PUT IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION BY MY MODEL AGENCY AT AGE 20 - BY JORUNN HAUGEN
Hi guys, I hope you are having a good week so far! If you read my introduction post, you already know that I started my modelling career in Paris in my late teens. It was a different time back in the days, and with very few opportunities to speak to those at home, I relied heavily on my modelling agency. In this post, I will tell you about a rather uncomfortable experience where maybe I shouldn't have been so trustful with my agency after all.
As I wrote in my introduction post, I did great in Paris. I was lucky, Not many start working there right from the beginning. One day, my Paris agency told me that I had a business dinner that same evening and that I was going to get picked up at my apartment by a very important man. I was told that he was going to discuss something of importance to my career over dinner. I was suspicious. Why dinner? And why wasn't anyone from my modelling agency coming with me?
That evening an elegant car stopped outside my place, and this funny looking man came out and greeted me with two kisses, one on each cheek. I never manage to get this ritual right. Some kiss once, some once on each cheek and some even went in for three kisses. I mean, you could easily miss sometimes and accidentally hit the mouth. Embarrassing, right?
After greeting, I took a better look at my companion for the night. I was only 20 at the time, and this person was an old man in my eyes, maybe forty or so. He had lots of blond curls and was wearing a pink shirt with a gold chain around his neck. To top of this beautiful vision, he had this lovely beer belly and his veiny nose was close up blue in colour. Wow, lucky me.
INEXPERIENCED YOUTH IN AN ADULT WORLD
To get to the restaurant we had to drive through Bois de Boulogne, a public park which was the working grounds for many prostitutes. I didn't feel comfortable sitting besides my pink friend looking at all the seedy activities happening in this park at night. But soon we arrived at the most adorable little restaurant that looked like a beautiful cottage from a fairytale. An old wooden building with small cosy windows letting out warm light for those who were passing. As I walked through the door I could tell that this was a romantic place. A place for lovers. The perfect Valentine hideout. All the tables were private and hidden by small walls separating each table. There was next to no artificial light, only a lot of candles. It was the most romantic restaurant I had ever been too and here I was to dine with this corpulent man with a blue nose and a pink shirt matching his skin colour. Oh my. Why on earth had my model agency sent me here?
We were seated by a wonderful waitress with kind eyes. She was an older woman dressed in 18th-century inspired serving garment and fitted perfectly into the charming restaurant. She saw that I was very uncomfortable and gave me a warm smile. That helped. My date ordered a bottle of wine for us and took forever to roll it around in his mouth when tasting it. He clucked out loud several times, spraying drops of wine over himself and the table, before he finally approved. Safe to say, I was not impressed. When our glasses were filled he looked at me over the brim of his glass. I think he tried to look sexy. 'So Jo', he said. 'We have been watching you. You are doing quite well here in Paris'. I said nothing back, just waited for him to continue and hopefully then also explain to me the point of this dinner. 'Listen', he continued. 'I want to make you an offer'.
You become my girlfriend for let's say two months, then I will make sure you get the best jobs in Paris and you will rise straight to the top.
I choked on my wine and had the most embarrassing fit of coughing. I whispered an apology. He just smiled and went on with his monologue. 'You see, I am an agent for many great photographers here. When I tell them to hire you, they will do what I say'. Goodness, I barely heard the man as my head was spinning and I couldn't believe what he was suggesting. This was crazy. I'm sure he was telling the truth, I'm sure I could have gone very far in my carrier with his influence. But there was absolutely no way I was going to spend a second of my life as the girlfriend of this man. Not only was he twice my age, but also a very unpleasant person to be around.
I excused myself and said that I needed to use the restroom. Luckily I managed to find the nice waitress and told her I needed a taxi asap! She was so kind and understanding and led me out a back door and around where several taxis were waiting for guests. She gently padded my cheek with a caring look in her eyes and sent me home.
I WAS FURIOUS!
I couldn't believe what I had just experienced, but I guess that was the name of the game for some models.
It was a bit funny to if you think about it. The whole set up. The restaurant, the nose, the offer. Goodness. But not that funny…I got very angry with my agency for sending me on this dinner. No, I was not angry, I was furious! I seldom get angry. I am more the silent type who rarely complains, even when I am unhappy about something. In the agency's eyes, I was the one without any drama. But the next day, following my 'romantic' date, I stormed into my modelling agency. I was so angry with them, so disappointed. How could they set me up like that!?
I let them have it. All of them. I scolded them. After I had let it all out, they were all quiet. Then my booker smiled at me. She smiled? Then she said. 'It was always all up to you Jo, I let you have this opportunity, but I’m sort of glad you didn't take it. You have character'. I stared at them. Couldn't really wrap my head around it. So I just said, 'I'll take the day off'.
Then I went to a video arcade and enjoyed being a kid for the rest of the day. Because after all, I was kind of just a kid still...