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Kroell prepares to bare it all for Playgirl

Gay model coming to Baltimore for ‘Hunks in Trunks’ fundraiser



After competing on Bravo’s “Make Me a Supermodel,” contestant Ronnie Kroell made the move from Chicago to New York City where he continues to model and to pursue a career in acting. He also contributes to philanthropic ventures for several causes. Kroell recently agreed to appear nude in the June 2010 issue of Playgirl. Kroell will be in Baltimore on Thursday, May 20 for the all-male swimsuit fashion show, Hunks in Trunks.

The Washington Blade talked with Ronnie about his life in New York City, his philanthropic work, posing for Playgirl and more.

Washington Blade: Since you competed on “Make Me a Supermodel” you have moved to New York City, what has life been like for you after the move?

Ronnie Kroell: You could say it’s a dream come true. Following “Make Me a Supermodel,” which I can’t believe was over two years ago, I went through a scary time because I moved from Chicago to New York to follow “the dream” and not really knowing what I was getting myself into and I didn’t have any safety nets to catch me if I fell.

Coming to New York City was one of the best decisions I think I’ve ever made in my career. I love the city and all it has to offer and I take it one day at a time. I’m working hard at my passion, which is primarily the fashion industry and modeling but also expanding into the acting arena and being a humanitarian. I’m trying to get as involved as possible with the charities I think need the most help and that I feel are the closest to my heart.

Blade: You participated in Fashion Week in New York in February. Can you give a few details of your experience?

Kroell: There is nothing more thrilling than fashion week in New York. I love to be under the tents in Bryant Park, although this was the last year to be held in Bryant Park. The entire event is being moved to Lincoln Center for September’s Fashion Week. I especially love seeing designers like Malan Breton, Christian Siriano and other designers that are really making names for themselves. I feel really close with Malan because he and I shared in the same experience because we were part of the Bravo TV family. As passionate as he is as a designer and having that incredible opportunity to be on Bravo’s “Project Runway,” there are a lot of challenges to overcome from being on a reality show like that to then become a legitimate designer and be taken seriously.

I was also able to participate in Naomi Campbell’s Relief for Haiti event, which was so much fun. You really won’t find a community that is more dedicated and more passionate about getting involved when such major disasters happen or when there is a need to help other humans American or otherwise. The fashion community is really tight knit and comes together in such a huge way and raises awareness and the money it takes to help.

Blade: Which charities have you been focused on lately?

Kroell: Right now I’m working with a charity out of Africa called Womankind. What they do is try and protect women’s rights and are trying to prevent female genital mutilation in Africa. My business partner is a member of the board of this not-for-profit and we are hosting a charity event here in New York City on June 7 at La Palm to benefit Womankind. I’ve also been really involved with GLAAD, HRC, and the ACLU in various ways.

Blade: Speaking of GLAAD, you recently attended the GLAAD Media Awards. Describe your experience at the event.

Kroell: The GLAAD Media Awards were phenomenal! It’s incredible the work that GLAAD is doing and I know they just transitioned to their new president, Jarrett Barrios. GLAAD is working so hard and really revamped their image in the community and they’re really a watchdog and are increasingly so. They make sure the LGBT community is fairly represented in media and that the people that are doing a great job are rewarded for their contributions.

It was just so fun to meet people like Sigourney Weaver, Joy Behar and Cynthia Nixon. They are the most humble people who are in positions to really bring home the message of equality and take the stance that we are all human beings first and that hopefully one day we can get beyond the labels of sexual orientation. It’s inspiring to me because I have nowhere near the career that some of these people have so I’m learning from them, they’re my role models. Having the chance to be in the same room with them, listen to their stories, and hear about the work they’re doing inspires me to continue to do the things that I love to do.

Blade: You’re going to be in Baltimore on May 20 for the “Hunks in Trunks” fashion show, which benefits Equality Maryland. How will you be participating in the show?

Kroell: I got involved with Hunks in Trunks last year thanks to my friend Ted Hart who is one of the lead organizers of the event each year. I was really impressed with the level of dedication that his organization has for the community and I remembered what a great event it was to be a part of last year. So when Ted asked me to be a part of it this year as basically a master of ceremonies I couldn’t say no. It’s a great time with a great group of people that gather together to raise money for worthy causes.

