Monday, May 4, 2009

Top Billing

I can’t say that I enjoyed walking the ramp (the plank?) for the Fair Lady Young Designer Show. Mostly I just prayed my way through my six minutes in the spotlight.

‘Please don’t let me fall off the ramp, don’t let my basket slip off my shoulders, don’t let me trip, oops remember to feel the music, chin up, shoulders back, peaceful expression, nice and easy and oh dear, everyone in the three front rows can see right up my skirt! Please let this end?’

I survived the show in one piece, I didn’t trip up or slip or fall over. The changes in between each designer’s scene happened in a fast forward blur of ripping off the previous outfit and hopping into the next while running across the back stage area to the spot where you needed to be in time for the start of the next song like, FIVE MINUTES ago.

Sure, there are dressers to help you out of the micro mini and into the sheath, not forgetting the buckhorn bangle! These poor dresser creatures are usually first year fashion design students and I’ve never envied them. They don’t even get paid. All they get is a lot of shoving, shouting and models running around in nothing but flesh coloured G-strings… Oh, the glamour.

After the show I could hardly wait to get back into my own clothes. Nice normal pants and tops and socks and shoes, covering all that needs to be covered, I felt cocooned in safety after the shock of over-exposure. I heard some girls talking about after-parties and hanging with the designers but I made a beeline for the exit and jumped gratefully into my Dad’s car. It was done.

Except, of course, for the nation’s favourite magazine show. They just wouldn’t let it go. Couldn’t let me make my break from the crazy world of modeling without getting me in trouble first.

A day or two after the show my family, the Bad Boyfriend and I were innocently watching TV when a preview came up.

“The fashion event of the year, the Fair Lady Young Designer extravaganza will be covered in-depth on the next edition of Top Billing.” Along with a nice long flash of me in my micro-mini strolling nonchalantly past the camera. The camera nicely positioned to look straight up my skirt. I froze.

My family shouted out excitedly, it’s you! Was that you? It looked like you, oh wow you’re on TV! I remained frozen. I could feel Bad Boyfriend next to me, crunching his jaw, keeping dead quiet; I didn’t dare look at him. When the preview was over and they hadn’t shown me again, I breathed out.

Sure Bad Boyfriend looked a bit green around the gills and yes, I was probably going to get a speech at the least but he hadn’t seen the half of it and I would find some way to make sure that he never saw the rest. My family would forget, I certainly wouldn’t remind them and if they remembered, I’d smash the TV with a baseball bat. Yes, that’s what I’d do.

I purposely surrounded myself with family members for the rest of the Boyfriend’s visit, so he couldn’t confront me about the show. Top Billing would air on Thursday, just a couple of days later, and I was sure that if I could just avoid anyone watching that, the whole thing would blow over and be forgotten.

Before I knew it, D-Day rolled around. Bad Boyfriend and I had been studiously avoiding the topic of the fashion show. I was dreading his reaction and he was probably waiting to see the whole show so he’d have more ammunition. I still had a small hope that we’d miss the program, that everyone would forget and afterwards I could say “Oh darn, we missed it. Oh well…”

But apparently this was big. Little old me, on TV. By 7.15 pm the entire family was gathered in the living room, the VCR was poised and ready to record. Bad Boyfriend arrived uninvited and I was marched to a prime position in front of the TV. I smiled weakly and felt the knot in my stomach tighten. How much would they show? Maybe even my family would be shocked and disappointed? What if they all turned on me and branded me a hussy? Gulp. I mumbled an excuse that I needed some water and fled the room, just as the show’s theme song came up. Everyone was babbling noisily as they showed the same shot of me during the intro. I cowered at the door, fearing the worst yet somehow also getting a tiny thrill out of it all.

The segment covering the show was about ten minutes long and during that time I was visible on about eight different occasions. To my immense relief and secret delight, I was in the same micro-mini-crop-knit outfit every time. I guess the more revealing outfits were too risqué for family time TV and thus never featured.

I could hardly believe my luck. I’d attended a show casting, booked the job, been trained on the catwalk, survived a whole show only half dressed, appeared on TV without totally embarrassing myself and kept the Bad Boyfriend relatively placated. And there was still the small matter of R800 owed to me by the agency.

While my heartbeat steadied and my Grandma phoned to congratulate me on how pretty I looked, I reminded myself of the terror I’d felt when I first saw my outfits.

I was done.

It’d been a wild ride, but I couldn’t survive another adventure like this. I reaffirmed my decision to phone the agency the next day and gracefully announce my retirement.

Poll review:

17 readers said my Boyfriend made my quit and 17 said I was too shy to continue. You're all correct and it was about a 50/50 contribution so very accurate. The 1 vote for 'Grandma made me end it' is not too far off either, her stern voice in the back of my mind certainly had an effect.

Thanks for the 2 votes for Vegas and 14 babies, you made me giggle.


Anonymous said...

We all deserve our 15 minutes of fame - sounds like you were dreading it!

Julia said...


Cate Subrosa said...

Phew! The way you write... huge sigh of relief from me at the end there!

DT said...

It must have been thrilling! It is such a pity that he cast a dark shadow over the whole affair - nasty, nasty man!! It must have been a huge thing for a young girl to walk down the ramp: camera's, lights, skimpy clothes! Lady that takes some courage! :-)

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Jess said...

Thank you for the sweet comments on the wedding! Hope all is well in SA!

Hannah Noel said...

Oh dang, I was all tensed up waiting for Bad Boyfriends wrath!!

Sue KuKu said...

Soooooo? More story, please!


kirstyb said...

lol xoxox

FASHIONconfectionairy said...

So interesting, Love this. Is this all true?
Libby said...

Wow. You inspire me to be a better writer.

kiss kiss!
hope to hear from YOU
-amy !:)

Anonymous said...

When are you writing again???

Modelmental said...

Libby - all true as (im)perfectly as my memory allows! Thank you! xxx

Amy - what a lovely thing to say, I'll be over at yours soon!

Anon & Sue - your wish, my command. x