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!
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.