Blade: Aside from modeling you are also pursuing a career in acting; can we expect to see you in any forthcoming movies?

Kroell: Well, I’m being considered for a few independent films right now that are in the works. I have become very involved with the off-Broadway productions in New York. I’ve done a few readings at the Manhattan Theater Source but I’m really excited to say that my boyfriend has been cast in an off-Broadway summer stock production of “Equus” in the East Hamptons this summer with Alec Baldwin. They are currently in rehearsals for that so I’m really looking forward to attending the opening night of “Equus” which will be June 11 of this year.

Blade: “Equus” is a great segue to the next question — can we talk about your appearance in the upcoming Playgirl? What led you to bare it all for Playgirl?

Kroell: [Laughs] Well, it’s kind of a funny story. We received an e-mail out of the blue from the Playgirl camp basically feeling me out to see if I would be interested in doing a Playgirl pictorial. At the time, upon initial contact, it wasn’t really something I saw myself doing. It took me about three months to get to ‘yes’ as a decision. I’m really happy and it was really a fun experience for me because Playgirl immediately saw upon meeting me the artistic vision that I had and what I really wanted to do. The Playgirl people allowed me to share creative control in the process, which allowed me to bring in a high-fashion photographer, and a full fashion team. So on May 15 on the first 15-20 photos will be released then the actual print edition will come out June 15. It was quite a fun time, we shot at the Grace Hotel in New York City and it was all high fashion. There are a lot of surprises and I feel it will take Playgirl to a whole new level.

Blade: Had you done any nude modeling previously?

Kroell: Nothing other than something for my book and to build my portfolio and nothing really that was seen in any major way by the public. Doing this photo shoot was definitely taking a lot of risks in a lot of people’s eyes. The fashion community is definitely open and willing to see nude females in the industry but Tom Ford says it best that the fashion community and Americans at large are afraid of male nudity. For me, this was an art project. It was a way of taking a calculated risk, have fun, and making the statement that I’m dropping my labels for Playgirl because at the end of the day we all have the same human body; we’re all just as vulnerable as the next person. There is something really beautiful about the human body when it’s at its most vulnerable, natural state. As Americans, we view sex, sexuality, and the nude body as something scary and perhaps dirty but for me it’s the exact opposite. My body is my work and my art form so I’m really excited to see people’s reactions and hopefully they will see the perspective and angle I used with this project. I hope people appreciate the pictures for what they are and that is as an art project.

Blade: You mentioned that you sided with leading fashion designer Tom Ford regarding his stance on male nudity in fashion photography. Do you feel that such industry heavyweights as Tom Ford will start a change in trends?

Kroell: I talked to my business partner and to my circle of friends and the reason, we concluded, why male nudity doesn’t receive such a warm welcome is because it is still such a heterosexual, male normative society. The people in charge, those that make the decisions, are the people that want to see female nudity and have no problems with exploiting females in the industry. I think because of this, it is an uphill battle. Although if you look throughout the course of history, like at the ancient Roman and Greek times via the sculptures created or Michelangelo’s David there was no issue with male nudity; both female and male were held in the highest regard. I think there is still a distance to go on the subject but with people like Tom Ford speaking out, I felt like I had the opportunity to continue with the statements he made and just say ‘It’s OK’ because the human body is beautiful and something to be appreciated and not looked at like something that is dirty. I’m excited to see where this project will lend itself into conversation because, more than anything, I like to start conversations.

Blade: Taking on a project like this could definitely be considered, as you said, a ‘calculated risk’. Are you afraid of the potential negative backlash?

Kroell: Anything is possible but I’m an artist and throughout the course of history artists have had their ups and downs and taken risks that could lead to failure. Later in life I don’t want to look back and think ‘what if?’ This was just a really exciting art project for me and just one of many I currently have going on.


Real Estate

Back to basics in home buying process

Fantasizing about pricey condos you can’t afford is not the first step



That multi-million dollar Logan Circle condo sounds good after a boozy brunch but can you really afford it?

