The Naked Bassoon Player

Photo: Christoph Achenbach.


The Naked Bassoon Player

Laurens Zimpel wants to bring a spark of sexiness to the world of classical music

33-year-old Laurens Zimpel works as co-principal bassoon player for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Regensburg. Born in Brazil, he moved to Germany with his large family at the age of three, studied music at the conservatory of Augsburg and landed his full-time job at the opera house of Regensburg seven years ago. Of late, he’s started posing as a model for various photographers, sharing his pictures on Instagram. Bringing hunky/pumped-up/gym-fit glamour to bassoon music.

How did the idea arise to start a parallel career as a model?

The big turning point was Corona. Because, suddenly, there were no more concerts and opera performances. A friend (of a friend) connected me with a photographer and asked if I’d be interested in modeling. So, I said yes, and quickly realized that I very much enjoyed it. It changed a lot within me, and it maneuvered me forward in a way that I wish the world of classical music would move forward, too.

What exactly was new?

It was nice being in the spotlight for a change, because as a bassoon player I normally sit in the orchestra pit – in the dark, like a mole. (laughs) But more importantly, modeling made me reconsider the way I see myself. It was new for me to “present” myself like this. As a musician I had to do many auditions, some of the challenges were: how do you show yourself, how much of yourself do you reveal when you play the notes, how much emotion? Once I landed the orchestra job in Regensburg, I wondered what might come next, as a creative challenge. Modeling is such a challenge.

Photo: Mario Jakubinek.

There are various classical musicians who “sell” themselves via their model looks, conductors like Lorenzo Viotti or clarinetists such as Andreas Ottensamer. Is that a legit way to make classical music appealing to new audiences?

Yes, it’s a new way to give classical music a different image. I admire the Polish counter tenor Jakub Orliński who mixes baroque music with breakdancing. That’s so cool. I wish I could do to bassoon music what he has done for Baroque opera. But for me, at first, it wasn’t about connecting modeling with music. In the world of music I’m a little fish in a big ocean. In the world of male modeling, on the other hand, I have a unique selling point because of the music. And I wanted to see where that led me. The last few years I’ve been busy contacting photographers worldwide. Testing how it feels to be in front of the camera, with and without my bassoon.

How much pressure is there to be in top shape for a shoot?

I’ve always enjoyed working on my body, because as an orchestra musician you sit around a lot. (laughs) Modeling motivates me to work out harder. And yes, sometimes I’m stressed before a shoot.

What do your orchestra colleagues say about your photos?

David Bowie once said: “Artists should never create something to fulfill anyone’s expectations and always go outside their own comfort zone and get their feet a little wet.” Modeling takes me out of my comfort zone as a musician with a steady contract and maximum job security till I retire. Most of my colleagues are older and, let’s say, conservative. Many don’t use Instagram, so they never see me nude anyway, and those that do use Instagram don’t know about my channel. Still, some have found me, and they follow me. In their eyes, I’m the “colorful” revolutionary. A female colleague regularly compliments me on posts, saying how impressed she is about my physical and artistic progress. A male colleague started winking at me after he discovered my Instagram.

Photo: Justaw.

What about your big boss, the director of the opera house?

(laughs) Sebastian Ritschel found out about me very early on. And contacted me right away. At first, I was worried, but he said that anything I do as a private person is perfectly fine. He’s very innovative with his artistic programming. And he likes it when he sees innovative things among his employees too.

Do you get more feedback from women or men?

I’d say it’s 50/50. Sometimes people from the world of classical music contact me, and that makes me happy. Because the bassoon is often seen as a “dusty” instrument. I would like to bring a bit more glamour into the bassoon world.

Did you ever think of monetizing your images?

I thought about things such as OnlyFans or Patreon, where there is money in addition to “likes”. The extra cash would be nice.

What does your family say about the photos?

One sister made a critical remark. But when I explained to her why I wanted to embark on this journey of self-exploration she understood. And stands behind me, like my parents and all the others. While most of my siblings are not on Instagram, their children are. (laughs) And they obviously found their uncle. For them I’m the cool uncle who is not as old fashioned as … others. But I’ve noticed that some younger people have shockingly conservative “values.” So, I also see my nude posts as an opening to make them question the ways they think.

Instagram: @zimpils