“They dance with the silver-haired men, wondering which one, if any, will give them their big break. They see the menu but not the agenda.””Inches away, beginners and those who will never surface swim in murkier, more dangerous waters. It has been ever thus in the modelling world. The heights are incredibly bright and glamorous. The depths are equally dank and appalling. Only a few can reach the pyramid’s point. It is crowded around the bottom. Wannabe models, lacking the looks, the will and the sense to understand their precarious position, are junk food for modelings predators and bottom feeders. But rarely is anyone in this business of illusions what he or she appears to be. The good can be not so good. And the bad often do hold the keys to success – or at least know how to pick the locks.”
Like rodents to refuse! Lolling over 498 pages, Mr Gross dunks the dirt on incognito squeeze market & concealed prostitution racket… The modelling industry! It’s inner swill, not the manicured vizard & scintillant exterior of perfect teeth & champagne bubbles (well, that as well of sorts but mostly crawling into the nastier, true recess that turns the axis). Most strikingly, & on the not so subtle chord that this book conduced controversy over – old men, courting positions of power & influence, preying on vulnerable girls, particularly very young ones that classify as minors, all with a kind of penultimate impunity. Shit bags like Gérald Marie, Alain Kittler, Carlo Cabassi, John Casablancas, Claude Haddad & Jean-Luc Brunel etc, all under a wash of drugs & celebrity sparkle. Beside indulging their own lubricious skank, the agencies acting as de-facto bordellos for the rich, pathetic & mentally-malformed, seemed to blur, somewhere between secondary & primary function (it is hard to ascertain which took priority). Young girls are tossed under the aegis of elder male agency heads, shipped out to private parties, all with drugs galore (cocaine bestowed a special affinity as the all abundant staple) & lakes of alcohol. Young girls, susceptible, vulnerable, compromised, earnest to excel, enchanted by industry excreta & the straining of career rectums – what could go wrong?
“Girls were offered ten thousand dollars to go to bed with industrialists.” “A lot of Arabs were storming Europe looking for beautiful young girls. A lot of girls made a lot of money not modelling. And making fifty thousand dollars in cash modelling and stuffing it wherever, even in their bodies. It was becoming totally disreputable.”
Although this is clearly the preponderate research of the book, it is by no means limited to this dark nucleus. Sharing the pages is a wealth of phenomena, experiences & revelations from a heaving list of models, photographers, scouts & agents, who are not always talking about John Casablancas with another underage girl, or models having to jump out of the window of locked bathrooms to flee violent wealthy weirdos in French country mansions when a “hiring” for the evening goes horribly askew.
“Emanuelle was my girlfriend for a while. We went out together. It was a big love story. But I only knew her for four months. She was murdered by her upper-class French boyfriend. One of her eyes was plucked out, her legs were broken and she was burned with cigarettes. Her death was really unnecessary. She called me that night to go out, but I was married, and my husband put pressure on me. Two days later she was found in her apartment. Her father was a government minister, so it was totally covered up I went to her funeral. It was ‘Emanuelle has gone back to God,’ like nothing had happened.!”
The whole history of modern modelling is given the historical overview, with as many surviving participants as possible offering their accounts form the ring side. The book is quite scatter gun, some supremely boring sections (quite possibly due to the narrative of those being interviewed) & others that are massively compelling. I think we could of lost 200 pages really, but it depends what you are investigating here.
“I knew he was sleeping with underage girls, but not big models,” “John always screwed around. Always, the younger the better.” -April Ducksbury on john Casablancas.
Suspiciously, Donald Trump is never mentioned even once. This is odd, as Trump was a good friend, associate & business partner of the infamous paedophile agent John Casablancas of Elite Models, who features heavily in this book (including in his own words). Trump not only hosted some of Casablancas contests at his Plaza Hotel, NY in the early 90’s, but also handed over his daughter Ivanka to enroll in Elite under Casablancas tutelage when she was either thirteen or fifteen. So rape & incest allegations aside, Trump thought it fitting to entrust his young aspiring daughter to a notorious paedophile in an environment he himself exploited for his sordid & predatory procurement. What else should we expect from that festering triple-arsehole?
“In 1982 Casablancas was thirty-nine when he began courting a barely postpubescent girl from the South. ‘She was thirteen or fourteen, a baby when she met John.’“
Beside Casablancas, Trump’s vile & execrable closeted-homosexual & pedarist mafia-lawyer & bent fixer Roy Cohn also crops up on multiple occasions. One such description of this hysterically odious shit-demon of a man follows as such (courtesy of Cheryl Tiegs) – “ He was the most disgusting human being that ever existed.”
I don’t know why Trump has been redacted here? Gross, clearly an aficionado & semi-admirer of the fashion farm may consider him an unworthy inclusion as his garbage glut, shit-draws, & constant press/attention seeking hyper-trashiness were not something Gross wanted to reward or tend to. Funnily enough, this book is now being revisited & quoted in relation to John Casablancas, Jeffrey Epstein & Ghistlaine Maxwell, & Trump himself. Trump’s strong associations & long running personal relations with some of the worst & most prolific child rapists, traffickers & pornographers (beyond Cohn, Epstein, Casablancas & Ghistlaine, you also have George Nader, Roy Moore, Cindy Yang & Tevfik Arif, am I forgetting any?) paint an irredeemable, inexcusable & ineluctable culpability of a man submerged in staggeringly disgusting crime, rot & turpitude in full abundance.
“Any agent who says it doesn’t happen is lying. You only cross the line if you take a booking for money with the knowledge that sexual favors are required.” it’s not pimping, Foster Fell concludes, as pimps take an 80 percent cut and model agents take only 10 percent.”
A very good book, you will have to trawl & slog to get it all as it is not consistent & the book is over extended in my view, but for certain, – there is a lot here. On completion, & considering the time (1995), I think it is fair to say that masses remains to be spilled from the swollen pustule of the fashion industry-glorified brothel-cess-pool…its very clear by this account that extremely disturbing practices became routine & a sub component of the culture.
I fuckin’ hate the cat walk!
Another angle I found fascinating was shared similarity with the music industry. The shitty, feuding, monopolies & turgid egotism, tightly guarded, closed off encampments of corrupt power, sabotage, suppression, exclusion, blacklisting & the destruction of those that would not tow the man behind the desks line (of coke, off the skin of some underage runaway) & the rabid dishonesty, snakery, exploitation, lying & hubris hinged on the whims of fucking idiots with zero creative capacity, integrity or moral stamina gagging on their own control-intoxicated, coked-out insecurities.
A valued exposure.
Michael Gross, 1995, William Morrow, 498 pages.