“I Got Mine Where You Got Yours” – Or, “How I Learned I’d Be A Terrible Sex Phone Operator”

This is an essay from Abby’s book I’m Just Here for the Free Scrutiny: One Model’s Tales of Insanity and Inanity in the Wonderful World of Fashion available through Thought Catalog where all e-books are sold.
image - Flickr / kaitlin.molchen
image – Flickr / kaitlin.molchen

Being a “curvy” model has almost always worked to my detriment.

As the talent director at my first agency once warned me, I would have a hard time finding work because I had a large bosom and bigger-than-average gluteus maximus.

Or, as she put it: “Because you’re all this and all this,” as she grabbed her boobs and her butt.

Which might be why I got as much work as I did pretending to be a mother for advertisements. Nothing says, “fertile adult” quite like a college sophomore with a D cup.

But, usually, I played down my curves as much as possible during go-sees. I wore a lot of black and replaced my regular bra with a sports one. I prayed that the people in charge of the go-see would ignore my measurements and be wowed by my incredible model-like presence instead.

This has yet to happen, but I am still holding out hope.

When I was 22, my then-agency sent me out to an audition for a commercial. I knew nothing about what the commercial would entail, or what the commercial was even for. All I knew was that the models needed to wear a tank top to the casting call. I found my best bosom-downplaying top and went on my merry way.

I was the first of two girls to arrive for the casting. The man in charge of the studio took our names and our comp cards and passed out a two-paged script. He then brought us to a grey backdrop and sat us down behind a camera.

“Just look over the script a little bit while I get everything set,” he told us.

I scanned through the script as the man fiddled with the lighting and the camera. In the scene, I (or the girl next to me) would be a nurse, sitting at the bar section of a diner. I (or the girl next to me) would be a construction worker who approaches Girl #1 and asks her where she got “them”. Girl #2 would point to Girl #1’s chest area when saying, “them.” Girl #2 would then look down at her chest and go, “Well, I got mine, the same place you got yours.”

At the end of the scene, you learn just what the girls are talking about: uniforms. Scrubs, construction vests, and the like. All sorts and varieties of work uniforms – all available at this particular store.

I couldn’t help by chuckle. Oh, you thought we meant our boobs? Silly, we meant our outfits! It all wrapped up nicely with the commercial’s ending: one of us would look at a steak meal being brought out of the diner’s kitchen and go, “Nice tips.”

Ah, innuendos. They never get old.

The guy behind the camera asked if we were ready. He assigned us our roles (I was the nurse; she was the construction worker) and, like a proper director, yelled, “Action!”

We did our best to deliver the lines. In that moment, I developed an intense sympathy for the actors in low-budget commercials; the ones who awkwardly shuffle up to the camera and deliver their lines like they are being held at gunpoint. There was absolutely nothing natural about placing my fingertips just under my collarbone and saying, “Well, I got mine the same place you got yours.”

I mean, honestly – how would I know where she got her uniform? And maybe she’s not a construction worker at all. Maybe she had robbed a construction worker and ran off with his hardhat.

And who goes up to a nurse to ask where she got “them” anyway? If I ever saw a nurse hunched over the bar section of a diner, I’d assume she had just finished an 18-hour shift. If I am to do anything, it is going to be sending a cup of coffee her way, not asking her where she purchases her scrubs.

But, regardless, we made it to the end of the script, both of us looking at up the director-casting-man for our next move.

“That’s good, that’s good, but, uh … can we be a little less … friendly?” he said to me. “Try slowing down your speech. Don’t be afraid to have your hand linger on your – uh – chest.”

We tried again, my right hand still by my collarbone as if my ribs were made of hot coals. I slowed down my delivery, gave the camera knowing smirks, and hit the last page one more time. I breathed out a, “Nice tips,” and waited until the camera was good and off before I rolled my eyes.

The director guy paused for a moment after turning off the camera. He sighed and looked at me like I was a four-year-old trying to read a picture book.

“Let’s try that one more time,” he said at last.

It was quite clear that the director wanted the models to deliver their lines like sex phone operators. Slow and low and filled to the brim with innuendo and repressed lust. The problem was that I was delivering the lines like a Back to School commercial for the local department store. With each take, I felt more and more empathy for the girls who did the chat line commercials after midnight. What is sexy about saying words someone else thought up, in a room with a thousand bright lights and a ton of strangers, and into something as lifeless as a camera lens?

The director thanked us for our time after the fourth or fifth take. He ushered me out and paused to chat a little more with the girl next to me: a girl whose bust could have made Pamela Anderson reconsider her life choices.

Compared to her, I was exactly the un-curvy girl that I pretended to be at go-sees. Compared to her, I didn’t need to wear sports bras. I could walk in with my best push-up bra, my most revealing top, and a neon arrow pointing directly at my mammary region, and I would still pale in comparison.

If I had gotten mine from the same place where she had gotten hers, I would’ve stormed back to said place and demanded a full refund, because I had obviously been swindled.

I didn’t get the job, which surprised exactly no one. I kept my eye out for the commercial, especially on shows that aired after 10 p.m. But I had no such luck. I was curious as to who they eventually casted and how the commercial turned out. I wanted to meet these girls and shake their hands. I wanted to congratulate whoever could effortlessly point to her chest, stare seductively into the camera, and say: “Well, I got mine from the same place you got yours.” TC mark

Like this post? For more lessons learned about the modeling world, check out Abby’s Thought Catalog Book here.

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