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Month: March 2014

Ready for My Close-Up (Modelland, Book #2)

Ready for My Close-Up (Modelland, Book #2)

The story continues:

After making it through the only round of auditions to get into the final group of models for DC Fashion Week, I was thrilled but also lost in a world of wannabes. Rehearsals would usually start with the director or one of his assistants/favorites giving a speech (more like a rant). Similar to everyone I work with day-to-day, they could use some public speaking lessons. Don’t ramble. Don’t think outloud. Speak ONLY if you have a purpose. I did try to pay attention to anything that could be relevant to me.  When I heard “get yourself some good headshots and full-length shots,” I made a mental note and googled area photographers.

Because DC is not known for its fashion, surprise! it’s not known for its fashion photographers either. No, I don’t need engagement photos or real estate headshots or pictures of my five cats (one day though). And the money I was expected to lay down for this stuff wasn’t cheap. $300 and I had to wear my own clothes and do my own makeup?

Basically, all I wanted to do was pay $20 and then step into a real-life episode of ANTM, but apparently you can’t search for that on Yelp. However, I did stumble across a generic sounding photo studio in Arlington that specializes in men’s photos. Perfect! I went ahead and emailed the studio with my photos like the website suggests and waited, expecting to hear that they would offer to do my photos for a couple hundred dollars and that I’d need to provide my own camera. But, to my surprise, I received a response almost immediately from the guy who runs the studio saying that he was interested in doing a session with me FOR FREE and I would get to keep the photos afterward.

Right on! I thought. This is way easier than I expected it to be. I went to the studio’s website to see some of the other models and photos that this place typically does. All of the models were male, some more attractive than others, and of course there were the standard suggestive pics with no shirts or low-rise jeans (no undies). When I started scrolling through the site, everything was SFW, which was good because I was at my office at the time. However, I reached one pic where the guy was mostly naked but there was something covering up the front. I clicked on the thumbnail to enlarge the image trying to decide what was covering up. Some fabric? A pillow? Nope, there was nothing covering up that penis. It was a full-on nude male on the screen of my work computer. If HR actually gave a shit at my job, I would be written up so many times for viewing inappropriate images. However, I admit that this is not the first penis that I have stumbled across at my desk and it probably won’t be the last. So, I did my usual turn-around to see if anyone had seen what I’d seen…nope, I was in the clear. That was my first concern. My second realization/concern was that I was going to do a photoshoot with a studio that specializes in nude male photography. Am I okay with that? I asked myself.


I guess…I mean as long as I, Peter Mustafa, didn’t take off my clothes, this would never come back to bite me in the ass when I’m 60 and a single gay government employee that hates my life, right? It made sense to me, but I still had my reservations about going through with this. See, I really wanted those photos so that I could officially call myself a model, but was it worth the risk? I repeatedly tried to push my appointment with the photographer to later until it was the perfect moment. Finally, I ran out of reasonable excuses and decided to prepare for my closeup.

The day of the shoot, I woke up early, took the metro to Arlington, and waited to be picked up my a man named Dave. I knew that if this man abducted/killed me, my parents would just shake their heads and think to themselves, Man, that Peter was a dumbass, getting in a car with a stranger. But, I had reached a low point in my life and needed a change. If getting in this stranger’s car was going to make me feel better about myself than rotting at a desk day after day then by golly, that’s what I was going to do!

And I did. Dave actually turned out to be a really nice guy. My biggest fear was that he would look at me and change his mind about wanting to take my pictures. Your photos made your body look…tighter. 

Alyssa Edwards

Ok, let’s be real, my actual biggest fear was that he’d pressure me into taking off all of my clothes and post tacky porn photos of me all over the internet. Like, I think I’d be okay with porny pics, but they have to at least be flattering and tasteful. Seriously, penis in a hot dog bun? Nope, even I’m worth more than that.

So, neither of these things happened in reality. Dave was great and very helpful. We picked out a few outfits and backdrops together. Then the magic started. I became a top model. Okay, so not really. I felt really stiff and awkward at the beginning of the shoot. All of the poses I had thought up in front of my mirror went out the window. No arched back. No legs in the air. No hair extensions. Every so often, Dave would show me some of the photos he had snapped and I wasn’t really impressed with myself. The lighting and backdrop were great so no disrespect to Dave. I just realized this was harder than I had expected.

