The time moved slowly; I had listened to Laundry Service by Shakira 3 times over and glanced over the table of magazines several times. Old Anthony kept touching up photos, Yarvis kept massaging his temples, and I stared into outer space. My phone had died, I had no idea what time it was, and I wanted a cigarette but didn’t have any.
“You’re going to meet with Chen. He’s a photographer with Abercrombie and Fitch. Once you’re finished there you’re done for the day. I couldn’t get any photographers to squeeze you in this late, but that’s alright! Don’t forget to hand him one of your cards!”
Chen’s studio was right up the street, little chance of getting lost. I left through the same white hallway, down the stairs, and signed out at the front desk. Halfway down Lafayette St. I saw a middle aged man waving me down halfway through a doorframe.
“Are you Anthony?”
“Yeah, Chen? Yarvis told me to give you this.”
I handed him one of the cards. He looked at it, flipped it over, and fanned it between his fingers.
“Those jeans are too big on you. We need to get somebody to buy you new pants!” He laughed as we entered.
His studio was down a dark hall, it was actually his apartment. One room had been converted into a studio; lights, white cloth drapes, and cameras were everywhere. Another man sat in a chair eating a sandwich as I entered.
“Hi, I’m Matthew.” We introduced and shook hands.
“We don’t have much time!” Chen was rifling through a rack of clothes while eyeing me up and down.
“Perfect! These should fit! Put these on!”
The perfect shirt had zippers everywhere. So did the perfect pants. Though they were made from cotton, in them I felt like a gimp.
Matthew sat me down and applied makeup to my face.
“This will give your face a nice shine!” He said while smearing butter over my cheeks, under my eyes.
Chen began shooting and I posed in the positions I had done with Mike. They were stiff and showcased all the nervousness I had about this entire ordeal.
“Your ears kind of stick out, huh.”
I didn’t say anything, just kept posing.
“Not always a bad thing. I know some photographers that really like that. I don’t know why …” His attempts to make me feel less self-conscious weren’t going so well.
The shoot lasted about 45 minutes. Chen pulled out some large blocks to pose with and I fumbled my way through poses as Matthew watched, munching.
When I left their apartment it was dark outside. I walked as though I knew where I was going and soon found myself lost in the village.
I was craving a cigarette but wasn’t sure what to do, I was 17 at the time.
I walked into a convenience store and asked for a pack of Marlboros.
“Can I see your ID?”
I pulled my driver’s license out of my wallet and handed it over. He looked at it, his eyes squinted a bit, and he looked back at me confused.
“No … no I’m not …” My voice was low and weak. I took my ID and got out. Strike 1.
I tried again at a different convenience store. I was hoping somebody wouldn’t look at the age, just go along with my confidence of handing over the ID.
“Hey! It was just your birthday!”
“Heh, yeah …”
My birthday is late in February and it was Halloween. I have no idea how this man came to the conclusion that 02 came just before 10, but I went with it. He handed over the pack, I paid, and I got out of there before he came to his senses.
I was more at ease with the cigarettes. While walking around aimlessly and somewhat nervous, I found myself forgetting that I was trying to get home. Drunk costumed people were everywhere; Uncle Fester bumped into me and apologized, his breath reeked of liquor.
I’m not exactly sure how, but I made my way back to the ferry and took a ride back to NJ. A friend picked me up and brought me back to the suburbs; away from hung over agents, mathematically challenged managers, and drunken partiers.
When I thought about the day, I didn’t like it. It was boring, it was nerve wracking, and Yarvis’s comment about making millions scared the hell out of me. I opened the manila envelope, took out the paperwork, and them over for a bit.
Something about it just wasn’t for me; the attention, the looks, the poses. I decided that night on an early retirement from my modeling career. I didn’t tell Yarvis or Mike, I just ignored their calls. Ignored Yarvis’s threats about suing me over the photo shoots I had been a part of; his angry words remained that and he took no action against me.
A few months later, Mike called me with an opportunity to shoot with a NY based magazine.
“It’ll be a few hours with food! You’ll get paid if you make it in!”
“Fine.” Just when I thought I was out …