A SuperMunk #TruStory : Pragmatic Idealism of Youth

*I may extend this to a regular series. I will only share as the situation calls for it’s relevancy.
*Obligatory music appropriate for story: The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name; LA Riots Remix (download FREE or stream) or substitute something equally empowering.
*These are my own first-hand accounts as i remember them. So I don’t really care if you have an opposing viewpoint; suck it.

This is the kind of inspirational story you’ve been needing to read for a while. And I stand here and delivah!


SuperMunk: No Stranger To Layoffs

My ♥ goes out to all you victims of layoffs. SuperMunk always has a soft spot for the downtrodden masses, and mucho empathy 🙂

Having been there myself – laid of a grand total of 5 times during the Bush administration – I’m virtually unemployable now. People wince when they look at my resume with all the gaps and short stints. Even though it’s not my damn fault. Even though it’s the goddamn truth, but hey, fuckers don’t care.

Even worse when your family tells you to persevere/ to put your faith in God/ to roll up your sleeves and work hard so you’ll get somewhere/ to go get a job at McDonald’s and stop mooching off mom & dad – that last bit was from my thoughtless brother  spewing nonsense because according to him, you can find anything anywhere. Even though it was only 3 months after goddamn 9/11 terrorist attacks. Did I mention I lived in the city at the time?  Nah, the joblessness that ensued and wiped out many businesses on the Lower East Side didn’t exist to him – why I was just making that up! I’m just being lazy, right? Did I mention he was visiting from mothereffin’ California where everything was blooming fine??? Jackass.

Not for lack of trying, but most people don’t buy that you can lift 50lbs when you have spindly sissy-girl arms as I do! But SuperMunk did have very many odd jobs since. From corporate> manual labor> cust. service> food> maintenance> freelancer> administrative> warehouse> YOU NAME IT!

And this is where today’s story begins…

Doing Hair And Makeup On Models

Yes, I used to be a hair/ makeup stylist assistant some 5yrs. back? more or less.

I worked with a friend on many ad campaigns and she was gainfully employed by an agency. This is how we got these lucrative gigs.  If I remember correctly, we worked on projects for Marshalls catalog, Frito Lays, Eddie Bauer, JcPenny’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, Absolut, etc. We even did 2 benefits for AIDS charities, one of which was held in the famous former Limelight Lounge. (rent the movie Party Monster and you’ll see it) Truly it was one of the most interesting times of my life and I only got the job because I knew her. Seriously, the old adage applies: Not what you know, WHO you know.

And I got my foot in the door, drawing from all my worldly experience of years and years of reading girlie magazines and my own judgement, I did models’ hair. I mean, that’s it. That’s all my education on that. Never learned to be a cosmetologist or anything. Just went on common sense and gut instinct. Dude, I TOTALLY winged it! Does it piss you off? Awesome.

We flat ironed hair, set pincurls, blowdried, applied makeup even to the men, sometimes kids, destroyed our fingers by sewing weaves on, applying/removing a thousand hair pins, etc. In my haste to rush the model on set, I once grabbed the barrel of a one-inch diameter curling iron while it was plugged in. Yikes! Occupational hazards but DELICIOUS craft services! Strawberry tart with fresh creme, fresh scones, grilled scallops, seasoned lamb skewers, yummers! And being around beautiful people 24/7? It was da life!

SuperMunk And The Alternate Career

Why is SuperMunk not doing this anymore? Because it’s a labor of love.

LISTEN: It may be fashion, but it is NOT EASY.  It is NOT motherfucking easy, and this I cannot stress enough!!!

It looks cute, fun and glamorous on TV shows like Ugly Betty but you can’t believe how many people are involved and what a HUGE collaboration it takes to make it all come together. You can only understand about such an intense collaboration if you’ve ever worked on a film set (I’ll talk about that part of my life on another SuperMunk #TruStory)

You have to appease everyone involved: The client 1st, photographer 2nd, PR agency who hired you 3rd, clothing stylist 4th, photo crew and talent last. It’s exhausting. They rush you even if the ‘talent’ (fashion speak for models) gets there late. So that’s a pain in the ass. Also, lotta people need their asses kissed in order for drama not to happen. Not often but when situation calls for it. Drama is a little inevitable but you can minimize damage only if your diplomatic skills kick in. Not a lot of people are so civil or on the ball. 😦

It involves such a degree of social skill and a cool mindset that I was never equipped with. Also, as fun as it is, my heart’s just not into this enough to make a solid career change. But damn if I had the window of opportunity opened for me! Just in the wrong career, oh pooh!

