Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Glimpse Into My Travel Journal Part1

Just recently, while doing something of a major organizational overhaul in my house, I discovered a few of my travel journals and a binder full of emails that I would send out to family & friends as my modeling seasons were coming to a close. I'll go ahead and share these sappy entries that often waxed and waned poetic....or something like that.....LOL! I am a Gemini and therefore subject to being both very attached and very detached to people and places all at the same time. So I hope that explains some of the emotion behind my entries. Here is the first of many....


I am still in South Beach. The shallowness remains, but I have made some of the best friends I could've ever imagined. I love them all. I will miss then and this place with all my heart. I don't want to leave. I don't want this all to end. I have found my true happiness here and must return next season. South Beach is ingrained in my heart and psyche. Being here is like a drug. I know I can't go for long without coming back. It is here that I became both a woman and lived the childhood I never truly was allowed to have. I have somehow fallen in love with this place. It is inexplicable. It is mad. But, it is true. I cannot deny myself this. I have lived more in three months here than in all 22 years of my life. I will return and live fully again when I do! I FEEL SO ALIVE!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Moving On to Milan & My Dirty Little Secret

My season in Miami ended at the end of February. I had thought about staying for a few weeks into March, but by then my mother agency, Q6 Talent, had placed me in Milan with a reputable boutique agency called Eye for I. The owners were on the horn with my booker at Q6 on a weekly basis from the beginning of February asking when I would be flying out to Milan as they had a lot of clients showing interest in me and one photogrpaher was already starting to line up some jobs. I hemmed & hawed with them because I really didn't want to commit to a date since I loved being in Miami so much and I would be the first of my group of friends to be leaving.....but the pressure kept mounting so I booked my plane ticket and was off.

I have to admit that the prospect of going to Italy was both exciting and disturbing. I had toured the country and loved it when I was in college, but somewhere in between my Asian modeling trips I had actually, and this is my dirty little secret, gone to Milan with another agency and stayed for a total of 7 days before hightailing it outta there and none too quickly. I was scouted in Portland right after I had gotten back from Taiwan and asked to fly out to Milan within two weeks. I was besides myself with excitement and because my mother agency had not heard anything bad about the agency that scouted me I was on that plane quicker than you can blink an eye. I will not disclose the name of the agency as they have since grown to have a pretty powerful reputation, but trust me, when I was there, it was not a good place.

My first trip to Milan is not one that I like to count as a season or an actual modeling was a bad experience, and since most of my modeling experiences have been nothing but positive, this is one that I prefer to keep locked away in the catacombs of my brain....but why write my memoirs & not include it...right? So here goes....I get to Milan, move into my tiny and filthy models apartment with two other models, Beata from Poland and Rikke from Denmark. They were sweethearts so that was great, although Beata was dating an Italian P.R. which meant our phone rang off the hook day & night with other P.R.'s asking us out to party and dinners.

As a model in Milan you quickly find out what a P.R. is and that you should stay away from them at all costs. P.R.'s are Italian men who are paid by the Milanese clubs & restaurants to take models out in order to provide eye candy for the other patrons. Yes, in Miami we also got VIP treatment at clubs and got invited to parties by promoters but the vibe was totally different. P.R.'s are very, and almost harrassingly, persistant and once you give them your number they will hound you like a stalker until you agree to go out with them....then they put the moves on you. Luckily, Beata's boyfriend was her boyfriend so the few times I joined them on a night out that week I didn't feel too weird although watching the other P.R. vultures in action was rather sickening. These men are notorious for slipping GHB in an ususpecting girl's drink and then welll....I'm sure you have all seen this kind of stuff on Dateline.

My third night in Milan, my roomates and I were called by our model scout, Fabio, and told that we would be required to attend an agency dinner later that evening and that he would be picking us up at 10pm. Agency dinners anywhere are a normal and good way to get to know who you are working with , meet your fellow models, make contacts, etc. I didnt think this was too odd of a request although being told that we were "required" to go should have been a red flag. Most agencies invite you to their dinners and whether you show up or not is up to you.

Fabio showed up as promised, took us to a very elegant restaurant and that is when things started to get strange. There were only three other girls there from the agency, and they were already in varying stages of drunkeness, there were no bookers or clients, but in their stead there was a handful of very old and very aristocratic looking men. Hmmmm. I sat with my roomates on either side of me and commenced to eat and make small talk with the other models all the while noticing how these men were eyeing us like wolves. Uncomfortable? Hell yes. After dinner we were then taken to the home of one of the men who happened to be an Italian count for "dessert" and espresso. Since the restaurant, and subsequently the count's house, were on the outskirts of Milan, we had no choice but to go along....had I been in Milan longer than three days, you better believe that at this point I would have figured out a way to get home and pronto.