But, I eventually loosened up and became more comfortable with the camera. I realized being critical of myself wasn’t making the photos any better so it was best to loosen up and keep things simple. I was also surprised at how comfortable I felt not fully clothed. No shirt? Okay! Only undies? Okay!

After about an hour, we decided that there were enough photos to choose from, at least for an initial shoot. Dave said he would edit and send them to me in a few days. Although I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my performance, I was happy that I had put myself out there and excited to get back in front of the camera again. Here are some of my favorites that Dave sent me:

Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male

Dave posted my photos to a gallery here. I’m also the image for his “Youthful Fashion” section of the “Super Models” page. Yaaaasss!

If you look closely, because I know you will, you may see a little sunburn on my arm and a little skin peeling on my neck. This was my souvenir from Miami. Next photo sesh, I’ll be sure to coat myself in foundation so that everything is evenly mixed. For my first time, I’m really happy with the results. I’ve added them to my Model Mayhem page here and I now have 11 friends! Still waiting for an agency to discover me though.

This photoshoot was just the midpoint though. I had made it to the finals of DC Fashion Week. I had the new photos for my portfolio. Whatever came of the fashion shows? After this shoot, Dave drove me back to the metro station, and I made my way to the Saturday show for DC Fashion Week Spring 2014…

Walk That Walk (Modelland, Book #1)

Walk That Walk (Modelland, Book #1)

I’ve wanted to trying modeling since high school, but have never lived in a place where there is any sort of a modeling scene besides local car commercials and exotic dancers. Oklahoma, Nebraska, Costa Rica. Places definitely not known for their sense of fashion. I think because hardly anyone in these places knows about the world of modeling (including me), nobody ever truly believed that I could become a model. And that’s ok. I admit that it’s a long shot, but I at least wanted to put myself out there and these places were not going to help me with that.

When I moved to DC about a year ago, I thought that for sure there had to be some sort of fashion scene. Of course, it’s not New York or LA but at least some local designer would want a tall guy (there’s a shortage of us here) or a gay club would need an extra go-go dancer to stand in the back. As I do whenever I move, even when abroad, I searched for potential modeling agencies, sent emails and photos and never heard back. I’m sure a lot of people think this is a joke but I REALLY want to try modeling. I found the website for DC Fashion Week after it had already passed last February and vowed to do my best to be in the next one. I also missed the September show in the fall somehow, but after my America’s Next Top Model Cycle 21 audition last December (future blog post), I was determined to give every possible modeling gig a try before giving up and accepting that my dreams were crushed at the young age of 25 (that’s like 49 in model years).

In late December, I submitted my application for DCFW with the required height, weight, and size information as well as some amateur photos of myself that I thought would suffice. I’m a tall, skinny white guy with beautiful green eyes. If that’s not your type, so be it.

My Stat Sheet

Not expecting anything to come from this submission either, I was surprised but skeptical when I received a reply asking me to come to a casting call for February’s DC Fashion Week. Did they really like me or did they just invite everyone?

One Sunday in January, I made my way to the DoubleTree Hotel in Arlington wearing all black as requested by the email. (I bought the outfit the day before at H & M). Having applied for literally hundreds of jobs post-graduation, I tried to think of this as just another application. However, standing in line waiting to be evaluated on my LOOK was something completely new to me. I couldn’t BS my way through a cover letter here. I had starved myself that morning and done twenty push-ups before leaving my house, so I was as physically prepared as I could be. But alas, I had no clue what would be expected of me. As in all types of competitions, my number one goal was not to come in last place or get hit in the face.

After signing in, I was assigned a number and entered a big conference room where a panel of judges sat at the end of a real runway. One after another, all the applying “models” walked back and forth for the judges while techno music pulsed in the background. The directions were walk straight down the middle, don’t pose at the end, come down the left side. Simple, right?

