Life’s most important truths appear contradictory on the surface, but when you look a little deeper, beneath the surface of those contradictions, real possibilities for the extraordinary begin to emerge. For Patrick Kafka, thriving in a world of opposites has become the unique reality that is the basis for his intriguing story.
Patrick came into the world in 1991, ten years after his only sibling, Patricia. Yes, I know, "Patrick" and "Patricia" - let's just say his parents wanted to keep things simple. He grew up in a humble Viennese suburb, surrounded by a family of passionate motorcycle enthusiasts and, despite being blessed with obvious good looks, navigated his way through childhood no differently from any other kid in his neighbourhood. At the age of 16, he was thrown into the fast-paced world of modelling and his life was immediately turned upside down. From that moment on, he would have to share his simple suburban life with the complexities of the fashion industry.
Fast forward ten years, and today Patrick is a highly sought-after “top model” working with some of the biggest brands in the world, including the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and Ralph Lauren. Yet, he somehow remains humble and well-connected to his simple roots in Vienna. An incredible world of polar opposites has emerged through it all, sparking our curiosity to go and discover how he makes it work.
Arriving at Patrick's house, we are greeted by a refreshingly warm smile and taken straight to the garage where his VITPILEN 701 is proudly displayed. It is clear that this is where he feels most comfortable and is the place of choice for all his social gatherings. With the new bike taking centre stage, it is also obvious that it has become a hot topic of debate and discussion amongst friends. Calmly rolling his own cigarette, Patrick eases into sharing his inherited passion for motorcycles before going on to show us some of the other projects he has worked on.
Moving into the house to further discuss the day's proceedings, we are welcomed by the fresh smell of strong coffee. There is a certain familiarity about Patrick's humble lifestyle and it's not long before we discover a shared passion for everything on two wheels, especially from the Husqvarna Motorcycles brand.
Our journey begins with a ride through the suburban streets of Vienna and takes us to a café called NOOK on the edge of the inner city. A newly opened coffee shop owned by a personal friend of Patrick’s, with a Barista serving a brew that has the espressos flowing all morning. As the cameras come out in a room full of curious onlookers, Patrick slots into the role of model with impressive ease. In such a casual and relaxed atmosphere, it’s hard to imagine a more complex side to this simple life. It was here that he reveals his unusual entry into the world of modelling.
Thinking she had the “hottest” little brother around, Patrick’s sister entered him into a local modelling contest. Completely unaware of her devious actions, Patrick received a call instructing him to bring swimwear to the shoot. Although surprised and a little confused, his sister managed to convince him to go ahead with the contest. It turned out to be a visionary act on her behalf, as Patrick won the contest and was taken to Boston for a modelling “boot camp”. Paired with a young female model for the duration of the project, this is where Patrick would also experience his first modelling-related relationship. The real emotions from behind the camera came through naturally on set, resulting in authentic pictures that landed him his first big contract in Europe. It has been full steam ahead since then, moving between simple family life in Vienna and the chaos of modelling abroad - the world of contrasts that defines his life today.
Patrick’s insider stories from the world of modelling keep us entertained for hours, as time flies by unnoticed. We learn to “smile with our eyes” and other tricks of the trade, all while the coffee continues to flow, along with many laughs and good times.
„The style of this motorcycle matches me perfectly…”
The positive vibes inspire Patrick to reveal his favourite route to us. A place he goes physically and mentally to escape the stresses of trying to balance his unique lifestyle. Driving on this open, tree-lined road, we catch a breath-taking view of the city Patrick calls home and can appreciate the sentiment behind his route of choice.
Following Patrick through the twists of this hillside pass, we can clearly see the special bond he has with the VITPILEN 701. Knowing the dynamics of every corner, he flows through the route with mesmerising ease, finally arriving at a seemingly forgotten old place called Dopplerhütte.
Initially confused, we soon learn that this place had significance to him as a child. His entire family used to sit and watch motorcycles negotiating the tight bend in front of it and then admire the sounds as they roared away. Watching him sweep through the same corner and then shift through the gears as he disappears down the straight, we are taken back to that very moment that originally inspired his passion for motorcycles.
Undoubtedly experiencing the same feelings as he did all those years ago, we take a moment just to take it all in.
The next stop on our journey is a highly anticipated one for us. We ride back to the city, for an experience that is worlds apart from the simple ride we have just enjoyed. Arriving at Wiener model’s agency, (the modelling agency that Patrick has been with since the beginning), we are greeted by one of the directors, Kosmas Pavlos. This is Patrick’s work environment and we are expecting to see another side to him that has yet to be revealed.
After greeting Pavlos and snapping a few impromptu pics out in the street, we notice that there has been no change in Patrick’s behaviour. The friendly, calm engagement between the two seems more like a highly respectful friendship than the usual working relationship we were expecting to see. Entering the modern, white walled office, lined with elite magazine covers featuring their models, we can’t help but feel a little out of place in this completely alien environment. As we meet the staff and watch Patrick interact with them, we begin to realise that these people are as much a part of his family as the real ones we heard about in his earlier stories. It is at this moment that we finally understood how he is able to deal with the unique dynamics of his lifestyle.
Close friends and family are the common factor in both his worlds and provide a support base that allows him to thrive, no matter what challenges he faces. Laughing with the staff as they experience the unease of being on Patrick’s side of the camera, the mood lightens and we are able to fully immerse ourselves in this side of his life. Hearing funny stories of evacuating photo shoots due to props catching fire and the renowned wild industry parties, it is clear that the adrenalin Patrick finds out on his motorcycle exists in this environment too.
Drawing so many parallels in these seemingly contrasting worlds reminds us that opposites do sometimes attract and, in this case, come together to create something quite extraordinary – the Patrick Kafka story.
Having been exposed to the fascinating world of a top model and hearing about the fun side of his work, we decide that should be our inspiration heading into the evening. With that in mind, Patrick takes us to a small local bar which seems to have been a venue for many a late night of fun for Viennese locals. Clearly evident from the outside, Elektro Gönner has many stories to tell and is the where we gather a few more insights from Patrick. We learn of his passion for carpentry and his role as a media guide at the famous Erzberg Rodeo. We also discover that he is one of those annoying people that who doesn’t need to watch his weight, but instead uses off-road riding and ice hockey to keep in shape.
“Riding helps me to find balance after a long and chaotic trip abroad… “
A late summer sunset opens the gateway to the nightlife in this incredible city. Darkness in Vienna brings with it a new, lively ambience, so we decide to just go with the flow and see the city through Patrick's eyes, enjoying the spirit that makes him a truly remarkable character.
Driven by the need to satisfy our curiosity we chose to spend a day with Patrick. What we actually experienced was so much more than we could have ever hoped for. After digging deeper, beneath the surface of his incongruous lifestyle, we discovered an incredible human being with the ability to harness the best of two opposing worlds. The result is something truly extraordinary and a lifestyle that is refreshingly unique.
“I’m not sure what my future holds, but motorcycling will definitely be a part of it “
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Photos: Rudi Schedl | Text: Laren van der Westhuizen