This is where we are at this point in Modelland:
1) I mustered up the courage to try out for DC Fashion Week and made the cut.
2) I had a photo shoot with a photographer who specializes in nude and erotic photography.
Immediately after finishing my photo session with Dave the photographer in Arlington, I booked it back to DC. All models were told to report to the Washington Post building at noon. The night before, the stage manager had changed that time to 11am but that was just a joke. The first show wouldn’t start until 7pm. What were we going to be doing for 8 hours?
I walked in the door and of course, there was the typical asshattery that I’ve come to expect at all of my DCFW castings. All of the girl models were walking on the runway, the director was yelling stuff and getting stressed, and no one knew what to do with the male models. I finally figured out that there were some designers who were still picking their models because they had just flown into the country. They wanted to see all everyone walk AGAIN. As expected, none of the designers had any menswear. Therefore, the guys just sat and looked stupid. I just sat.
Once the designers had picked their models, a shitstorm broke out. There were girls running around, getting fitted for outfits in the back. I saw more nipples and pasties than I ever anticipated/wanted to. The director was trying to organize a “Do It for the Vine” video. And I had no clue what to do. I just assumed someone would call out “Model #83!” at some point. During the last rehearsal (or whatever you want to call it), I was picked to wear an outfit for a men’s collection. Because hardly any designers had men’s clothes, the fashion week director had managed to get a local mall to lend clothes for us to wear. So, I was going to be wearing mall clothes in a fashion show. Not something I wanted to shout from the mountain tops, but experience is experience. They even assigned me to wear a suit, which meant I was way more important than some of the other guys who only got to wear a sweater. I was told to bring a gray tie and a black belt for the fashion show. All the big models accessorize themselves, right?
But, that Saturday none of this happened as planned. After about the first hour of waiting, I began to get suspicious. I sat and waited. And sat and waited some more. It was exciting just to be backstage at a fashion show, but it was disheartening to see some people getting all the attention while I just was left on the sidelines. Eventually I got fed up with this waiting bullshit and went to Subway for a footlong. The casting director had ordered all this pizza for the models but by the time I got there (two minutes after it arrived), it was all gone. “Please don’t feed the models” is right. Those bitches.
After waiting for HOURS for no good reason, the male models were called to get their makeup done. I was all about this and knew that getting your makeup done professionally was a sign that you’d made it as a model (or drag queen). But of course there were the expected “dudes” that were hesitant to wear makeup because “that’s for chicks.” With my signature eye roll, I tuned out this bro-shittery and surrendered to the makeup lady. This is how I looked: That’s right, I look exactly the same. Where was my smoky eye and lip stain? Guess you only get that at NYFW. #modelreject
As I mentioned previously, the show was schedule to start at 7pm. By six o’clock, I was beside myself that no one was going to ask me to walk that night. Some of the other male models and I discussed whether we were required to stay any longer. I had woken up early that morning for my glamor shots and then had wasted a good part of a Saturday sitting on my butt watching teenage girls run around in their underwear. A straight guy’s paradise, right? Not mine.
At some point, I went up to a DCFW staff member and politely asked if we were needed at all that night. She told me that we were free to go and that the mall collection was happening the next day (Sunday). This was news to me since we were told that the mall collection was in the Saturday show. Come on now, peeps.
Walking out that night, I had to seriously think about whether or not I would come back for Sunday’s show. It was the last fashion show, but who knew if I would walk for any designer or even be acknowledged the whole day?
After sleeping on it, I decided to try again. I went to the location of the Sunday fashion show and prayed that I could make my modeling debut. Only an hour or so after arriving (that’s like 5 minutes in model time), all of the male models were asked to go upstairs to be fitted for the director of DCFW’s collection. The director is the one who I thought was explicitly gay from day one. However, his collection CorJor is named after his first two sons Corey and Jordan. So, that threw me. Regardless, I wanted to be in ANY show even if that meant walking for a closeted homosexual. I followed all of the other guys upstairs where we were immediately told to take our shirts off. The guys with the most muscular bodies were picked to model underwear. Obvi, I was not selected. The rest of us stood there hoping to be assigned one of the ten or so other “looks”. I don’t know what sober person would wear these outfits that he created, but fashion is fucking weird, y’all. Here’s an example of what we were competing to wear:
As I stood there clenching my entire body, the director picked each outfit off of the rack and then pointed at one of us. After about eight other models were selected, it wasn’t looking good for me. However, for outfit number nine I got a finger pointed at me and a “you”. I hurriedly took off my pants and tried on a pair of deep purple pajama pants that looked like they were sewn by a 70-year-old Chinese woman in 30 seconds. The director gave me a quick glance and told me they were too baggy on me. In that instant, my dreams dissolved. I was shelved once again and watched as all of the outfits were fitted and given to other more muscular, ethnic guys. Ugh! I thought, I had made it this far but wouldn’t be walking in any fashion shows.
I walked down the stairs with the other guys and gave myself some time to process my thoughts and emotions. When it got to be an hour before showtime and I still hadn’t heard anything about the mall clothes, I decided that I had better things to do on a Sunday than watch a fashion show be put on without me. I gathered my things and internally gave an ANTM farewell monologue that went something like this:
I’m so proud of myself for coming this far. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be right now. But, this isn’t the last you’ve seen of me. I’ll prove you wrong, Tyra. I’m gonna be big.
The following week I received an email through the DCFW distribution list with links to all of the media mentions of the shows. From there, I found photos of the shows that I wasn’t picked for. Here are a few select outfits/models with my
To my irritation, I discovered via the pictures that the mall collection I was picked to walk in DID happen but that I was replaced. I don’t know how the DCFW staff pulled their heads out of their asses long enough to organize this part of the show, but apparently, they work well in a time crunch.
In sum, I didn’t walk in DC Fashion Week Spring 2014. Frownie face. But, it was a really great experience and I learned a lot throughout the process. Here are some of my major takeaways:
1. I have way more confidence in myself. I thought that I could never been taken seriously for my looks. The DC job search and gay scene has pretty much shredded every ounce of self esteem I have. So, it was nice to be allowed to sit at the pretty people’s table for a little while (even if sitting was all I did).
2. I have some cool professional photos and an actual modeling portfolio. I’ve even been solicited by other local photographers and not all of them were scams. This is big, you guys. Who needs Vogue Italia when you can go to some sweaty obese guy’s apartment and have him take pictures of you wearing props that he bought at Michael’s?
3. I learned about the fashion industry, especially the DC scene. There’s a reason DC is known for its monuments and not its fashion. But, DCFW does pride itself on allowing emerging designers to showcase their talents and break into bigger markets. I think that’s great.
Will I try out again? If I’m still in DC for the next season’s shows, sure why not? It was interesting and maybe there will be more mall clothes for me to wear. And this time, I’ll wait around even longer so that I’ll actually be in the shows. Until then, I’ll keep lighting incense and praying to the model gods for my big break…