Men Who Use Their Hands: Tom Nikko, Hand Model


You don’t have to wear protective hyperbaric chambers on your mitts to be the world’s greatest hand model. At least according to professional “parts” model Tom Nikko. He owes his success to the occasional manicure, being cautious while doing manual labor and a little luck of the genetic draw.

Bathroom Minutes: When did you realize you had special hands?
Nikko: Throughout the years I’d hear compliments here and there. A girlfriend used to tell me how much she liked my hands. I never gave it much thought until I was asked to pick grapes out of a bowl for my first hand-modeling job. I was a principal actor on a commercial shoot. The chosen hand model never showed, and I was at the right place at the right time.

Bathroom Minutes: What campaign do you think has best captured the majesty of your phalanges and metacarpals?
Nikko: I particularly liked a shoot I did for National Geographic where sand was passing through my fingers. It was an interesting representation of the passage of time.

Bathroom Minutes: What’s your daily hand-care routine?
Nikko: I get manicures fairly often. I use Hand Perfection moisturizing products founded by a fellow model. I also apply a little Vitamin E cream on my fingernails and lather up a bit right before a shoot.


Bathroom Minutes: What’s the perfect nail length? And do you trim your finger hair?
Nikko: Trimming your finger hair is just silly. As far as the perfect nail length, men should have just a tiny sliver of white at the top of the nail.

Bathroom Minutes: Do you ever crack your knuckles, or do you worry it will ruin your moneymakers?
Nikko: I rarely did even before I hand modeled. I’m not personally against it, though. If I feel my knuckles need cracking, I’ll crack ‘em.

Bathroom Minutes: Do you do any exercises to keep your hands toned?
Nikko: I’m in the gym three hours a day doing hand calisthenics—just joking. There’s nothing I do to keep my hands in shape. I think I just have good genes.

Bathroom Minutes: What’s the hand-modeling equivalent of “Blue Steel”?
Nikko: There really isn’t one. Every job is different. We’re there to make the product look its best and make the client happy. So while there are things we typically do—swiping, pointing or picking something up—there really is no signature pose.


Bathroom Minutes: Do you wear gloves to keep your hands from looking beat up?
Nikko: It’s normal for hand models to be more cautious with their hands. Personally, I’m more careful than most guys when it comes to preventing deep cuts, bruises or nicks. Being a hand model as well as a producer doesn’t require as much manual labor as say a lumberjack. That said, I won’t avoid doing something like installing an air conditioner if it needs to be done and it requires manual labor. That’s definitely when I take extra precautions like wearing gloves. If a scrape, does happen, though, it’s not a huge deal. It’s nothing a little Photoshop can’t take care of.

Bathroom Minutes: Are your hands insured?
Nikko: No, they aren’t. Hand insurance is really expensive.

Bathroom Minutes: Do all hand models roll together?
Nikko: Although there’s no specific hand model union, we are part of SAG-AFTRA. Most of the “rolling” I’ve seen is basically hanging out on set until we have to shoot. I’d say most of us are pretty friendly with each other.


Bathroom Minutes: What’s your favorite thing about your hands?
Nikko: That I’m fortunate enough to make a living off of them.

Bathroom Minutes: When do you know it’s time to leave the hand-modeling game?
Nikko: I’ve seen a few hand models who have either taken good care of their hands or have been blessed with good enough DNA to last for decades, some well into middle age. But it’s time to leave when you’ve either transitioned into something more meaningful to you, or when they stop calling. Luckily for me, that hasn’t happened yet.