Tag Archives: advertising

079

Running Afowl on Wall Street #77

Once Jack and I returned from our two-month-long European road trip for Oil of Olay, life and career seemed to finally settle into a sense of order and calm. Maybe because I was working as much as I wanted to; starvation and unpaid rent do tend to elevate one’s agitation levels. Maybe because I’d finally met and married my Prince Charming. For whatever reasons, the remaining years of my modeling career with Wilhelmina came with a one-way ticket for a very long ride on the crazy train. It was around this time that people I met outside the fashion business began telling me, “Gurl, you sure as hell better write this stuff down before you get too damned old to remember it.” And so, I did.

After returning to NYC following the ill-fated Parisian modeling contest, I caught the eye of a husband and wife photography team. Though quite young, they had created a very successful studio near Gramercy Park. Quinn and Gregory were a dream to work with, and always had interesting and out-there ideas. I was booked by them so often, their studio became a second home to me. One day Quinn excitedly told me she’d scored the assignment of creating lifesize murals for the windows of Henri Bendel’s Department Store on East 57th Street. “Go crazy nuts,” they’d told her, “just give us something that will equal Barney’s windows. Be creative.”

Quinn was quite amped up by her project and instructed all of us involved to be at the studio for a ‘sleepover’ the night before; we’d be hitting the road for the financial district at 4:30 the next morning and she didn’t trust the cast and crew to all show up on time otherwise. Apparently her storyline involved shooting around Wall Street before the madding hoards of power brokers arrived from their commuter trains. She wanted the Wall Street feel, but not the teeming masses.

After hair and makeup was finished the stylist passed me my dress, a golden yellow concoction that consisted of a single see-through layer of chiffon. Yes, chiffon, like those negligees Doris Day wore in the 1960s when Rock Hudson was still pretending to be a stud muffin. Trusting Quinn implicitly, I inquired as to what I would be wearing underneath.  “Oh, nothing of course; you and the other female model are very expensive ladies of the night.” Hooray, as good as naked in front of approximately 5000 horny commuters.

Things got more interesting when we piled in the van and found several cages containing a number of pissed off, feisty white chickens and one big black rooster. For four hours, we shot in front of the usual suspects, The Wall St. street sign, the famous charging bull statue, The New York Stock Exchange, and the iconic Delmonico’s Restaurant. At each location, out came the chickens; at our first stop the rooster flew off in a shriek of protest towards the Battery and was never heard from again. Quinn would lose her hefty deposit on that stringy plate of poultry. The remaining chickens had not been given an advance script and would fly with wild abandon from their cages. They refused to take any direction and flung themselves about hither and yon, profusely pooping on every square inch of financial district sidewalk and us, if we stood still long enough.

The overwrought, hapless photographer’s assistant was a blur, trying to move lights and reflectors, keeping the chickens in camera range, and chasing down passing (and ogling) stockbrokers to sign release waivers.  Then, the poor fellow had to recapture the hens, who again refused to cooperate, and pack up all the equipment to move on to the next location. Did I mention that the blond model passed out twice from the heat? It was mid-August. I profusely thanked God and Quinn for not giving me the green fur coat and any undergarments. Just another day around the water cooler!

Do you think it was an "up" day in the market?

By the time I got back home around lunchtime, I had collected 37 business cards from passers-by who wanted to assist me with my investment decisions. Who says a little well-timed nudity can’t buy happiness and a stock portfolio?

Quinn’s windows were a huge success for the month that they were displayed. One side of the store’s entrance featured the three models and foolish fowl, and the opposite side juxtaposed the shocked reactions of the Wall Streeters encountering our little tableau. The ASPCA took exception to Quinn’s plans to house chickens and bunnies inside the window displays. The rooster is still being featured on America’s Most Wanted. Go figure.

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Bride of Bigfoot #21

 Repost from January 2011

Trust me when I tell you that for the entire 18 months The Spousal Unit and I dated prior to presenting to the Marrying Magistrate, he only ever appeared before me wearing well-pressed, tucked -in shirts and quite stylish attire.

Early dating, hot off Match.com

This is partly why I was attracted to him; even a quick run to the local grocery store required a fresh shower, hair product, pressed jeans, and always, that devastating smile and dimples. I have noticed, in the past two years, a slight slippage in this well-put-together appearance.  While the spikey, Howdy Doody bed-head is always well subdued before leaving home, he has taken quite a shine to some summer sandals he purchased recently, as in they NEVER come off his feet unless he’s showering or sleeping. No problem in the summertime, but now that we have had our second snowstorm in two weeks here at the beach, he refuses to relinquish them, and has started to put on really thick, furry olive green socks before sliding his feet into the beloved sandals. Eyes to the top of this post, dear readers, as a picture is worth a thousand blogger babblings. As bizarre as that is in itself, I could probably just ignore it were it not for the fact that he is now insisting on going out in public like this! So fear not when you read the coming accounts in the Globe and The Inquirer, about recent sightings of Big Foot at your local home improvement store; it’s just The Spousal Unit out running errands.

