“don’t fancy yours much!”
You know it’s not always been flying round the world to photo shoots frolicking in the waves and being forced to kiss hot girls. Oh no. I’ve definitely served my apprenticeship.
I remember those days in the beginning where modelling for me would consist of standing in the a pair of ridiculously tight spandex luminous green shorts, top off, handing out free samples of fabric softener in a shopping centre in Croydon.
That was bloody hard work. People always thought you were trying to sell them something and would have just walked straight by you if it hadn’t of been for the green shorts; instead they stopped and laughed first. Like giving out flyers; hardest thing in the world. Everyone’s afraid of a flyer. You have to twist people’s arm or beg to get someone to take one.
Anyway, I started modelling when I was just 16, I remember the day clear as a bell. Going round to all the big agencies, walking in and always being directed by some snotty nosed receptionist across to this holding pen. Waiting an age for someone to finally come and see you. Then someone would finally appear, look you up and down before disappearing and reemerging with this white sheet of paper. Every single one of them, with the same sheet of white paper, with a list of other agencies to go and try as you, “Wasn’t quite what they were looking for”. “Bye now, mind the door as it hits you on the arse”.
I’d all but given up when I met Edward.
Now let me try and describe Edward too you. Well, he could be any one of the Village People. I like to think of him as maybe the Policeman, the one with the handlebar tash and leathers. Very direct, straight talking, tough as nails Yorkshireman, but he believed in me when no one else did. He could see past the puppy fat, the dodgy short spiky hair and the enormous lamb chop sideburns. Actually what was he thinking?!
We hit it off straight away, he shipped me straight off down to Croydon and we never looked back.
Of course things didn’t just happen overnight, I had to learn the trade from the very beginning, I grew my hair, stopped eating KFC (as much) and threw out all my FCUK t-shirts.
After they had finally run out of free samples, I was allowed back up to London, I did the odd fashion show, not real ones, ones in store, that Sue and Dave up the road would get invited to, as they used American express. You know, real high profile stuff.
Numerous magazines, which never paid any money, that would make you get up at the crack of dawn with some up and coming, “edgy” photographer that thought it would be a great shot to line you up next to a puddle in, I don’t know, Hackney and drive a car past at full pelt and capture the tidal wave as it hit. Of course, that helped you get loads of work looking like a drenched rat in the pictures then for the next week turning up with a cold looking like death to all your castings.
But as time when on, I finally managed to bag myself my first real job. One that would start to really get the ball rolling.
I was cast as “The Boy” in Germaine Greer’s South Bank show. I didn’t have to say a lot, more just lay on the bed and smoulder while she threw rose petals on me and talked about the boy figure in art, which is what I had to represent. Oh I did have to pose full frontal though for an art class. I’ve never really been shy in that area so it wasn’t a huge problem although there really wasn’t anywhere to hide, and as my late Nan, God bless her, said at the time, “ I thought the show was very well made although, for me you did see a little too much of your testicles”. (Maybe a little too much information.)
This seemed though to open all the doors, the work was starting to fly in; but who would have thought it, that taking your clothes off in front of a few high powered art directors was all it would take.
The very next week I bagged my first ever TV commercial. I felt like the luckiest man alive. I was flown out to none other than Jamaica, Premium economy. I know!
It was a two week shoot, all around Jamaica, jumping in and out of waterfalls, on the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, lots of kissing, didn’t pay any money though, however as part of the deal, the client had agreed for me and the other models to a free seven-day holiday they had arranged for us.
All through the shoot it was kept very hush hush where our free holiday actually was, until the final day of the shoot came. We were all really excited and looking forward to kicking back and enjoying ourselves for a week when the client finally revealed where indeed we were going.
The client had only gone and booked us into a place called Hedonism, the world’s most famous nudist swingers resort.
It was quite a long drive from our final shoot location so we didn’t arrive till reasonably late in the evening. I remember sitting there at dinner the first night listening to a bit of calypso, with my jerk chicken.
Now I know it’s naughty, but occasionally if you’re in a restaurant and there is a couple sitting opposite you and this is really wrong and I don’t encourage it for a second. But occasionally, the woman when her partner is not looking, would start looking over at you and give you the eye, flirting with you. It’s a dangerous game and I don’t want to play it, but at this place, there I am minding my own business just enjoying the music and my chicken and not only does the woman start looking over but her partner does too, before long they were both sitting either side of me and inviting me back to their room for desert!!
That was just the start of it.
It was the strangest place I’ve ever been in my life, luckily me and the other models were all quite liberal or I’m not sure how someone more square would have survived.
Everyone walking round naked, no one being backward in coming forward or minding what they’re doing and who can see them.
I mean there were quite a lot of people there who you really didn’t want to see in that kind of situation, like watching Sue and Dave up the road behind closed doors, but there were the odd few that were worth a look.
Of course as you can imagine for a 19 year kid from Canvey Island this was quite an eye opener but I seemed to hang on in there ok, it was a bloody long way from handing out free fabric softer in Croydon, I can tell you that.
But since then I’ve never looked back. Sue and Dave have become really great friends and things have gone from strength to strength.
And maybe, just maybe I’m no longer the fat badly dressed boy from Essex with a bad haircut anymore.
You’ve done me proud