This day happened about a month or so before the worst day of my life, in the month of June in the year 2002. I had just graduated from college, wide-eyed and bushy-assed, thinking that I had the world on a string. My dissolusion was so absolute, that when the reality of the depressingly tight job market hit me like shot of poteen, I became desperate for any paying job besides restaurant work. So one day when I was perusing monster.com (which doesnâ€™t work, just like every other job agency on or offline), I noticed a job listing for a Model/Acting Scout. It listed pay as $40,000 a year. â€œWhoa,â€ thought I, my feeble brain barely even considering what the hell a non-experienced Model Scout is supposed to do, but I went ahead and filled out the application. About a week later, I received an email from a woman asking me to come in for an all day, mass interview. (I never actually met this woman, in fact, I donâ€™t even know if she ever existed.)
Now, if youâ€™ve read any of my plays or poems, or various things on this site, youâ€™ll know that the idea of â€œmodelingâ€ clashes with my basic core beliefs. Modeling to me is a silly excuse for beautiful people who would otherwise serve no purpose whatsoever in society, to feel like they are making a difference, and be wielded by advertisers like a capitalistic scimitar. So hereâ€™s the funny part, I actually went to this interview, hoping that maybe I could just focus on the Acting Scout part, since I just graduated with the obsolete, and useless bachelorâ€™s in theatre. That fateful morning, I pulled into an industrial stripmall, basically, and found this hole in the wall talent agency called Options Talent. I have later discovered that this monstrous scam also goes by EModels, TCTalent, and EFashionShow.com. I file into a very interesting Mexican Adobe style room where about 20 people already sit in chairs in front of a TV. A woman comes out and says that the main guy should be along any minute, building him up like the real corporate star that he is. A husky Jamaican man with a scratchy voice and thick accent enters the room with a glow of sweat and starts talking. He is evidently â€œthe main guy.ï¿½? His cocky demeanor suggested that maybe this really was a hard but rewarding business to get into (later I realized he was just stupid). So he pumps us up about how great we are to have been selected for this cattle-call interview, then promptly pops in a video tape to convince us all the more that this really is a â€œdreamâ€ job. What it instead did was convince us all the more of the awfulness of the modeling industry. A voice-over and an endless amount of shots of beautiful women in bikinis, informed us of the different types of models that there are and the size and weight requirements for each category. 2% of people can fit in to any of these categories.
After watching the video, we were given little cards with pictures of young male and female models, and we were instructed to apply what we learned in the video to sort these people into their appropriate category like some Third World Dictator. We then shared our findings with the whole group. Two people have already walked out by now, so weâ€™re down to 18 of us. We then go around the group and play some stupid-ass name game that I have fortunately blocked from my memory and tell everyone what we enjoy doing and whatnot. One woman said that she was a â€œsinger-songwriter-evangelist.â€ â€œOh God, one of thoseâ€ is what I immediately thought. When it got to be my turn, I really wanted to say â€œserial killerâ€ but I refrained, convincing myself that maybe this could be a good job. So then we break for lunch, during which I sat in a chinese restaurant to determine if I would go back or not. Unfortunately I did.
Two more people failed to return from lunch (smart bastards) so weâ€™re down to 16, where we do several more training games, explaining what exactly this company does. What does it do? Well, it hires these poor schmucks, me being one, to go out and give little cards to â€œattractiveâ€ people, wherever they may be found, and try to coax them into coming to an open call two days later to get checked out by some strangers. Thatâ€™s the extent of what we knew. They would tell us nothing else. At least 10 times the question came up of â€œHow much does this cost the potential model?â€ and the Jamaican guy avoided the question so obviously, he may as well have said â€œSo, Crab legs -â€ He told us to simply tell these people when they ask that same question, which of course they will, to say â€œIâ€™m just a Scout, I donâ€™t know how much it costs.â€ Yeah, thatâ€™s good for credibility. So this 17 year old girl standing in the mall is going to say â€œOh, so you have no knowledge of what youâ€™re peddling? Count me in!â€ And hereâ€™s how the Scouts get paid. You only get paid for the amount of people you get to sign up and pay (Iâ€™m just a Scout) some unknown fee. For the first 4 people to sign up, this is in one week mind you, you get $20 a person. So thatâ€™s $80 for a week. Illegal immigrants in the 60s made more then that. If you get 5-7 people to sign up, you get $40 per person. So $280 tops, so a little better. If you get 8-9 people to join, you get $50 a person. $450 bucks? Thatâ€™s a little more like it. And finally, 10 or more gets you $100 per person. Woo-hoo, Iâ€™m in the money. No base-pay, only commission for the first 6 months of being a scout. After that, you become a full-time scout, in which you make $600 a week, but you have to have 5 people signing up every week.