I wonder if his fierce attachment to his Jesus sandals is one of the reasons he is reluctant to prop a 30’ tall ladder in the snow and ice and shimmy up  to remove the two remaining wreaths and dancing snowflakes? I fully understand that things could be worse; he could start showing a fondness for Madras plaid shorts worn with white sneakers and black knee-high dress socks.  Any day now I half expect him to go twirling past me wearing a pink tutu, lederhosen, and his Australian cowboy hat. If this sartorial decline continues, I will soon be shopping for him at the ‘MiAss Droops AlotBoutique, located just off “I Used To Be a Hottie” Highway.

I’m putting all of you on notice that we may need to conduct a fashion intervention in the near future. I unintentionally started The Unit down the wrong fashion path in October, when I gifted him with two things he wanted very badly for his birthday. A real cowboy duster, just like Clint wore in ‘Pale Rider’, in addition to the Australian cowboy hat mentioned above.

"Who's your Daddy?"

Last night, under the influence of no vino whatsoever, he begins to describe the next addition he needs for his Hoppalong get up. A pair of ankle-high cowboy boots, the kind with little chains that rattle against the back of stacked heels. There was also some passing mention of holsters for his guns. The Teenage Morose One, who is yet again present on both of our two snow days, due to being GROUNDED once more!!, just rolled his eyes and retreated up the stairs when he heard this, the words HOW GAY flashing across his blemished forehead like neon Vegas lights.

You know by now that the word GAY whisks us right back to 1975 and my beginning days with Wilhelmina Models, immediately following the attack of the rogue lobster. This place was diametrically opposed to Eve Shelton Models.  Classes were arranged for all the new wannabees recently signed by Wilhelmina, to insure that we all followed the same standards and had a basic understanding of how this strange new world functioned. We learned the ropes of the business, the who’s who, the where, the why, how the magazine world worked, and the very important place that ad agencies should hold in our greedy little hearts.

After joining Willy, the quality of the photographers and the clients went waaayy up!

We compared notes about new but talented photogs who could provide great test shots, and which ones to avoid, like Snow Monsters out on parole. Most of us weren’t making much money at that point, so if one girl got a new outfit, it was willingly shared with the rest of us, so we could get test shots made wearing it.

Am I on Madison Avenue or in Kenya?

When you’re not yet “discovered” designers aren’t exactly opening up their wardrobes to loan you killer clothes.

Willy, as she was fondly called, kept her new models on what amounted to probation until you either proved yourself through your earnings, went running back home crying to mama, or were “dropped” from her prestigious roster of models.  This was a cruel but necessary part of the business and always happened right before Christmas holidays and Memorial Day weekend. I don’t know what percentage of models were cut or dropped, but it certainly seemed that more girls were let go than the number who actually went on to have a lucrative career. I initially thought letting these poor kids get hit with bad news right before the holidays was terribly heartless, until Willy explained it to me. It actually made more sense to inform these girls that they would not have representation to come back to before they left on holiday break; this way they saved their return fare and could just remain back home in Indiana or Michigan, nursing their wounded pride surrounded by family.

One of the more surprising things I found was that the most beautiful girls were not usually the ones who became the biggest successes. The girls like Christie Brinkley and Andie MacDowell, who photographed exactly as they looked in person, were much less common than the plain Janes who morphed into swans in the hands of the right makeup artist and photographer.

Finally! Working REAL jobs for REAL clients, making $60 per hour

I think there were ten of us in that beginner’s class and eight of us became extremely close friends and provided support for each other. There was one odd girl I remember in that group. She was pretty in a “I don’t really give a damn” way that some women have, but kept to herself and rarely participated in class discussions. She always sat in the back row, apart and aloof from the rest of us. I was a bit annoyed by the fact that she had grey eyes and auburn hair, the same as mine, after being told by the Gatekeeper that the agency couldn’t have too many redheads. She was mysterious and never joined us for lunch or drinks, and I never spotted her at any go-sees or auditions.

After my probationary period ended and I stopped going to classes, the odd girl slipped from my thoughts until one day I saw a familiar face on the cover of a porn video. Guess who was the star? She became very well known in that biz out on the left coast and was a star in that world for sure. It was interesting that she was using a completely different name, not the Vanessa that we knew her by. Strange world…how did she sidestep or free fall into that orbit? Was she intercepted somewhere along the way to becoming a print and runway model? Did she fall in love with the right or wrong guy who pushed her in that direction? Did she like her work? Cosmic questions that I never expect to learn the answers to.

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I Most Truly, Unreservedly, Utterly Apologize! #59

It’s only been five short months since I went on my Bride of Bigfoot rant. The Christmas decorations were still up and twinkling well into January, and my drip watering/mister system looped unfinished all over the gardens. I fussed and carried on about The Spousal Unit and his wild enthusiasm for starting projects, yet not completing them. Well kids, today I sit down with knife and fork in hand, prepared to ingest a big heapin’ helping of humble pie. The Unit has done E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. on his honey-do list, and believe me when I tell you it was so long it would put a male porn star to shame! It’s like the man’s got ants in his pants and rockets in his pockets; he simply can’t keep still. A lesser woman might be suspicious, but I say ‘tish, tosh‘ to all that. I am dancing gleeful jigs of gratitude all day long. The poor fella is about to bid adieu to the homestead for one month, and I believe the fear of returning to another four weeks of additional items on his to-do list got him motivated. He’s been busier than a one-legged dog with fleas, while I gaze  around our mothership property with a big, shit-eating grin from ear to ear. Hear this, Spousal Unit, you are hereby forgiven for your wintertime sins of sloth; your poopy karma has been cancelled.

