Big Smile No Teeth by Jason Godfrey
In case I somehow haven't mentioned it (which I have), or you missed it (which you may have), I've been a model for a very, very long time. In fact, time spent in the fashion industry should have it's own measurement, like dogs have dog years.
I've been a model for about 15 years now, which in model years probably makes me approximately 86 years old. Yes, I am a grand old man of fashion, or more accurately just an over-the-hill male model.
I've done this job for a while and am constantly fielding the same questions. Modelling is one of those jobs that people outside the industry don't know the first thing about. What most people like to speculate on are the perks of being a model.
People think all sorts of things, like models fly-first class or that we get to keep the clothes we wear for shoots, neither of which happens to be true from my own experience. These might be facts for supermodels, top models, or any model higher on fashion's totem than me, which is really anyone, but it's definitely not how I exist.
That's not to say I don't get some perks. Everyone once in a while I'll get invited to a designer sample sale where couture clothes I would/could never buy are marked down to a point that doesn't shock me to the point of vomiting expletives, though the prices still scare me to the point that my credit card shrivels in my wallet. Needless to say, I don't make any purchases.
Then there is the perk of being invited to swanky fashion parties that I attend and sadly feel out of place because I didn't mortgage a house to buy some designer clothes at the aforementioned sample sale.
Actually those don't sound like such great perks after all.
But the job is definitely not without its small pleasures. When people ask me what my favourite modelling perk is, I avoid mentioning I'm too poor to properly enjoy the sample sales and too poorly dressed to enjoy the parties, and tell them straight: it's the make-up.
Not that it's always been the make-up. I remember sitting in front of the mirror and having a make-up artist dab foundation on my cheeks for the first time and it felt seven shades of wrong. It was just unnatural for me to have someone groom my eyebrows like a prized petunia, and disturbingly uncomfortable to glance in the mirror and wonder who the girl staring back at me was, only to realise it was the made-up, prettified version of myself.
Over the years though, I've seen myself wearing lipstick, blush, eye liner, and have grown zen with it all. It's my job and if this is what the clients want, then so be it. It's not the end result of what I look like after make-up that is the perk.
Make-up for a shoot looks all right in the final product but often, if you wander around the local mall in your regular clothes with the same make-up, people will assume you're some manner of cross-dressing entertainer on his lunch break. No, the perk is the act of getting the make-up done.
Once I got past the male ego telling me having delicate oils and creams rubbed on my face with a prissy sponge with the desire to prettify myself is an afront to my masculinity, the actual act of getting my make-up done is - to be completely honest -awesome.
Sitting in a comfortable chair, having a make-up artist dab gently at the area around my eyes puts me to sleep every single time. And not a fleeting shut-eye. I fall asleep completely, head drooping forward and back as if I'm fishing with my skull, mouth dangling open.
Falling asleep in the make-up chair is the highlight of any shoot.
It's not that I'm lazy or anything; remember that being on set is usually quite a long process. Models can easily spend 12 hours on still shoots and longer on commercial shoots. Come off a couple days like that and the best of us would be falling asleep during make-up the next morning too.
Thankfully, the pampering doesn't end at the start of the shoot. Throughout the day, the make-up artist is constantly bringing you back to that big comfortable chair for touch-ups. After nine hours on set, to return to the gentle eye dabbing of the make-up artist is bliss.
Sometimes I tell the make-up artist my eyelids need extra work, which probably makes them think I've got some crippling self-esteem issues. But if it means some extra dabbing on the eyes while I take a quick nap, let the crew pity me, I don't care.
So forget the myth of free clothes, fancy parties and designer sales; the only modelling perk I care about and the only perk that matters is getting my make-up done. Though it does make me worry that when I finally hang up my modelling jeans I'll end up in a massage place asking a reputable masseuse to please dab gently at my eyeballs, which no doubt will get them thinking I've got some sort of bizarre fetish.
But if that's what I've got to do, I'm zen with it.