Glamour Girls: Part II

The Chaos Continues to Keep Hairstylists, Choreographers and Models on their toes

News | Margaret Childs | June 2007

We’d been on the road for two days touring with hairstylist Mario Gutman: He was selling his concept "Tomorrow Looks" to Swiss and German Audiences, and we were the guinea pigs.

The next seven days were a blur. We quit each hotel with little to no sleep. The team of hairdressers, choreographer, manager, stylists, make-up artists and models would pile into the tour bus at 5:30 in the morning to head to the next city. When we weren’t catatonic, the bus echoed with complaints.

"Oh shit, I forgot my shampoo in the shower," Nathalie exclaimed as we turned onto the German Autobahn.

"Forget it, this is a hair show, they’ll have enough shampoo." Nora yawned, cuddled in her oversized sweater and jogging pants. Models don’t care much what they wear when they’re not in the limelight. So the clothes worn on the bus, the hotel and off-stage can be astonishing.

The two Czech girls always took a room together and once appeared in the sweetest, love-worn children’s nighties I’d ever seen. Mia, the tallest of the bunch seldom took off her kidney warmer, a tube of cloth around her waist. Other girls never took off their high-heels, either because they needed them for the show or to arouse a little attention around the hotel.

Tessa was one of the latter. She never missed a chance to blow a kiss to some pubescent bellboy or to make sure the cameraman got at least five minutes of pure Tessa footage. But she was annoying to the organizers and stylists and was a chore to the other models. Not only was she repeatedly late, chronically dissatisfied and saucy, dancing around backstage she managed to stumble between one of the projectors and the screen, getting a loud laugh from the audience. She never seemed to notice.

Dorothea sat with Marietta and me in our third or fourth hotel room.

"Why do think people get like Tessa?" she wondered. "She has no plans to study, didn’t even get a high school diploma and wants to be a model forever." Ok sure, it can be done. We’ve all seen super models like Heidi Klum, Cindy Crawford or Naomi Cambell who can make a career of looking good. But it’s rare."

"If someone makes it that high they don’t start like Tessa," Marietta offered. "She doesn’t even take a shower after the shows." This is unheard of.

The one thing you can’t fake is self-respect. If you don’t respect your body, it won’t look healthy. The make-up artists, who never grumbled about covering up our scars and bruises, kept complaining about her dry pimply skin that took ten minutes longer to "fix."

"Her arrogance has nothing to do with delusions of grandeur," Doro concluded. "I think she is just lazy and doesn’t know any better."

Being unprofessional gets in everybody’s way. But being professional as a model is not as easy as it sounds. A model is expected to let the paying client change her appearance in almost anyway he sees fit. You say no, and you’ve lost the job. The hair shows make this aspect quite visible. Long hair is an asset to any model. Long hair means you are more likely to be booked for shows and have more possibilities in fashion and advertising photography.

For hair shows, they chop it off. Some kept more than others and three of the models were condemned to getting extensions taken out and new ones puts in before every show. This meant sitting for an hour longer than the others.

Flora on the other hand had around 70 extensions extracted and another 70 inserted every day. She was also the face that Great Lengths used on their merchandising for "Tomorrow Looks." She was paid no more, but had no time to go shopping, drink coffee and see a bit of the city, while she had her hair pulled.

"You should ask your agency to negotiate some more money for you." Nora encouraged.

"No, I already agreed. They won’t go back on that now." Flora said. She told us how little she was paid for the pictures, and several were aghast. But everyone was already so mad she had acted cranky towards Mario Gutman, the hairstylist, there was no point in arguing.

We left it at that. Money matters are difficult as a model, because the financial transactions happen though the agency. You are closest to the product and get paid last.

After the three-day break back in Vienna, we flew to Düsseldorf for the second stage of the tour, and on arrival began the round of hair washing, reading magazines and waiting to be styled. We were now old hands, and after the rehearsal, the finicky Pascal was satisfied.

"You are wundeurful geurls. I wont to zee youre eneurjy on stege tunite!"

Our energy was hanging by a thread; we knew the show by heart but still had some very close calls. Tessa forgot her queue for her solo dance, and Romana and Nathalie had to arouse her form her I-pod-coated trance.

The next day, in Hamburg we lunched on Italian Food, and on the bus over to the hotel I noticed Dianne scratching her back. Styling Dianne’s hair in the dressing room Suzi, yelled over the hairdryers "Holy shit, your back!" We all looked and as she lifted her shirt we all saw that her entire back was covered in a very red, very bumpy rash.

She freaked, she said that she has never been allergic to anything before and in an hour she had to wear a backless dress on stage, on camera.

"What do I do?"  Everyone began to bustle and order chamomile tea. Two of the models and myself then took her to the ladies room and stripped her down to towel her back with warm chamomile tea. We were frantic. Romana and Flora had to go get their hair done, and the rash wasn’t getting better very fast. We’d try yoghurt…

But then all of a sudden, the swelling went down, and the make-up artists said they would cover the redness.

On the video, her back is flawless.

On the days off from the tour, Nora had gotten another job, a shooting for which she had had her hair cut even shorter and colored blonde instead of the light purple that she had previously worn on the tour.

Mario was furious. The shows were being filmed and now she looked completely different than in the other shows. After a lot of huffing and puffing they decided that she had not been booked for those days and had every right to do another job. On the other hand, it meant over an hour more of preparation for the hairdressers.

In the end, we all coped somehow; that just showbiz, and the problems are more of less the same for anyone all over. The two bit dives we stayed in after Zurich after the five star show hotels, brought reality back to our tour community. Strange hotel guests, awkward smells and dingy restaurants made cooperation and camaraderie very important.

"Fat models aren’t modern…" The stylist, Sergei’s words echoed in our ears after he only ordered minestrone for the models, after a long day and show.

A sore throat, canker sore, headache, dyslexia, personal conflicts or illiteracy go unnoticed, while a sprained ankle, allergies or the wrong haircut can mean losing a job.

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