Thursday, 7 October 2010

Confessions of a Model

Oh to be so beautiful that people pay money for the privilege of taking a photograph of you. Surely it can't be that taxing a job? I actually think it is, as I've had the dubious honour of a couple of modelling jobs in my time. Victoria's Secret you ask? The Pirelli Calendar, surely! No - I was an 'extra' in a fashion ad in London for a friend and a promotional model (complete with cheesy sash) for another friend at a Darling Harbour Convention Centre Exhibition stand. Oh, the dizzying modelling heights that I have reached. All I can say is that these two jobs were so deathly boring and involved hours of standing around - being completely still for the first gig and completely Miss-Universe-smiley for the second. Maybe I have A.D.D because I wanted to shoot myself during both, so I actually feel for people who do this day in and day out for a living. It just aint for me. Cue Kasey Chambers: "Am I not pretty enough..." Thank God.

But seriously, apart from the boredom factor we often hear models complaining about their lot in life, how it's so hard being beautiful, yada yada I WANT TO KILL YOU slowly & painfully we all think to ourselves. However, sometimes they do have legitimate reasons to grumble. I've spoken to some of my fave models on the circuit and unearthed a few pearlers and seriously frightening experiences.

Model Rivalry
There's an unspoken rivalry between editorial girls and catalogue girls. There's girls who do alot of editorial for which they get paid very little - and then some girls are strictly catalogue - not nearly as glamourous, but highly lucrative. The irony is that if you want to develop a long-term career you do editorial but earn no money, and if you just want to make money you do calatogues but practically ruin any chance of making it after that - hence why alot of models who've already 'had their time' end up happily doing catalogues for the rest of their career, but it's a huge decision.

There are stories of bitter editorial girls ruining the reputations of the catalogue girls, particularly if they live together. Editorial girls brag about getting into Vogue and apparently they (as well as many managers) refer to catalogue queens as "just horses". This love is equally returned by the horses, with one catalogue girl saying: "Living with editorial girls is SHIT. They never have any money - people joke that models don't eat but seriously, some of them can't afford to." Now, now ladies.

Australia is HARD
Australia is considered to be one of the hardest markets in the world - many believe the only way to get anywhere here is with hype. ie, they only book you if you're 14 and your agency is talking you up or if someone big has used you - then everyone follows suit. "So many young girls are told they are amazing and encouraged to drop out of school (agencies will never admit this but I promise you they do - it happened to me) and then all of a sudden the hype ends and they're 18 with no job, no money and no education."

Girls can be pushed around not only by agencies, but by their families. One of the current top models in Australia had a rough start. She was from a very poor suburb and her mother forced her to work from the age of 14, sending her overseas back and forth when she wasn't emotionally ready to deal with it. She ended up messed up with a very serious drug problem. She eventually grew up and has now cleaned up her act, excelling in a career she was obviously destined for, but pushed too early.

Agency Poaching
One model who has done the rounds of the agencies says "The Australian agencies absolutely HATE each other...they steal girls from each other all the time. One major agency brought me into a meeting with a potential new model and her mother and demanded that I tell them how dreadful my previous (major) agency was. I refused."

Sleazy Photographers
One model says, "When I was 18 I shot with a photographer who was trying to get my clothes off the whole time, grabbing at my legs so he could sit in the middle of them for no apparent reason to take a shot. We were shooting at his house and it was just us so I started to feel very uncomfortable. His girlfriend called during the shoot and he jumped on top of me and put his hand over my mouth before he answered the phone (obviously he didn't tell his girl that he was shooting a model alone in his house). It was terrifying. He started showing me very risqué, pornographic photos that he had taken of other girls and told me that our next shoot together would be in a seedy motel. I walked out of the shoot."

Overseas Horror Stories
Being away from home in a foreign country is always a huge safety issue for girls. The models are usually very young and impressionable, and extremely vulnerable to predators.

One Australian model had her drink spiked in Hong Kong. "I was 17 and it was my first trip overseas. On my second day I was doing a show for Lane Crawford and we were invited to the after party. I asked for a vodka and before I had finished half the drink I collapsed on the floor. I woke up later in bed with no idea of how I got there. Two weeks later I ran into a lovely American guy I had met who was very concerned about me - apparently I was talking to him when I received my vodka and collapsed mid conversation. He spent hours trying to find out where I was from and where I lived which proved very difficult as noone knew who I was as I'd only been there 2 days. I felt very lucky to have been in safe hands."

Chloe* was in Tokyo when she was attacked in a model hotel. In the middle of the night a man broke into her apartment via the balcony, took off his shoes, walked across the apartment to lock the front door from the inside and then jumped on top of her and started to strangle her. Chloe opened her eyes and was staring directly at him as she started to get tunnel vision. She said that even though he was wearing a mask she could tell that he freaked out because she was suffocating so he got off her, put his shoes back on and disappeared over the balcony again. As it turned out, apparently there had been a 'model stalker' who had been seen sneaking about this particular model apartment for 20 years. As he had never actually attacked anyone, the agency decided against warning the girls...

Another girl, Mia* went to a casting in Romania for a photographer who was shooting in Russia later that week. The photographer booked her and 9 other girls and they all flew to Russia expecting to be in a photo shoot. When they arrived they were instead taken to the house of a rich Russian man and were expected to be the 'entertainment' for his friends for the evening. There were men with big guns guarding the door and no way out. Mia decided that the safest way to get out was to pretend to be really sick. The men let her go and she had to find her own way via train back to Romania. She was just 16.

Dodgy Agents
Some people complain about models being difficult, but sometimes they are put into difficult situations by the very people who are supposed to be looking out for them - their agents.

Lily* states that the worst part of the job is "lots of over-working and under-payment. Constantly being sleazed onto and then missing out on jobs because you won't do anything with the photographer or client. People joke about the 'casting couch' but it's ridiculous how often it happens."

One model said her agency in New York sent her to a shoot for a high-end edgy fashion magazine with the strict instruction not to go topless if they asked. They did, and the model said she couldn't. The photographer then called her agency asking why she wouldn't go topless, and the agency assured the photographer that she would. The model then got on the phone to the agent who told her "if you go topless, we will drop you from the agency" and promptly ended the call. The model was left very confused with no idea what to do.

The same girl told a story about how the very wealthy owner of her Spanish agency invited her away for the weekend on his boat in Ibiza, via private jet. Being her agent, she trusted him. "On the boat I was the only single girl. Every one of his sleazebag friends hit on me so I spent the whole trip locked in my room. When they couldn't get me they started propositioning my friend and her boyfriend to have sex in front of them. After 3 days of getting nothing from us, they sent the skipper to the mainland to pick up some prosititutes for them. I woke up and walked into it and was so disgusted - the fat sleaze was going for it with a chick who looked like Donatella Versace on the kitchen bench! The next day we were sent back to Madrid...economy class."

Oh those poor, achingly beautiful lasses. Go on, hug a module today!

xxx Tiff

* asterixes denote my attempts at suitably glamorous, modelly-type names.

No comments:

Post a Comment