Sunday, January 25, 2009

Model Prisoner

Several days ago I received the most thrilling email of my life.

A children's modeling agency was interested in possibly representing my son Ethan. Liz-Beth, the agency owner was seeking 'talent' for a prominent childrens clothing catalogue and had heard through a mutual friend that my son Ethan possessed the ideal All-American 'look.' Liz-Beth suggested that I bring Ethan to the set early Sunday morning for some test shots. She assured me it would be in intimate affair and was really just a formality - Ethan's good looks, poise and natural 'ability' was certain to land him the job and a fabulous future career in childrens modeling. My head began to spin with excitement. Just the words 'set' and 'test shots' sent me into a tizzy. I fantasized about attending New York's Fashion Week,
front-and-center with my good friends Dita Von Teese, Mary Kate Olsen and Anna Wintour discussing Ethan's meteoric rise to the top of the childrens modeling world.

"He's a winner, an absolute doll!' Dita would shout during the crowd's standing ovation for my son.

Anna, who generally said little during fashion shows, sat in her folding chair sobbing.

"I've seen the face of God," Anna moaned "Ethan. Ethan. Ethan."

"Stop it, you two," I would chide playfully "He's just an ordinary kid."

"Only much better looking!" Mary Kate would giggle.

Anna, Dita, Mary Kate and I would dissolve into peels of laughter, our little 'joke' causing crocodile tears to roll down my cheeks. The other 'lesser' children in the show might as well have been wearing burlap sacks - their mediocrity eclipsed by my son's incandescent beauty. Not wanting Dita, Anna, Mary Kate, the fashion press or (God forbid) the paparazzi to see the tears of joy rimming my eyes, I planned on wearing my Faux Semblant Carré Louis Vuitton sunglasses that I adore, but my husband George swears make me look like Edith Head.

"We'll do our best to make it," I replied (trying to sound blase in my email response ), "But Ethan's been working like crazy - I had hoped that he might have at least ONE day off this month. I'll see what I can do."

The next few days at our home consisted of model boot camp. At regular intervals I would bark at Ethan to 'find the lens' and would demand he give me varied ranges of facial expressions. I would carefully critique his 'look' and then fine tune his poor 'performance.'

"Look Ethan," I said during one frustrating posing session,"Modeling is not for the faint of heart. It's a career, not a job!" He shrugged his shoulders and continued to throw a tennis ball against my bedroom wall.

Sunday finally arrived and I sprang out of bed. I carefully dressed Ethan and styled his hair to look 'sporty.' With great anticipation, we set off for West Los Angeles and our thrilling new life in childrens modeling!

The audition was being held at a large hangar in close proximity to the Santa Monica airport. As we entered the building I could hear the cacophony of dozens if not hundreds of children. A small, dark vestibule opened into large open room that served as a photo studio where throngs of the most gorgeous, blond haired, blue eyed Hitler Youth looking children frolicked. It was as if I had entered the modeling equivalent of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. I was stunned. My son happily joined the throng of boy clones currently engrossed in some kind of twisted video game, and I stationed myself at a table with a mother who never glanced at me nor spoke a single word. From what I could tell, she was too busy downing espresso shots and emailing her son's extensive modeling portfolio to perspective agents, photo shoot producers and magazine editors.

An hour later, my son's name was called by a bored production assistant who informed me that they had already met with 500 children in the last two days - and were in desperate need of some Red Bulls. I had difficulty in locating Ethan as he had officially joined the Aryan Brotherhood. I had a hell of a time differentiating him from the Austin, Trevor, Brandon, Malcolm, and Henry clones so I loudly called out his name and took the child that responded in the affirmative.

The entire photo session lasted 15 seconds. My son looked at the camera, yawned and made a half-hearted attempt at smiling. The photographer snapped a dozen or so listless digital photos, high-fived my son and it was over. My son raced back to join his buddies in the brotherhood and I watched my, I mean his dreams of modeling go down the tubes. There were no fashion shows in our future, no fabulous lunches at NOBU with Anna, Dita and Mary Kate, and certainly no future bidding wars by IN-STYLE for our 'candid' at-home photos.

On the drive home, I casually asked the child in my car (I think I took my child) if he had enjoyed his modeling experience. I was shocked to learn that he thought it was 'cool' and asked me to set up a playdate with his blond buds from the brotherhood.

I put the number for NOBU back in my Blackberry's speed dial.

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