“God, I’m so exhausted.” A very beautiful brunette has plopped down on the velvet sofa adjacent to me, her long legs in a pair of bright red jeans, her feet in a pair of cheetah-print tennis shoes. “I had six castings today,” she sighs, her hand pressing into the right side of her head for dramatic emphasis. She looks at me with that “You know what I’m talking about” look, a kind of commiseration that models often share with other models. “Brooklyn, LES, 34th and 12th Avenue,” she continues, “ The West Village, 28th Street…”
I nod my head and let out a drawn-out “yeah” with a laugh, because, though I would never say this to a model stranger for reasons owing to stupid pride, I didn’t have one casting today, something that, five years ago, would have sent me into a dizzying fury of self-doubt, financial panic, and low-grade depression.
Models love to talk about work and running around, which is kind of all there is to talk about with modeling. Your life pretty much consists of the following: Waking up, eating breakfast (if you eat), getting dressed, standing in line, shaking hands, watching someone look at pictures of you in front of you, waiting around, changing in and out of shoes, and shaking more hands. In between days like this, you work. Those days are the better ones, because making it through the gauntlet of castings and actually getting hired imbues one with a temporary sense of security and self-worth. Even then, you’re never quite settled. In the back of your head is this persistent, needling voice telling you the end is nigh, chanting the digits on your expiration date.
For the most part, models talking about their days is about as boring as listening to a Californian’s dissertation on traffic escalation from 1992 to the present day in Los Angeles. The one exception is a story my model friend once told me about getting pulled over by the police after a job where she spent the day with her face painted “like a drag queen prostitute,” something that was not lost on the cop, who, with very little discretion, suggested that she was truly employed in such a manner. Now that’s the kind of day I want to hear about.
The pretty brunette and I quickly establish that we are with the same agency, at which point she rattles off a handful of names of girls I might possibly know: the Lithuanian twins, that new redhead, some chick named Tori. I pretend to rack my brain and shake my head. The highlight of the interaction is when I deduce that we’ve seen each other at castings, something I confirm after asking her, “Wait, you have a PS1 bag, right?”
Every moment of this conversation is one in which my brain feels deprived of oxygen and stimulation, making me enormously thankful for every casting I didn’t have, appreciative for having spent the entire day writing, confident in a way modeling never provided.–Jenny Bahn