The count's house was a palazzo....entirely divine and had been featured in an issue of Architectural Digest which was proudly displayed on a coffee table. What the palazzo did not offer however was dessert and espresso. Champagne was uncorked and served, and I passed time & time again on the offers of bubbly. At this point I was completely uncomfortable and my fight or flight instinct was on at full throttle.....and that was even before we were escorted to the basement...or should I say "love den". The man had a basement that was fully tiled in black marble with a black marble swimming pool in it, a sauna, tennis court (not marble...jeez!), and a huge round bed covered in black silk sheets. Had I somehow been transported to the set of some really bad porn? Felt like it.

When I saw what was going on I asked my scout to take me home and he not so graciously declined while stripping to his boxers right next to me. At this point the other girls, with the exception of one of my roomies, had started taking off their clothes and jumping into the pool with the lecherous geriatrics. I sat on the edge of the bed with my coat on even though I remember it was pretty damn warm in there and watched on in disbelief. The girls were squealing and flirting with these nasty old men, letting themselves be groped and lord knows what else. After what may have been 5 minutes but seemed more like an eternity I got up and started to leave. I had no idea where in the hell I was, had no money for a cab but I was bound & determined to get the hell out of that sex hole hell. Here I was, a model, a professional, being treated like an escort. The other girls may have been fine with it, but this went way beyond anything I would ever be willing to do or be a part of. When my scout noticed me leaving he walked over me, dripping wet, and told me not to be stupid, to loosen up & have fun since these were important men & I would not want to make a bad impression on them. WTF? I left anyways and took my one clothed roomate with me.

Somehow, and by the grace of God, the count's chauffeur agreed to drive us back into town although he got lost and we ended up hoofing it back to our apartment on Beatrice D'Este. I got on the phone immediately and made calls to my agency leaving messages and later talking to them telling them I wanted out and that I would be booking a flight home the next day. I ended up staying for four more days because of airline issues, and left swearing I would never return. Later I found out that this and several other agencies that are actually legitimate modeling agencies in Milan were participating in this kind of behaviour.....wealthy men would pay to have models come out and join then for dinners, etc. much like an escort would, albeit unknowingly. Highly disturbing. One of the girls that night was only 15.

Ok, so now can you see why I was a little hesitant to go back to Milan? I hate thinking about that trip, hate admitting that I got suckered in to a situation like's been my dirty little modeling secret for a long time. What put me on the plane this second time was the fact that my booker at Q6 knew the owners of the agency (Eye for I) who were a husband & wife team and the fact that I would be meeting up with some of my friends from Miami while there. Jean-Paul was going to be in Milan with Why Not and Kari would be going to Athens and joining us later with IMM Agency. What did I have to loose? So it was time to bid South Beach farewell....but not without a promise to return.....

I'd be giving up my Miami comp to go overseas and see what Italy could do for me......

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Attitude Adjustments & Calling Cabs South Beach Style

I ended up staying in Miami that season as long as I possibly could. I had established an amazing group of friends, was working several times a week and having the time of my life. And because writing about photoshoots is just not all that interesting.....okay, another day spent at the beach getting hair & make-up done, yadda yadda yadda....I always fall back on my memories of those times of debauchery that were ever so much fun.

After Kari and I moved in with Jason at the Decoplage, we quickly became regulars at Wet Willies which is a margarita bar of sorts on Ocean Drive. For $7 you could get an enormous frozen beverage in one of about 30 flavors and don't even get me started on how good the fries were. The best on earth. Nuff said. You could then take your drink and either walk across the street to the beach or sit on the second story porch and people watch....and you have not people watched until you have been to South Beach. This was a place we could go hang out toss back a drink and just chill, or prefunk cheaply before hitting one of the the main clubs. Prefunking is of the essence even though models get VIP treatment which includes free bottles of alchohol, etc.....but oftentimes you have to wait a while for your table or there are so many models already there waiting to pounce on some vodka that you end up sipping on cranberry juice pretending you have the most orgasmic blend of cocktail in the house. Always prefunk. Amen.

