It's manual labor with special ritual face paint

I am sincerely embarrassed to report that I just paid money for a pair of formal shorts. In my defense, I only gave the Goodwill like $5 for them, and I need them for a casting call. The call sheet lists "blazer/shorts" as a required audition outfit, and the only blazer-like thing I own is a black satin number that I got from Charlotte Russe years ago, which my friend Moggie, never one to mince words, described as "some sort of pirate lingerie". (Followed immediately by, "Not that that means I don't want one.") Observe:



[Man, sorry for the crappy camera and camerawork. I totally do not belong on that side of the lens. Also: Apparently I am mostly legs. I don't really see that when I'm just looking in the mirror. Huh. That probably explains a lot of the honking.]

I'm also supposed to show up with a party dress and fancy underwear. Oh, and closed-toe stilettos, 4"+. It's the end of July. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find closed-toe heels right now? Especially if you wear size 6? I have not paid full retail for anything but emergency work pants in about a decade, I am definitely not going to start now. I can find closed-toe flats and open-toe spikes, but the combo I need is more of a fall/winter shoe. I have until Monday to beat a pair of black FM heels out of a second-hand store somewhere, ideally for under $10.

The reason I need painful hobble-shoes is that the casting call is for a local company that specializes in importing European stockings. Heels, because duh, and closed-toe because toe seams are really not part of a fashionable look. I passed the first round of email submissions, but I really don't know if that's because they like me, or because I could follow instructions well enough to send them a headshot and two photos proving that I personally owned a pair of legs.

People who have no experience modeling for some reason think it's glamorous. In some ways it is -- the end product is very polished and it is kind of cool to be part of a piece of art, even if it's commercial art. But mostly, it's a form of very boring manual labor that just happens to involve wearing fancy clothes. You're basically renting out your ability to stand upright and maintain a pulse while following arbitrary directions under someone else's supervision. Some people have a knack for it, just like some people have a knack for being a short-order fry cook.

>The compensation can be ludicrous, but usually isn't. Hour for hour, standing in front of a camera earns me many times what I get for sitting in front of a computer and braining. On the other hand, I don't get as many hours in front of a camera. The people who think it's glamorous swarm in constantly, begging for a chance. They only stay as long as it takes them to hit it big (rarely) or realize that this is really not any more swank than being in a local grunge band who hangs around offering to play gigs in exchange for beer (mostly). 

I'm already much better off than most girls. I happen to have a part-time gig that I can work at any time of the day or night, where they sincerely would not care if I turned out to be a small Scottish terrier as long as I continue working to standard, so while I would love to have a regular paid modeling job, I am not counting on this to launch my future -- a lot of the people at that casting call are going to be doing just that.

On top of that, a lot of them are probably already in debt in an effort to find work. While there are agencies who treat their employees very well, a lot of them don't, and take full advantage of the fact that they're basically sponsoring hopeful teenagers from way out of town to charge astronomical fees for portfolio shots, comp cards, room and board at an agency apartment, where they're shoved into bunk beds with other girls that are basically in indentured servitude to the company. They put it on your tab. You work until you pay back everything you owe -- where they tell you, when they tell you, and with whom they tell you -- or you quit in debt up to your eyeballs, without a plane ticket home. I work indie; I've never owed anyone more than gas money.

I have never quite understood exactly why people go all gobbledygook over photos of me. I mean, some of them are nice, flattering photos of me, but they still just look like me. At least I finally got over the part where I cringe every time someone shows me proofs.

Comments

  1. :/ I was going to say Plato's Closet usually has out-of-season shoes, but there doesn't seem to be one in Massachusetts - I don't know if there's an out-of-state location that might be close enough for you. Since they're a resale/second-hand teen fashion store, they usually have things out-of-season. I picked up a pair of closed-toed five-inch black Charlotte Russe stilettos there for $10 this summer myself. (I'd ship them to you (I'm a six) if I was home, but unfortunately I'm 700 miles from my closet and will be through Monday.)

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    1. Compounding the tragedy, Filene's Basement and Nordstrom Rack both closed just before I got here. There's an Aerosoles outlet in Newton I might check, and about nine gazillion second-hand stores in Cambridge, plus the Garment District. Marshall's usually has a good selection, but I'm not spending $30 on a pair of shoes right now, no matter how much I might end up wearing them.

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  2. :( damn, that is just terrible luck. Hopefully you'll have better luck trawling the second-hand shops, some of them must have wore-it-once college student club gear. While I'm normally all for considering good clothing an investment, yeah, there are times when investing just isn't an option.

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    1. I actually found a pair today at a tiny shop near Central Square. They were marked $49.95, but apparently I said the magic words ("I'm a model and I need them for a casting call" got me "I can make you a deal", and "I'm paying cash" got me "I can make you a better deal") and walked off with them for $15.

      (Jesus fucking H Christ I so do not understand the world, I think deep thoughts and end up in debt for a useless degree from a mediocre school but I walk around in a skirt and suggest I might be convinced to do it again and people just offer to give me shit. I am _so confused_.)

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  3. Hope the gigs stay regular! I think they will: you are indeed mostly legs in those photos, plus a definite Gil Elvgren pin-up vibe, which could take off in certain markets.

    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/gil+elvgren

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    1. I can book as many gigs as I want, as long as I volunteer to do them in exchange for the photos. I couldn't do it in Arizona, because there was so much travel involved it would have cost me money to work for free, but I've been booking them in Boston, where there's no reason to not hop the subway and meet someone downtown. Sometimes they lead to paying gigs, sometimes not. But decent professional photos are worth a lot of money -- as you will find out if you ever look into the prices involved when you have them taken.

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