Someone kicked my door.
Janice and her sister Debbie stormed into my room. Debbie held a bottle of wine and Janice grabbed and opened my portfolio.
You can throw all this crap out, she said. If it isn’t shot in Paris they call it merde, shitte. You think you have some cute editorials? Some nice Dutch covers? Honey, they’re gonna piss on them. They’re gonna make you feel like hideous shit.
She pulled the cork from the bottle and filled our plastic cups.
So prepare yourself for the worst.
I wondered what she meant as I watched her, manically moving her bare feet back and forth through the orange shag carpet.
She never stopped talking.
Paris is not Amsterdam, she said. Things are different here, harder, and you’ll only work if you follow my, the Janice Dickinson, rules of success and survival.
Janice had become a star overnight but she was also pretty wild. I wasn’t sure what could I learn from her.
She put one finger in my face as if we were counting together.
The Janice Dickinson rule to success … ONE, she said, you need fabulous editorials for your portfolio. TWO – you have to get booked by ELLE, they do the hottest shoots – once you’re in ELLE, everyone else books you. THREE – the only way into ELLE is through the photographers, Demarchelier, Toscani, Bensimon, and Jean Loup Sieff. So. you have to make your booker send you to them and get these guys to notice and want you. Do whatever it takes. Every photographer you see is a horny rat. Don’t bother with any of them, if they’re not well known they’re not worth it. And always make sure you focus on what you need. Great pictures for your book.
Her loud raspy voice and in-my-face attitude made me claustrophobic. This room was too cramped for her, with the bright walls that were painted in a pattern of a psychedelic mushroom cloud of yellow, orange and red.
A-bomb on acid, she said. Mine is blue. Same decorator, different LSD I guess.
Two white molded plastic beds sat along one wall. Another globular blob was both my closet and desk and I had to walk across my bed to get to a bathroom where the toilet and the sink overlapped.
So my sweetie, she said and poked two fingers in my ribcage.
Next is my rule for survival. These rooms suck, every night you’ll wanna escape. But as soon as you go out alone French men will hit on you – like they’re cavemen who think every girl wants to get laid.
I didn’t believe her. In Amsterdam I always went out by myself. Why would Paris be so different?
Believe me, she said. You’ll find out. BUT. Armand, Christa’s millionaire partner, provides the solution. I call them the Playboys.
Who are the playboys? I asked.
Greasy rich guys who like to play with us, you know, party boys, jet-setters. They show up every night. Like dating models is all they do.
You mean the agency uses us as escorts?
You’re so bubblegum. Armand invests in this agency for the perks and guess what, we’re the perks!
I’m not a perk.
Honey, just use these guys the way they use you and you’ll have fun.
She got up and stretched theatrically.
Chill, you’re gonna be huge.
Debbie had not said a word, as if they had an agreement that Janice made all the noise, but on her way out, as she stood in my doorway, Debbie turned, blew me a kiss and whispered:
Sleep tight, don’t let those French bed bugs bite.
I lay down on my bed.
What was that all about?
It was still light outside and people were laughing in the street below. I was restless, my energy bounced off the walls and I had to go somewhere. See the Eiffel tower. Walk along the Champs Elysee. Have a glass of wine on a terrace. But I hesitated. What if there still were playboys downstairs, waiting for me?
This is an excerpt, for more from THE BLACKBERRY DIET