One drink at Wet Willies would leave you rubber legged unless you were a hardcore alchoholic, so cheap & tasty are the best way to describe a Willies frozen cocktail. I'd be lying if I said I don't sometimes wish I had one in hand...especially after a long day with a crazy toddler. Willies was also notorious for how strict they were about the legal drinking age, unlike pretty much every other party establishment on the beach. I have seen models as young as 13 wasted and dancing on tables in the most exclusive clubs there. At Wet Willies, you were either 21 or left outside. This was a nice perk since drunk people in general annoy the crap out of me (thank God I never met myself drunk) so you can imagine how annoying it is to have to be around a drunk teen. You inevitably become a babysitter and that is just not cool no matter how you look at it.

Two of the most potent and popular drinks at Willies were the Call A Cab and the Attitude Adjustment. These would kick you in the ass and Jason was incredibly fond of the Cabs. By the end of season the boy could drink 5 (or more?) of those things and still walk straight. I remember one night my friend Wendy and I emptied an entire container of salt into Jason and her boyfriend, Travis', drinks while they were in the bathroom. They sucked those puppies down without noticing a thing after they got back. That is what those drinks do to you. So you can imagine the insanity that would ensue when we would go out to Willies, the boys would down drinks like they were going out of style and we girls would sip our one or two demurely.....heh!....then we would head out on the town. Club Amnesia was hot at the time and we would end up there on most nights, or Bar Room, then go eat papas rellenas and croquetas at 2am from one of the little Cuban greasy spoons before heading home for the night. We always traveled in our tight knit, thick as thieves pack, so partying hard was never an issue. We were safe in our numbers and after a while, when you are a model on South Beach, the entire place becomes a little like "Cheers"....everyone knows your name & face and you know theirs. They also happen to know your business so you don't ever want to go too crazy. But crazy is as crazy does. eh?

I always had my camera on me to record our antics.....but I just can't find the energy to scan in and crop every single one to show you how badly we all behaved, or how much fun we had....depends on how you look at it. But here are a couple.....

Jason, Travis, Wendy and Kari on the way home from a night out at Wet Willies:

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My beautiful cousin, Melka, who was home from Duke Univ. & decided to brave a night out on the town with me & mine (not sure where the mystery rose next to my face is coming from.....):

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Club Amnesia with Matt, Anna, me, Jean Paul, Kari, and Mandy:

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lechon Asado and Tanning on Christmas

It's Christmas Eve as I type cold and ever dismal Portland, and I can't help but think of my first Christmas away from the West Coast that season....Christmas in Miami. All the agencies shut down on the beach for a couple of weeks so there is no work & nothing to do.....most of the other models go home, wherever home is. I got to stay behind. And even though there was something empirically wrong about seeing Christmas lights, wreaths and other decorations go up in balmy, palm filled South Beach, after all my Oregon Christmases, it was kinda nice to work on my tan while sipping on an egg nog latte frappucino with nary a goosebump in sight.

The reason I didn't high tail it out of there for the holidays with the rest of the model flock was because I have a bevy of relatives in Miami, Cuban of course, and they invited me to stay with them and gorge on homemade Cuban food...which is some of the best food on earth in my opinion. Ummmm, excuse me as I wipe the drool off of my chin while visions of lechon asado, yucca con mojo, moros con cristianos, and maduros dance in my head. It was a great holiday that year....full of all the family warmth, salsa music and delicacies Cubans are known for. Not to mention some family time and real world-ness that was missing from the ever glitzy South Beach scene.

Two weeks of holiday hiatus and it was back to the beach, work, and play. I think I may have been a few pounds heavier by then, but what can ya do, eh? Turn down lechon and tres leches? I don't think so!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The English Gentleman & His Outrageous Irish Sidekick

This was the season in Miami that Kari and I befriended two guys that would become fast friends and give us a taste of what it's like to be, well, extremely and wonderfully pampered.....Neil and Cormac. Neil was a self-made tycoon from London and Cormac was his wild Irish social secretary who would go check out the hottest clubs and restaurants and report back to Neil whether or not they were worthy of going to.

Kari was the one that met Cormac first, and if I remember correctly it was at an Elite agency dinner at Joia that we all happened to be at. They exchanged numbers and the following day he called her asking in his delicious brogue whether or not she would want to "join [him] in bed." Rather awkward question unless you already knew that BED was one of the hottest restaurant/clubs in South Beach at the time. Basically the decor consisted of enormous white cloud beds seperated by gauzy white curtains surrounding a DJ booth and dancefloor. You'd eat, drink and make merry on the beds and were served by a waitstaff wearing white pajamas.....think Sex in the City....

