So I arrive on set after losing the directions to get to the studio, one EXTREMELY expensive cab ride later. I had already spent a considerable portion of last night repeating “WTF … BRIDAL!?” over and over again to myself in my tiny Manhattan-sized studio apt in Tokyo. I was momentarily a tad flattered; was it possible that Japan could look past the fact that I am a rather unconventional model with sizable tattoos, and book me for a bridal catalogue based on actual talent? (I mean, besides, I have heard legends of us “tattooed women” getting married. Sword-swallowers, circus ringleaders, gang members, escaped convicts, mafia, and pirates being the typical husband of choice of “our kind” … ha.)
I realize now that bridal would have been a fucking godsend. When I glide in to the studio, a mere 5 fashionable minutes late, I DO recognize the gorgeous white wedding dress that I had tried on at the casting. A tastefully shot bridal catalogue, featuring fellow-Canadian Elyse Saunders, is being flipped through by the client. For a moment I think [that] if the pictures end up looking this good, it won’t be the worst day ever.??Then I catch a glimpse of the set: pink fun fur and silver-sequined backdrop, a throne, a deer head with neon orange antlers. This is the opposite of a good thing. My eyes lock onto a rack full of dresses that can only be described as an episode of “Dynasty,” directed by Hunter S. Thompson under the influence of a suitcase full of psychotropic drugs. Neon pink, yellow & black, seafoam green with sequins, rhinestones, and tulle, tulle, TULLE! I’ve been DUPED! This isn’t a bridal shoot (which is bad enough), this is some kind of Shibuya-girl, prom-dress-outta-hell shoot.
I immediately feel like shit. The money is definitely crap. These pictures will be unusable. Hopefully the rolls of film will spontaneously combust as my plane takes off from Tokyo. I keep flashing back to last week when I was shooting Japanese Numero … just when you think you’re makin’ it, they stick you with a catalogue full of Barbie doll dresses. Take that, spirit & will to live! You suck at modelling, you will never do any better than shilling bogus catalogues in the Asian market. Goodbye, dreams of Paris, champagne, and YSL Tribute pumps clacking down cobblestone streets. ??I head to the makeup room to hide my disappointment and see a darling Asian model in a chair surrounded by stylists. Her hair is teased beyond Phil Spector and she’s sporting a forehead full of not-quite-matching faux fringe. Giant “kawaii” fake lashes and layers of black eyeliner make her eyes pop outta her head like a little baby doll. A tremendous fluffy peach gown poofs out all around her chair and she resembles a human cupcake. I make eye contact with her and she introduces herself, which is when I realize she isn’t Japanese at all: she’s Russian. Wow. It’s a wonder what 4 hours of makeup can do to a woman … I mean, 16-year-old child. I can’t help but wonder what they have in store for me …??Three hours deep into the makeup chair now and I’m practically comatose. Every time I have to close my lids to have eyeshadow applied, I nod off, only to be immediately jolted awake by a Shu Umuara brush to the eyeball. I’d estimate that I’ve had about 30 consecutive 3-second naps over the last 25-minute span. Brutal. I try to remain professional (not to mention optimistic) at this point, but they’ve styled my hair into something resembling Jessie Spano at a Saved by the Bell high school dance. I hope that the fake hair and trashy makeup is enough to obscure my looks so no one can possibly recognize me.
I get laced into one giant confectionery of a dress after another, each gown more outrageous than the next. I spend the following 8 hours awkwardly holding candelabras, twirling in circles, waving my arms around in the air like an escaped mental patient, and cuddling up to a decorative life-sized horse’s head, which is covered by shards of mirrored glass. All in a day’s work in Tokyo!??Just don’t even ask. I cannot explain it. I don’t understand modelling in Japan. This is like an Alice in Wonderland experience that I cannot wake up from. I just go along with it. Let them dress me up like an insane doll. Smile. Pose. Blow kisses. Be a real life Barbie. Hustle in seafoam. Make that cash. Bow. Try and stay positive. Save up for my New York apartment. Promise myself that THIS is the LAST time I will come here (again), and pray to the modelling gods that no one ever, ever, EVER sees the photo proof that I was here at all … shhhh!