The other night at work, as I photographed the 100,000th quivering Quebecois quaking with desire beside that godawful Sally Dingdong mannequin, I finally snapped. “THIS LEVEL OF HUBRIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO GO UNCHECKED!!!!” I screeched, wild-eyed and hanging on to sanity by the barest of threads. I grabbed my phone, called in my goombah squad and we took the fuckin’ thing out to the desert, where it will never traumatize another Vegas showgoer. You can thank me later!
After bashing in the mannequin’s face with a baseball bat and then unceremoniously burying it in a pit north of town, I ran off down the road with an American flag waving behind me: “FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST! THANK DOG ALMIGHTY, I HAVE FINALLY DRIVEN THE FRENCH FROM NEVADA!”
Actually, I’ve been TRYING to have wacky adventures lately, but it’s tough because I am also in the middle of a big ole fucked-up mess that I can’t talk about. Nothing life-threatening, but a mess nonetheless that’s been taking up pretty much every waking moment of my life since around Christmas. I left the lesbians in those hot springs and basically dove straight into a pit of shit, in which I’ve been struggling/wallowing/scuba diving for the last 4 weeks. If I could only TALK about it, I’d feel better…but this is one of those rare things in my life that must wait to be shared.
In the meantime, I just sorta hung around Vegas, photographing tourists at the show and doing odd modeling gigs on the side. I did a few scavenger hunts, and then a photographer friend of mine came to town and hired me for two days of shooting out in the desert. Always good times!
This photographer had a really cool idea for a sort of prom-night shoot out in the desert. He had me rent a tux for one of my model girlfriends and then we all drove out to a secret location and shot this sort of surreal sequence he’d dreamed up. The weather actually cooperated, so it was around 65 degrees and mostly sunny that day…a bonus for me, as he also shot some nudes of me, and it’s never fun to sit around naked outside when it’s cold!
I posted a fake lesbian-wedding announcement on my Facebook page, just to see how many I could fool…but the only comment I really got was, “Black dress! How edgy!” (Really……do you expect me to qualify for a WHITE one?! I’m so sooty with sin that black is the only color I could wear without the church being smitten by a wrath-infused lightning bolt thrown by the hand of Jebus.)
Anyhoo, we shot all afternoon and it was a great day. The photographer was a guy I shot with once back at that nude ghost town thing I did last July. At the time, I had gotten the impression that he and his wife (a fellow model) were swingers…but now I think they’re just cool people. I felt bad, because the poor guy had booked three or four other models for shoots while he was in town…and they ALL FLAKED!
I just don’t get it, girls — this is a really nice, classy guy who is willing to PAY YOU for modeling…and you flake?! Must be nice to have that kind of financial freedom. I hear this over and over from photographers — models are soooo flaky, that even with a paid assignment half the time they’re no-shows. WEIRD!
Not me. I’m a pro! Even though I woke up at 7AM (!!!that’s my only beef with this photog; he insisted on an 8:30am call time) the next morning to a blustery, rainy day with winds up to 60mph…I still plastered on makeup and readied myself for a FREEZING shoot up on Mount Charleston. Thankfully, the other model flaked (another one!), so the photog decided to bail on the mountain and just shoot arty stuff in his hotel room. Muuuuuuch easier!
Meanwhile, speaking of modeling, I got embroiled in a holy mess with one of my good photographer friends. This is the first guy I really shot with, and I was the first model HE had really shot with one-on-one , so we kinda bonded. I have modeled for him many, many times for FREE — we were both learning, you know? He very graciously gave me a Nikon D-80 for my time, which was really generous of him (at the time he was flying high financially…one of those guys who decides to become a photographer, then goes out and buys every piece of expensive gear he can find….in the intervening few years, he ended up filing BK and is basically destitute, to hear him talk). And he paid me twice for shoots (once up at Zion, when he literally threw the money at me across the table because he was grumpy that our shoot hadn’t gone well…he’s a grumpy kinda guy, but I learned to just kinda take it with a grain of salt, because otherwise he’s pretty cool).