Anyways Kari turned down this invitation, but Cormac persisted until one evening she caved in, recruited me to come along and we joined Cormac and Neil for dinner at one of the many posh posh restaurants in Miami followed by VIP treatment at Opium Gardens. We had a blast. The first thing we noticed was that Neil traveled well....always in accompaniment of beautiful girls and interesting people, be they entrepeneurs, politicians, etc. Neil seemed to know everyone and be known by everyone as well. He was exquisitely mannered and soft spoken, eloquent and the epitome of what you would imagine dining with James Bond would be like. Cormac was wild, hilarious...and I mean side-splitting in his humor....and could turn anyone's bad mood into a good one. They were both absolute gentlemen, and to the surprise and/or suspicion of anyone that Kari & I ever told about our new friends, were far from shady or lecherous. Here were two perfect gentlemen who liked being surrounded by brains and beauty and for some lucky reason they decided that we fit into that description. No advances were ever made. We were treated to wonderful evenings out and had to give nothing but our presence and stimulating conversation. Neil and Cormac are living proof that there really are good, decent men in the world who just happen to have a lot of money.

Dinner with Neil at some insanely good restaurant....can't remember which one though!:

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At the lobby of the Delano with Cormac & friends:

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Thanks to Neil and Cormac, Kari and I got to check out and spend time in the most exclusive enclaves that South Beach had to offer.....they were even more of an "in" than the mere fact that we were models which is usually your E-ticket anywhere. They made sure we were well fed at the most ridiculously amazing restaurants, and we thanked our lucky stars for that. Thanks to those two we got to diversify our Taco Bell, Burger King diets and dine on Kobe beef and caviar. Ocean Drive parties and rockstar treatment aside, Neil & Cormac let us into a world where we got to really feel like royalty. And this was just a taste of what was to come....we met up with them in Milan later, Miami for second season and then Milan again for a side trip to Monaco for the Grand Prix. I miss those two. I'm still in contact with Cormac but haven't heard from Neil in ages...and I hope he is well.

Cormac in his PlayBoy Magazine cover shower curtain turned someone's Star Island house party:

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Infamous Ocean Drive Party

So what was THE most memorable event/party that I got to attend my first season in Miami? I have to say it was the Ocean Drive Party hosted by the magazine of the same name and thrown with lavish proportions at the most luxurious hotel in South Beach. Geting to attend this party made you feel like you had officially entered the world of the gliteratti....and yes, for that one night in particular, my friends and I could have given any of today's celebutants a run for their money....and we would not for a second mind getting our hands on some of that cash.

Models Night Out.....pretending to be famous...there I am in the middle, sandwiched by my beautiful friends:

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The Ocean Drive party was so exclusive that only a small amount of models per agency were allowed on the guest list which was reserved mainly for celebrities and other people that normally roll around with black Amex cards and a 20+ person entourage. Walking into the lobby of the Loews, the hotel it was held in that year, we were all exposed to the flashing lights and general obnoxiousness of the paparazzi (although when you are far from famous, this is actually more fun than obnoxious) after which we were all ushered into the grand ballroom where hedonism ruled supreme.

Kari and I with our friends Neil and Cormac...the REAL James Bonds:

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In every corner of that massive room there were buffet tables layed out with food from different countries and bars overflowing with libations....all of which were free to us. Above the tables, you were either greeted by intricately carved ice sculptures or skin models on beautifully bedecked beds wearing practically nothing and literally in the throes of copulation in every position you can imagine. This was particularly disturbing since I am not a huge fan of naked body parts coming (take whatever definition of that word that you would like) anywhere near my food. But no matter how you looked at it, this was a P.A.R.T.Y. and a full blown one at that and you felt on top of the world just being there....especially after a glass of champagne or two.

Needless to say, this was one night when nobody would have made a good designated driver...or walker for that matter. An hour into the affair we were all but stumbling and inhibitions went by the wayside. At one point I snapped a picture of Steven Segal which I would NEVER in my right mind do, as well as walked up to Robin Leach and gave him a tremendous hug while calling him "darling". Whoah. After the party ended we joined Lenny Kravitz in the VIP of Crobar only to continue being served drinks which at one point, while dancing madly to Jay-Z, Kari and I spilled all over some guy who said he owned a publishing firm in NYC and must have been drunk off his own keester to not mind that we had soaked his Armani suit with Jack Daniels.

