Adonis’ Dream by Richard Franklin
By Alison Satterwhite
Part 5: Meet Adonis
“Good bye mom,” I said with a combination of child-like fear and teenage apathy. We both deeply misunderstood one another. My calloused heart remained closed off to her and I was more than relieved to have my concerns shift away from her disapproval of me. She was not opposed to my modeling and in fact, felt relief to have me out of her hair. She didn’t realize that there remained within me a very small flame that desired to please and gain her acceptance. I was raised in the Mormon faith despite my inability to reconcile it with my wandering youth. Even still, it was during the growing pains of adolescence that I relied heavily upon prayer and faith to get me through my severe obsessive thoughts and body dysmorphic episodes. Through many small miracles, I would overcome these challenges day by day. However, my mother’s perception of me remained that I was an incorrigible child and she eventually threw up her hands in surrender. “Something IS, that doesn’t love a wall,” she would say in an effort to ease her own conscience. It was a thankless job but she was there–a guardian angel working around the clock in my behest. I boarded the plane to Milan and was off. Now my safety and care rest solely in the hands of hungry strangers.
I wrestled with my nerves for what seemed like eternity on my long flight to Italia, the uncertainty and anticipation of what was before me burning within. “Are you a model?” random strangers would ask and I was more than flattered to explain my fortuitous circumstances. Their interest and support was mind-boggling to an 18-year-old and I didn’t know how to handle it. Just days earlier, I had a chance encounter with an up and coming musician who would discreetly hand me his phone number along with his CD as he exited the plane. “50 cent–The Puppet Masters?” I said to myself….I wasn’t into rap or the lifestyle and quickly dismissed his advances and the CD. I was convinced that the energy I was unconsciously putting off was something I couldn’t fabricate or duplicate on command. I couldn’t explain it to myself, though I tried. How was it that getting all of this unwarranted attention? Was the world really as shallow as I had surmised? The fear of what that meant for a young girl forced me to ignore the possibility.
The plane finally landed and I quickly headed off to get my baggage. As I approached the claim area, a young, handsome courier stopped me to see if I was the model he had been sent to fetch. “I’m Giuseppe,” he said with a thick accent. “I’ll get your bags….come with me.” He picked up my bag from the carousel and led me to his cartoonishly tiny Fiat. In a moments notice, we were off, zooming through the streets of Milan and headed to the agency. Not a word was spoken, and the awkward silence was unsettling. Milan seemed more American than I had expected with a lot of concrete and a grey cast to the sky. Intermixed with the contemporary and average, were artchitecturally stunning buildings, although not nearly as esthetically beautiful as other European cities I had visited. In what seemed like minutes, we were there, parked in front of my new agency, “Why Not Model Management”. It was situated in a charming, historic building, not far from the Milan Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo, the city’s main and central square. A beautiful, Renaissance style archway guarded the entrance with one corridor leading to a charming, piazza. I was there! I had made it, I told myself, pausing at the main gate. Courage bolstered, I opened the door and walked in to see a handful of booking agents seated around a circular work station. Each of the bookers turned to evaluate their new object. I quickly dawned a stance of confidence although I felt vulnerable and scared, hoping I was meeting their expectations. Alessandra stood up from her desk and introduced herself to me as my booker. Once again, a coolness pervaded the room as she forcedly smiled and directed me over to the ladies powder area. “Undress down to your bra and underwear and I’ll be back,” she said sternly to her chattel. I sheepishly undressed, fixed my hair and pinched my cheeks before calling her back for my evaluation. She walked in, looked me up and down and then proceeded to study every square inch of my body as I stood transfixed upon a single mark on the wall. “Open your mouth and let me see your teeth,” she said. I gave her my most sincere, horse-like grin, hoping that my years of orthodontics had paid off. After further prodding, measuring and weighing at precisely 118 pounds, she advised me to get dressed and meet back at her desk.
Alessandra flippantly turned the pages of my portfolio, then proceeded to rearrange the photographs in a new “Why Not” book. “We need more shots. I’ll schedule a shoot with a photographer right away.” I took a moment to look around the agency and take it all in. Comp cards lined the walls from floor to ceiling with intimidatingly beautiful people at every turn. Adonises sat in the waiting area to find out their casting calls for the afternoon. Alongside them were gorgeous, perfectly complected, 6-foot-tall girls who could be confused as full-grown women. Each possessed a precocious sense of disinterest about them. I found myself struggling to place myself amongst these genetic marvels. “Here’s your $200 weekly stipend, map and my phone number. Giuseppe will take you to your apartment where you will meet your roommate. Call me and check in in the morning for your castings.” Did she remember that I was an 18 year old English speaking child, without any experience modeling, who had never sat foot on Italian soil….alone? Giuseppe motioned for me to follow him so I gathered my things and said my goodbyes. By now it was late and I was exhausted from the long day of travel, yet anxious to meet my new roommate.