Aimee and I strutting our collective stuff
Aimee and I again...strutting our collective stuff!
I'm in the spotlight!
All the boys in their dinner jackets.
All of us in our Topshop kit.
This is just a rough draft of an article I wrote about the whole modelling thing; I hope you like it!
I've known quite a few models before, but I never really thought I'd actually get a chance to go out and model myself. However, apparently I can give a good interview, which might be why they chose me to model for the Cardiff University/Gair Rhydd fashion show. For example:
And I started getting emails. My picture was in about 15,000 newspapers given to every student at the university, and a biography about how I'm from California, how I worked for Bill Clinton, and my odd fashion sense (Jnco's aren't too popular over here). People I knew started asking me about it; people I didn't know looked at me funny in the street. Really, without doing anything, I began to feel famous - and it was fun!
Boom, I walked into the Vidal Sassoon salon. The lady behind the counter saw me and walked to the back of the salon. Then this bright, energetic lady jumped out from nowhere, like a Jack-In-The-Box, and started running her fingers through my hair. "You're with the fashion show, right?" she asked.
"Yep," I said. I was incredibly inexplicably nervous.
"Lets see, what can we do with you…" she trailed off, and her eyes got all pensive. "Oh, you have a naughty hairline, don't you?"
"Yep, naughty…seriously, do whatever you want," I said, "cause I'm probably just going to shave it all off afterwards."
"I'm afraid you can't do that," she said, looking at me and turning my head around.
"Yo yo yo yo YO, why can't I shave my head?" I demanded.
"Because I think we might be able to use you to model later," she said, looking me straight on. "Sorry, darling, you're going to have to keep your hair." She laughed and walked back to wherever she popped out from. I laughed and walked out, my ego up another few notches. Definitely not good.
As soon as I walked into the Great Hall, where the first rehearsal was supposed to be, I was gripped by fear. I don't think of myself as the nervous type, but that came, too, like when you have too much coffee and your heart goes funny, or like when you're a pirate captain and there's a mutiny and you have 15 crew members to the 17 mutineers and all you can think to say is "Shiver me timbers." I'm still not sure why this was, but my suspicion is that suddenly, walking through the double doors, I felt like I was being judged.
I was thinking then that beauty is funny, because it's in the eye of the beholder. Unless you have unbounding self-confidence, that means that it's in everyone else's hands but yours, and you can't really control how other people perceive you unless you control what you are. If people are judging you based on something you can't really alter, who isn't going to feel self-conscious?
And now, I wonder if it was just that I was conscious of being judged. I mean, I guess we judge people all the time - but I don't know if we realize it, or that other people are consciously or unconsciously judging us. We can look at a person, and we form an opinion, no matter how subtle - but I don't know if we usually think of it as a judgement. We'll note a pretty face or nice arms (I have a thing for nice arms on girls) or when someone shouldn't be wearing spandex, but I think we perceive judgements as different.
But there I was, and I felt like I was being judged for something I couldn't control - how I looked. I must admit, though, that I was judging other people, too, I guess - and unfortunately, I thought that everyone looked pretty damn good. At the time, that meant that they probably knew it, and were wondering what I was doing there.
I used to know girls with eating disorders, and now I wonder if that's how they felt, always like people were looking at them negatively. I heard once that it can prevent you from doing anything but wondering how people perceive you and worrying about it. I can see why.
K. walked into the clothes shop. Beautiful clothes of every cut and shape and in-vogue color were lined up on racks jutting out from the walls. A lady approached him, and another, and two men. K. told them his name and where he was from, and the first lady said, "Right, pick out whatever top and bottom you want." They were only there to serve him, K. They were more than that, that was their only job, and when he left, the doors of the shop would close. He could do whatever he wanted to and they would obey…but he still felt that they were judging him.
Walk. Turn right. Walk. Stop. Count two. Turn right. Walk. Stop. Count two. Turn 180 degrees. Walk. Stop. Turn right. Count 12. 180 Degrees. Walk. Turn right. Walk. Line up. Count two. Turn left. Walk.
Have you ever thought about beauty? A few of us were sitting around while others were on stage, and the subject was brought up. Basically, I was sitting with two other guys and a girl named Jenny, and we began talking about which of the girls on the runway was the prettiest. I read an article once about how people like strong and prominant jawlines, the reason being that it's a sign of an overabundance of hormones when you're going through puberty, which means you are more prone to illness from the imbalance, and so if you survive then it shows that you have a superior immune system (weird, eh?). And how if you're taller and a guy, then you can hunt better (tall girls would have taller kids, tall guys would have more food to feed them). Overly muscular guys aren't necessarily more attractive than guys that are skinny, since it's extra weight when you're hunting. And people's butts are an all around good indicator of how physically fit they are, which is why we look at other people's butts.
If I hadn't been wearing my helmet, I would be dead. Fortunately, I'm injured enough so that they gave me drugs. There's a long cut to the right of the center of my nose, which curls underneath right between my nostrils; I got 9 stitches in my upper lip, and the abrasions start here as well, curling around my mouth down onto a few square inches on my chin.
Big is Beautiful; Scars are Sexy.
The reaction that I got from walking into rehearsals with half of my face dripping was not what I expected. People looked at me funny when I first walked in, but it wasn't that big a deal - they're not concerned with how I looked, but were really more worried about if I was ok, if I needed anything, if I was seriously hurt. It really made me realize that most of them weren't too worried about how other people looked, and really, very few of the models seem overly interested in how they themselves look. More than that, they were interested in knowing the inside person, and I think that there was more of this "inner beauty" interest than normal people possess. It was definitely not what I expected.
£47. Almost $80. For a haircut. For free.
What I learned:
Girl models usually date rock stars, not male models.
