Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Today's Blind Items - Times Don't Change

Back in the early days of the site a talent manager who is A+ list and many of you know, approached me about one of his clients, who was a couple of years under age. He was concerned because of what he was seeing. Even though everyone knew how old his client was, whenever he would send her out for an audition or modeling gig, she would come back with horror stories of bad behavior from those who were in a position of power or other celebrities who were often two, three, or even four times her age. He was used to handling teen pop singers. That was his niche back then, and he knew what to look for in music. This was a new niche though and he was really troubled and wanted me to shine a light on it. I did, and started with those who had interactions with his client.

Back in 2008 when his client wrote this piece for me, no one knew who she was. When I said I would give her initials to use like MV or JL or ZX, she said it didn't matter because "no one knows who I am." I'm not going to out her today, except to say, she is not a nobody any longer. She always loved a good blind and even wrote some herself on her own space, until she became too well known. When I see the landscape today, it doesn't feel like a whole lot has changed from 2008.

Here is what she wrote a dozen years ago.

In my industry, the biggest thing to remember is that you're nothing but a product.

You're disposable until you make a name/brand for yourself. I think with that knowledge, I'm able to better work the opportunities and the people in front of me. The problem is, no one tells you that. They want you to be a mindless walking clothes hanger and focused on nothing else.

Your career depends on the last thing you did and who liked it. Whether it's an editor of a magazine who can put you on a cover or an important photographer who wants to claim you as his "muse". Both bring work and stability in an industry that, by it's very design, is not stable or constant. It's always evolving and there's always a thousand hungry girls waiting for you to become obsolete.

As a little background, I'm still in my teens and I'm a junior in high school. Because of the success and opportunities I've had early on, my agency has urged me to move to Manhattan. My parents are very education oriented and the modeling world is extremely foreign to them, but my agency assured them I would have roommates my own age and constant adult supervision within the apartment and on the shoots, as well as tutors that would supply placement tests approved by my high school.

So, reluctantly, they agreed to let me go. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the whole proposition. I had never lived without my family or in a large city for that matter, and the idea of freedom (even if supervised) was exciting.

Well, things have not been quite as advertised, but I'll get into specifics at a later date.

But I figured a good introduction into the world that I live in would be this past Paris Fashion Week. It was my first real fashion week and to my surprise, I had booked every day solid without ever having stepped foot in Europe before. The agency was thrilled and I was quite pleased with myself. I had only been in Manhattan for a little over a week and I was flying off to Europe to model for the best designers in the game and to walk alongside the girls who owned the scene at the moment. I thought I had made it without even trying! Right.

I arrived in Paris and was told there was absolutely no time to go to the hotel, that I was needed at the first designers location for a fitting. I had one of the agency handlers with me (someone who is provided to underaged girls overseas who are familiar with the area and people), and he quickly ushered me into the backstage fitting area. I met the head designer for the fashion house (a name you all know), and was quickly given the once over by him. He seemed indifferent. That was quite the blow to the ego!

My handler then took me to one corner of the fitting area and proceeded to hand me a glass of champagne, a pack of cigarettes and placed a small bag of cocaine in my hand. He asked me if I knew what it was. I said yes. He asked me if I had ever tried it. I said no. He proceeded to tell me that the cocaine and cigarettes would help me keep my hunger and weight in check and that the champagne will help keep me full. He then turned around and walked away. I didn't see him again until the next fitting a day later.

The moment he walked away, I became instantly paranoid and started watching the other girls intensely. Almost every single one of them kept going over to a table that was situated near one of the corners of the room and had some security detail around it. Each one of them came back out of the corner playing with the noses or immediately looking into a mirror to make sure their nose was clean.

I've always been too stubborn to really give into peer pressure, and although the other girls were barely acknowledging my presence, I was starting to feel extremely uncomfortable. At that point, I started to notice a girl was shaking a bit while they were fitting her. She then started to shake uncontrollably and her nose was bleeding and she had weird foamy saliva coming out of her mouth.

One of the security detail came over to her, but he was brushed aside while they quickly, but carefully, took off the pieces they were fitting on her. When it was finally off, the security took her and put her in a back room. He was getting instructions from one of the designers assistants in French, which I didn't understand. But I was so scared I asked a French girl next to me who I had heard speak English earlier what was going on and being said. She glanced at me and said, "he was told to call the doctors once all the fittings were over".

Three hours later, all I could do was look at the door to the little room. Not a single person went in to check on her the entire time. When my fitting was done, I ran out of the area and jumped into the taxis that were waiting for us. I went straight to my hotel room and cried. It was at that moment, I realized that every single model is nothing until you MAKE people remember your name and face. Until you can DEMAND to be treated as something more than "just another girl". I flushed the cocaine and cigarettes down the toilet and went to sleep.

The next day the show started, and that girl was nowhere to be seen.

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