Model’s Apartment, real stories from one who lived it.
Episode #2: The day 60 Minutes called me.
Setting: Milwaukee, WI
After about a year in Paris and Milan, I decided to call it quits, and go home to get my head back on straight. A life revolving around what I looked like, left me drained of self esteem, along with a removable cast on my leg due to severe stress fractures from exercising my body to a pulp.
I had been home a few days, and was enjoying one of my notorious 14 hour sleeping sessions, when the blaring ring of the phone startled me out of bed.
“Hello,” I slurred.
“Is this Heather?” the male voice on the other end of the line inquired.
“Who’s calling?” I responded still half asleep. I could tell from the crackly, connection it was an overseas call
“I’m a reporter from 60 minutes. We are doing a story on Paris modeling agencies and wondered if you’d help us out. (Hell ya!)
I sat up to compose myself, and quickly answered “yes, what do you need?”
“We are looking for a girl named Heather, who worked in Paris earlier this year. We found your comp card and saw that you worked for Claude at Prestige Agency.”
“Yes.” I answered, still waiting for the punch line.
“This Heather I am looking for stated she was encouraged by her modeling agent to take drugs, cocaine in particular, and she was persuaded into a sexual relationship with him. There are accusations that your agency, Ford, and others are engaged inappropriate behaviors with underage models from their agency. Can you tell us your experience?” he inquired.
“Nothing happened to me, and I am not the Heather you are looking for…. but I am sure she is out there. What you are describing is par for the course over there,” I explained.
“Ok”, he responds waiting for me to continue.
“I can tell you this much, it’s not some big mystery that the Paris modeling scene has built its foundation scouting young girls, particularly from the US and Sweden. They herd us all over there, most girls are naïve, and fall victim to the agents and bookers to prey on their weaknesses,” I state, as a smile broadens on my face (the perverts are gonna get what is coming to them).
“Can you provide me with more specific information, who I should be taking to, where I should be researching?” he asks politely.
This question led to a lengthy conversation in which I spilled my stories, gave him all the leads I could think of, and wished him the best of luck in his research.
“Call Heather ____ in Sweden,” I conclude. “She will tell you how our agent Claude (the one who was supposed to be keeping us safe as minors away from home) crawled into bed with her at night. She was “chosen” to live with him along with several other girls, and he forced himself on her. She got the hell out of Paris, and headed home. I heard she told her story to her local newspaper, in an effort to warn other girls and parents about the dangers to be expected if and when they are selected to model with Claude’s agency.”
With that he thanked me.
“You made my day.” I said as I hung up the phone.
The 60 minutes episode ran a few months later, which I watched with my parents. I was always honest with my parents, they knew all about the sex, drugs, and modeling scene crap….but seeing it exposed on national television was another story.
I believe the reason I escaped the sexual prowness and drug temptations is because was unusually street smart for my age.
I exuded an aura of confidence and toughness that sent the message to the powers that be – “Don’t even think about it.”
I felt bad for my parents. I knew they always questioned if they made the right decision, the decision to let me go live in a foreign country, alone, at the tender age 16. It didn’t help that they were continually questioned by friends and other parents in our small mid-western town on why they would let their 16 year old daughter go to Paris by herself. The truth is – they let me go because they had my best interest at heart.
They didn’t want me to miss this once in a lifetime experience. Sure, there were risks, followed by a hell of a lot of fall out. But in the end, the things I did, saw, and experienced during my years as a model literally made me who I am today. I mean that. This can not be overstated. Had they not let me go, where would I be today? I can tell you this much. I would not be the happy, content, confident women I am so proud to be today.
And for that I will always be grateful for my crazy, demented Paris modeling past. And finally, I have come to a place in my life that I am actually proud of it.
Thanks for reading,