Monday, December 20, 2010
A few weeks after the video fiasco, my phone rang (this was before caller ID) so I answered it. Before I could even say hello, the modeling manager said he had another job for me. It would be fun, I didn’t have to audition, and he needed my husband, too. Well, that last part certainly caught my interest. I said yes.
So, on a sunny October morning, we headed to the address. We were more than a little surprised that the location was a house. We were greeted by the photographer, who led us to a lower level room. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace and just to the left of the fireplace stood a completely decorated Christmas tree. Across the room was a free-standing wooden door, solid at the bottom, with small panes of glass in the top half. It had been propped up and the camera was on a tripod on the other side of the door. Before I had a chance to ask questions, the photographer’s assistant took us to another room, where our “wardrobe” was, provided by Dillards. My husband’s outfit was a striped night shirt and dark blue knee length robe. I giggled when I saw it. Then she pulled mine out of the garment bag. I would have taken back the giggle if I could. Full length plaid flannel night gown and dark green chenille robe. Did I mention that it was seventy degrees that day?
The concept: family of four on Christmas morning. The children arrived, accompanied by their moms--boy, age seven or so, and girl, not a day over three. Really, I was going to be a mom of a three year old? I had a flashback to an incident that happened a week before...
My daughter had been hired to model western wear in a catalog. One of the outfits also came in adult sizes and the owner of the company wanted a mother-daughter photo. My daughter’s manager told him “Don’t worry, her mother's here.” He agreed to meet me. I walked in, and he asked me if I had any photos, which of course, I didn’t. He then told me to take a seat outside his door and he called the manager back in. I couldn't help but hear what they were saying. “She’s too old, we’ll go with someone else” was all I heard. I wanted to throw the door open and demand to know how I could be too old to be my own daughter’s mother! But instead, I slumped down in my chair deflated. I drove to the location of the shoot and watched my daughter pose and smile at her new “mother” who I later found out was seventeen years old. I did the math. Her teenage mom would have given birth at the age of eight. Oddly, I felt better.
The children changed into pajamas and robes, and we were told where to stand. My husband stood in front of the fireplace with a coffee cup in one hand and his leg up on the hearth. The boy sat on the floor in front of him. I got to sit on the hearth and the little girl was going to be standing in front of me with my arms around her. Piece of cake, right? There were two things I was reminded about three year olds. They can’t stay in one place for long, and they don’t like to be held by strangers. We were in our poses for a good ten seconds before she burst out crying. I tried to comfort her and she looked at me like I was the boogie man. Her mother said soothing things to her from the sidelines, but she really wanted her mother to hold her. That went on for fifteen minutes. Did I mention I was wearing flannel and chenille and sitting less than a foot from the crackling fire? The photographer decided to shoot the photo while she was winding up for the next outburst. The only other direction we got was for my husband to take his foot off the hearth. I turned to look at him. Heehee. I’m sure he didn’t want my husband’s hairy leg in the photo and risk scaring small children. The photographer either got the shot he wanted or just gave up, but we were finally finished. As we drove away, I remember wondering what the photo was for, and if we would ever get to see it.
Two weeks before Christmas, it was a Sunday morning and we were sleeping in. The phone rang, but we let it go to voicemail. The phone rang again. And, again. Starting to wonder if it was the same person and something was wrong, I got up to check our messages. “Who was it?” my husband asked, as I listened to the third message. “Go get the paper” was all I could say. He handed me the Sunday edition of The Rocky Mountain News and I started ripping through the sections. OH MY GOD was all I could say when I got to a magazine section and the photo of us in our pajamas was on the cover. There we were, in all our flannel glory. The photo was taken through the panes of glass, as if to be peeking in on a family Christmas. The first thing I noticed (no big surprise) was my hair, which had two inches of black roots. That was odd. I’ve heard a camera can add five pounds, but black roots? Next, I looked at my husband’s leg. They used a shot where his leg was on the hearth, but it was completely blackened out. Smart editing. The boy was holding a box that was not wrapped on the bottom, and the huge excitement on his face looked odd because he hadn’t opened the gift yet. The little girl had her hand on my knee and I hoped it wasn’t obvious that she was pushing my leg to get away. She was looking at her “real” mother and I was holding on tight so she couldn’t leave the shot. Great. It looked like I was abusing her.
The phone calls continued all day as friends and neighbors found us in the newspaper. “Is that really you?” was the question we heard the most. I wanted so badly to say “No, natural blondes don’t HAVE dark roots, and my husband has two legs, not just one.”
The newspaper insert was about ten pages long, advertising different stores at our local mall. We were so relieved when the commotion died down, and the ad with our photo was probably used to line birdcages, catch paint drips, and ignite logs. I was very happy to put that experience behind me, and I would live a happy life if I never saw that photo again.