Steven Segal......I guess I thought I was one of the paparazzi for a sec:

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The next morning we ran into this same guy at the News Cafe on Ocean Drive as we ate a late and greasy hangover breakfast....he had the waitress bring us over Bloody Mary's which we did not touch....not much into the hair of the dog thing....just made Kari & I want to hurl all the more. Luckily, we didn't run into Joe Publisher again and were able to enjoy the Volleypalooza model agency volleyball competition (imagine fashion models in board shorts and bikinis all competing to win for their agencies) followed by the open air Third Eye Blind concert during which I developed a 10 minute crush on Stephen Jenkins. Man, this was the life. I remember thinking at that point that life could never get better than that. My job was to have good friends and good fun at that point. Nice.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Let Me Interrupt....

Just had to go off track for a second and respond to a few queries as to why I am only using first names in my posts...Well, it's pretty simple. Although the majority of the people I am writing about are close friends, some have gone by the wayside and some have a lot of dirt to hide since they plan to run for office and other such things. Ha! And while no one has told me that they care whether or not I disclose their entire identity....with the exception of one good friend who insists that I call him "Golden Arms"....I think it's kinda creepy to give out THAT much information on people in a public blog. I'd rather just stick to writing about their drunken mishaps and so on as well as posting images of their naked bums running around Italy....oh, you'll see what I mean by this later...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cheese and Sex

Not even in Miami was I able to escape the super smile-a-rific cheese that I had had to endure on one too many shoots in Japan. A lot of German and Dutch catalog clients like their models to smile till it hurts for their pictures, and since I had Asian tearsheets professing to my smiling abilities, I ended up booking many a job that would leave my facial muscles aching at the end of the day.

Here I am in the middle doing a campaign for a Dutch jeanswear company called "Cracker Jeans"...yeah, that really was the name, LOL!:

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Cheese was not something I was soon going to escape....but you learn in the modeling world that Cheese can be a good pays...a lot. You may not end up looking like some drop dead Victoria Secret diva...but you get to pay your bills, and that is pretty damn okay.

From super cheesetastic and wholesome as can be, to severely naughty in 2.5 seconds flat.:

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On the other hand, I also got morphed into a sex kitten while in Miami. Shooting for the likes of Spanish Maxim, H: Para Hombres, and Alex Pertile. Now these jobs made me feel fabulous, but like I said's the cheese that pays. The glammy jobs were for magazine editorials which pay nickels and dimes. You do these jobs for the tearsheets, nothing else, because after the agency takes its cut (20%) you are often left with only enough to treat yourself to an awesome night out at Taco Bell.

This is how guys think we girls like to hang out when they aren't around.....dream on boys......

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bookings...Miami Style

Since I covered some base on what work conditions were like for me in Taipei and Osaka, I have to go into what bookings were like in South Beach.....and I have to say that besides the usual pre-dawn call times, the work was cake.

After getting used to working long hours in Asia, I was amazed at how quick & easy the bookings were in Miami (later I came to find out that pretty much all of the bookings I would have in the States would be like this). Like I said before, work in Miami is mainly catalog and commercial and done for an International clientele. I worked for several British, Italian, Dutch, Mexican, Spanish and German clients as well as a handful of American companies flying South for the winter. Although I shot a few magazines and covers, I mainly worked on catalogs and was booked for what is called either a "half-day" which is supposed to be 4 hours but many times is only about an hour and a half, or a "full-day" which entails 8 hours...which pretty much means anything over 4 hours.

The clothes were for the most part basic and comfortable, no overheating here, although shooting swimwear in the early morning, even in Miami, makes for blue skin and goosebumps. The clients were always super nice and accomodating, genuinely friendly and had motorhomes for us to change in, relax and/or stuff our faces with the veritable cornucopia of snacks that would always be layed out for talent & crew. Ahhhh, comfort! This, however, doesn't mean that I didn't sometimes have to change in make-shift conditions (which happened almost ALL the time in Asia) and which meant you were changing....yes, getting completely buck naked and changing....surrounded by the stylist, art director , photographer's assistant and make-up artist as they held up beach towels so that all the passing tourist couldn't catch sight of your naughty bits. Once you've done this a few times, you a) lose a lot of modesty and b) learn to change from one bikini into another without ever really getting naked. That one is on my resume, thank you.