My poor son “Paco” would have absolutely no luck with vehicles if it were not for BAD luck. You may remember, he had his beloved 1984 shiny black El Camino permanently taken away after a certain party; it was replaced with an 11-year-old Mitsubishi Eclipse. We took it to our trusted mechanic before agreeing to buy it, and were fully aware that it needed two new tires and a new transmission. We made an offer $3k less than the seller was asking and he almost leapt in the air, all atwitter with delight; perhaps we should have smelled a rat? Since April we have spent $3500 on repairs, some expected, some not. Today, I noticed that two of his tires had exposed cord; they had been just fine 3 weeks ago. Off to the mechanic we go. The two new front tires were almost bald! Turns out the garage we paid to do the alignment hadn’t actually done it after all, and all the tires were shredded because of that. Unexpectedly shelling out $1000 in one day  only a week prior to Paco leaving for college makes Mama very sad indeed! I fear we may have purchased a mobile money pit.

Now to today’s chapter of “Texas Toast”. In the last post I told you about one of my two favorite photographers. The other was Lars Underwood, and the day Wilhelmina sent me to see him in his Chelsea studio, I was trembling in my cowboy boots. Lars had a ferocious reputation in the business, and could make even the most successful model turn pale with fear. He had a short fuse, which led to fierce verbal attacks if you disappointed him. Apparently, he was easily disappointed. Oddly, this tyrant and I hit it off almost immediately; he liked models he could not intimidate.

Lars had an unorthodox way of running his business. 98% of photographers will land a very specific assignment. Shoot this dress for this newspaper or magazine ad, on such and such day, at this location. Sometimes they select the model, sometimes the client does. Everything is structured in advance. Lars didn’t like anyone telling him what to do, so he would do test shoots with his models, and send his aggressive rep out to clients to buy the ‘stock’ photos. This was how just one test session Lars and I did on a Friday evening, wearing a green sequined dress, yielded two big prizes. One was my first cover in America, for a now defunct magazine called VIVA.

One lazy afternoon, in the middle of a nap, the phone woke me up; it was a writer from the magazine who wanted to do a brief interview for a cover bio. This is how it appeared.

 “It’s 4:30PM and Renee Cristophe is yawning–very genteelly, but yawning still–into the telephone. “Been working hard?” we queried.

“Yes, that,” said Renee, “and also I just got back from eloping.”

Remember eloping? We stifled an urge to inquire, “With a man?” Eloping seems so thirties movie-ish and madcap and old-timey–quite unlike anything you’d expect degagee cover-girl types to do.

But Renee is a good deal more grass roots than she appears. The marriage took place way down in Texas, which is Renee’s home turf, or was, back in the days when she was just another army brat, waiting for the local movie The-AY-ter to change features and for her life to shift gears. It did!

She effected a quick transfer from college in Texas to New York and the Wilhelmina Model Agency. A fast move from tacos and dust to champagne and sequins, but she had what it took. Her photographer states, “Aside from being a natural beauty, she’s the consummate professional. She works hard and she works well, and takes direction like an angel.”

The world is minus a museum curator. But, Renee found that she had other ground to cover. Not to mention plenty of magazines. We forgive her.

That cover brought me bookings from total strangers for the next six months. The other photo from that test with Lars was purchased by a cosmetics company and that became an ad for a perfume named Intoxication; the ad continued to run for years after I retired from modeling.

Despite his difficult reputation, Lars was a magnet for his favorite models. It wasn’t uncommon to find several of us in his studio any evening, with boyfriends or husbands in tow, drinking wine, chilling, chatting, perhaps snapping some photos here and there, as the spirit moved us. I vividly recall one Friday night. Jack and I walked into the studio to discover Jessica Lange and Mel Harris, along with her significant other, in residence. Jessica was in town promoting her recently released remake of “King Kong”, and Mel would soon go on to a solid career in TV. Ten years later she would be part of the cast of the wildly successful “thirtysomething” TV series, which ran for five years. Mel, Jessica, and I were all in Wilhelmina’s stable, but our paths didn’t cross until that evening.

Jessica Lange

Jessica in the 1976 remake of King Kong

As Dustin Hoffman's love interest in Tootsie

Mel Harris

Mel with Ken Olin, her TV husband in thirtysomething

It was around this time that I received a call from Jack’s ex-wife, who was in town from Chicago, wanting to meet for lunch; she had something important to tell me…

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Guy Meets Gal veston #50

Are all women cursed with an inability to be in balance? No, Jamie Leigh Curtis, I don’t mean your digestive tract; this isn’t a commercial for Activia. Is it part of our genetic makeup? I have the hardest time balancing this many-limbed situation called life. When I’m in the zone for several months with my writing, I can effortlessly cook wonderful meals, decorate, and do laundry, but never seem to find the time to keep up with filing, or do maintenance on my vehicle. I looked at my sad gardens and decided I would take off for ten days to focus on my neglected flowering children. Now, everything in my yard is sheer perfection, but I’m hearing screams of outrage coming from the laundry basket. “Hep us, somebody please wash us. That lazy trollop who put us in here won’t come in the house and do any laundry”. For the entire ten days I spent gardening, I didn’t get my 4-mile daily walk or gym visit in once! Do all modern women feel like an octopus trying to keep all arms in the air simultaneously?