As a home buyer we often forget what goes into the home buying process. There are several steps that you must take in order to purchase a home and similar to school or continuing education, it’s always a good idea to get back to basics to refresh your memory (or perhaps learn for the first time) the nuances of home buying and those steps that a Realtor is there to help you navigate.

Most buyers assume that the first step in home buying is the HUNT! You have been on Redfin or Zillow stalking some properties that are on the market and going into open houses on your lazy Sundays after a boozy brunch imagining yourself in a condo in Logan Circle. Well I hate to be the one to tell ya – but that is not your first step. You may have just been wasting your time as you are not able to afford those properties you have been looking at online and daydreaming about the furniture placement. In reality the first step to home ownership is getting  a pre-approval from a reputable local lender. A lender will do a quick pull of credit and finances to give you an idea of what type of mortgage and the amount of that mortgage. While you may think you can afford a mortgage, the mortgage industry will financially let you know what you can actually afford.

Once you have that pre-approval in hand we can start the hunt. This is the time that your agent is going to ask you for your list of wants and needs. These lists will no doubt change over time when actually touring properties. Agents are there to guide you through the process. We are teammates on this hunt together. Likely your agent will send you properties and you will also find a few on your own that are of interest. Just like with teaching, learning, fashion, etc. there are different styles that work for different people. Please remember that if you do not like the style your agent uses, there are more fish in the sea. Find the agent that you jibe with — you are going to be spending a great deal of time together.

Once you’ve found the home of your dreams – this is where the real fun begins. Your agent will run comps on the property to find its value. Value is a subjective thing; at the end of the day a property is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Comparable sales (comps) are a list of properties with the same bedrooms, bathrooms, size and within the same radius of the property that you are interested in purchasing. These figures are used to either support the asking price or support a lower offer price for the piece of real estate. Once the comps are run and you agree on an offer price, there are a few other items that need to be hashed out that are part of the offer of sale. 

Arguably one of the more important factors is the inspection period. This is usually used to perform a home inspection and find any items that may need special attention or repair that would drastically affect the home’s value. This is also a time to take measurements, take pictures, bring in a contractor for quotes etc. So you will want to ask for an appropriate amount of time for these items to be completed. 

The final item to go over in the contract (we are just breezing through this here) is coupled with the financing piece. We need to determine a closing date. This will usually line up with what the mortgage lender (remember step one) will need in order for you to produce any and all documents to them and to get the loan into underwriting in order to close the sale. In the DMV this is usually about 30-days from contract acceptance to closing. There are, of course, instances where it can be sooner and those where it can be extended a bit. It’s all a fine dance between all parties involved to ensure a smooth transaction. It truly does take a village.

Once the offer is written, presented, negotiated and all parties agree to the terms – then this menagerie of bulleted items and timelines are set into place. There are timed items for different types of real estate and each jurisdiction is different regarding their timing – which is why its vital to use a Realtor that performs often in that specific area in which you are looking to purchase.

This is by no means an all-encompassing list of items within a real estate contract nor a true roadmap to home ownership, however, it represents the stripped down fundamental steps in the home buying process. Aside from the contract, which protects you as the buyer, it is important to ensure that you align yourself with your ‘A Team’ for the hunt. That includes a lender, title company, home inspector and any auxiliary contractors, etc., that your trusted real estate agent can help provide a list for you to choose from.

In this current climate there are mumblings and lawsuits about the “need” for a Realtor to be used in a home buying or selling transaction. After reading the snippet of tasks above, I would surely believe that a Realtor is vital to a successful home purchase in this market. We have gone from a seller’s market with super low inventory levels to a market with higher interest rates and equally low inventory levels. Realtors are on the pulse of the market and what is changing because we are in the trenches – I would argue that assistance with your home purchase, one of the most valuable assets you will have – is one in which having a professional by your side is of vital importance.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or

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Real Estate

D.C. rentals: DIY or seek professional help?

Some landlords thrive alone, while others need property managers



If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, there are tasks you can handle and others that are best left to the professionals.

Owning a rental property in the District of Columbia can be a lucrative investment, which naturally comes with an array of professional and legal responsibilities. From federal laws and local regulations to moral and financial responsibilities, your obligations change substantially when you transition from being a homeowner to a landlord. 

