For Jason Aaron Baca, a model from Los Gatos, Calif., his inspiration for romance cover modeling came randomly.
It sparked when he walked into a bookstore simply looking for something to read. There he saw a romance book cover.
"I said, 'You know what? This is something that I can actually do. This is something that, you know, it's going to take a lot of work to get a body like those guys on the cover," he tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "At that moment right there I kind of realized that this is something I am definitely going to go after."
He says he woke up later that night, so energized about the idea of being a romance cover model, that he got out of bed to do pushups at 3 a.m.
"I wanted muscles now," he says.
Baca has appeared on 475 covers. By his tally, that's more than even Fabio — yes, that Fabio, with the long, flowing hair.
Modeling is a side gig for Baca, who also has an office job. He says he likes the balance of the two.
"On one hand, I get this humbling job that I go into work every day, I work hard, and then I get to step into this other world where I get to be this hero," he says. "I get to step into a studio, I get to go in there and say 'OK, now I get to be a gladiator, now I get to be a prince, now I get to be this mountain of molten lust.' "
Click above to listen to Baca tell Montagne his story of perseverance, hard work and luck as a cover model in the swashbuckling, bodice-ripping world of romance.