Image from fvtemplates.com

I decided that’s what I want to do when I grow up; be in balance. Have all my ducks in a row, all my balls spinning in the air. I’ll be a whirling dervish of perfection. I watched so many neighbors returning from family spring break vacations yesterday, and thought, how many of them are feeling overwhelmed instead of relaxed and rested? They would have unpacking to do, then piles of laundry, a trip to the store to fill up the empty fridge, getting the kids primed for school today…and on and on. Now, pioneer women certainly worked their butts off too, with probably a rare moment to rest, but they weren’t being bombarded by TV and magazines exhorting them about ways to lose 15 pounds in 4 days and 19 minutes, buy this product and suddenly your life will have that final missing piece that will give you ultimate fulfillment. It seems that doing way more than one person can possibly handle just really isn’t good enough nowadays. And this comes from a R.E.T.I.R.E.D. person!!

I realize I actually spend more hours ‘working’ at my writing than I ever spent slaving away for someone else in an office. It’s like being self-employed and having your own business; you are never really ‘off work’. Between posting two blogs per week, working feverishly on a novel, and just starting to submit to writing contests, there are not enough hours in a month to do what I want to do in a day. But, for at least this one day, as I sit at my laptop, overlooking my perfectly groomed grounds, where every iris, hosta, daylilly, and elephant ear has been divided and transplanted, where every rose bush is on a scheduled feeding, and all annual bedding plants are snuggled into their new homes, I am momentarily at peace. Now, about that laundry…and oh crap, that still incomplete FAFSA application….

Lady Banks rose and Clematis 'Ramona" playing nicely together

Before we move on to more “Texas Toast”, how about the near Triple Crown this weekend for the news media?! First, the Royal Wedding. Too fabulous! Kate is such a regal, lovely girl, and thankfully in such seemingly different circumstances than poor Diana before her. Then, the news last night about the cosmic catapulting of Bin Laden straight into the arms of Satan. If only they had hit their intended target of Gaddafi instead of his son on Saturday, we would have had a trifecta of wondrous things to talk about today.

Segue now to the Saturday following my blind date with Jack. He had sent a limo to the Village to pick me up and bring me back to his place for cocktails before dinner. When I got into the limo, there were yellow roses in a vase waiting for me, and a freshly opened bottle of Dom Perignon. Years later, after many years of cycling through the dating world, I realized that “The Yellow Rose of Texas” bit was a cliche, but at that moment, I was in heaven. Lord knows, the only things I’d ever gotten from Boy were agita and the possibility of AIDS. At Jack’s, without the distraction of broken wine glasses and record albums, I really saw his place for the first time. It was magnificent, with 360 degree views of The Empire State Building, CitiCorp, The Chrysler Building, and both of the World Trade Center towers.  Depending on which terrace you were on, you could see the Hudson River or the East River. WOW! Dinner was at a sumptuous Indian restaurant overlooking Central Park, followed by coffee and brandies at the Plaza Hotel, then a carriage ride through the park. I kept pinching myself to insure I wasn’t dreaming, because it was just one week ago to the day that I’d been playing dodge ball with horny hands at the Lone Star Cafe.

On Sunday, I had a gig doing a charity fashion show in Harlem with members of Alvin Ailey’s dance troupe. The instant the show was over, it was back to Jack’s and a wonderful dinner he’d ordered in. I was beginning to feel like a tornado had picked me up and, while not knowing where it would deposit me, I really didn’t care. It was all about the ride. This guy was so smart, funny, sophisticated, and well, seemingly perfect.

One of Jack’s biggest clients in his ad agency was based in Dallas, so he made one or two trips a week down there for creative meetings. Because of that, we didn’t see one another Monday or Tuesday, but he flew back Wednesday and wanted to meet. That was the one night a week that was reserved for “Ladies Night”. All of us who had started out at Wilhelmina and had become friends always got together without spouses or boyfriends in tow to compare notes and catch up on girl talk. I had told Jack that we could talk when I got home from dinner. Imagine my surprise when he walked through the door of the Mexican restaurant about 15 minutes before we were leaving. Being in advertising, he was not the slightest bit intimidated to find himself the only male surrounded by 10 pretty, tall, leggy women giving him the grilling of a lifetime. Apparently he passed muster, and he and I were given the equivalent of a Papal blessing to continue dating.

The next day, Thursday, Jack had to fly to Dallas once again for an all-day meeting; would I be waiting for him at his apartment when his flight got in? There were thunderstorms that night and his flight was delayed. I had gotten to his place just before dark, and had been there alone for several hours. While wandering around, familiarizing  myself with the place, I suddenly was overcome by a sense of foreboding, a sense of warning. A chill went through me, and I saw the apartment in a different light. What was glamourous and expansive in the daytime, was suddenly ominous and creepy at night. There were so many windows  people could look through, so many doors leading to way too many terraces and balconies. I remembered that Jack’s building did not have a doorman, just a buzzer system, meaning that any stranger with a friendly smile could gain access through the lobby. Once in, they could easily hide in the shadows outside of the little stucco ‘house’ built on top of the 12-story apartment building. No one observing from the street would be able to see them and they would be free to take their time to break into any one of the exterior doors or windows. I shuddered and raced through the apartment checking locks on all the doors and windows, closed against that stormy April night.