Two days before Christmas, my husband and I decided to do some last minute shopping. We headed to the mall, found a parking space, and ran to the doors to escape the cold. There in front of us, as we entered the mall, was a poster size version of our photo. At the same time, we both groaned and pulled our coat collars up. It was everywhere--on the directory, hanging from the ceiling, outside the movie theater.
A few days after Christmas, my husband surprised me with two of the posters. I still run across them every once in awhile. That was the end of my modeling career. Most of it was fun, some was tough on my ego. Even if I get a call tomorrow, I’d have to say no. I don’t think I could take being told I’m too old to be a grandmother.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
When my daughter was nine or ten, she did some local modeling. Since I took her to weekly classes, I got to know her manager pretty well. One day he called, saying he needed a big favor. He had gotten a call from a company looking for adult models, and he only managed children. Would I be willing to meet with them? I tried to make excuses, but finally relented.
The day of the “meeting” I tried on every item of clothing I owned, and settled on a tweed suit with wide black belt and simple black pumps. I was ready to go. My husband agreed to drive me. As I arrived and stood at the office door, I looked down at my outfit and felt confident. I entered the receptionist area, and looked at the two women already seated. I can only describe them as head-to-toe chic. In a matter of seconds I went from being Audrey Hepburn to Tammy Faye Bakker. I grabbed a magazine and pretended to read as I scoped them out. I was guessing they were old enough to vote, but not old enough to drink. I was thirty six years old. I was screwed. The other thing I noticed was that they both had black leather books, no doubt their fabulous portfolios. If they asked me for photos, all I had was my driver’s license and my Sam’s card. I was so screwed.
When they finally called me in, I was unprepared for the amount of people who would be witnessing my humiliation. Four men and two women were seated at a long table. No, I have no photos. No, I have no experience. You want to see my WHAT? My runway walk? Good Lord, I had to walk from one end of the room to the other without tripping. I tried to remember how models turned. My feet tangled. I looked at them sheepishly, and in unison the group said “That’s enough, thank you.” I practically ran out of there, and once I was back in the car, I looked at my husband. Before he had a chance to ask, I said “THIS…NEVER…HAPPENED. We are NEVER to speak of this. EVER.”
Life returned to normal, and I continued my not-so-glamorous real role as a mom. I put the whole modeling fiasco out of my mind…until I got a call. “They loved you!” my daughter’s manager told me. My first reaction was “What is wrong with those people?” “They did suggest you get some runway training, so someone on my staff will help you.”
It turned out that the job was a video for a line of women’s clothing. They hired two other women, and we sat together as the director explained the concept. We would model the clothes on a runway, complete with fog machine and “fake” audience and photographers. As each of us came down the runway, the video would cut to scenes of us wearing the same outfits, but in our “regular” lives. The director told the redhead that she would be in a board room, giving a presentation to a group of men. He told the brunette that she would be a traveling business woman, briefcase in hand, checking into a hotel. Of course, my mind wandered and I imagined myself as a lawyer, or a politician, or possibly a college professor. He turned to me. “You will be a mom.”
The day we taped the fashion show was a lot of fun. I sat and drank coffee (we started very early in the morning) as I waited for my turn with the hair stylist and the makeup artist. An hour later, I had huge hair and more makeup than I had ever worn, complete with brown lipstick. I had to trust that they were trying to make me look good. Finally, the clothes arrived. The redhead was to wear burgundy separates, and the outfit for the brunette was a black knit dress with a matching jacket. My outfit? A purple and turquoise jumpsuit. Apparently, I was a circus mom.
The second day of shooting took place at a furniture store. They had taken a living room display and decorated it for Christmas. I was to sit on the sofa, and my two “daughters” would bring me presents from under the tree. We would hug and I would open the gifts and laugh delightedly. I was told to keep the boxes tilted away from the camera since they were empty. The two little girls were adorable in their holiday outfits. The sofa where I sat was plush and gorgeous. And, then there was me. Nothing says Christmas like brown lipstick and a purple and turquoise jumpsuit.
A few weeks later, a copy of the video arrived in the mail. Just as I was slipping it into the VCR, the kids got home from school. Perfect. I really wanted their opinion because I knew they would be honest. When the video was over, I waited anxiously. My daughter said “You look pretty, Mom. Who were those girls?” I guess it was strange for her to see me with other daughters. Now, the real test. My son. “I liked it. It looked like a real fashion show.” I was so relieved. I just didn’t want to look like a fool. My son was still looking at me. “What?” “You’re not going to show this to anyone else, are you?”