(I just heard the whiny shreaky voices of a thousand jealous makeup school grads squealing in my ears like harpooned orcas…eat it bitches!)

Conversations With Models

So me and my friend (who brought me under her wing as her assistant) usually chatted up with some of the models during the 1hr break and while the photographer was getting the proofs printed and lightbulbs being changed.

The truth about models? They are very worldly well-traveled people, models are. They are all beautiful people with practically no body fat, and yes, it’s genetic. Nature starts them off that way. How long they get to hang on to that fat-less body state depends on the cruelty of nature – this is the truth. They are also abnormally tall, like circus freak tall, yet another genetic defect that works in their favor. How they look from across the street isn’t how they look standing in front of you.  A little disconcerting, a 6ft tall woman can be. (I’m 5’5″)

I’ve never personally met one bitchy model during my working time, this I can attest. And they all have interesting stories to tell which stick in your mind long after the gig is done.

Children Models: Children who are models are extremely mature and so damned disciplined, and talking to them feels like you’re talking to a small adult. They know when to come on set, how to pose, how to hold that pose, how big or small to smile. Not one of them is known for running around on set and screaming their heads off, because little brats like that never get called back by the photog again. In short, these kids are trained to the T by the agency representing them.

Teen Models: The teen models do as they are told and follow the photogs lead. I always got a little nervous when some were put into skimpy clothes including the guys, even if it bordered on the limits of good taste and ethical boundaries. But apparently they’re ok with it because according to them, this is typical. And no one’s complaining, especially since after the makeup and clothes they transform into a whole new other person. A sultry vixen selling you on lambskin handbags, perhaps. One that does not look like some fresh-faced cheeky appled pubescent 15yr old. There are rules and laws and sometimes parents on set, so everyone watches not to overstep boundaries, so that’s good.

One girl I spoke with, 17, and a natural redhead, said she had been modeling a whole year and almost had enough to quit and pay for the school of her choice, I think she said Northwestern? I most certainly hope it came true for her. She did make a small reference to knowing she’d soon be out of the game. She knew her body was still developing so she wouldn’t hang onto that flat frame of hers forever. Most of these people are realistic about the longevity of these opportunities. She talked as I covered up her freckles .

Male Models: The male models are all smoking hot. And get this – most are straight. Yes, I said STRAIGHT. Heterosexual. And most jump out of the game earlier than the women do. I remember one such hottie was from the Dominican Republic. Perfect teeth, looks, charm, hawt body (especially shirtless-RAWWRR) but had a wedding ring (dammit!). But said his wife who recently had a baby with him was totally on board with his modeling, so long as he came home to her-wink! But from talking to him I got the sense he was loyal. The fact that he looked at none of the girls on set proved that. Anyway, he was using modeling money to pay for med school, although he was having reservations about just sticking to modeling because it paid so much and med school wouldn’t. I always wondered what path he took.

I may have tweeted about an Icelandic model. Met him on a gig. He told us they called him 6pm the night before, he was on a NY-bound plane by 10pm with a stopover in Nova Scotia> arrived at LaGuardia sometime before sunlight> went straight to his agency> who put him in a cab for today’s shoot slated for 10am> ends at 5pm> and right back to the airport. He has a wife who also models, so they’re both used to the erratic schedules including their children. Jet lag is an unfortunate occupational hazard and it was my job to make those dark circles disappear! Voilà! Gone. I am a MACamagician!

One of my own friends was a fit model for years. Until he said they wanted younger meat. He was only in his mid 30’s with washboard abs! C’est la vie. But with great entrepreneurial spirit he secured a gig at (unnamed investment firm grilled by SEC) for a bit on top of some other random contract jobs. Happy story people!

