50 Most Beautiful People for 2011: Page 15 of 50

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Age: 35
Hometown: Teaneck, N.J.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Married

Michael Pagan’s job as communications director for Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) requires long hours and hard work, but getting his now-wife — a fellow congressional staffer — to go out on a first date with him was even tougher.

After she repeatedly turned down his requests for coffee or lunch, he had to enlist outside help.


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“I told the staff assistants every time they saw her going to the bathroom, [instant message] me, let me know so I could run to the bathroom and pretend I was going to the bathroom, too,” he joked. “When she got out, I would be like, ‘Hey, what are you doing here? Can I walk you back to the office?’”

Eventually she acquiesced, and they got married a few months ago.

“She understands the lifestyle,” he said of the travel and long hours they both put into their jobs. “She’s my heart and soul.”

Pagan’s heart also is the reason he stays fit and active. He runs at least three times per week on the orders of his cardiologist to treat a rapid heartbeat, a condition that was diagnosed in his teens.

That heart condition led him to abandon his hopes of joining the military and to pursue government work in Washington to help others and give back.

But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his roots.

“I’m just a blue-collar boy from New Jersey who works hard and tries to do the right thing,” he said. And he wears that history literally on his sleeve.

Pagan has tattoos covering his arms and back, a hobby that began nearly 20 years ago with the help of a tattoo-artist friend.

When asked how his body art makes him feel around buttoned-down Capitol Hill, Pagan said he used to be self-conscious, but not anymore.

 “I just got over it,” he said. “It’s a part of who I am.”

—Debbie Siegelbaum

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