The Dark Side of the Glamour: The Tips ALL You Models Need to Know to Stay Safe…
When I started modelling, my mum was scared for me all the time. At the time, I couldn’t see what she was worried about – it was fine! Everyone I met was cool! It was fun! But now I’m older and my friends have started procreating, I do understand her motherly fears now. Before modelling, the only journey I’d taken alone was the bus home from school and even then I seemed to sometimes get lost sometimes. The only adults I’d interacted with on a meaningful level were teachers and friends’ parents. The only work I’d done was homework, and to be honest, I was a very ‘young’ 16 year old – clumsy, awkward and prone to wearing a sensible fleece.
In the beginning, Mum came with me everywhere but I soon wanted my independence (unless Dad was going to drive me to castings, in which case…) Now I was trudging off to the worst parts of London (edgy editorial = no money = offices in the cheapest parts of town) ‘til late in the evening, alone, desperately trying to learn to navigate with my falling-apart A-Z. I was turning up on shoots and working with adults who interacted with me on their level and not as a young teen – it must have been terrifying for her! That’s why, on Modeltypeface, I want to help girls and give tips and advice on staying safe.
Today I’m focusing on alcohol and partying. A few people who know me might tut and shake their heads incredulously, knowing full well that I am the granniest of grannies…
…And that I much prefer to cook for people than drink and pretend to enjoy dancing to the cheesy rubbish tinny music that tends to be played at the shiny clubs that promoters love so much.
However, I have in fact attended my fair share of parties where I drank one or two too many shandies and landed myself in some undesirable situations. I’ve also seen a lot of girls get far too into the party scene and have it negatively affect their careers.
My worst experience was in Tokyo, where I was desperately unhappy. This was the days before the Internet being everywhere was taken for granted, and I only had the money to call home once or twice a week. I was so very lonely. All the together girls at the agency had come together from their respective countries, so would sit around speaking in different languages. I wasn’t working, and I wasn’t eating healthily because I had no idea how to cook. I’d have white bread with this strange peanut butter jelly, and shots of ‘vitamin gels,’ which, I suspect, were pure sugar.
Anyway – as my castings dwindled and the agency lost interest, I started going out drinking every night. Firstly, I had recently watched the Big Lebowski and would order White Russians, so I was starting to grow massively fat.
The Dude’s drink of choice, which is made largely of double cream, is not recommended for those watching their waistline.
Secondly, no one out there was a friend. No one was going to tuck me in to bed or make sure I got home OK. I look back now and I think that I really took risks with all the drunken states I got into, and I definitely regret some things that happened at that time.
My Tokyo experience aside, the parties can of course be great fun, especially when you’re with your whole agency and it’s a nice little night out together. But the whole scene is, I think, quite seedy. Promoters want models to fill up the club in order to a attract a wealthy male clientele, and get paid accordingly for your attendance. Don’t you think that’s a bit gross? However, swings and roundabouts, you do get a free dinner (it’s usually 1 piece of sashimi and a shared chocolate soufflé between ten, but whatever) and I definitely enjoy that part. You’ll then be given a table and free booze, which all seems great until you’ve poured yourself a couple of generous measures and haven’t got remotely tipsy. I strongly suspect that that vodka is at least 50% tap water. However, 16 year old me thought it was all amazing! (ID checking can be pretty lax). Certainly much better than Wetherspoons in Sutton!
Still, models do tend to get pretty hammered and while that’s understandable – we all do it! – You do need to be incredibly vigilant for your safety and that of other girls. There are lots of men in those clubs who I think give off a bad vibe. They just sit around, looking at their Rolexes and at the girls in the club and don’t talk or move or smile very much. Very moneyed, very ‘starey’ and, to me, they seem quite predatory.
So – back to these promoters. Many of them are just really nice people. They like a party, they’re often models who are earning a bit of money on the side by taking advantage of their good looks, connections and charm. But it is unquestionable that some are incredibly dodgy – they have access to drugs and will also use their connections to set up girls as escorts. This article, in the New York Observer, investigate the seedy side of club promoters:
To sum this Observer article up, promoters get paid for bringing models to clubs – the more famous, the more they’ll get paid. It’s got the point that promoters know where the model apartments are and cold-call models, or will flyer outside big castings. Many of the girls they target will be from the poorer parts of Eastern Europe or South America, who are easily seduced by the ‘glamour’ of it all (seriously, all those shiny tables don’t equal glamour to me. I just think about the poor cleaner). Drink, drugs and highly paid escort work can suck in many of these models all too easily.
Throughout my career I have routinely heard tales of a promoter telling models about a super-rich guy who’s willing to pay thousands of pounds for a night with her. The sums up for grabs are mind-boggling, and it must be tempting for many to make such quick and easy money.
By the way, I’ve never been offered money for sex. It’s probably the fact that I’m busy licking out the chocolate soufflé pot and reading my handy night bus timetable.
I’d like to end on a shallower note. Drinking bloats your face, dries out your skin and is calorific. Drugs, too, are not only dangerous for your body and your mind – they’re terrible for the complexion. I’ve seen girls with a really promising modelling career ahead of them ruin it with their partying. You see it happen – the photos start appearing constantly on their Facebook wall of them proudly kissing an enormous vodka bottle in various shiny clubs (yeah, I really have a thing against ‘shininess’). They start talking about ‘amazing parties’ they went to last night, even though we’re on castings and a 4am bedtime isn’t the best beauty regime before chasing work. Then their skin starts going a bit red, a bit dry, and grey bags show under their eyes. The double chin starts appearing and the arms and stomach bloat, the cellulite appears – they look like they need a good sleep, a good wash and a serious detox.
Practically everyone loves a party. Even me! (Especially if there’s karaoke and I can do Baby Got Back). Or barn dances – I love me a barn dance!
I’m lecturing you about responsible drinking, but I was actually so incredibly drunk when this photo was taken that I had to be sat in the corner because I kept ruining the dancing for everyone else (ah, the wilder days of my youth…)
Once in a while, especially at the weekend, it’s great to blow off some steam…
…But going out nearly every night is just terrible for your looks and therefore terrible for your career.
My Quick Tips for Staying Safe
First and foremost, you must look after your safety, and that can be hard for girls who are away from their home country. Make sure someone knows you’re off home and text them when you’re home safe – the people you were out with or a relative/friend back home (even if it’s someone in another time zone!)
Never lose sight of your drink – you don’t want it spiked. Enjoy your drink, but enjoy it slowly and sip water in between. You’re partying with colleagues who could book you, so ranting at everyone, passing out and dribbling isn’t just dangerous, it’s a bad look – so know your limit!
Stick with everyone you came out with at the club so that you’re never on your own, and either travel home together (I’ve crashed on many a sofa) or splash out for a licensed cab.
Lastly, if you feel that a promoter has overstepped the mark, cut them off and tell your agency so that they can warn other girls.
Partying is wonderful, drinking can be fun – but there’s a price to pay for overdoing it. I would hate for you to pay for it with your career – or even worse – your safety.