Older Models: They even use those in their prime to model for catalogs for the baby boomer set. I’m not sure how the recruit the older men, but the older ladies, many have done modeling since their early 20’s and even now into their early 50’s with silver hair still have practically no body fat! One of them said she ate very little red meat, stayed the hell out of the sun (very few wrinkles-impressive) and has done namaste yoga since the 80’s. Good to know.

Female Models: Almost all the girls I spoke with were very efficacious social creatures. They all greet each other like sisters, and some even remember each other from previous shoots.  And they all arrive with headshot in hand, as they turn it in when they check in with the crew.

Stylists: (FYI: you get some good gossip from stylists. You also get some good leads) Models are all supposed to share the same clothing size too. Because the stylist only carries that one standard size. In fashion, that’s how it is. Imagine if the stylist retrofitted each and every person with diff. clothing sizes-fuck that! Do you know how many clothes the stylist carries around with her? In addition to a giant  professional-grade steamer, several boxes of shoes and accessories? That’s why everyone’s the same size. Poof! Mystery solved.

I spoke to one who was 34 at the time. She was telling us since she quit smoking, these tiny little love-handle looking thickness began developing. And that her agency was none too pleased. She got on the patch and began working out 4 times a week for an hour. She knew her time was coming (damn, that’s all these people kept talking about- their shelf life) and that she was gonna milk that cow for all it’s worth. She explained to me that while the agency pays for your beauty salon trips, gym membership, personal trainers, medical, assemble a portfolio for you, have headshots made for you, that in the end they get that money back from taking out a percentage of your wages. In her case it was 20% and she was in unusually high demand.

(I should point out not everyone is so lucky; not everyone gets so many constant requests to be put in ad campaigns; 20% is not unheard of for a top agency but, not every agency charges as such)

A Model’s Shelf Life

This shelf-life is the determining factor as to whether you stay in the game anymore or not. Some models accept it and exit quietly, some fight it tooth and nail with  laxatives or drugs. (damn people, take a hint: nature slapped your dumb ass) So a model’s shelf life is almost on par with the average ball player when you think about it. Yes it pays a lot of money, but it also ends abruptly.

There’s other things that shorten a model’s career. Like pissing off the folks who put together the photo shoot. If you piss of these people, they’re not gonna call you back for more gigs. They will call up your agency and complain-complain about your sassy ass. Smart models do as they’re told, show up on set when called, don’t keep the photographer waiting, take little to no smoking breaks, and most important, they need to look exactly like their headshot.

It’s the agency’s job to maintain those things current. It’s the model’s responsibility to notify them to get that headshot redone if she did in fact chop off her long hair. You change the look, you change the product. If the model gets a haircut, she’s obviously not gonna look like the last time the photog remembers her. So if they needed someone to wear pigtails on a ranch and she shows up with a bob, hell breaks loose. Angry phone calls are made.

As a makeup/ hair stylist, we can *try* to attach synthetic hair pieces but that takes so damn long, it may not look natural, (try shooting around that editorial blunder) attaching them requires pinning/ sewing/ weaving/ gluing them on, (there’s ‘hair glue’ you know) we may not have extra hair pieces on us that day since we lay that shit out the night before, and we still have to get the other talent ready within a short time frame.

I talk about this in length because I saw first hand the unfair treatment one such model received when she was turned away at the front desk because her dumbass agency sent her old headshot instead. The photog and crew kept glaring at her saying snippy shit after she left, and it wasn’t even her fault, poor girl. She was young enough that she came in with her mother and both looked embarrassed. Man, they pick on you for filling out slightly, they pick on you for changing your look, whatever. I suppose no one’s job is perfect.

There Is Another (Model)

This other model on set was very outspoken and voicing her disdain over such similarities. I mean, we all agreed it was a shitty thing to happen. She also spoke of this ‘shelf-life’ phenomenon but flat out stated she didn’t care. She was so damn energetic, like a supernova drawing you in with her vivacious personality. When she spoke, it’s like we couldn’t not listen – couldn’t turn away. Nor did we want to. We found out she was in her late teens, which was surprising given the calm manner in which she spoke. I was taken aback that a teenager was telling it like it is, as-a-matter-of-factly laying out on the line. Very smartass, without the hyperactive, and definitely not insecure.