Image from luxuryhouseconcept.blogspot.com

By the time the power went out, I had worked myself up into a terrible state. I’d spied a flashlight on a nightstand earlier and retrieved that, but didn’t feel comfortable rummaging through Jack’s drawers and cabinets to try and locate candles and matches. So, I sat very still, waiting for the electricity to come back on. I was sure I heard it, but couldn’t quite make it out. The walls seemed to be trying to tell me something, but strain as I might, I couldn’t make out the words. “Danger? Get Out?” Something was wrong here. Something malevolent was waiting. This was the opposite of Feng Shui, I thought, as the hair began to rise on my arms, along with goose bumps, and a growing sense of dread.

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Love at First Mishap #49

BUSTED!!

Baxter Mason really  knows how to tunnel into my heart about one million times a day, but yesterday he took a walk on the dark side. Still being a 75-pound puppy, he can’t usually go all night without needing a potty break. So, somewhere around 4-6AM The Spousal Unit will get up and let him out into the yard for the pause that refreshes. We can’t leave him out there, however, because to date he has dug 20′ long tunnels in the centipede grass, dug up newly planted flowers, destroyed a fountain, and eaten whole logs intended for the firepit. All of our outdoor lighting has been eaten and all the wiring now lives on top of the lawn, not underneath. Somewhere in his digestive tract lie the remains of my favorite patio chaise lounge chair. Our only alternative, if we want to sleep another hour or two, is to put him on a short leash in a guest room on the other side of the house. The Unit removes anything that could be in harm’s way and back to sleep we go.

Yesterday, on my way to our office, I glanced in the guest room and noticed a king-sized daffodil yellow chenille bedspread is missing. “Unit, did you put the guest spread in the laundry?”

“No, why?”

Because it’s missing.”

“It can’t be; it was on the bed this morning.” A full scale military search was launched for the M.I.A. spread. With the wile and cunning of Detective Clouseau, I began to find small tufts of yellow chenille under the bed. You guessed it! He didn’t just rip or tear this thing; HE ATE IT….ALL! I must say his poop is a most cheerful shade of yellow, and adds a colorful air of Easter to the yard.

Thirty-four years ago, in April 1977, I was experiencing a very different kind of Easter. I had a wonderful friend from Dallas named Shannon. I met her in her early days at Wilhelmina, when she was in the newby stage of her career. I was fairly well established by then and was very happy to show her the ropes. We became very close friends, but I was sad and surprised that she never had a single booking in New York. She was 6′ tall, slim as a reed, with white blond hair, and ice blue eyes. She had one of those 10,000 kilowatt smiles that lit up a room. When we’d board a city bus or walk into a restaurant, everyone would fall silent; that was the strength and impact of her beauty.

She managed to get some work in Brazil and came back radiantly happy and glowing, with a Brazilian Vogue cover and a new husband as trophies. Fernando was model handsome and worked for one of the biggest ad agencies in New York. One night over dinner Fernando suggested that I might like to meet his boss, Jack, a 36-year-old divorced man, who had been a Dee Jay in Los Angeles prior to a very successful career in advertising. He had created a slew of TV commercials that I was familiar with and had won several Clios (the ad biz’ answer to the Oscars or Emmys) for his efforts. I wasn’t appalled by the idea, but I wasn’t jumping up and down either. Work was my entire universe and I honestly hadn’t given men or dating a thought since I was sixteen (we are of course excluding the entire 8 years of the Boy debacle!). Perhaps it was time to take this dating thing out for a test drive.

Fernando arranged for the four of us to meet at Jack’s penthouse apartment in midtown for drinks, and then head down to the Village for dinner. To understand how out of character my behavior was on the Wednesday of that blind date, you need to know that I’m not a ‘shopper girl‘. I have patience for shopping for maybe one or two hours max, and then I want nothing more than to collapse into a vat of nachos and margaritas. I’d be in heaven if I could simply wiggle my nose Bewitched style and have fashionable, functional clothes magically leap into my closet. A POX ON SHOPPING! So, it was with great surprise that I told my agency I was taking a day off and would be unavailable for bookings or appointments, and that I ended up spending SIX hours in Macy’s looking for exactly the right thing to wear!

I found myself uncharacteristically nervous and amped up, like a wild cat catching the scent of something edible in the wind. I ended up assembling a gypsy outfit with a peasant blouse and twirling skirt, and layers of fringed shawls. Remember, children, the late 70’s were almost equal to the 1980’s fashions in terms of ‘Too Much Ain’t Never Enough‘, to steal from The Lone Star Cafe motto. I topped it off with shiny black patent leather boots with 5″ stiletto heels. These fashion details factor prominently in this story, so pay close attention. I remember going to a bank of pay phones in Macy’s outer lobby and calling my mom FOUR times to discuss the merits and wisdom of buying a pair of gold fan earrings that cost a whopping $100. Remember I’d just been fired from my waitressing job on Saturday. I didn’t treat myself often, but they were perfect for the gypsy outfit. I bought them and still have them in my jewelry box to this day.

I can’t explain why I was so nervous on the long bus ride up to meet Shannon and Fernando. Hell, it was just dinner, and I knew how to eat, so what was the big deal? If Jack turned out to be a troll, at least I’d go home with a full belly. When he answered his apartment door, the seas parted, angels sang, and I just stood there staring, mouth hanging open catching flies. No one had mentioned he looked exactly like Robert Wagner in his heyday.