Madonna's brother has a boyfriend.
Models often take correspondance courses and study during their breaks; they're often somewhat culturally aware and up to date on what is happening.
NY designers are more conservative than European designers.
£47 haircuts are fun.
Monday: 12:00 - sleep. 8:16 - wake up. 9:00 - rehearsal. 11:00 - rehearsal. 1:30 - stitches out. 3:00 - work out. 4:00 - makeup downtown. 5:00 - final dress rehearsals. 6:00 - hair. 6:30 - final makeup backstage. 7:30 - doors open. 8:15 - show. 8:32 - final hair. 10:00 - ½ bottle of wine. 10:30 - go to post-show party. 1:00 - post-party party. 2:00 chips. 2:30 - sleep.
Really, it's much harder than it sounds.
You change from a tuxedo to slacks and a sleeveless shirt next to one of the most physically beautiful girls you've ever seen who is changing from a ball dress to an Arabian Nights outfit, and you can't pay attention to her because they're yelling that you need to hurry your ass up because you're on in the next scene.
I can't remember a lot of the actual show. At the time, everyone was packed into the changing room looking for their clothes. Half-naked beauties need you to zip them up while you're taking your trousers off. You go on, you go off, change, you go on, you go off, change, you go on, you go off, change. Finale. As simple and difficult as that.
Walking the catwalk is what I remember least, although I do kind of remember it. I'd thought of it kind of like a plank on a ship - during rehearsals, there is so much fear of falling off that when you look down it and think, "Wow, I could fall off of that and basically (socially) die, and on top of that maybe get hurt really badly," and you get all scared - but I don't think I was worried about it in the actual show. What I do remember is serenading girls backstage with Nat King Cole tunes, eating more than my share of free chocolate (Cadbury's is truly amazing out here), downing soda, pissing, standing on my head, and helping adjust one girls breasts so that they had maximum oompf, but the point of the night, the highlight of my evening, being onstage, isn't as clear. I heard my name a few times being yelled across the lights, I saw girls dancing and clapping and screaming, but even that was hazy.
I've heard that pro models, the big bucks people, are all pissy and stressed out; I used to laugh at them for being so stupid, but you really have to walk a mile in their mocasins to understand it. I wonder if the preparation is what really stresses people out rather than the actual scene, and if that's what life is like.
For models, I mean.
"Cause after all the lights and screams
nothing but my dreams matter."
Tupac Amaru Shakur
Not necessarily true. One of the things that people were saying backstage was how "amazing," "incredible," "and "wicked" it was to be out on stage. You suddenly have people you don't know screaming their heads off for you based on the most controversial, transient, subjective, and silly benchmark of worth imagineable: how you look. And to have people accepting and encouraging you for that and not what you think you are is…nice. More than nice, it's exhilarating, wonderful, beautiful, incredible, unparalleled. There's nothing that I can think of to explain the exquisite feeling that comes with being judged favorably based not on who you are but on what you look like, and I feel bad, because it goes against "It's what's inside that counts" and everything we get taught regarding self-esteem. But more than that, and paradoxically, when it happens you learn that it's silly to care about how you look - if you look past the spotlights and you see girls screaming and clapping for you when you walk the wooden mile, then you know that tomorrow you don't have to worry about your appearance, and you can move on to worrying about other things. And if they don't, then who cares? You won't be able to change it, so it's all good.
I guess that I did worry about my appearance before the show.
This morning, though, I spent a little more time in front of the mirror than normal. I put gel in my hair for the first time in ages. Chose my clothes more carefully.
It's the day afterwards, and I feel funny. I'm more vain. More cocky. I was walking down the street today and looking into people's eyes for some glint of recognition that I was out there last night, performing for them; really, I was looking for some spark in their mind that says, "hey, I saw you last night." And as much as I realize that this is pretty dumb, I'm also pretty ok with it.
And in retrospect, I've kind of figured a few things out. For all the rhetoric one might hear about it's what inside that truly counts in people's heads, I'm not sure if I knnow all that many people who really feel that, who don't really care about how they look. I always assumed that every normal person in the world didn't care about how they looked physically because…well, I never heard them talking about it that much. However, not it feels like the window is open, and I'm beginning to realize that yes, people do care, and, strangely, I care. And maybe that's an important part of our make-up, the fact that we are vain, because no matter who a person is, I think that they care a great deal about their appearance. If they say that they don't, then you can be all the more sure that they do.
When I was getting off the lift on the 4th floor of the Humanities building, I had 2pac on my walkman, and when the doors opened, I counted two before exiting. The girls behind me must have been confused.
Wychwood's "Fiddler's Elbow" - rather average. Not too impressive, but ok.
Redruth Brewery's "Cornish Rebellion" - average lager. Same as Fiddler's Elbow, really.
Caledonian Brewery's "Organic Golden Promise" - lovely. Scottish Beer is delicious, and this is Scottish beer.
Young's "Luxury Double Chocolate Stout" - drink it. It's beer. Lick your lips. It's chocolate. Brilliant, but not something to drink every night. (For this, check out St. Peter's below.)
Ram Brewery's "Waggle Dance" - Honey beer. Maybe a bit sweeter, but average.
Guinness Stout - Brilliant.
Shepherd Neame's "Bishops Finger" - Average.
Fisher's "Biere Blonde Speciale d'Alsace" - regular lager, but better than average. Neat bottle, too.
St. Peter's "Elderberry Fruit Beer" - take a sip. It's beer. Wait 3 minutes. You just ate a bowl of fruit. THIS is what beer should be like.
Young's "Old Nick" - Barley wine. The hops and barley and fizz of beer, the sweetness and alcohol content of wine. Good stuff.