To make a long story short, by the end of the day we had 14 of us remaining, 10 of which got hired, and told to come the next day at 10:00am. You guessed it, I was one of those ten. Was it that I was just so extremely bored I was looking for anything to do? Was it because I was so desperate for money I was willing to bypass my morals and basic beliefs to get it? Truth is I donâ€™t know what it was, and Iâ€™m ashamed to say it, but I went the next day. I got there and there with the other 9 people who got hired, all with a nervous glint in their eye of the money they could get battling with the bull shit of the job. We sat around and waited for the Jamaican guy, who was late again and seemed to be getting huskier by the minute (a Jamaican Violet Beauregard). He arrives and puts us into groups to go scout for the rest of the day. Who do I get paired with? The singer-songwriter-evangelist. And what does she want to do? Car-pool. So I suggested we model scout over at the local water treatment center, but she decided on the mall instead. So we get to the mall and promptly eat at Panera Bread, where I had Broccoli Cheddar in a bread bowl. I remember because it was like a last meal on death row and I enjoyed every last possible morsel before attempting to overcome everything that my mind and body felt was wrong to become a successful model scout. The rest of the day I walked up to random people, handed them a card, asked them if theyâ€™d be interesting in modeling, and ran away. I probably talked to 30 people within the next 2 hours. At least 23 of those meetings were awkward, and at least 10 of those were approaching violent. By the end of the mall venture, I had talked to maybe 5 people who actually took me seriously.
Then me and Evangeline Dion went to Meijer (thereâ€™s a hotbed for worldly beauty!). I talked to probably ten people there, none of whom wanted anything to do with me. I would have been better off sneaking my little card into their cart of goods. Adding to the failure of being able to communicate sans awkwardness yet that day, Iâ€™m standing there with Eva, as Iâ€™d grown to call her, who says (and I quote) â€œI love animals. Iâ€™m so glad God made them for our enjoyment.â€ So I finally convince her that we should head back, passing a free ice cream stand on the way out, where I took at least 8 samples, which was the only consolation of sitting through the torturous â€œmmmmm that was goodâ€s from Eva, or Lady Nero, on the drive back. When we reconnoitered at the industrial plaza, there were only 7 of us. Everyone shared various awful stories, where we were lectured by thyroid Bob Marley about everything we had done wrong. Because we all know if you say a few key phrases, such as â€œOptions is the largest model scouting agency in the worldâ€ which we later found out is not true, they will cancel all plans and follow the Pied Piper of Ralph Lauren.
The only enlightening thing to happen that afternoon was finding out that the price of joining this agency was $595 dollars down, $19.95 a month. When you join, that means your picture and stats are on a website. Thatâ€™s it!! You are not guaranteed work at all. However, they claim that tons of reputable companies use their site, which I also found out later not to be true.
Now, you may be wondering why I said acting scout originally. Well, let me tell you what theyâ€™re definition of an actor is – one who is willing to pay money and does not physically fit any of the categories. Thatâ€™s an actor. And to think, I got a degree in theatre for a lot more then $595.
So the next day was the open call, which scouts are asked to attend. By this time, my morals and beliefs were coming around again, slapping me and saying â€œWhat the hell did you put in our drinks?â€ So I went the next day, more out of curiosity then actual conviction. 3 scouts were left by now, and there was no husky Jamaican guy, just a young blond girl who worked there, and looked like she had been perfectly sculpted from the thigh of Zeus, wearing high heels that were more like ice picks, and a voice that may as well have screamed â€œDitzâ€ the second she opened her mouth. Guess how many potential models (oh, Iâ€™m sorry, actors too) showed up? 0. So that restored my faith in humanity, considering no one bought the scam. So we role played with this Elle Woods for a while, while â€œIâ€™m too Sexyâ€ played in the background (Iâ€™m not kidding).
I donâ€™t believe any of us last 3 scouts returned the next day, so we went from 20 to 0 in less than three days. Talk about a turnover rate. So it was after two and a half days that I decided to end my short but illustrious career as a model scout, never to return. However, my story is just a story, if you would like to see actual investigative reports of how much of a scam this is, click on one of the links below. And if you are ever approached by someone who hands you a card and asks if youâ€™ve ever considered modeling, ask them why they are wasting their life. They, like me, will be so ashamed that they gave this dream job a shot, that they will be nothing but wiser. Thatâ€™s how this war will be won.