Jesseca Jade, Mega Model Management, Miami
When I left you last, Jesse had just arrived in Miami (Fort Lauderdale Airport actually, but close enough). After she unpacked her bags and settled in I suggested we go down to Lincoln Road for lunch. She was up for that, so off we went. Lincoln Road for those who have not been here is the center of the modeling industry in Miami.
Located in South Beach (the southern end of Miami Beach, which is not a beach in Miami, but an island off the coast of Florida), Lincoln Road was the last area which was reclaimed from the disaster which was once South Beach. Today South Beach is the hottest property in South Florida, but it wasn't always like this. 25 years ago you could have bought most of the buildings if you were willing to pay the taxes on them. Think "Scarface", the scenes featuring rough drug infested run down hotels and streets were actually filmed in South Beach. It was drugs, gangs and blue haired old ladies sitting in front of run down hotels, hard to imagine these days. When I came here six years ago, Lincoln was a few shops, several agencies, and mostly unoccupied shells waiting to be refurbished. The developers using the proven technique of bringing the arts in first to occupy a rough area (we like cheap!) cut special deals with the agencies who had been previously located on Ocean Drive. It worked, Lincoln is where it's at today.
Jesse at Nexxt Cafe, Lincoln Road, December 2nd
(The wind chill was a freezing 78 degrees)</CENTER>
Anyway, as we crossed through the door of the little gallery which leads from the parking area to the center of Lincoln Road, I told Jesseca to click her heels together. "Why?" she asked. Because when you step through this arch you won't be in Kansas any more! Eric Striffler joined us for lunch at the Nexxt Cafe (my favorite hangout), and they accommodated my request for a table out front. The owner is a friend (strange story which I won't bore you with today) and they actually do try to accommodate me. Why out front? Because this is Lincoln Road and you never know who will be walking by, Jesseca should be seen! (And she was, a booker at the first agency we spoke with saw her and was going to invite her to the agency, but we left before she got the chance.)
Jesse, Eric, and Bugsley
(Bugsley is the one in the middle)</CENTER>
As we were finishing up, I told Eric I thought we would drop in on a couple of agencies where I have a more than passing relationship with the management. We didn't have any pictures with us at this point, but I wanted them to know she was in town. As it turned out, my friend at Mega wasn't in (he was at the model convention in Vegas, more about that later), but the staff was interested and made sure I knew they expected me back the first thing Monday morning. We went to one more agency and as expected they were very interested. "We like her, does she have a bathing suit with her so we can do the Polaroids?" No, but we will get one and come back. So 45 minutes later we are back in the agency office. While she is getting Polaroided (on Long Island, you learn to conjugate the word "to summer", in modeling we turn Polaroid into a verb as well - "He polaroids, they Polaroid, we polaroided") the manager is giving me a running commentary on her strengths and weaknesses. "I like her, she's need this and that, but no one is perfect. I like her." Great, sign her. "Well, I have to wait on everyone's opinion, shoot a roll of film and come back Monday morning, but I do like her!" He then sits down with Jesseca and lays it out. "How long are you going to be here? You leave on Monday? Well, if I sign you and I have a job for you on Tuesday, I expect you to stay and do it. Will you?"
Finally, we are at the crux of the matter. There it is. You don't prance around from agency to agency gathering comments about your good looks. This isn't a beauty contest, we don't give you a sash and a tin crown. It's a job, and it starts now. Season is upon us, don't waste my time. If you are serious I don't want to hear about a problem, I want a solution. At that moment the awful finality about what she was doing actually dawned on Jesseca.
Sigh, still no actual contract but very good signs. Monday morning it is, and besides, now I get to shoot all weekend. We shoot a few pictures on Friday evening just to get her into the swing and later she gets invited to an Ocean Drive party Friday night. That didn't work out but she did get to spend some time at Crowbar (one of the hot clubs in South Beach) with a couple of other photographers. I don't do Clubs well. I've reached the age where I can't hear my cell phone when it rings, but the music at the clubs always sounds too loud. Go figure.
Makeup and Hair by Jane Pittman
God was generous to this child, the twins are original equipment.</CENTER>
Finally Monday morning arrives. On Sunday Jesse was all wound up about what to do about going home. "I really can't stay, I have to make all these arrangements, I have.." Yadda yadda yadda.....what ever. "You have nothing going on more important than this, this is what you came for, make up your mind, I don't care which way, but make a decision." But like I said, that was Sunday.
Off we go. The agency sees her again, still no decision, "someone else has to see her, we need more tests, can she stay? Go to lunch, we'll call you in 30 minutes with a decision". What ever, I gave them what I promised, the first shot, but it's Monday and I want a contract. The main booker at Mega is back, and we are headed there. (Big deal, Mega is a two minute walk down Lincoln Road, one minute to Ford, three more back to Karin (now called MC2, what's up with that?), and from there you walk across Lincoln to Wilhelmina.
Jesseca Jade, Mega Model Management, Miami
We walk in and my friend looks up and says: "Do you want to be with Mega? Great, here is what we are going to do, you are responsible for these expenses, comps, tests, and a listing of your portfolio through us on Model Wire. The model's apartment costs.......... Oh, we will pay for these and charge your account, you will pay us back as your jobs start booking. Where are you from? Wisconsin? Do you know where Milwaukee is? Great, I will book a catalog job for you while you are home so you will have money in your account when you get back. I want you here in a week to shoot some tests so we can put your book together and print some comps. You will start working full time in Miami right after the 1st of January. I expect you to be here, okay? Fine. Sign here."
Anyway, while they are Polaroiding Jesse a German magazine comes in looking for some models for an editorial. "We had a casting all day yesterday and we're not happy, lets look at the comps on your board for the girls who are here now." While they are pulling comps down off the board, Jesse walks in wearing her bathing suit (her first shots were done in a simple dress). The art director stops looking at the comps, stares at Jesse, and wants to know if they can book her. My friend at Mega knows he has made the right call.
I'd make this stuff up, but the truth is much easier to write. It was one hell of a four days, and even I need a couple of extra hours of sleep at this point. Oh, and if the name Mega doesn't exactly ring a bell, it's probably because in Miami they represent unknown models like Carmen Kass, Petra, and Karolina Kurkova. Fast company, but if I have it right they are going to have to run a little faster. A big ol' dog is movin' in.
Couture Model Management
900 West Avenue, Suite 423
Miami Beach, Florida 33139