Naughty - Confessions of A Supermodel
Recently, we had Fashion Week here in New York. That, combined
with a news item about some dude at the Met Opera House falling
off of a bizarre stage set during opening night of whatever
opera it was, had me simply frothing with memories.
In the early 90s in Seattle, as a twenty-something occasional
college student, my friends called me Ruth Buzzy. My short,
dyed, black bob looked slightly cartoonish, and my clothes
were a cartoony extreme of hipster ideals. Also, I was chubby.
Thick legs, big belly - the works. The newest member to
my downtown circle of hipster lushes was Heather Stone,
a fashion designer from Los Angeles. She invited me to do
a modelling stint for her upcoming fashion show, and I was
thrilled. I was going to prove to the world that I was actually
a member of the hot babe elite, in disguise.
Prior to the show I fantasized the gig would lead to Dolce
& Gabbana print ads, a cameo on Saturday Night Live, several
movie deals. A sexy European head hunter would be in the
audience. He'd pick me out instantly and follow me backstage,
handing me a business card with Miuccia Prada's phone number.
"Call her now. I already told her about you," I imagined
him saying, breathlessly. Then he'd ask me out to dinner.
In reality, the fashion show was a congregation of unheard-of,
up-and-coming, or already-washed-up-but-in-denial designers.
It was held in a large but dorky downtown venue. There was
no pay, just free food and liquor. But I wasn't getting
picky, this was my moment of glory. I was being paid with
an ego-stroke. Knocking on the side door at noon on the
big day, I uttered those beautiful words, "I'm one of the
models," to the doorman. He looked at me a little funny,
then let me in.
Backstage, a hippie food manufacturing company set up a
snack table of healthy thin fare, and Heather set up a portable
bar. We had several hours before showtime, and settled in
for an afternoon of idle chitchat, cigarettes, Silver Bullets
(our signature drink of vodka and champagne), and Yam and
Lentil Chapati Wraps. Each designer had his or her little
camp of models in various corners of the room. We eyed each
other suspiciously, openly disdainful of one another. Heather's
was the only group of heavy smokers and drinkers. Well,
okay, it was mostly just Heather and me. She was also the
only one with a campy sense of humor in her designs - altered
vintage clothes decorated with an obsessive-compulsive amount
of buttons. All of the other designers had self-conscious
clothes and models that looked like they just graduated
from Barbizon ("Be A Model...Or Just Look Like One!"TM)
I slammed down drinks at a furious pace. The nerves and
insecurity increased exponentially the closer we got to
show time. The other women in my camp began to treat me
like an unwanted pest. By the time the makeup artists got
to work on us, I was officially too drunk to do anything
except be too drunk. But they put on my makeup, and I put
on my black dress, the feather boa and cat's eyes glasses
without lenses that Heather had instructed all of us to
We lined up by a little staircase behind the wings, to walk
up on stage one by one. I wanted to get out of this, but
it was too late now. A few realizations hit me. I wasn't
one of these people. I really was a goofy Ruth Buzzy-esque
chub, whom the thin women and handsome men found appalling.
But I thought they were cheesy windbags, so we were even.
It was my turn. The drag queen MC did some silly spiel while
I concentrated really, really hard on not looking drunk
and walking at the same time. It was a tremendous challenge.
Down the little runway, don't walk too fast, don't slip,
don't stumble, yes okay now stop, and turn around. The audience
seemed quiet, as if they didn't understand why I was up
there. So I stuck my ass out, and received a few murmurs.
Almost done. Walk slowly upstage, arrive near MC, at which
point I reached for her cigarette. It looked like I flipped
her off. Verry cool. I did it, I'm done, I thought happily
to myself. As per instructions during rehearsals, I remained
up on stage by the MC for the finale. I could barely see.
The other models returned and lined up along the back of
the stage. So relieved it was over, I abandoned myself to
a drunken revelry dance, and thenwhoops!took
a Nestea Plunge right off the back of the stage, landing
on the concrete floor. My knee was dislocated.
Looking down behind her from the stage, the MC crooned into
the microphone, "Oh noooo, wow, that's too bad. So, anyway..."
The other models were laughing at me. Then the queen turned
back to the show. Everyone kept doing their thing.
Someone came up to drag me backstage. "I'm gonna sue, I'm
gonna sue!" I screamed, in tears. But I knew I wouldn't.
It was my own fault. I popped my knee back in (not the first
time), hobbled to the empty dressing room, and ate another
yam sandwich. Someone brought me ice for my swelling knee.
I felt like the world's drunkest, dumbest fat girl. Instead
of an ego boost, I now had ego demolition. Not only that,
Heather would cancel my membership as her friend, for ruining
her show. I braced myself for the repercussions.
Finally, she came back stage.
"Oh my God, you were brilliant!" she said, not facetiously,
grinning hugely. Two 'important' fashion world friends were
in the audience, just to see her segment. She was with them
when I fell. They were impressed, and asked Heather if she
had choreographed it. I got the feeling she told them it
was her idea.
For the rest of her Seattle shows I was one of her models.
All of the newspaper ads, posters and flyers plastered around
town were of me. I acted as her muse and kitsch consultant,
and even lost some weight. But I did not fall off the stage,
-- Rasha Refaie