When you “Do It Yourself,” you’re tasked with managing the property, handling tenant relations, ensuring legal compliance, and much more. The key questions to ask yourself when you seek to master the D.C. rental housing market include: 

  1. Which property management tasks can you take on yourself, and 
  2. At what point should you entrust the job to professionals?

DIY Property Management Tasks

Looking at things from a distance, it seems like a no-brainer to self-manage a property you have purchased. You have a solid property. You find good tenants. You cash in on the rent income. What could go wrong? Here are a few things that many landlords feel confident in managing on their own.

• Routine Maintenance: Regular upkeep is essential to maintaining the value and appeal of your property. Owners can handle tasks such as lawn care, cleaning common areas, painting, and basic maintenance like changing light bulbs or air filters. Staying on top of these tasks can enhance tenant satisfaction and reduce the likelihood of major repairs down the line and it can save money. 

• Communication: Establishing clear communication channels with tenants can foster a stronger landlord-tenant relationship. Landlords can personally address concerns, answer questions, and provide timely responses to maintenance requests. Open lines of communication contribute to tenant retention and satisfaction and better long-term rentals.

• Rent Collection: Collecting rent is a straightforward task that landlords can manage themselves, so long as you have a tenant who is paying on time. Ask yourself if you want to be interfacing directly with a resident in your rental who runs into economic troubles and becomes a late payer, month after month. By setting up a convenient payment system and providing clear rent due dates, landlords can maintain consistent cash flow and make the process more efficient.

Lease Agreements: Crafting a well-drafted lease agreement is within the capabilities of landlords, especially with many online platforms that provide lease templates these days. With the assistance of legal templates or resources, landlords can outline terms, responsibilities, and expectations for both parties. However, always have a legal professional versed in D.C.’s landlord-tenant law review the document to ensure compliance with DC’s rental laws.

Property Management Tasks That are Better Left to the Professionals

When you hit the wall with the various complexities in D.C. and federal landlord/tenant laws, it’s time to think about what critical components of successful rental housing should be outsourced. When you think of your best and favorite skills, are you prepared for key things required of landlords in the District? Take a peek at just a few of the most important ones below.

 • Market Analysis and Pricing: Professionals have the expertise to conduct thorough market analyses, helping landlords determine competitive rental prices. Setting the right rent ensures steady occupancy rates and maximizes returns on investment. Stair Stepping your rental price during advertising can save you from lost revenue month-on-month. And property managers with units in their portfolio similar to yours can often have a stronger sense of what the market is paying for a rental like yours.

• Tenant Screening: One of the most crucial aspects of property management is selecting the right tenants. Landlords can take charge of this task by thoroughly screening applicants, checking references, and conducting background checks to ensure responsible and reliable tenants. The District’s City Council has imposed a wide array of restrictions on what you can and cannot check for with prospective tenants. Do you want to be caught off guard and faced with a discrimination lawsuit? Think twice before you decide to use subjective measures for tenant selection. 

• Legal Compliance: The District of Columbia has strict rental laws and regulations that landlords must adhere to. Professionals well-versed in local laws can ensure your property and practices are compliant, reducing the risk of legal disputes and financial loss. 

• Complex Maintenance and Repairs: While landlords can handle basic maintenance, significant repairs and complex issues are best left to professionals. And you will need a skilled intermediary to help navigate the different bids to know which is realistic and which simply has overblown costs. Hiring qualified licensed and insured contractors ensures that repairs are done correctly and safely, preventing potential hazards and tenant dissatisfaction, and keeping liability for problems with the contractor.

Emergency Response: Property management professionals have systems in place to handle emergencies, such as plumbing leaks or electrical failures. Their round-the-clock availability ensures that tenants’ needs are met promptly and efficiently. Do you know folks who can be your support system? If not, you may want professional property management.

Tenant Evictions: Dealing with tenant evictions is a sensitive and legally intricate process, particularly in the District of Columbia after 2002 legislation. Property management professionals can guide landlords through the eviction process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met while minimizing potential conflicts. Trying to represent yourself in Landlord Tenant court now has so many risks to invalidate your lawsuit it is best to use an attorney specialized in DC Landlord Tenant Law to make sure all of the requirements are met for the lawsuit to proceed.