Bookings would take place anywhere. Sometimes we would shoot in South Beach itself, and sometimes we would head out to Key Biscayne or the Everglades. On the days I would shoot in SoBe, I would normally get really lucky and end up showing up, going into hair and make-up, shooting for 20 minutes and then getting to go home....this would be considered a half day job even though I would only be there for maybe a little over an hour tops and I'd still make the same amount of money I would make in Asia for a 12 hour day. Spoiled? How could you not be? Most of my full day jobs were on-location off of the beach. Which basically meant, we, the models were getting paid to travel in a moho, shoot for a while, chat it up with the clients and basically just hang out. The clients were always in a good, layed back mood too (they were on pseudo vacation, remember?!) which made for a really great work environment. This was the modeling of my dreams!! Although, being something of a workaholic, I honestly never minded the grueling Asian work days. Long hours being dressed up and made up still beats long-hours in a cubicle.....and believe me, been there & done that.

That was what working in Miami was like in a nutshell! A pleasure, through and through. I'm sure people have had nightmare bookings there happens, but I was lucky enough to have nothing but good experiences there and work with really great teams. Even the shot for Spanish Maxim where I had to lay on the floor of an old abandoned warehouse wearing a thong and some feathered wrap wasn't so bad....the clients made sure I was warm with a portable heater and scoured the floor to ensure that I wouldn't get tetanus from a rusty nail in my glutes. Oh, I love thee.....

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Of Awesome Views and Psycho Roommates

After living in our pension for a little over a month, our friend, EIleen, decided to go back to Portland. Kari and I would have been fine staying and splitting the rent two ways, but at that point the unit was having some problems, i.e. the bathroom from the apartment right above ours was leaking copious amounts of water through the ceiling and into our apartment & the owners were doing nothing about it. At that timeI was approached by two other girls from Elite about moving in with them.

Jada & Erin were the girls who were looking for new roomates to share their studio apartment at the Decoplage. Jada was a self proclaimed "Southern Belle" from Georgia and Erin was from a small town in Washington. They both seemed really nice at the time and they had an amazing, albeit small, unit at the popular complex, the Decoplage. The apartment was on the 12th floor of the building and afforded us views of the beach and its vast expanse of cerulean waters. At that time, the Decoplage was considered "model towers". Most of the models on the beach lived there which gave it somethng of a fab dorm atmosphere. The building sat at the end of Lincoln Road, right on the beach with a gym, valet parking, concierge services, pool and private beach access. It was luxury digs when it comes to model apartment living. But along with the "luxury" came steep rents so the more the merrier. Kari and I moved in.

The Decoplage....tall pink building to the right of the pic....not too shabby:

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After living there for several weeks, Kari and I started to feel uncomfortable. Jada and Erin were very clique-ey with each other and for some reason, Erin had a problem with Kari. This has, to this day, remained a mystery to us since there was never any real issue other than perhaps Erin was gaining a lot of weight and Kari could out eat a football player any day and still have a perfect body....being that they were both blond and therefore in direct competition with each other....jealousy maybe? Or maybe it was because she would be on the phone at every hour of the night & day with her boyfriend and we never got to use the horn because of it....or get much sleep. There is nothing more annoying than getting woken up at 4am by someone whispering a conversation over the phone with their sig other. 4 am? Seriously, what the hell do you have to talk about at 4am? Anyways, I think Kari may have mentioned something about this to Erin and therefore upset her. Like I said, it's a mystery.

Jada, on the other hand, I dismissed as shy rather than think that she was an outright bitch. I was wrong. The girl never, ever smiled, and also had some obsessively weird relationship with her fiance who lived in Georgia. Another all hours on the phone thing. We ended up all cohabitating in this studio and it got to the point where Kari and I dreaded to go home and would hang out with other friends and at coffee shops till we just had to go back for showers and sleeping. At this point we had met with a zany photographer from NY named Gary who perenially wore a black Stetson and who dubbed us the "anti-models" because we were such normal girls and just did the job for the sake of doing the job, nothing else. He took us under his wing and introduced to us a bunch of great characters, one of which ended up becoming my best guy friend, Jean-Paul. Luckily, this meant we had a lot of people to hang out with and that kept us out of the apartment.

I would say another month passed and my friend from Portland, Jason, who was also a model let me know that his two roommates were going back to Canada and he needed new roomies....and did I know anyone? Oh, did I know anyone? LOL! Jason had a one bedroom on the unfabulous third floor of the Decoplage....but it was a one bedroom! When I jumped on the opportunity, he offered me & Kari the bedroom and took the living room as his home base. Jason is and always has been the quintessential gentleman. Kari and I won the lottery with him as a roommate. We traded our beach view for a view of Burger King and the Albion Hotel and lived happily ever after that season.

