Randalls' Next Model
As much as I try not to make the experience like a cattle call, often I'm so busy shuffling parked cars, Xeroxing models' IDs and trying to calm my mother down that I don't have time to be personable and work on making the model feel comfortable.
In fact, I can recall one incident where I truly did feel like I was directing a factory line of models — an agent brought in 10 girls at once on an extremely busy day. Suze was already shooting on set, so I had to herd the girls in, one by one, to the makeup room and stuff them in the corner. Most of the girls — in fact, nine of them — weren't even remotely close to what we were looking for, so I simply shot two Polaroid pictures of each out of politeness. I can't imagine how much film I've wasted because I couldn't bring myself to tell the girls they didn't have a chance in hell of getting booked by us.
The worst part is getting a girl with a cute face but a horrendous body. As a woman, I understand the lifelong weight battle that most of us face (I'm no size 2 myself) so I find it very difficult to tell a girl she needs to lose weight. I once had a girl come in who was young, beautiful but about 10 pounds overweight. As delicately as I could, I asked her if she might be able to lose the weight — sympathizing with the difficulty of keeping in shape, lamenting the inability to gorge on Taco Bell and the sheer boredom of exercise. I stressed to her that one's figure was fortunately a factor that could always be improved, but she was blessed with a gorgeous face, which only nature can truly provide.
I felt that she took my sermon very well, but I later was horrified to hear that she had refused to eat and actually collapsed on set, and was rushed to the hospital for malnutrition. I felt terribly guilty, but I did have to remind myself that she picked a profession that relies on one's appearance. As a doctor must study medicine to practice, as an athlete must build endurance to compete, a model must stay in shape and take care of her looks to be successful at removing her clothes in front of the camera. The girl decided on her career, not I.
Then, of course, we get the beautiful girls who think they are ugly, and the ugly girls who think they are beautiful. A female's skewed perception of herself never fails to amaze me. I've had girls who bemoan an imaginary pot belly and girls with what look like bowling balls of flesh attached to their chest that hail their "fantastic" new boob job.
One of my favorite incidents involving a delusional model was back when I first started working in the adult industry, about eight years ago. A model called up the office and gave us a long diatribe about how she was a successful mainstream model who had finally decided to take the plunge and submit herself to Penthouse. She was adamant about the fact that we should be grateful that she would bestow such an honor upon us and how she had done many hours of research before deciding that the Randalls were the most deserving of capturing her divine image on film.
Naturally, we were curious to see her photos. So when the package arrived, breaths were held but then viciously expunged when we saw her photos. To say she was unattractive would be an understatement. I don't enjoy being cruel, but she was hideous. Unbelievably so.
She called us a few days later to make sure we'd received the package. When we admitted that we did, she unquestioningly inquired as to when we were going to schedule the photo shoot, and weren't we just stunned by her photos? Well we were, but not in the sense she so imagined. Gently, I explained to her that we wouldn't be able to book her and that Penthouse was not interested in her as a centerfold. Her response was less than pleasant. She called me every name in the book, and then some I'd never heard before. She even threatened to put her husband on the line, to tell me how wrong I was and what an opportunity we were throwing away. It actually got to the point that I simply had to hang up the phone because she was hurting my ear.
Thankfully, we never heard from her again.
I am often asked what I look for in a model. It's nothing that can be specifically named — obviously a good face and a great body account for much of it. But what truly defines a good model, what makes us book her time and time again, is the spirit inside of her. It's the way she arches her back, seduces the camera and lifts the corners of her mouth in a way that says, "I know you want me, but you know you can't have me."
It's that promise of an unattainable goal that leaves the viewer wanting more, and as a photographer, I'm here to give them just that.
Any models wishing to submit their photographs for review, please email Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org