Clayton Paterson’s life changed in an instant. Within a two-month span, the smoking hot muscle daddy got divorced, retired from his corporate law job and came out as gay.

At 57 years old, he was reborn.

Eight years later, Paterson is living the gay dream. Happily partnered, he spends his Fourth of July in Fire Island and enjoys an Instagram following that would make any influencer quiver. But that doesn’t mean Peterson is solely about the aesthetics, either.

Now 65, the gay fitness model possesses a wealth of knowledge about living well and staying mentally sharp. Youth may be wasted on the young, but it certainly isn’t wasted on Paterson!

Queerty recently caught up with the silver fox to talk about his sensible fitness routine, how to grab his attention on the apps and the art of aging like fine wine. Here’s what he had to say…

QUEERTY: You came out at 57, and you say that’s when you started getting serious about your fitness. What was the connection between the two?

Clayton Paterson: Right about that time, it was pretty stressful. I divorced, came out and retired all within a two-month period. I think one thing that kept me even was going to the gym. Then I had a bout of sciatica, so I couldn’t do triathlons any more–and I love to compete. So I did a few fitness competitions. That’s when I really transformed my body. I was always fit, I was always lean, but I got a coach who gave me a routine to follow and a diet. It worked.

That is a lot of change in a very short span: divorce, retiring, coming out…

It was, and you always have in the back of your mind—I’m not sure what your experience was—we all have this journey that we’re on. For me, I had in the back of my mind that it would be fine. I was ready for it, my kids would be great, my friends would be fine. But you always have that little doubt: “how are people going to react?” When I came out, it was just “thank goodness.” It was such a silver lining.

What is your fitness routine today?

It’s a little less intense. It’s more bodyweight stuff—I try to do 200 pushups per day, 200 ab exercises. Then I have a whole stretching routine to keep my sciatica at bay. It’s worked. I’ve been sciatica free for five years, which is great. Then some weights. Different days it’s a chest day, then a back day, shoulders, arms, legs and glutes. Just trying to keep my boyish figure!

What’s the best advice you would give people, and particularly gay men, about aging?

Wow! That’s a good question. Diet is important, but I think the gym every day is the most important thing we can do. We’ve got to keep our muscle mass and it just helps with everything. It helps with facial features, keeping the weight off. I don’t have that saggy neck. I still have some abs, but genetics plays a role. I’ve always been pretty thin, which has helped.

But I have three pillars, and my kids can recite this: sleep, exercise and broccoli. I have broccoli every day. Just good nutrition, but don’t go overboard! I eat chocolate, I love honeycombs. Every night, I have a bowl of honeycombs before I go to bed. I make cookies, so I have dessert virtually every night. But moderation: no alcohol, obviously no cigarettes, I don’t drink any juice or soda. I drink water and milk. 

When you talk about it, it kind of sounds like, “That’s pretty stringent. That guy is kind of out there.” But it’s a very easy thing. Listen, put a Whitney song on, and I’m the first guy on the dance floor without my shirt on. I don’t need the drugs or alcohol to have a great, great time.

How did you get into modeling, and what do you enjoy the most about it?

I had a whole other career. I was a lawyer for Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey. And I was about to retire, and I had always thought about modeling, so I gave it a shot. I had a photo shoot done, and they looked at my photos and said, “Oh they’re fine, but there are a lot of guys your age, so it’s going to be really tough for you.” Plus, I had a full-time job, so I couldn’t do it then.

But once I retired, a couple years had passed, and I thought “I would like to give this a shot.” So I got in touch with a friend in New Jersey who’s a photographer, and he knew an agent in Fort Lauderdale, so he connected me. I did the photo shoot, he hired me, I got one great job through him. Then I met other models in the area who have been doing it for a long time, and they got me with other agents, and all of a sudden it just started to go.

I absolutely love it. I have a great time. I’ve done some amazing things. I was on a Russian oligarch’s yacht–250 feet–we’re doing a shoot. I get to ride the wave runner and the little engine that takes you under the water. Just a lot of fun: several yachts, casinos, a little bit of clothing, not a lot. Underwear yes, particularly on Instagram. I get a lot of free stuff. I got all kinds of protein stuff, a lot of supplements. I’m a little leery of supplements, because I don’t believe in them. But if it’s something like a multi-vitamin, then yeah, I’ll promote it. It’s been great. 

What do you and [your partner] Sheldon like to do together?

We’re very different. We have very different interests, but we have a lot of fun when we’re together. I’m a big swimmer, he doesn’t really like to swim much. But he does love the water. We love theatre, we love the same movies, we love the same music. We just have a great time together. We actually met each other in New York City about five years ago. It took a couple of years before we got to the point where we really wanted to decide we’re gonna be partners and date. But yeah, we’ve dated for about 2.5 years now. He lives in Phoenix, I live in Fort Lauderdale, so we’re kind of doing a bi-costal thing. But it works. We just got back from a two-week vacation in Croatia. Phenomenal! I hope it’s on your bucket list!

What’s the wildest thing anybody has ever said in your DMs?

Oh jeez! You can imagine what I get! I kind of expect some racy, kind of sexy, “Hey Daddy…”

Well, let me ask this: what’s the best way to get your attention on the apps?

It’s interesting. Sometimes someone will hit me up and I’ll respond, but I don’t respond to everybody. When I look at their Instagram, and I see somebody, I don’t want to say “wholesome,” but I see they kind of have their life together. I love modeling, I love acting, so if it’s somebody in that kind of area, then I’ll take a particular interest. I don’t know if it’s any one thing. We all have our preferences for physical attributes: good looking, in shape younger men, will probably catch my eye. But Sheldon is 55—he’s almost 10 years younger than I am. So I consider him a younger man!

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