I slept in, ignoring my beeping iPad. I floated lightly in the dreamy darkness halting existence for a moment. I wanted a second chance. I wanted more chances. I wanted the opportunity to show them I could conquer. Finally, when the beeping became too annoying I indulged the iPad and checked my email.
To my surprise there were FIVE castings calls for GO SEES as well as a photoshoot... All to attended within the next three days. My heart leapt! A second chance! Then as I scrolled the opportunities eagerly, I realized that one was for today. And it was in two hours... For women's wear. Ugh why did I sleep in? Every other model had already had their latte, laxative, or laps in the pool already... And I was still in my long johns.
I took a deep breath, the biggest factor in this upcoming GOSEE was clearly as it always has been... THE WALK. So I teamed up with my friend Shaista, barely even bothering to clothe myself and transformed the hallway into a runway.
Shaista is one of those people that tells it like it is. She took on the role of "model coach" with gusto. "That's too manly" "too much arm motion" "what's happening with your hips?" I walked the hallway almost a hundred times, each time trying to remember... Heel, toe, arch your back, shoulders back, chin down, head up, eyes forwards, arms to the side, hips swaying. That's the biggest factor. The hips. Mine are used to pelvic thrusting.... That's my favorite dance move, sexy move, and impatient motion. Ahem. I don't often wiggle my butt side to side. I'm not trying to entice anyone to frolic in that general region. These hips don't lie... They don't say ANYTHING AT ALL. THEY ARE SILENT HIPS!
The video in this blog says it all.
Eventually I was able to glide without looking like a nauseous robot. Some confidence.... Swagger even was felt and I knew I had no more time to practice.
I dashed out the door, cursing the fact that my hair decided it wanted to go for the Keebler Elf look today despite my best efforts to tame it. The icy winter wind chased me to the train station and greeted me in downtown Manahattan. This time I didn't boost myself with girl power music. I simply walked in complete silence. My own bubble that warded off people, pigeons, and pretty much all obstacles.
The building I arrived at was tall... And about as phallically shaped as it could get. I took the elevator to the 9th floor. A mirror vibrated slightly inside it.... I tried not to look into it. I felt as if it were my Medusa... That a single glance would turn my mind into stone.
Ding. The doors slide open.
The first thing I notice is a hallway littered with highly perfumed and well dressed ladies. They are all on their smart phones, clicking away importantly. They all slightly look up as I approach, one smirks and shakes her head. Their stilettos grind into the tiled floor.
"Rain!" A familiar face greets me. It's Spencer... A male model from MAJOR. I had met Spencer on my first day of signing with the agency. He has just returned from Milan... What's more intimidating to say to a new model other than.... Hiiiiiii no big deal just flying in from Milaaaaan. Gonna check out fashion weeeeeeek.
I had decided to venture with him two nights ago, and despite the wonder and shock I had had originally I realized he's just another guy. A secret shopper for side income, conservative model who won't shoot anything his mother wouldn't be proud of, Mormon, and a sucker for pizza and burgers. His kind eyes and humorous way of articulating things made me feel instantly at ease.
So did seeing him in that hallway waving.
A female model he was with half smiled at me in between Facebooking and shifting her clutch purse. "The sign in sheet is inside."
"Oh, and we wait out here in the hallway?" I flashed her the most non threatening smile I could.... I felt like I was at a watering hole in the Sahara . Don't worry, I won't bite you.
"You can wait in there if you want. We are all out here because they are playing this music that like way too peppy. Seriously. It's way too early for that right now." She rolled her eyes. The other girls mumbled in agreement "totally" "soooo too much" "too early". She went back to her phone, and just as I was about to go in she said "just sign in and come join us."
An invitation... A backhanded one. Because to join them would be to express that I shareds sir disapproval of the music selection. I've never been one to be too good for happy music.
Once inside, I noticed a young man tapping away on a desktop. A music video of a model frolicking through the streets blared away. It was indeed an explosion of ecstasy. I never had a television growing up so seeing something with a screen has always sucked me in... It's like a black hole of mental doom that just compresses my brain and turns me into a zombie. And it slowly began happening there.