She told us informed us that she’s not gonna wreck herself to stay in the game despite loving modeling. And if she gets fat, screw it, cuz she enjoyed the trip. And if she doesn’t, she’ll ride it out as long as life permits. She said at the time she was getting pressure from all ends to drop a few pounds, even though she walked everywhere and was naturally athletic but these bad influences were actually urging her to go take drastic measures. I wish I could tell you exactly what, but it was several years ago so my memory can’t recall specifics-booh to my bum brain! Hell, I can’t even recall what I had for breakfast 2 days ago.

We edged in closer and asked in low voice, “Don’t they know you’re still a teenager and your body’s still developing?” She said they’re well aware and if they don’t care about her health, then she doesn’t care about their concerns. Good for her! My friend applauded her as did I.

Personally I’m bad with names, but I never forgot her face because it was very unique. I notice these things, like angles in jaw lines, hollows in cheeks, the soulfulness in the eyes. I did manage to remember she was from Florida because her mom showed up in flipflops and had just gotten there directly from the airport. They seemed like a nice family unit; super togetherness.  Why that image stayed with me I’ll never know 🙂

It was nice to see them leave after the photoshoot in good spirits. She told me she was taking her mom on tour around the Big Apple cuz mom’s visiting. I mean that girl’s pure heart got to me. A lot of the model’s told good stories, including the  story about a certain bitchy pop singer at a NY club… anyhoo, I always secretly hoped she would’ve continued on with her modeling career so that I would eventually run into her at another gig, but sadly I never did. But I never, ever, forgot her realist outlook on life.

The Wakeup Call – Jaded Youth

And to hear it from such a young person is truly refreshing. As adults we get so caught up in our petty shit getting emotionally worked up over worthless pursuits, like disputing utility bills/ road rage/ dating some worthless person  who plays mindgames/ getting drawn into futile family squabbles. That pathological muck is what turns us into defeated cynical old farts. Whatever. Such things make our light that shines dull down. It’s our responsibility to regain it without losing sight of what’s real and what’s important. I think that’s what I took from my conversation with this young lady, who while still fairly young, working in this cut throat industry for a few years and she seemed relatively unaffected by the muck. Strong mind on that one.

The shame of slowly giving in at my ripe ol’ age of 25 was a wakeup call, and been fighting it off ever since! I mean who wants to become jaded so young?

As for my hair/makeup assistant days…though my friend had a natural flair for handling disputes with everyone on set, for me that is my idea of pure hell. I could only do that for a little while before I myself snap. I hate bitchy gossippy people, especially bitchy women with their incessant yapping-ugghh! STFU. See? I’m terrible for the job! So that was the end of my stint in the fashion world; thanks for playing.

The Moral Of The Story Kids

Q: And the whole reason I wrote about all of this?

A:  Even with odds stacked against you, the odds can still turn in your favor on the turn of a dime.

Job uncertainty looms over the horizon and affects every single industry.

I used one end of the fashion industry in this broad explanation because although desirable and high in demand, it has a tremendous fluctuating wave of uncertainty. What’s in right now is out 5 sec. ago and with it, a lot of people’s jobs. Everyone/thing is uncertain. Everyone/ thing is disposable.

Everyone is disposable in any kind of industry if you think about it. Those vain people who need to keep up with the Joneses and purchase the latest electronics, that gloat about their glossy jobs, lease 3 cars, well they are on their way towards the unemployment line, or have had more job responsibilities dumped on their lap with no additional pay increase and no one’s the wiser. And what good is making a big salary if you burn through 3 times that amount?

There is no job security anywhere, so wake the fuck up! Take care of yourself because providing you with financial security is your job. Not your lover’s and not your family’s job—YOUR job. You owe it to yourself.

If you sustain your entire living on credit with no conservative cash flow, you are living a lie. THE lie, that will end with you losing your job whenever top brass sees fit. No job in the world is going to fix that! I mean you can make a lotta money from an occupation, but money comes & goes. In one hand, out the other. But the ability to create opportunities anywhere stays with you forever.

Underdogs can and eventually do come out on top.

I saw one Superbowl (don’t ask me which one) where the Raiders with so many points against them, finally redeemed themselves in the final quarter. I mean that was a freaking long-shot! No one could’ve predicted that! And yet they won. Imagine that. Rent Rudy if you need more evidence. (total tear-jerker-sob!)