Image from meredy.com

He was 6’3″, slim, and beautifully dressed, but the piece de resistance came when he spoke. Have you ever had dark melted chocolate slowly, tantalizingly dripped all over your body? Yeah, well, this was better! If we had been comic strip characters, this is where Pepe Le Pew would have had dozens of tiny red hearts floating through the air and Cupid shooting lust arrows straight into his girlfriend’s heart.

Jack poured us all wine and led us on a tour of his penthouse apartment on the 13th floor. It was actually a house built on the roof of a 12-story building, so there were extensive terraces and balconies and widow’s walks all around it. He proudly led me to his stereo credenza to show off his prized Chicago jazz collection. I set my glass down to pick up an album cover and the fringe on my gypsy shawl caught on the stem of the glass and sent it spilling all over several albums. In my mortification I stepped backward and heard an awful crunching sound from underneath my stiletto heel. That’s right, kids, I’d just crunched and destroyed at least two of his jazz records. Then Shannon went running to the kitchen to get paper towels, probably thinking this is the worst blind date on record. We got everything cleaned up and Jack was very gracious about my klutz-itis and walked me back toward the kitchen to refill my wine glass. As we’re heading there, I stopped to admire a sculpture he had displayed on a series of suspended shelves. I turned to ask him about it, and once again that damned shawl caught on a corner of the shelving, sending books, art, and glass objects crashing to the floor.

At that point, he simply smiled and scooped me up in his arms, carried me into the kitchen and deposited me on top of the counter. He braced his arms on either side of me and commanded, “Sit. Very. Still. Don’t. Move. You are possibly a lethal weapon and I’m going to have to neutralize you if I want to keep my home intact until we leave for dinner.” He hopped up on a counter across from me and we talked and laughed, and had a good old time until about an hour later when Shannon and Fernando poked their heads in the kitchen to see if we still wanted to go to dinner; we had completely forgotten about them!

Dinner passed in a blur and a blink of an eye. Jack ask me to dinner the following night, but Geoffrey Beene was taking a group of models to Philly at 4AM the next morning to tape a fashion segment for a talk show, and I knew I probably wouldn’t even be awake for dinner. On Friday I was treating myself to one very expensive ticket to Carnegie Hall to see Rod McKuen perform, so we made a dinner date for Saturday night. When we left the restaurant, he hailed a coach cab and gave the driver $20 to take me home; Cindarella had just met a Prince. Where ever might this lead……

016

Bride of Bigfoot #21

 

Trust me when I tell you that for the entire 18 months The Spousal Unit and I dated prior to presenting to the Marrying Magistrate, he only ever appeared before me wearing well-pressed, tucked -in shirts and quite stylish attire.

Early dating, hot off Match.com

 This is partly why I was attracted to him; even a quick run to the local grocery store required a fresh shower, hair product, pressed jeans, and always, that devastating smile and dimples. I have noticed, in the past two years, a slight slippage in this well-put-together appearance.  While the spikey, Howdy Doody bed-head is always well subdued before leaving home, he has taken quite a shine to some summer sandals he purchased recently, as in they NEVER come off his feet unless he’s showering or sleeping. No problem in the summertime, but now that we have had our second snowstorm in two weeks here at the beach, he refuses to relinquish them, and has started to put on really thick, furry olive green socks before sliding his feet into the beloved sandals. Eyes to the top of this post, dear readers, as a picture is worth a thousand blogger babblings. As bizarre as that is in itself, I could probably just ignore it were it not for the fact that he is now insisting on going out in public like this! So fear not when you read the coming accounts in the Globe and The Inquirer, about recent sightings of Big Foot at your local home improvement store; it’s just The Spousal Unit out running errands.

I wonder if his fierce attachment to his Jesus sandals is one of the reasons he is reluctant to prop a 30’ tall ladder in the snow and ice and shimmy up  to remove the two remaining wreaths and dancing snowflakes? I fully understand that things could be worse; he could start showing a fondness for Madras plaid shorts worn with white sneakers and black knee-high dress socks.  Any day now I half expect him to go twirling past me wearing a pink tutu, lederhosen, and his Australian cowboy hat. If this sartorial decline continues, I will soon be shopping for him at the ‘MiAss Droops AlotBoutique, located just off “I Used To Be a Hottie” Highway.

I’m putting all of you on notice that we may need to conduct a fashion intervention in the near future. I unintentionally started The Unit down the wrong fashion path in October, when I gifted him with two things he wanted very badly for his birthday. A real cowboy duster, just like Clint wore in ‘Pale Rider’, in addition to the Australian cowboy hat mentioned above.

"Who's your Daddy?"

Last night, under the influence of no vino whatsoever, he begins to describe the next addition he needs for his Hoppalong get up. A pair of ankle-high cowboy boots, the kind with little chains that rattle against the back of stacked heels. There was also some passing mention of holsters for his guns. The Teenage Morose One, who is yet again present on both of our two snow days, due to being GROUNDED once more!!, just rolled his eyes and retreated up the stairs when he heard this, the words HOW GAY flashing across his blemished forehead like neon Vegas lights.

