have the best costumes, how do you prepare? Actually, I never used to get into the costume thing. But, then I saw how much fun everyone was having so I had to give it a try. It is more fun if you’re “part” of the PARTY! The fans/conventioneers enjoy my costumes too. There is a little lady in Tennessee, Mary Everett, who I met at a convention years ago, who makes a lot of my costumes. She checks the convention website to see what I’ll need for what parties and starts sewing. I can never repay her for all the work she’s put into my outfits. She’s a creative genius. We are cooking up some great things for 2016! I plan on pulling out all the stops for VEGAS!!!