Attack of the Uber Models
Katie Ford, who as CEO of Ford Models represents many of the world's top flesh mannequins, puts it smartly. "We are going to continue to see it as long as models stay at the forefront of American culture, as they are right now." That's Ms. Ford quoted in the New York Times Business Section. She is commenting on Naomi Campbell having registered her name as a trademark in the European Economic Community, or EEC. The ebony supermodel's move to lay commercial claim to her own name chases reports that European manufacturers are marketing jeans and purses bearing her name. Naomi wants her cut. Of course it was just last winter that I got my own taste of the supermodels' stewardship "at the forefront of American culture". It's opening Friday night at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. I tug my stocking cap low to my brow while I dance from foot to foot. I'm shivering on the icy walk in front of the Egyptian Theater, herded there with a few hundred other film plebes. We're vying for waiting list privileges to see the premier screening at midnight of Abel Ferrara's The Addiction. Leaning in as close as perfect strangers will when it's zero degrees at 6,500 feet above sea level, we try to cheat the savage wind chugging down the canyon and up Main Street. We curse the cinematic patricians who periodically hop out of their chauffeur-driven Range Rovers and gingerly pick their way through the throng. Hanging from their necks on fluorescent nylon cords, their $2,500 Fast Passes open sesame the theater doors. But this mob is undeterred by the seeming injustice. As time passes, we huddle closer and swill cappuccinos, silently thanking the barristas for the single paper cups which leak heat like Chernobyl. For a few minutes at least, the fingers stay toasty. I own number seventy-two on the waiting list. If seventy-two ticket holders fail to show at curtain time, my number will be called and I will scrunch into the theater. Seventy-one film buffs do not show. The man who owns waiting list number seventy-one is the last person to scrunch through the Egyptian's door. At least that's what me and my cappuccino comrades believe. As the eighty-somethings, ninety-somethings, and so on, queue up behind me for a box office refund, another black all-terrain vehicle docks curbside under the marquee. What I presume to be a couple of coke-whores scamper out of the back seat, stumble over the snowbank and shimmy toward the theater doors. I feel a little bad for them, dragged all the way up here to give blow jobs and stuff vegetables into themselves while millionaire movie moguls in silk robes ogle and grope them while babbling obscenities. The waifs of the evening are dressed like cheap Cosmopolitan magazine covergirls. Short skirts, impossibly high heels, no hats or gloves. The largest of the crew (I pencil her in as the crew's mother figure) clamors to the doors and pounds on the glass, screaming for the ushers to let them in. I try to ignore the leg show. It all seems ridiculous. After all, Mormons are afoot. But I can't help but marvel at the pitch and ferocity of the matron's wail. I muster a sedate smirk at the thought of this uber-hooker kicking in the doors on opening night at Robert Redford's Sundance party. And here's these waifs leaning against the wall of the theater alcove, chain smoking, sneering, shivering. Their protector is screeching for privileges she obviously thinks they deserve, having just polished Disney's top brass. The grand dame cuts to her left, elbows past me, and begins the same routine on the opposite set of doors to our left. Back again to the right. Her black jaw is chiseled from anthracite, its edge sharp enough to cut your fingers. She stole her thighs from Dallas Cowboy running back Emmit Smith. She seems a foot taller than me despite the stocking cap and arctic boots boosting me toward an even six feet. I turned to the woman behind me and said, "Imagine that, a black transvestite hooker in Bumfuck, Utah." For the last two hours we'd stood together freezing and jabbering film. We'd struck up a bit of a friendship. But now her eyes widen. She looks unnerved. I've done it again. My big mouth. There I am, alone in the cold and dark in the Utah mountains, and I've offended the only person who's spoken to me in twenty four hours. Her eyelids continue to dilate. From behind me a shadow closes on the numb earlobe peeking out from under my hat. I feel claustrophobic. The woman in the box office speaks and as I turn back to hear about the refund procedure, my cheek nearly collides with the razor's-edge chin of Ms. Emmet Smith of the Dallas Cowgirls. The ticket taker is talking to her (him?), not me. But the subject of my crude characterization is suddenly within six inches of my face. The full momentum of embarrassment steamrolls electric up my spine and parks a static lightning ball at the base of my skull. One of the underling waifs slouched against the wall uncurls her lip from around a Marlboro and recurls it in the manner practiced so effetely by thirteen year old girls loitering near a water fountain in the mall. She slithers up to the box, her whole body clenching like she hangs by her bra on a hook in a frozen meat locker. "Like, party of four for Naomi Campbell," she drones in disgust, her inflection rising. It was at once a question and not. I hear hushed and urgent voices three or four bodies behind me. "Moss." "Kate Moss"! "Naomi Campbell." For a confusing moment I think it's coming. But it doesn't. I do not get the shit kicked out of me by a transvestite prostitute in a miniskirt and high heels on icy pavement in Utah while a PC crowd, spurned by the filmmaking establishment shouts, "Down With Hate Speech!" I am spared a thrashing at the hands of the American avant garde.