The future is liquid and ever changing. Nothing is set in stone.

Look at all those rich people who lost their fortunes overnight in the economic crash of 2008. People who had financial security for much of their lives, now learning to live like peasants. They thought the gravy train would never end, that their future would be a constant is an incredibly naive outlook to have on life.

Life isn’t meant to be controlled. Life twists and turns like a snake, you’re just along for the damn ride. Can you adapt? That’s the true measure of success.

Look at the people who got sick and tired of getting laid off and started springing up profitable start-ups. They didn’t plan for it but it worked in their favor. Need more proof? Have you ever read Samuel L. Jackson’s wiki? He took hostages during a college protest, developed a drug addiction, rehabilitated himself, now look at him. He even has a comic book character modeled after his likeness! Did you know he finally made it big with Pulp Fiction at the ripe ol’ age of 46?

Now that’s called big-bad-motherfu**** inspiration! Get it-learn it!

Even as ol’ SuperMunk sits here, I can speak with wisdom, objectivity, relevance, and always sardonic wit (and smartassery) that I am always confident in a different outcome for the future. Things we plan don’t go accordingly but, forces you to thin & work harder. Even contracts aren’t immune to change. Like a marriage license is a contract between lovers. But how they feel about you now may not be the same feeling 5yrs from now. Change is inevitable at any time in our lives. We just have to adjust wisely.

I always say if you’re not happy with how The Book Of Your Life is being written, write it yourself.

I write the following as advice for entrepreneurs and bloggers alike:

  • Don’t give away your control. Ever.
  • Get the answers yourself. Putting research into other people’s hands you will get results on their schedule, at their level of expertise. Which may not be enough for your needs.
  • Ruts are for suckers and people too comfortable and scared to try a whack at life.
  • Develop strength of mind. You have this and you won’t be needy. Ever.
  • Don’t wait for family & friends to give you emotional support. I’ve failed at this many a time, so learn from my mistakes. More often than not they won’t understand your ambitions or ideas, and because they love you they will try to talk you out of it. That comes from a place of fear, fear that you will fall on your ass and fail.
  • Anything worth fighting for takes major hardwork and dedication. Nothing happens overnigh – not weight loss, not a dramatic increase in your checking account, nothing. Remain realistic and unshaken in your determination.
  • Never be deterred even if you go it alone.
  • Don’t let anyone dictate how you will supplement your income. It’s worthless sitting around waiting for that temp agency to fill your head with hopeful nonsense and zero results. You’ve got an idea that’s been brewing for a while? Don’t fight it, work it. Work it out on paper. Go with the flow of nature. Your instincts tell you this direction is where your heart is, so go that way. And figure out how to monetize it.
  • What good is an idea if it’s never put into motion? You are an entrepreneur and you don’t even realize it. Then realize it! I once found a website once that sold cow dung clocks and if some yokel can make that profitable, then fuck! We are not in a 3rd world country! God bless the U.S.A. cuz you can make money from just about anything. Business licences cost as little as $50 and if you’re gonna whine about that price, you pay more for all your monthly apps/ iTunes/ Netflix/ eBooks so shut it. Quit whining and set your idea in motion. You can figure out how it’ll make you money later, just don’t fight instincts. People who do end up giving in and turn into lonely, bitter, defeated, and resentful people in life and the long run.

I myself am spreading around little business seeds of evil and hoping at least one in the bunch will turn profitable. But even now I fight opposition every day, and the support I once longed for from friends and family I no longer look for. I said this is what I’m doing and I’m sticking to it, come hell or highwater.

I do what I need to do for myself, even if it means upsetting some folks, because I finally need to believe in my own damn self. Frivolities mean nothing to the hardcore entrepreneur who’s got their mind deadset on their idea!

Once you got your idea, there is NOTHING that will shake that foundation! Stick to your guns, dammit!

As for the Floridian teen model? I stumbled on this video by accident the other day, hence the reason for this post. I told you I never forget a face! So scrappy she is, aye! She’s done pretty well for herself. Good for her!

This has been a SuperMunk™ #TruStory. (☻happistori☻)


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