I never know how I'm going to feel about "Model.Live." Some episodes, it tries so hard and achieves so little of interest, and then other weeks it's like they more or less just let the camera roll and the footage is effortlessly compelling. This time they find the sweet spot. Madeline, after a really tough show season, returns to New York to chase the elusive campaign dollar. She's joined by her Aussie boyfriend, Jimmy, to reflect on the mountain of debt she's racked up on her world tour. But they're young and in love and it's still warm out, so even the jeremiad has a jokey quality. They pass a mattress on the sidewalk, and Madeline calls out, "Hey, there's a mattress! We need a mattress." Then she books two days of work that she says pay better than the previous month of shows. Clip above, and recap after the jump.
Modeling is just like Madeline says. (And, to their credit, what Vogue and IMG allow her to say so clearly and directly.) Agencies deduct so many expenses — rent, any advances you've taken, messenger fees, laser copies of the images in your portfolio, composite card printings, airfares, et cetera — that your wages arrive so garnished you could mistake them for canapés. (I remember the first time I spent a whole summer in one market. It was my big break, with a big agency, in a big city — and I worked solidly, doing mainly editorials, and look books for designers who'd keep me for 10 hours and then say, "Now you get to pick out....A dress!" I was dismayed to find that by the end of the season, despite working regularly, I owed my agency $1000. For what amounted to photocopying.) You sink into debt so deeply that your only hope of earning it back is to stay in the game. But then when the nice money job, the $5,000-a-day catalog or the campaign for the South American mall brand you've never heard of, does come through, you don't see a penny because you technically spent it three months prior, when you had to pay your $325 weekly rent to stay in the agency-owned apartment and buy your $25 MetroCard and eat and reprint your cards to the tune of $500 — and all you'd booked back then was a lousy editorial that paid $100. Less your agency's customary 20%. But, eventually, the campaigns and the catalogs come a little thicker, and occasionally your ledger even nudges into the black, because it turns out that during all those poorly paid editorials and look books, you were learning how to model. You were learning how to pose, how to give the client what he wants, how to ease the tension between the panicky fashion editor and the self-conscious photographer when it's only Look 7 and the light is going, how to make clothes look good in two dimensions, how to take cues from the makeup and styling and setting and form yourself into a kind of character. Madeline says in this episode, "I think I'm a really good model, and I can give any photographer what they want." That's a sentiment I can relate to; and while nobody pretends modeling is the most important job in the world, I do believe everyone has the right to take pride in their work. The hard part remains getting the opportunity to demonstrate one's skill. But if it were easy, I'd probably enjoy it less. I suspect Madeline might feel the same. Earlier: Vogue's 'Model.Live': "Don't Change, Just Improve" Vogue's 'Model.Live': "Everybody's So Sorry, And They Love Me, But Everybody Wants Cato." Vogue's Model.Live: "Maybe The Clients Call You, Maybe They Don't. It's Just Like A Guy." Vogue's Model.Live: Crap Instructions From A Casting Agent Vogue's Model.Live Sets New Online Series Record For Time Taken To Jump The Shark Vogue's Model.Live: The New York Fashion week Hustle Begins Vogue's Model.Live: Models Are Strange, When You're An Agent Vogue's Model.Live: Castings Can Really Be A Grind Vogue's Model.Live: Don't Get Famous, And Other Gems Of Parental Wisdom Points For Effort: Vogue Reality Series About Modeling Surprisingly Realistic, A Little Boring Related: Model.Live Episode 11 [Vogue.tv]