I have to add that several years later, while living in LA, I did a shoot for Razor magazine with a photographer, Ian, who I had become friends with. When I arrived on set my heart sank as I saw that the other model working that day was Jada. It is a small industry, really. We were cordial to each other. That was that. The next day, Ian called me to say that Jada had talked some serious crap about me while they were shooting together. She said that she hated me because I had tried to steal her fiance. WTF?!?!?!?!? Psycho is the only word that comes to mind. Please note: I NEVER met her fiance and didn't so much as see a picture of him....ever. And even if the guy had been around, I am sorry, but I am not into the Confederate flag owning, cross burning, gun rack having type of dudes. No thank you. I like my boys urban & rough around the edges. Not to mention, that I have always had an internal rule that makes any man in a relationship completely taboo and untouchable to me. I don't care if Johnny Depp had walked up to me one day when I was single and asked me out....if he was attached, then he would be out of the question. I am a kharma freak so you can chalk my morals up to that.

So now that I have gotten my South Beach geography all ironed out for you, I'll be able to go on and tell more tales of work and play Miami style. And believe me...there is much more to tell.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Night of the Grand Marnier

Before I get into how Kari and I ended up moving two more times that season, I have to share about the Night of the Grand Marnier. This one goes down in history for Kari and me even though no one else may find it funny. (Kari: Ha! Remember this!!!????)

Kari had been living in San Francisco before she came to Miami and about 2 months into season, her friend, Dante, came out to visit her. Dante was a hairstylist from SF full of mischief and party fever and we just felt it was our responsibility to show him a good time South Beach style. Eileen had gone back to Portland for the month to see her boyfriend so Dante was able to stay with us and we also somehow had acquired a new, temporary roommate from Spain. I don't actually remember how she ended up staying with us or why.....I think her work visa had run out and her agency was giving her the boot which meant she had nowhere to live until she could book a plane back home. Something like that. And I can't for the life of me remember her name, so from this point on I'l call her Ana.

So, there we were, an odd foursome in a little SoBe studio with altogether too much time and privilege on our hands. On South Beach there are always a handful of the "It" clubs (these change from season to season) and each of these offer a different party on a specific night each week. If you aren't booked for the next day, then you go out. That is pretty much it in a nutshell. The VIP sections of these clubs are always full of models and celebs on the designated nights, and when you are a model, you never, ever have to wait in line. We would show up in jeans, tank tops and flip flops and be let in behind the velvet ropes while hordes of regular people would be left dressed to the nines waiting outside.

We had to show Dante what it was like to be a pseudo every free night we had that week we took him and Ana out with us....Bar Room, Club Amnesia, Crobar....we were there. We even accepted an invite to go to the Hawaiian Tropics competition and party at Level which was cheesetastic and one step up from going to a strip club. Note: Fashion models can't stand "skin models" calling themselves "models". It lumps us all into the same category, and well, that is just not cool. Sorry to sound like a pretentious bitch, but that is just how it is.

We had fun, but there was nothing close to debauchery going on. No blackout drunkeness or holding back of anyone's hair as they hurled their stomach lining into the commode. So far, Dante was having a great time, but he wasn't yet feeling like a rockstar. So on his last night in Miami we decided we really needed to give him a good send off. A rather large bottle of tequila was purchased along with some 40's and we prefunked at the apartment O.G. style. We'd be heading out to Senor Frog's for their Monday night party and then over to Nikki Beach for Beehive to close the evening out. Between the four of us, that bottle of Cuervo or whatever the hell it was emptied out at the speed of light and after some totally justified mayhem and creative make-up application we made it out the door.

Something wicked this way a bottle:

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I'm sure you can imagine that at this point we were totally obliterated & I cringe at the thought of what we looked like walking down Collins Ave. Then again, if you are in South Beach and it is past 10 pm and you are not falling down drunk, then you are an anomaly. I do remember at one point (and she swears this didn't happen...lolol!) Kari fell sideways and headfirst into a privet hedge outside a restaurant mid-song....we'd been singing something, and don't ask what cuz I can't remember, at the top of our lungs at that point. Oh, models behaving badly indeed....

