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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m a failed model/international peace mediator. I like telling stories, traveling, and guys. Besides becoming Oprah, my biggest life goal is to be able to do the splits. All the way.