Anyhoo, a lot of models around town (and photogs, too) can’t handle this guy’s personality, but I am a pretty passive person and can take quite a bit of verbal abuse. Besides, like I told you this guy can be suuuuper cool, and takes great photos, too. But he definitely has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to models — he’s been flaked on a time or ten, so it’s understandable to an extent. But one of his beefs is that models are the only ones benefiting from photography — we use the pics to get work at conventions and whatnot, but meanwhile the photogs hardly ever get ANY work. It’s true, too — there are something like 10 photographers to every person in Vegas, and you can’t expect there to be enough weddings and Valentine’s boudoir shoots for ALL of them to make a living.
My personal belief is that Model Mayhem (the site we all use, a photography networking site) is basically for amateurs. A photographer can find amateur models (like myself) on there, as opposed to going to an agency and hiring Gisele Bundchen for $30,000 a day. Meanwhile, a model can get good quality photos for free, by collaborating with the photographers on the site…but you ain’t gonna get discovered by Francesco Scavullo or anything.
Basically, neither party is gonna make much money off Model Mayhem. But at least with modeling, you can make SOME money posing for hobbyists and the occasional traveling photog who actually knows what he’s doing. I do a fair amount of shoots, but realistically I probably only make around $3000 a year from modeling. The rest comes from writing, shooting fetish videos, dumbass promotions…and photographing creepy mannequins. The fact of the matter is, I am NOT Gisele Bundchen…but I feel like I’m a great value for what I do charge.
I tried to explain to my photog friend that his customer base shouldn’t be models — I’ve seen a lot of guys get into shooting so they can charge models for headshots and whatnot. In my experience, most models don’t pay…there’s too much TF (trade) work out there. If they DO pay, it’s usually to an established guy who’s often on retainer with an agency. IMO, my photog friend’s REAL customer base is civilians, so to speak — non-models who just want glamour shots, family portraits, pet photos, boudoir pics, etc. This might sound piss poor, but again — MY customer base isn’t professional fashion photographers, either! You don’t hear me sitting around bitching that Helmut Newton won’t pay me… I just sack up and eat a jar of pickles, or whatever whoever’s paying me wants me to do (as in the pic below…do you really think Cindy Crawford would do this shit?!).
It’s a contentious subject with many photographers, and my friend was bent out of shape over it…plus, his dire financial situation has doubtless been bothering him, so he was extra-grumpy. On top of it all, he found some bozo using one of his pics of me to sell comic books online, and he got in a royal tizzy over it. (The pic has since been taken down due to his lawsuit threats.) He let me know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that any and all photos he’s taken of me belong to HIM, and I can only use them for self-promotional purposes. Indeed, he always had me sign a “Limited-Use Agreement” release, but my dumb ass assumed that if MY usage rights were limited, then so were his. Apparently not — he told me that his release provides for HIM to do whatever he wants with the pics, but I can’t.
My understanding of this was all wrong. I thought that if a photographer PAID me, I relinquished rights. Likewise, if I were to pay a photographer, then I would have the rights. I assumed that in a collaboration scenario, where both parties are working for free, then both parties have the same rights. WRONG!!!
Several photographers told me that no matter what, THE PHOTOGRAPHER HOLDS THE COPYRIGHT to the photo. So unless I get photographers to sign off the rights to me, I can never, ever make any money off my photos. D’OH!!!!!
This sucks for many reasons, mostly because I’m a broke hack who needs cash. I don’t mind shooting with photogs who PAY me — I will gladly pose nude for you all day long, and happily surrender all rights to you if I am being PAID. But if I’m donating my time (not just shooting time — an average of 2 hours prep, plus travel time, makeup and hair costs, countless hours at the gym and use of my extensive wardrobe)…I feel like it’s kind of assy to insist that I can’t use the pics for anything more than posting on my MM page and here. It truly sucks that I have sooooo many bad-ass photos, but I can’t do anything with them 🙁
Since I can’t afford to pay photogs, I guess my only option is to figure out a way to do self-portraits — like Cindy Sherman. Then I own everything about the G.D. image. My other option is to collaborate with an individual photographer, and come out with a calendar or book or something of pics taken by him alone. Then we can split the proceeds. I’ve actually discussed this with my friend Randy, a/k/a Shutterbug-Studio…and we’re planning to do it! I’d also like to do one with my friend Michael Maze. So watch out…..you never know!