You know by now that the word GAY whisks us right back to 1975 and my beginning days with Wilhelmina Models, immediately following the attack of the rogue lobster. This place was diametrically opposed to Eve Shelton Models.  Classes were arranged for all the new wannabees recently signed by Wilhelmina, to insure that we all followed the same standards and had a basic understanding of how this strange new world functioned. We learned the ropes of the business, the who’s who, the where, the why, how the magazine world worked, and the very important place that ad agencies should hold in our greedy little hearts.

After joining Willy, the quality of the photographers and the clients went waaayy up!

 We compared notes about new but talented photogs who could provide great test shots, and which ones to avoid, like Snow Monsters out on parole. Most of us weren’t making much money at that point, so if one girl got a new outfit, it was willingly shared with the rest of us, so we could get test shots made wearing it.

Am I on Madison Avenue or in Kenya?

When you’re not yet “discovered” designers aren’t exactly opening up their wardrobes to loan you killer clothes.

Willy, as she was fondly called, kept her new models on what amounted to probation until you either proved yourself through your earnings, went running back home crying to mama, or were “dropped” from her prestigious roster of models.  This was a cruel but necessary part of the business and always happened right before Christmas holidays and Memorial Day weekend. I don’t know what percentage of models were cut or dropped, but it certainly seemed that more girls were let go than the number who actually went on to have a lucrative career. I initially thought letting these poor kids get hit with bad news right before the holidays was terribly heartless, until Willy explained it to me. It actually made more sense to inform these girls that they would not have representation to come back to before they left on holiday break; this way they saved their return fare and could just remain back home in Indiana or Michigan, nursing their wounded pride surrounded by family.

One of the more surprising things I found was that the most beautiful girls were not usually the ones who became the biggest successes. The girls like Christie Brinkley and Andie MacDowell, who photographed exactly as they looked in person, were much less common than the plain Janes who morphed into swans in the hands of the right makeup artist and photographer.

Finally! Working REAL jobs for REAL clients, making $60 per hour

 I think there were ten of us in that beginner’s class and eight of us became extremely close friends and provided support for each other. There was one odd girl I remember in that group. She was pretty in a “I don’t really give a damn” way that some women have, but kept to herself and rarely participated in class discussions. She always sat in the back row, apart and aloof from the rest of us. I was a bit annoyed by the fact that she had grey eyes and auburn hair, the same as mine, after being told by the Gatekeeper that the agency couldn’t have too many redheads. She was mysterious and never joined us for lunch or drinks, and I never spotted her at any go-sees or auditions.

After my probationary period ended and I stopped going to classes, the odd girl slipped from my thoughts until one day I saw a familiar face on the cover of a porn video. Guess who was the star? She became very well known in that biz out on the left coast and was a star in that world for sure. It was interesting that she was using a completely different name, not the Vanessa that we knew her by. Strange world…how did she sidestep or free fall into that orbit? Was she intercepted somewhere along the way to becoming a print and runway model? Did she fall in love with the right or wrong guy who pushed her in that direction? Did she like her work? Cosmic questions that I never expect to learn the answers to.

Self Promotion at it's finest!!

Judi’ism #8

Judi’ism

The first and fifteenth of every month are the High Holy Days for The Spousal Unit and me. I wasn’t actually religious until I met Carl, spiritual yes, religious no. The Catholics had beaten it out of me, quite literally, in the first three years of my parochial school upbringing. But on these two High Holy days of our month, we are forced to worship at the altar of Judi’ism, also known as the wire transfer of the alimony payment into the account of the ex-wife Judi. She will feed on the entitlement teet until The Spousal Unit’s 115th birthday apparently; an Obama supporter undoubtedly. Reminds me of my favorite bumper sticker, which features a naive child’s drawing of Obama’s head wearing a Santa hat, with a caption that reads  “Messiah done come; you all be getting free stuff!”  MEOW!!  Bye Bye all my Democratic readers; Love You, Miss You Already!

Booger had his bandages, sutures, and cone removed Friday. OH HAPPY DAY. The black, purple, yellow, and green bruises dotting my legs from having that cone slammed against them multiple times a day for 25 days can now begin to heal. Pooter is also quite relieved to have that dreadful cone gone and has resumed her playful and peaceful relationship with the Booger, who now weighs 30 lbs. Nico has solemnly vowed that there will be no more suicide attempts or running away from home, so maybe there can be some peace in our kingdom, at least temporarily.

Booger, my superstar, post recovery

I can truthfully report I’m in the midst of a major love affair with my IPhone4 and my IPad; how did I exist prior to their arrival in my universe? Having perpetual  trouble getting the photos I post on this site to appear where I want them to be, instead of just arbitrarily inserting themselves wherever. It’s a learning curve for sure.

