1.5 • One just has to open their eyes, and imagine.
Hannah. I did it with Hannah in 1996, when she walked up to me as a waitress at a dive Chicago restaurant. What a face, the height, the body, right for the moment, the whole package. I do remember how excited I was when she called, actually the very next day—in those days, pre mobile phones with cameras to take a “digital”, one just handed out a card and then hoped for the best and a phone call… She arrived at the agency, swath of purple hair underneath a ratty knit cap. I can still see her, slumped over shoulders sitting at the stools at my desk, not a stitch of makeup… (When I went to see Jane in her office, Jane quipped, “Just how much am I paying you again?” Well.) And, the fighting that broke out when she was introduced to New York. Greatness. Star!
How about Tami Fitzhugh-Thompson, a Plus Size model discovered standing off to the side at a Men’s Model Search (!!) When I showed Loretta Wilger, my partner in crime in Development, Tami’s single polaroid—classic Loretta response, “She is GOORRRGGGEEOOOOUS!!” Marina at the age of 11, at a model search one of thousands, or who can forget Jaime Rishar!! Theresa and Allison walking in to an open call… Or Melissa Keller, curly hair and all at an “Elite Camp”, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue later in her cards. And the men. The Carlson Twins of course, from the tundra of freezing Minnesota! So proud.
Bob Takano did it at Van Nuys High School in the 80’s, noticing Albert Hood in a biology class. As folklore suggests, Albert’s short legs caught Bob’s eye, feet dangling not touching the floor while sitting at his desk—invitation to the dungeon housing the Van Nuys Weightlifting Club ensued, followed later on by a trip to the 1984 Summer Olympics. A modern approach to discovery, in 2014, Sean Waxman saw two Facebook video clips of Ali Ludwig, back squat, and a “squat clean” (smirk), on a friends Facebook wall, and wanted to see her. “Ali possessed certain athletic traits”, that were evident to Sean, regardless of the quality of the lifts themselves… Now Ali is the 2017 USA National Campion in the 90kg class… CJ Cummings by mere association, watching his older sister Crystal lift, and in 2010 “a 10 year old CJ Cummings walked into the gym and saw people lifting a bunch of big weight”… Greatness. And via Debbie Millet recently, A Newcomer: “I had never seen weightlifting and I just accidentally ran into this random girl on Instagram doing olympic lifting and I was blown away.” This Newcomer saw Mattie Rogers, or mattiecakesssss, as her Instagram tribe knows her. And then there is Kevin Doherty of Hassle Free Barbell—discovering and developing every single day.
Scouting. Discovery. Imagine. Youth.
To dial the clock back some more for some of my Weightlifting friends… What an epic time. The 90’s. An epic time for Elite Model Management, 28 offices around the globe, headquartered in Paris and New York, helmed by John Casablancas. John Casablancas, had unmatched charisma and vision. I will never forget sitting in John’s office in 1993, and our casual afternoon conversation. I had been “scouted” myself by Jan Stewart who at the time sat on the Model Management board at Elite New York. Jan and I met at an event in Atlanta, while I was scouting for two agencies who had represented me as a model in Japan. My phone rang in Chicago on that Monday after Atlanta, and it was Lisa Herzog, Executive Vice President of Elite New York. John wanted to meet me. During that meeting with John I recall, a certain Supermodel’s assistant came barging in to the room, past John’s Executive Assistant, Lorraine Caggiano, and tossed a roughed up Barbie Doll like box, doll inside—box obviously suffering from being crammed in to a suitcase. This unnamed Supermodel had been to South America, and had come across this doll that was in her likeness. The assistant, exclaimed, “Deal with it!” and stormed out. John looked at me, and said something to the effect, “We also create monsters!” On we went with our conversation, doll box set aside! Roughly six months later Jane Stewart called me from Elite Chicago. Now, you might not know who Jane Stewart is, but you most certainly know a certain girl she discovered in the early 80’s. Cindy. As in, Cindy Crawford. (Just last week the fashion world in the midst of New York Fashion Week,Spring/Summer 2018, went berserk for a certain Kaia Gerber—Cindy’s daughter… Stunning!) I was brought on board as Director of the Chicago New Face Division the Spring of 1994, later morphing to Director of Scouting and Development, and Creative Director. And a side note about Jane—we had the freedom to make it as great as we wanted it to be, and we did just that. What a team. I was tasked with managing the scouting apparatus in the United States Midwest region from Chicago, supporting the global Elite network. Highlights from this era are numerous, and several will be dissected as I discuss scouting, one however strikes a cord. “Does she have Greatness?” John said this late one afternoon during a scouting meeting where the North American network (fiefdoms!) had collected in New York. As a group we had been carrying on all day with the business of the moment, this-and-that-and-all-of-it, when it came time for John to see all of our girls… In the end, we could bullshit our way through the day with this-and-that-and-all-of-it, but in the end John wanted to see the girls. And, one had better been producing. “Does she have Greatness?” He asked. She had better. My fiefdom in Chicago, had to produce Greatness. And we did it every which way we could think!
Now, to burst everyone’s bubble, slightly… The visions of limousines, free clothes, endless glasses of Crystal champagne with caviar, posh-this-and-that, First Class airline tickets, Learjets, Prada, Louis Vuitton, the front row, back stage life, need to be tamped down. Way down! Flying coach—hopefully making your flight, prop planes, living out of a carry-on bag, dinners alone, freezing standing outside the gate at concerts, driving and more driving, what weekend, circling and circling the crowd, circling, again and again, parents, teenagers, contracts, grey hair, endless piles of film to edit, protecting girls from being poached by competitors, earthquakes in Japan, dropping girls, model apartments, girls, please stay out of the nightclubs in Milano, being early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, did I mention teenagers, grades in school, Elite Model Look, state fairs, music festivals, model searches, college, tears, lunch time on Michigan Avenue, middle of nowhere, three stop light towns, career days, (swearing at a career day, whoops!), skateboarding contests, passports, volleyball games, piles of mail, fiefdoms, 1 out of 500—if you are lucky, shopping malls, open calls, “you should see my friends daughter” (ugh, 5’6.), “why won’t you look at my photos?”, modeling schools, model scouts, on and on, and on and ON! Oh, and teenagers. Worth every single second!
Aggressive. Relentless. Organized. Management. Image. Story telling. The road map in 126.96.36.199 Generation28
Time to take the gloves off. Let’s create some MONSTERS!