Memoirs of a Run-Away Model: Part 3

the first test shoot, circa 1994

By Alison Satterwhite

Part 3:  Doll

“What in the world are you doing?  Get off of me!”, I squealed.  Was this a bad dream, I considered?  I calmly and collectedly turned and sat up to face him.  Moments earlier, Mr. Miyagi had sold me on the idea of a much-needed massage. He assured me that it would be healing and that my energies would be aligned. The fatherly trust I had foisted upon him overpowered my better judgement and I gladly undressed down to my bra and underwear, quickly covered myself in a towel and positioned myself on the massage table. We were, after all, in what I deemed a professional establishment, weren’t we? He entered the room and didn’t say a word. I was ready to relax, unwind, and in a sense be healed of the emotional exhaustion weighing upon me. He quietly massaged while I fell into a deep, trance-like state.  Within minutes, subtle inconsistency in his pattern indicated that something was off, and I turned and glanced over my shoulder to see what was going on. There was Mr. Miyagi, attempting to undress himself with one hand! A condom sat half-opened near my knee.  Inner turmoil ensued as my mind raced to figure out what to do next. I didn’t know exactly where I was or if this man was some sort of sexual deviant. Do I run out quickly, screaming, or do I play it cool and keep him on his good side? How would he react? I deliberately composed myself, stood up, gathered my things and asked him to leave while I got dressed. As was to be expected, he tried to persuade me of the goodness of his motives. He rambled on about the respect as a client he had for me and that there would be no sexual gratification involved in the least for him. I could sense the fear that I would report him in his tone as he hurriedly gave his most sincere effort to convince me of his honorable intentions. It was simply his job and the most beneficial thing for me to relax and be aligned. “No thank you,” was my response as I subtly urged him to leave the room. I immediately downplayed the seriousness of what had happened in fear of my safety. To make matters worse, I proceeded to walk out of the parlor, dignified and composed as though nothing had happened. Denial and shock had set in as I fearlessly got in his car and he drove me to the hostel. In a last attempt to have me, he placed his hand on my thigh as we said our goodbyes. “I just want to sleep with you,” he said pointedly in his broken English. I numbly ejected myself from his car seat with all the poise and composure of lady, and twistedly made him feel like I was sorry I had let him down. Sadly, somehow I actually believed he wasn’t a bad guy for wanting to take advantage of and disgrace me–just that he was lost and misunderstood. In reality, I was lost and misunderstood. Some would say my desire to see something good in him saved me from a far worse fate. I believe it was my guardian angel making up for events of the day. This would be just one of the many miracles that occurred over the upcoming course of events.

The next day I awoke and readied myself for my first big photo shoot. I would “test”, as it is called in the business. That meant that my agent would see how I came across in film and how good my modeling skills were, all while building a portfolio of images for future clients to see. I was going to meet with a well-known photographer who had shot Cheryl Tiegs just days earlier and I was thrilled to have such an opportunity. I packed my bag with a few random pieces of clothing I thought would be good and hailed a cab. I arrived at an old warehouse and found my way up to the unfinished loft space on the third floor. The photographer answered the door, guided me in and introduced me to his assistant. A white, etherial light filled the room through the patina of the antique glass windows. Everything was white in this massive space, with nothing but a few stools and backdrops placed strategically about. “You can undress over there,” said the photographer as he directed me to put on a red bra for the first pictures. “Wait. Do you have any cellulite on your butt?”, he said. I didn’t know. I had never examined by bottom to see what was there–it was simply off my radar. “I don’t think so,” I nervously responded. Take your pants off and let’s take a look. Awkward, but this was all part of a job, I told myself. Both he and his assistant scoured my backside for any sign of imperfection. “Nope, we’re good,” he said as he directed me over to makeup. The two-hour long process of dolling up my 18-year-old face was tedious and underwhelming. Each eyelash was finessed to perfection for up to 10 minutes. Lipstick was applied and reapplied. Concealor covered every square inch of my translucent, youthful skin, and my hair was combed with a toothbrush so that not one strand was out of place.

At last, I was ready to be photographed. There I stood, nothing but a hollow doll, in my red bra and underwear. Trembling and unsteady, I stood at attention and did my best to “model”. I had no idea how to hold my hands, body or face, but I just kept up the facade. Fake it ’til you make it was the mantra of the day. Words like “beautiful”, and “perfect”, came out of his mouth, much like a soothing balm. My well of insecurity was temporarily filled with a rush of reassurance and confidence. I can do this! He likes me!  The camera likes me! Then he proceeded to take over 200 photos. At the end of the day, my agent was more than pleased with the results and sat me down to have a talk. “I have found an agency to represent you in Milan,” he announced with a thrill in his voice. “They want you in 2 weeks.”  Milan? Milan was going to be even better than Paris!

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