Photography by Jeff Code
Years from now when Matt Miller is writing his memoir, he'll probably conclude that his first brush with celebrity came in the summer of 2003 when a friend in D.C. asked him to pose for Metro Weekly. Figuring he was only here for a few months, Matt didn't know anybody, and nobody knew him, so it wouldn't be that big of a deal, right? But the Thursday the magazine hit the stands, questions started flying: Aren't you…? Did I meet you at…? What's with the bandana?
"It was a little weird having people who I've never met before know who I am," Matt says.
Several months later, he got an unexpected call -- he had placed in the top Nightlife Coverboys of the year. "I didn't even know there was a contest," says the tall, husky-voiced senior at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
It's easy to understand how Matt was a readers' favorite. Charming, self-assured, finger-lickin' handsome, the 21-year-old budding webpage designer is, well, just dreamy. Though he bemoans his lanky frame and wishes he had more muscle, the sinewy young man makes a striking model.
Frustrated by the small New York town in which he grew up (population: 5,000), Matt moved to Rochester to attend college. But, as fate would have it, "life's pretty dry there," too, he says.
A resident advisor, Matt plays babysitter to a gaggle of 18-year-olds. His days and nights are kept busy with managing the mini-triumphs and disasters that plague freshman year. It limits how much he can get out and enjoy his own life, Matt says.
When not dealing with the psychodrama of dorm life, Matt experiments with photography, though ironically he isn't into taking pictures of people. He's more interested in abstraction, such as taking photos of a fence at various angles and different lights.
Working at a bookstore since age 15, he also got hooked on self-help books. Though he's never been an unhappy person, Matt started to read them out of boredom. He admits that reading such masterpieces as You Don't Have To Make Everything All Better and Make Anyone Do Anything You Want didn't change his life, but he enjoyed the faux-psychology cheese of them all.
When not self-helping, Matt studies website design, and hopes to pursue it as a career. He got interested in computers in middle school, but not the programming side. "[I don't want to] sit in a cubicle all day long and do boring stuff," he says. "I want to interact with people."
But before launching his career Matt plans to backpack around Europe with friends from college. "Our plan is to not have a plan," he says. "We'll just go and see where the train takes us."
After Europe, he'll move to D.C., where he plans to do something nonprofessional for a couple of years, something a little frivolous, like bartend, he says. He's in no rush to join the D.C. rat race. "Living is a little more important than that," he says.
It's a philosophy he shares with his boyfriend, Jeremy, a government employee who lives in Silver Spring. They met in Rochester and started dating a year ago after being introduced through friends at a nightclub called Tilt.
The connection was immediate, Matt says with a laugh. "Club things happen," he says. "You know, dancing, you're drunk, you touch some things."
Before he met Jeremy, Matt wasn't interested in a serious relationship. "I'm like I am in college. I'm going to be a college kid and do what I want. I'm not going to be tied down," he recalls. "Then he had to come along."
Matt says the best thing about their relationship is communication. "We can't imagine a healthier relationship," he says. The two never hold back, and there are no barriers -- even though Jeremy is deaf. They do most of their talking through hand movements, gestures and facial expressions. The spoken word has too many limitations, Matt believes -- a person's body is so much "more expressive."
Matt spent a lot of time with Jeremy in D.C. last summer. The handsome couple was predictably romantic, on one occasion venturing to Rehoboth Beach without a place to stay. They ended up sleeping in Matt's car, waking up at 5 a.m. and watching the sunrise together.
Such a lark is in keeping with Matt's laid-back view of life. Too many people are stressed-out, uptight and high-strung, he contends. "I seem to be a source of relaxation for a lot of my friends," he says. "Life generally goes on no matter what happens."
It's a lesson he learned from his mother, who works as a hospice nurse in New York. Literally dealing with life and death issues every day, his mother shared her experiences with Matt. For most young people, that would have been a heavy load, but Matt says their conversations about death and dying made him who he is today, giving him the perspective that few things are worth getting all worked up about.
It's something he tries to share with the residents on his hall. Final exams don't look that bad compared to a morphine drip and terminal cancer, he says.
If he wishes one thing for the people in his life it's that they would all "tone it down and take it easy," he says. Life isn't about running around and working 16 hours a day, he adds. "People feel like they have to do things," he says. "You don't really have to do anything. You just have to live, breathe and eat."
Coverboy of the Year Prize Package
18th & U Duplex Diner -- Dinner for two (see ad on page 37)
Annie's Paramount Steakhouse -- $30 Gift Certificate
Apex -- Ten Admission Passes
Arena Stage -- Two pairs of tickets to any of the remaining shows from the '03-‘04 season
Atlas/Lizard Lounge -- Lizard Lounge $150 Bar Hospitality Voucher and a selection of Mixed CDs by Lizard Lounge Resident DJ Kostas
Cherry 9 -- Two weekend passes (April 30-May 2, 2004)
Cobalt -- $100 Bar Tab
DC Eagle -- $50 Bar Tab
Empire Video -- 50 Free Rentals
Follies -- $100 Gift Certificate for merchandise
Freddie's Beach Bar -- Sunday Champagne Brunch for four
Food Bar -- $100 Gift Certificate
Four Points Sheraton -- Weekend getaway for two (check-in Saturday for an overnight Deluxe King Room), Dinner for two in Corduroy (up to $175) and full American breakfast on Sunday ($30 value)
Green Lantern -- Two-hour cocktail party for winner and up to 50 friends
Grooming Lounge -- Commander-in-Chief (A business manicure to make his hands look professional while a foot treatment to soothe his barking dogs, an $88 value)
Hamburger Mary's -- Dinner for two
Home Rule -- $50 Gift Certificate
HRC Store -- $50 Gift Certificate
JR.'s -- $100 Bar Tab
Kennedy Center -- Two tickets to a performance of the American Ballet Theatre in the Opera House
Leather Rack -- $75 Gift Certificate
M Street Bar & Grill -- $75 Dinner Certificate
Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend 2004 -- Full Weekend Pass to this year's Centaur MC-sponsored event, including Reaction Dance (Jan. 16-18, 2004)
Omega DC -- $50 Bar Tab
Reel Affirmations IV -- Two Lincoln Theatre passes to next October's GLBT film festival
Signature Theatre -- Two tickets to Allegra
Studio Theatre -- Two tickets to The York Realist
Sunday Mass -- Free Admission for 2004
Universal Gear -- $50 Gift Certificate
Velvet Nation -- Free admission for 2004
Washington Dental Studio -- $100 Gift Certificate good toward any dental service, including cleaning or whitening
Washington Plaza Hotel -- Complimentary two night weekend stay, a Food & Beverage Credit of $100, and Two 2004 Pool Memberships
Wet -- $25 Bar Tab
Ziegfeld's/Secrets -- $50 Cash Prize
Please note: Some restrictions apply on select prizes.