Runway walking for guys is always something that has baffled me though. While girls are supposed to have their signature walks that show personality, intensity, femininity, etc., male models seem like apes that hate the clothes they are wearing as well as their entire lives. I would like to think that I could bring something special to men’s fashion with my not-so-masculine flair and desire to change how gender is portrayed in the fashion world. But, I didn’t think anyone in this room would give two shits about my half-baked plan to revolutionize the clothing industry in the 21st century. So, I decided to try to emulate the pissed off gorilla walk and cross my fingers that it was decent. When number 83 was called, I stood up straight, sucked in my cheeks (for more definition), and walked. And then this happened…

Ok, just kidding. I walked, turned around, and came back. That was it. The director made it seem like there were going to be several rounds of cuts to weed out those people that really shouldn’t have tried out. My goal was just to make it through the first round. That would at least give me some reassurance that this wasn’t a huge waste of time and that all my model dreams weren’t COMPLETELY ridiculous.

After my group of numbers had finished walking, the judges discussed among themselves and then announced who had made it through. Number 83, yours truly, was included! Eeek!!! I think they pretty much picked all of the guys except for this 11-year-old looking kid whose stage mom had forced him to audition. Still, this was a big deal for me.

While the judges continued dismissing girls that didn’t make the cut, the guys were taken outside to have group photos taken. These were to be sent to prospective designers who could look at the “models” and decide whether or not they wanted to show their collection at DCFW. If they didn’t want to come, that meant we were ugly. I was in the overall group photos but was ALSO selected to be in some photos with a smaller group of guys. I tell myself this is because I was one of the prettiest.

(I made this gif)

At one point, I had to take my shirt off too and here are the pics. I want you to know that I’m in much better shape now, thank you. Hadn’t lost the holiday weight at this point. The head of fashion week designed men’s underwear and wanted to figure out who his underwear models would be. Obviously, I think that my legs would sell the shit out of his undies, but my non-existent six-pack and baby love handles didn’t get me picked as one of his favorites for that.

Photo by Binh.Nguyen.Fotografy
Photo by Binh.Nguyen.Fotografy

P.S. I just assumed that the fashion week director was gay, not only because of his profession but also due to the way he acted. So, I was completely thrown when he talked about his three children. I had a flashback to Oklahoma, where I witnessed plenty of gays try to convince the world and themselves that they were straight by saying Emma Watson was soooo hot. But, you do you, Mr. Williams. You’re very successful in the fashion scene and can be whoever you want to be.

After all of the photos were taken, I was given a sheet that said come back next Sunday to the same place. Did I just get accepted to be in DC Fashion Week??!! I secretly squealed to myself. Despite my instinct to post this all over Facebook, I resisted and kept this little gem to myself. Side note, this sheet said that male models were required to bring their own makeup as well as a black/flesh color g string or nude briefs. Where the hell am I supposed to buy panties like that? The men’s section at Target?

For the next three weeks, I came to rehearsal/casting/whatever you want to call it at the DoubleTree. We practiced walking on the runway while members of the fashion week team gave us corrections and designers selected models for their upcoming shows. I know that men’s fashion is a smaller business because there are only so many ways you can redesign pants and shirts, but I was nervous about there being enough menswear designers in the show. I just wanted to walk one time in the official DCFW!

As in anything, there were some clear favorites, and I wasn’t one of them, which is fine. No surprise to me, a majority of designers that were showing in the fashion week didn’t have any clothes for guys. The ones that did had like one men’s graphic tee. Very creative. Based on the guys I saw get picked for these shows, DC designers favor male models that are very…urban? They were muscular, not white, and had what they called “swag” in their walk. I would classify myself as none of those, although sometimes I can pass for not white/something mixed with white. For guys, here’s what I mean:

These were the favs by far.

That said, I was surprised a lot by the type of models that were selected. I guess I’ve learned the most about modeling from TV, so I think girls should be six foot, weigh 105 pounds, and look super exotic. Some of these girls were 5’6″ if they were lucky and looked like they had just been bused in from Boringsville. They were also in HIGH SCHOOL! But hey, I can’t criticize because their numbers got called WAY more than mine did.

So, this was the first big step in my modeling career. But it’s not over! Did I get picked by any designers? Am I model certified? Why is my FB profile pic so fantastic? Patience, my Musta-fans.