Written by the other model
You know, I feel like I’ve really aged five years in the last few months. My bones now click in the mornings, I’ve started eating the occasional vegetable and I’ve even got the odd grey (ginger) hair in my beard.
Gone are the days of getting identified in the line at nightclubs or worrying about rental agencies letting me hire nothing more powerful than a Nissan Micra. Even my young person rail card expires in April and then what will I do? Pay full fare?
But I don’t mind. Because I like to think now I’m a little bit wiser, a little more refined and occasionally I now speak slow enough for people to – well for a brief while – understand me when I speak.
Also, I’ve finally come out of that limbo age in the modelling game where you are too old to do Fisherprice and too young for Saga holidays.
Actually, if anything, I think the odd grey hair and wrinkle has started to get me the odd job and it works a treat for getting through the airports faster; just got to steer clear of the women with short spikey hair.
So with this newfound swagger, feeling a little brave and maybe slightly foolish, I decided that on my way back to London, this little piggy, would knock on the wolf’s door and try one more time to finally get my modelling career off the ground in NYC.
I mean this modelling is a tough old game at the best of times, but in New York you can times that by ten. It’s the Holy Grail; it’s every models dream to work in New York. Many have tried and failed, ending up on the model scrap heap, or worse, being drenched in perfume and made to open the doors and take pictures with 14-year-old school girls at Abercrombie.
Indeed the last time I tried, I just got laughed out the door everywhere I went, ending up sitting in my matchbox apartment eating Chinese take-aways the whole time, digging into my life savings to pay the rent and for extra chill sauce. But maybe this time, hopefully now I’m looking a bit older and with a better game plan, it would be different.
Over here they play by a completely different set of rules. They love a bit of mystery. It’s all about the pizzazz and the bravado of ‘You don’t need them! They need you! So a bit like dating really.
I mean at home, I would go into a casting and it would be like: “Hello, I’m James; ta dar!!” And I’ll try make them all laugh, being all chatty and telling them a little story from my funny little head. But over here, well, you kinda just have to get in, give them your card, answer only when spoken to and get out the door again before they change their mind and decide they actually hate you and pack you off to A & F.
But you will never guess what. The other day I only bloody got in the door at some big fashion house, timing it just right before escaping, leaving them wanting more, thinking “cor that James Taylor is so mysterious, we must book him for our campaign!”
And they only bloody booked me. I know. Get me! Maybe I’ve finally learnt how to be a good model after all. I mean these guys were BIG; in chocolate terms these guys were, Snickers. Actually that has nuts in. So maybe more Kit Kat.
Anyway, the next thing I know I’m jetting off to some far away island in the Pacific. Living the dream. I even managed to get myself an exit row and a few drinks sent down from first class. Peter the purser reckoned it was my birthday and therefore had to look after me.
I didn’t sleep a wink that night. You know, when you know you have to get up early, and the more you think about how late it’s getting, and how little sleep you actually are going to get, the worse it gets. All these thoughts whizzing around your head, trying your hardest to count the little sheep jumping over that fence, but the little buggers just wont stop coming.
Well it was one of those nights, falling asleep finally about four and waking up at six. But it didn’t matter. I was so excited; this could be it, my big break. I was finally starting to climb that long, long ladder and one day, maybe, I wouldn’t need to blag an upgrade and if I was very lucky would even have my very own iPhone app.
I was first to arrive on set the next morning. There I was sitting in the corner eating my cheerios, ready to be the best little model I could be. I had told myself over and over that I wasn’t going to break out at any point into that model face I pull in the mirror when nobody is looking or break into any catalogue poses. I was just going to keep it real and just be a Man. You know, doing natural “Man” things; playing with some rope or a horse or a girl or what ever it may be, which is actually harder than you would think!
The next thing I know, a motorcade of Escalades pull up. It was the clients from the casting; they walked straight past, completely blanking me and also they were with this other tall rugged chap, I didn’t recognise. I asked the lady next to me who he was: “Oh that’s Brian from New York. He’s our model.” Great I was thinking, so then what am I?
It was a slow start to the day; I wasn’t needed for the first few shots. I actually didn’t know that at the time, but by the time I came out of make-up from the whole area being packed with people, everyone had gone. It was like that scene in Home Alone where they had all buggered off and left him.
Eventually about three hours later I was finally sent for. This was it. I remember thinking – my big break; time to put James Taylor on the map once and for all.
I approached the set and saw Brian right in the throw of things, pulling this rubber dingy boat out of the water in a seductive manner. The clients kinda, in a very false way, waved hello and I was positioned in place behind Brian who didn’t even acknowledge I was there and carried on tugging away at the boat.
The first few shots went by with me just in the background, with Brian leading the way, thinking that at some point my big moment was right around the corner and I was ready to deliver. But no; shot after shot I was in the back. I was starting to get a little self-conscious. What was wrong with me? I’m a real model too.
To make things worse, I could hear in between shots the clients all huddling round Brian “the model” with me there watching on from afar; telling him how amazing the shots were and if they happened to catch my eye, just briefly smiling at me with that fake smirk, before turning away back round to him.
As you can imagine, by the end of the day, I was feeling awful. What I had done wrong?
I mean, I tried to keep the mystery up; I hadn’t pulled my mirror face or tried reading them one of my stories. In fact I had hardly any conversation with them at all; only occasionally they would say things to me things like: “Actually James, don’t look at the camera”, “No James, turn round and face the ocean” or “OK James, do you know what, in fact hop out for this one. Brian you look amazing; into camera Brian. Wow that’s incredible”. “We love you Brian”.
I was crushed. I thought this would be my big break. I’d worked so hard to get this chance, knocking on door after door, rejection after rejection, until finally I get one on the hook and then after all that, I didn’t even get a look in. My card was marked long before I even got here. They had, Brian, their favourite; I was just the other model.
As we all were about to board the plane back for the 12-hour red eye back to New York that evening I was a broken man.
But you see, sometimes karma works in funny ways and as luck would have it, Peter the purser had only gone and missed his earlier flight and was now in charge of the plane we were on. So as they now all sat back in Economy, I’m stretched out in First writing this.
They loved that as they saw me sitting there, as they all trundled down to the back. But unlike them, I didn’t give them a fake smile as they went past. Mine was real.
Their faces were priceless.
He’s obviously not that big time then is he; maybe I should send him down a glass of champagne, then again, no.