Finding the Balance

Making the decision to do your own property management tasks or hiring professionals depends on several factors, including your experience, time availability, and the scale of your rental property portfolio. Some landlords may thrive in handling many aspects themselves, while others might benefit from entrusting their properties to seasoned property managers.

While landlords can handle tasks like routine maintenance, and rent collection, seeking legal help for District landlord/tenant law compliance, other necessary skills may be harder to develop and can leave you in hot water with a knowledgeable tenant. Think deeply about alleviating the stress and mitigate potential risks by understanding your strengths and limitations as a landlord. Doing so today will help you make informed decisions that contribute to the success of your rental property and get you the revenue you want to see tomorrow.

Whatever decision you make on your property management, feel free to contact us [email protected]. Stay informed.

Scott Bloom is owner and Senior Property Manager at Columbia Property Management. For more information and resources, visit

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Dine All Night to showcase excellence of all things food and beverage

11-day event to highlight more than 60 participating local restaurants



Kamal Azzouz, owner of Urban Roast, is participating in Dine All Night.

When Art All Night meets the culinary arts: The longstanding late-evening tradition in D.C. is adding another ingredient to its cultural recipe this year with the addition of Dine All Night, a complementary event to showcase the DMV’s excellence in all things food and beverage.

Art All Night returns this year on Sept. 29 and 30, from 7 p.m.-3 a.m. both evenings. Taking place across all eight wards, it features more than 100 artists and a host of business improvement districts and “main streets” that support local establishments. 

Art All Night kicked off more than 10 years ago in 2011, when Shaw Main Streets created the evening event as a unique way to highlight the bustling Shaw neighborhood and its link to art and culture.

Leading up to Art All Night weekend, the new Dine All Night begins Sept. 21 and continues through Oct. 1. The 11-day event will highlight over 60 participating local restaurants that took on the “creative challenge to create culinary artistry through food with limited-time-only menus and offerings,” according to the organizer, Department of Small and Local Business Development. The limited-run menus “showcase food as a genuine art form.”

Participating restaurants were asked to create a menu and cocktail that expressed their creativity. For example, the pop-up Taco Dirty to Me menu all has music-related references. 

Participating neighborhoods in Dine All night include Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant, Eastern Market, Georgetown, Glover Park, H Street, North Capitol, Pennsylvania Avenue East, Rhode Island Avenue, Shaw, Tenleytown, The Parks, Upper Bladensburg, and Uptown.

Some restaurant highlights: Mr. Henrys, Beuchert’s Saloon, Bronze, The Pursuit, Uncaged Mimosas, DCity Smokehouse, Ghostburger, El Techo, Quattro Osteria, Electric Cool-Aid, Seoulspice, and Guapo’s.

Urban Roast is one of the restaurants that has a special menu. “It means a lot to us to be a part of this citywide effort,” says owner Kamal Azzouz. “We opened in the middle of the pandemic, in June 2020, so having the support of the city behind us with this important event is a great feeling. I’m very thankful for it.”

During Dine All Night, Urban Roast will offer a prix-fixe three-course meal with items like dynamite shrimp and flank steak. The restaurant will also have a Night Owl cocktail served only on September 29 and 30 during Art All Night events. 

A full list of participating restaurants, bars, and food trucks is available at

“DC Art All Night and Dine All Night spotlight the District’s rich cultural and culinary offerings. These events showcase our local artists’ and chefs’ incredible talents and diverse creations while emphasizing their significance in creating an atmosphere that supports the small business community,” said Director Kristi Whitfield of the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development.

The Art All Night website further notes that, “Dine All Night is a tribute to the boundless creativity and artistic skills of our talented local chefs and mixologists based in the District. Through a series of unique culinary experiences, special menu items, carefully curated dining itineraries, and hidden gems, Dine All Night will provide you with a fresh perspective on the artistry of food.”

On the newly updated website,, visitors can map out their experience for the evening using their desktop computer or mobile phone. The feature, integrated with Google Maps, highlights each of the activations, provides the opportunity to plan routes, and suggests ideal routes based on an attendee’s interest. Categories include live music, family friendly, and late night vibes.

Art All Night is officially a collaboration between the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), DSLBD’s Main Streets programs, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, D.C. Public Library, and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).

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