I just started reading a book by Stephen King (yes, ‘The Shining’, ‘Pet Sematary’, etc.) called ‘On Writing’ and I’m telling you, this dude is FUNNY. We all know he can scare the bejeezus out of you, but funny was a delightful surprise. I was getting my hair “designed” the other day at my favorite salon, Curl Up and Dye, and was laughing so hard I had snot bubbles coming out of my nose. Here’s an excerpt where he describes various childhood babysitters:

“The only one I remember with any clarity was Eula, or maybe she was Beulah. She was a teenager, she was as big as a house, and she laughed a lot. Eula-Beulah had a wonderful sense of humor-there seemed to be a potential thunderclap hidden inside each hand-patting, butt-rocking, head-tossing outburst of glee. When I see those hidden-camera sequences where real-life babysitters and nannies just all of a sudden wind up and clout the kids, it’s my days with Eula-Beulah I always think of. Was she as hard on my brother David as she was on me? I don’t know. He’s not in any of these pictures. Besides he would have been less at risk from Hurricane Eula-Beulah’s dangerous winds; at six, he would have been in the first grade and off the gunnery range for most of the day. Eula-Beulah would be on the phone, laughing with someone, and beckon me over. She would hug me, tickle me, get me laughing, and then, still laughing, go upside my head hard enough to knock me down. Then she would tickle me with her bare feet until we were both laughing again. Eula-Beulah was prone to farts-the kind that are both loud and smelly. Sometimes when she was so afflicted, she would throw me on the couch, drop her wool-skirted butt on my face, and let loose. “Pow!” she’d cry in high glee. It was like being buried in marsh-gas fireworks. I remember the dark, the sense that I was suffocating, and I remember laughing. Because, while what was happening was sort of horrible, it was also sort of funny. In many ways, Eula-Beulah prepared me for literary criticism. After having a two-hundred-pound babysitter fart on your face and yell  “Pow”, The Village Voice holds few terrors.” Funny, funny stuff.  I truly believe that a good belly laugh a day is what keeps the doctor away (no offense apples).

I indulged in some shameless self-promotion this week. Got both sides of my vehicle painted with my blog address and logo. Makes me glad I haven’t yet traded in my 7-passenger mommy van for that cute little Mini-Cooper convertible I’ve been eyeing. This way it’s rather like a giant, two-sided billboard rolling down the road. The most exciting thing that happened this week was the serendipity of reconnecting with an old friend I’d lost touch with for five years. When the Titanic-like disaster that held me down under water and very nearly drowned me struck in 2005, her job changes and the two of us moving, etc.,  caused us to lose touch. This spring, as I began to emerge from my almost five-year-long quasi-coma, I tried everything short of hiring a private detective to find her, but to no avail. Imagine my delight when her name popped up on an incoming email. I told The Spousal Unit that hers wasn’t such an unusual name; it surely couldn’t be that Marilyn.  But when she signed off using her old alter-ego, trailer-park name, I knew immediately I’d found the friend who rented a summer house on Fire Island with me, who vacationed with me, and who probably knew more about me than any one on the planet.  Hours on the phone later, it was like those five missing years never happened. And how weird is this? She and her husband are moving here to NC from NY and closing on their new house on December 1; go figure! I have vowed to never again be casual with a friendship and all the history that comes with a great one; they are just too rare and precious to allow to drift out of your life.

I wish I’d had that wisdom when I was 20 something and hanging with some of the most amazing women on the planet, all of whom were models or photographers. Perhaps the arrogance of youth led me to believe that special friends would always be plentiful and in never-ending supply. Most of us were new to modeling and shared everything we had, from our meager wardrobes to tips about which photographers to avoid like the Black Plague. One was married to a famous football player and in our eyes Gabby had everything, a high-rise apartment on the upper Eastside in a doorman building, endless designer clothes, and handbags stuffed with dollar bills and credit cards. Fast forward to a chance meeting at a restaurant 15 years later to find that the famous football player had ditched her along the way for a younger, taller version. And there was my wonderful, tomboyish friend Heather, who looked exactly like Jean Shrimpton. I could never understand why she wasn’t on every magazine cover imaginable, but she just didn’t catch the fancy of the editors. Last I heard she married a wealthy Greek shipping tycoon who adored both her and her endearing obsession with the Grateful Dead. Then radiant, bubbly Samantha, who quickly ditched the husband she brought along from Indiana for complete submersion into Scientology and life in LA. When I saw her five years later she looked and sounded like a wind-up doll version of a Stepford wife. Maggie also had an inconvenient small-town husband in tow when she fell in love with Chad, a very married art director. Chad’s soon-to-be ex-wife, taking exception to the inclusion of a girlfriend in her marriage, promptly blew up the houseboat Maggie and Chad were then living on; fortunately no one was home at the time. This statuesque, Midwestern,  Cybil Shepard lookalike, got the silly notion that she was fat because she didn’t fit the size 4 most of us wore and became my first, but sadly not my last, anorexic friend. Quinn and her handsome husband were top fashion photographers who would book me for practically every job they shot and who would prove instrumental in getting me into TV. One day she discovered God, began toting her bible everywhere, stopped wearing makeup, began dressing like a swami, and ended up leaving her bewildered husband and the business they had so carefully crafted in order to submerge herself in some fundamentalist west coast cult. And finally, blonde, fragile, porcelain doll Alexis, whose irrationally jealous Lebanese husband’s hobby was beating the crap out of her whenever any other man so much as glanced in her direction, which was approximately every 17 seconds. Talk about killing the goose that laid the Golden Egg. Vogue finally stopped booking her after the third or fourth time she arrived for a shoot with angry bruises covering her exquisite face. Eventually, he’d broken her face so many times, and her lies to cover up for him had grown so outlandish, that her spirit became shattered to the point that she quit the business. What I would give to get all those ladies together for a reunion. A few bottles of Cuervo and Jack, a handful of joints, and I believe a whole new book would be waiting to be written.

Pooter walking Booger