Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Child Model Speaks

Yes, I was a child model. I did all sorts — clothing catalogues, TV spots, book covers. My Mom took me to all the shoots and they saved the money I earned for a college education. Well, that was the idea; that’s what I was always told. As it turns out, when I turned 18, there wasn’t anything left. My Dad had used it all to pay bills. I think my Mom wanted to be a model herself. You know; same old story. I loved it, actually, because it meant getting out of school. It was my “job.” I thought it was pretty cool. It was easy work, let’s face it.

Ah yes — the Fast Fixin’ Kids’ Recipes, that one was memorable. I did a bunch of stuff for Better Homes and Gardens. They wanted to be “multi-cultural” and all that, so they hired kids who all looked real different. This kid on the cover with me was a sweetheart. He just giggled and smiled. Honestly, I think he was on something — cold medicine or something, Some Moms did that to keep their kids obedient — pliable, you know. Would just smile and smile and do whatever they were asked then fall asleep.

The photographer for this book got some terrible shots. Real clunkers — kids with their eyes closed, weird facial expressions, etc. In one picture a boy dressed up as a cowboy was literally crying when the shot was taken — and they used it! He looked just miserable, my God.

They had this enormous cookie made in the shape of a bear, covered with frosting. This one girl had to pretend to eat it. She was a trooper. She threw up constantly. Her Mom said it was nerves, but it was because she nibbled the entire time.

I’ve got this gape-mouthed, wide-eyed look going. I’m staring at a burger, or was supposed to. In fact, they took this picture when I was looking at the hand puppet the photographer was waving. They do that, in kid’s shoots, to produce the kind of expressions they want. Well, you don’t want to know what he was doing with that puppet.

Seriously, look at that cover. Why would anyone look like that over a burger? Was it made of gold? No. Mostly it was made of glue and lacquer and all the shit they put on the food to make it look fresh. The food never smelled like food, you know — it smelled like fumes; chemical fumes. You never wanted to lean in too close.

Fast Fixin’ Kids’ Recipes, Better Homes and Gardens, 1988

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