Myself, Ana and Dante in full rockstar pose....getting ready....:

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At Frog's we hung out with the usual crowd. Monday nights were popular with the model set since it offered $1 beers and live rock bands....and really good nachos. That I know of, nothing much happened there other than we met up with friends and then walked over to Nikki Beach. At the time, Nikki Beach hosted Beehive on Monday nights which was a weekly hip hop party held by my friend, Linley. Anyone from Ice Cube to Eminem, supermodels to Pauly Shore could be seen preening or on the prowl accompanied by their entourages on any given Monday night.

So, we get to Nikki Beach & since it's an outdoor club on the beach itself, we head straight for a table on the sand. At this point my buzz was wearing off and I was feeling that heavy & unpleasant ugh-ness that would always follow one too many drinks for me. It felt good to sit under the stars & feel the ocean breeze...respite from the thick as stew cigarette smoke at Frog's. At this point, Dante parks himself on top of the table and grabs the menu & before we know it he has ordered the cheapest item on it.....A $200 bottle of Grand Marnier. After it arrived, a couple of model boys also mysteriously appeared at our table, no doubt to partake in what would be free booze for them. I was liqoured out and Kari had passed out in full recline position against a palm tree, so Dante and the boys drank the entire bottle of GM. It was about 1 am at this point and being that I was the most sober of the group, I gathered our band of revelers (yes, Ana was still with us, and I am sure she hd wonderful stories to tell her cronies once she got back to Barcelona.....about los Americanos....lolol!) and we headed back to the homestead. Dante had to be at the airport by 6 am.

I'm sure genereal pukeage ensued after we got home, followed by room spin episodes and desperate clutching of pillows and mattresses before consciousness was lost. At 5am, Dante's alarm went off....and it is by the grace of God that it ever got set in the first place. I remember opening my eyes and seeing him pee in the bathroom sink, splash his face with water, tell his reflection he was a rockstar and then leave. That was the last time I ever saw him. A week later he called Kari to say he had never had a better time in his life & to ask if she knew what the $200 charge on his Visa card was from.

The morning after is not good, ever. Here is the ugly I promised to deliver along with the good & the bad...

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Jumping the Agency Ship & Joining the Big Dogs

As happy as I was in Miami, and as truly in awe as I was at the new life I was getting to live, everything was not perfect. Although my bookers at Karin were sweet, I kept running into girls from other agencies with my "look" who were going on several more castings a day than I was, and I was getting a little weirded out by how long it was taking me to get paid for the bookings that I had already done.

Having gone only to Asia prior to this, and being under pretty stringent contracts, I had never had to really think about leaving an agency and looking for other representation. So, the prospect of looking for another agency that would be a better fit for me in Miami was pretty intimidating....especially since I didn't want to piss anybody off. That just goes to show how new in the game I was at the time. What you learn quickly in modeling is that you don't work for your agency, THEY work for YOU...a fact a lot of agencies would rather you forget. And if your agency just isn't working for you, then by all means find someone who will.

My agency was just not sending me out as much as I wanted, they weren't paying me in a timely manner, and I was getting screwed over when it came to rent. My apartment was costing me $1000 a with Kari and I sharing it, they were getting $2000 a month for the unit while normal, non-model units in the building were renting for under $600. Even though the rent was being advanced, I was wanting to get more bang out of my buck, and not feel ripped-off in the rent department. So after weighing all my pros & cons, I called Justin, the owner of my mother agency in Portland, and he set up an appointment for me with Elite Model Management. The next day I went in, they were very excited to take me on board, and I "broke up" with Karin. This meant that I had to find a new apartment and pronto.

Luckily, Kari was game to move out with me even though she was staying with Karin, but she wanted to save on rent so we found a cute little studio apartment in a pension owned by an Argentinian couple just 7 blocks from the beach. With my friend, Eileen, flying in from Portland to work with Elite as well, we would be splitting rent three ways in a $1200 unit which worked out so much better than each getting charged a grand for a bed the size of an eraser and cockroaches declaring squatter's rights.

Eileen, me and Kari in front of our new digs:

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Almost immediately, I started getting sent out on at least double the amount of castings than I was before, and more castings means more bookings. Elite put together a strong comp card that I felt confident in handing over to clients, and just the fact that now I was with one of the top powerhouse, international agencies opened a lot more doors for me. Had I stuck with my former agency because I was too "afraid" to step on any toes or hurt anyone's feelings I would have only been hurting my own chances at the game. Chalk one up to "growing up" in the industry!