In the recent advert by Kering Group which owns Balenciaga, it comes as no surprise to the vulgar extremes the fashion industry has used over the years. We as male models too get sexually harassed and groomed so young. There is no accountability when it comes to brands like Gucci. The male modeling industry is full of young vulnerable men being sexually groomed too. Today I want to share what I witnessed doing a modeling shoot.
I am a very famous male model and have been for several years. I want to share my story and encourage any male or female model. For without the camera, what does this become? Sexual abuse within the fashion industry, especially at the hands of a professional photographer. Should never be tolerated at the expense of anyone wanting to become a famous fashion model.
The Flight To Mexico
I abuse the endless supply of salted nuts and can’t stop adjusting my fully reclining seat. The flight from Mexico is long and I’m tired and I should probably sleep but I’m so excited about the massage button on the seat controls and the free nuts that I don’t even bother. I’m wearing a hoodie/sweatpant combo and the rich businessman who’s wearing a suit sat adjacent from me keeps looking at me funny. I want to flick a peanut in his face. The flight attendant in First is all “Yes Sir, Of course, Sir” and I find his pomp contagious and begin to say stupid shit like ‘splendid’ as he brings me my fifth bowl of nuts. I’ve just made 30,000 grand.
Treat Me How I Deserve to Be
We land late, my bags come out first and the rich businessman who deserves nuts in his face eyes me with what I think is contempt. In arrivals, a man holding my name on a whiteboard meets me and he guides me to his black Mercedes that ferries me to a generic-looking studio. Lightly varnished wooden floors meet white painted brick walls. A colourama is in one corner lights being set up.
Some semi-naked girl struts in front of me taking up a pose against one of the walls. I’m told to dig in to breakfast, a massive spread of everything, but before I can even start on it I’m ferried into makeup where I’m oiled, tanned four shades darker and then handled through to wardrobe.
I’m basically going to be naked all day.
What a surprise. I chat to the other model dude. He sounds like a sure as a shit douchebag, a European with an American accent who tells me the sort of stuff that’s been going on already. ‘Dude I’ve been like grabbing her ass, practically fingering her, she’s had her tits in my face whilst she’s been like grabbing on her pussy.’ Yep. That’s how douches talk.
The Sleazy Fashion Photographer
The photographer introduces himself, he’s a douche too, a sleazy, cocksure Yank who arms himself with two compacts, one in each hand, who fires off the flash on both cameras alternately as if he were in some shit action film and the cameras were his guns. The makeup artist hates him. The production team hate him. We all hate him. At one point in the shoot, he even stops and crosses over to the speakers to turn up the volume of a song about having a massive penis.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. What a dick.
I resume breakfast sitting in the studio, sort of not knowing where to look, as the babe with her breasts out writhes on a beat-up leather sofa whilst the douche with a camera leans over her and snaps away saying things like, “Yeah, real sexy, bite your lip, yeah, now look at me like you love me.” What a fucking douche.
I barely eat any breakfast because I want to look ripped in the picture. The girl wraps herself in a gown. In front of my eyes, she’s just been totally sexualized and I can’t help thinking she’s a total fuck minx who would eat me alive. She kinda scares me. But when I finally pluck up the courage to talk to her, distracting her from the book that hides her face by enquiring about its contents, I realise that she’s shyer than I am.
She’s young, inexperienced, impressionable, and she’s really really uncomfortable doing what she’s doing. Her makeup is plastered on as thick as card and I can tell that under it all she’s quite plain looking and really insecure. How could my perceptions have been so wrong? Oh, how quick we are to judge. It feels to me like she’s hating this.
There is only one reason why you close the set?
In the next shot I’m spread on a couch like jam, arms over my head, all my muscles pushed out. After this, me and the other dude model pose awkwardly on a steel ladder before he’s instructed to climb atop my shoulders, his cock digs into my neck…But this is fine… I’m prepared for this. I’ve had worse. What I’m not prepared for is what happens next. The dickhead with the cameras closes the set. Completely. Not even his assistant is allowed behind the white poly boards that completely annex off a section of the studio. The fragile girl is somewhere behind there too. Hidden from us all. The entire team sits outside waiting for them to come out the only thing we can see from behind the poly boards is the flash that at least signifies that some photos are being taken.
There is only one reason why you close the set: people are getting naked. I’ve never seen a photographer abolish even his first assistant from attending. I ask his assistant whether he does this often. Apparently, he does. I begin to fear the worst, I begin to fear that the young 16 year old behind the screen is being taken advantage of and were all just sitting here waiting for it to stop. A weird silence settles over us, our glances convey what can’t be said, and the only thing that breaks the tension is the momentary flash that outlines the poly board walls.
Walls That Block Us From Seeing With Our Own Eyes
Walls that block us from seeing with our own eyes what cannot be worse than the images our collective imagination hold. Gradually the flashes become more intermittent and eventually stop altogether. For a long awkward time, we all sit there and wait. Wait for the flash that justifies us sitting here.
I’m holding my breath waiting for the next one to come. The silence becomes sinister. I can no longer hold back my imagination that now sees the photographer breathing onto naked flesh, whispering explicit, his subject held in the inhumane-eye of the camera, the camera that justifies all of it.
For without the camera, what does this become?
The girl steps out from the behind the polyboards. The photographer follows kicking his feet guiltily after a period of time that feels too considered. The girl leaves the studio without saying goodbye to anyone. Maybe nothing happened? May!
Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Out
Next week I fly to the Maldives for a week to shoot a campaign with a photographer who loves me, though he says “amazing” far too much. It’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to go. I know I’m lucky.
Am I deserving?
How about the girl who left without saying goodbye?