I noticed the guy at the desktop staring at me after a few minutes and blushed pointing at the sign in sheet quickly. "This the famous sign in thingy?" (Ugh could it get much classier?) he nods. I flip through the pages to sign. I'm number 238. He watches me sign.
"That girl in the video is really into it isn't she?" I jest.
"She is." He laughs, and introduces himself as Justin. His well groomed bearded complex reminded me of an intern I'd once seen at google. I tell him so, and before I knew it a conversation about tech ensued.
Suddenly another man enters the room, he walks up to us and listens for a moment then introduces himself as Roger. He was also clean cut, simple, young, his posture was well disciplined and his voice was soft but direct. He asked me where I was from, who I was signed with, and we talked about the fashion industry. He told me that he had seen a revolution in trend. That earlier that day he had seen three transgendered (male to female) post opps come in to audition. Then he went on to describe one more shocking model.... A straight man in women's clothing.
I thought, well I hope the casting director of this production company isn't so jarred about gender bending. Then I said that word out loud. Roger had never heard the terms Gender Bender or Gender Fluid. His practiced posture now perched forward on the couch like an Irish Setter when they've treed something. Then he asked....how am I different than a transgendered person in this industry.
That's something I shy away from. There's a whole lot of respect and inspiration to be found in the powerful drive of trans models who were paving their own historic paths. I wanted to express my difference but without discrediting that community.
"I take the sex out of gender." Was the first thing I could think of.
He tilts his head slightly and gnaws on his pen.
"By just wearing whatever I feel, I say to the consumer that I'm wearing it because it's part of how I want to look... And that it's a part of me. By embracing both genders of clothing, I'm saying that no matter who you are, you can purchase this product and it will not define your gender, sexual preference, or interests. You can wear it and it will just be you.... And you are only for you to define."
Silence. He nods and smiles, then looks at my portfolio for about ten minutes. I keep checking the door to make sure I don't miss my call. He asks if I have two different walks, one for each gender. I say yes. He asks for me to do them. I laugh and break out the male walk first. He claps then asks if I could show him in heels. I slip them on, and giggle that I have to walk once to get used to them. He grins knowingly.
My first strut is awkward, but not bad. The peppy music in the background provides a best and I walk back and forth on the runway. He shakes his head.
"Wow. Two genders. So interesting... And you're NOT trans?"
I shake my head then lawfully poked him, "hey mister, the times they are a changin! You may be surprised, the casting director here may end up liking those tran models. Some of the best walks and beautiful women I've ever seen on the runway are trans.... And Miss Canada was trans. There IS. Revolution as you said before."
He laughed, "touché!" Then he patted me on the shoulder. "Alrighty, well I loved you, this has been really educational for me. There's a lot to really think about tonight. Do you've Instagram? I'd love to follow you on Instagram."
I noticed that he had my comp card in his hand. He placed it gently in a small stack by the computer. I gave him my Instagram.
"Well, that's it! Justin here is going to take a few photos and you are good to go."
I stare at him blankly. "Don't I have to-"
Suddenly it clicked.
"You're the casting director?!" Suddenly a flood or UH OH came over me. I did everything I wasn't supposed to do. I wobbled on my heels, hadn't had the time to change out of my masculine shirt before presenting, and worst of all had talked for half an hour.
He grinned an nodded. "You're going to do very well in NYC. We will be in touch soon."
With that I was sent out to the hallway with Justin who snapped the photos. We chatted about humanitarian work and South America. Girl after girl went in and came out, stomping towards the elevator. I barely noticed them save for the snippets winds thAt brushed behind me.
On the way back to my newest couch surf in Queens the whole thing digested.
The truth of the matter and the lesson was that people are just people. That's it. These people that I see.... They are human beings. They have favorite colors, foods, and animals. They have unsavory habits like picking their nose or scratching their scabs. They have neurosis and fears. They have dreams and hopes. They have people that make them feel insecure too.... And people they strive to impress. they are mortal.
I am mortal.
Tomorrow there are two auditions and a female photoshoot. At first I was afraid, but now- I realize this is simply a game of chicken. And I'm not veering off the road anytime soon.