It comes in many forms, classy, cultured, sexy, sultry, stylish and glamorous but underneath the lights, expensive lingerie, beautiful hair and stunning body forms comes a world fuelled by darkness, sex, dirty money and propositions you would expect to see in a Srdjan Spasojevic horror film!
So far we have heard models Liz Ware and Steph Powell touch briefly on dealing with “naming and shaming” and some of the horrors that are often encountered by aspiring models, experienced even by full time professionals!
My name is David Bullock, and I’m a model manager/writer in the UK who has the privilege of being married to one of the UK’s top aspiring models, Steph Powell (Storm), however in the world of modeling that pride is often overshadowed by the industry involved cretins.
Prostitution propositions, adult filming, escorting, fetish work (and I don’t modeling latex and floggers), man with cam, fake profiles, fake agents, rip off schemes up to abduction and murdering. Genuinely sounds like a typical night in Soho except it’s no joke and I have first-hand experience in experiencing it from the models perspective!
But it’s what separates the sheep from the wolves; it either breaks a model, packing their bags with their lingerie and heels running back to the parents abode to cry on the kitchen floor (you know like you do when you finish college and don’t know what you’re doing with your life) Or you fight back harder, adapt, adjust and adopt cheer in the face adversity in the form of a cheeky screen shot, plastering it all over social media in the true form that is “name and shame” and laugh it off!
Models get a hard time, being branded bitchy, childish, spoiled brats with an undeserved diva complex, but having seen the pure, putrid atrocities that occur on a daily, even hourly basis from so called photographers, magazine editors, designers and ‘agencies’ it’s not surprising these beautiful girls soon turn ugly and put up a feisty, aggressive wall to their male counterparts!
With a constant barrage of abuse, sexual innuendos and inappropriate suggestions, I’m surprised the Mrs even let’s me hold her hand being the owner of a penis!
A true story: January 2016, Steph had just started modeling as a hobby that paid! Win!
It was a time that most aspiring/professional models can relate to, you know, sifting through the man with cam types, believing the promises and lies “I work with all the top glamour models” “I shoot with playboy and Nuts and Zoo magazine”, the excitement, waiting for them pictures to hit your Dropbox after having some stranger with a rain coat on (cliché I know but this happened!) taking pictures of you rolling around in your underwear on the bed.
Now I’m not a fool, I wouldn’t dream of letting a stranger come into my house, into my bedroom and take pictures of MY wife in her underwear without A. references and B. me being on set and within ear shot. I.E chaperone.
Chaperone= a word many photographers cringe at, but why? What’s the beef with a model bringing a friend along with them for safety, they are taking their clothes off in front of a total stranger to take pictures of them!
Most responses are “it shows distrust” Erm…yes…you’re a stranger I met online who I’m letting into my house to take pictures of me often in the buff! Trust has to be earned and if they don’t respect that then slap them with the “man with cam” label and move on!
It’s different if they are a reputable name or you are working with a team or on a project or in a studio, but do whatever makes YOU comfortable enough to have your picture taken! It should never be a problem!
But we’ll grind that gear another time!
Anyways, I let this guy into our house to take pictures of Storm supposedly doing a “getting ready for a night out” type shoot and he turns up and says, “just do whatever”, with no direction at all, spending most of the time with his hands stuffed eerily in the pockets of his beige rain coat (buttoned right up).
Popping downstairs to make the usual cups of tea and biscuits (a cultural thing industry, folk will appreciate)-To find upon my return he had closed over the bedroom door (breaking one of our main rules) because of the “lighting”…this guy didn’t use any kind of lighting and had a very basic Sony camera and no other kit…(this was a paid gig for those who may be wondering!)
The ‘shoot’ finished and he was getting ready to leave, no mention of paying Steph the agreed £50, and attempted to leave without paying before abruptly prompting him for the cash “so we said £50 yeah?” to which he looked very surprised and hurt, as if he was special, handing over the cash and left.
It then transpired that during the time I was making the tea, just feet away, he had propositioned Steph after closing over the bedroom door (whilst laid on the bed in her underwear very vulnerable) “you know some models offer extras…?”
To which Steph wittingly replied “well this model doesn’t!”…It often crosses my mind what could have happened had I not been there…
Another guy actually found out where Steph worked at the time and turned up to her place of work after she cancelled the shoot as he made her feel uncomfortable when suggesting “I could use my iPhone, it’s got better pixels”… the next day her boss and co-workers were grilling her wanting to know who this strange guy was chasing her-mortifying on many levels.
As time progressed though, Steph naturally started getting better at what she does thus getting more attention from bigger names and supposedly more ‘respectable photographers’, which was great, seeing the images produced and the networking!
However, it wasn’t long until the shady sh*t show reared its ugly head in the form of a photographer who turned out had been involved with the police, accused of sexually assaulting one model and also during research for this article, I spoke with another model who at the time of working with this photographer was only 17, a contortionist and dancer who had turned up with her mother to his home studio to do some related shots for her portfolio.
During the shoot, this photographers significant other pulled her mum into another room to “leave them to it”-to which the young dancers mom agreed…and while alone, this photographer says to this young girl, “I’ll give you another £100 if you take your kit off…let’s do some nudes, get your t*ts out-no one needs to know”…and this guy actually spanked Steph several times during multiple shoots and tried pushing levels like a dog with a dirty bone, oh and didn’t even offer pay!…I’ll leave you to ponder that one yourself…
The fans sending the notorious sausage picture is expected and will continue to flood your DM, however it’s the geesers actually taking the pictures that are in firing line here; it wouldn’t be fair of me to seemingly paint all photographers with the same brush, because it isn’t the case, the vast majority of photographers we have had the pleasure of working with have been gentlemen and very interesting characters!
However-sex sells, and is the core passion in many human beings, particularly us men, and there are models out there who have said to me “I will literally do anything to make it as a model, I will sleep with whoever I need to” and yes they were meaning myself!
Sadly, as long as these girls have this attitude, it will continue to fuel that darkness and encourage the creeps.
Again, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with working in the adult film industry, escorting, or whatever floats your boat, I’m quite liberal and you do what makes you happy!
As long as you are happy and it’s safe and legal! But everyone has a price and possess vices, and among multiple offers of starring in adult films and being a high class escort, Steph was also propositioned to be a professional dominatrix which for this case she seriously considered!
Getting paid to whip the sh*t out of some executive suit, who wouldn’t, I think even I would! Again, not a problem! But this was all from working as a model with reputable professionals who asked her to do this for them personally.
The truth is, in Steph’s case, as her manager, a large majority of the photographers she has worked with, have a motive behind their shoot; I’m not in the game of name and shame and I won’t, but it becomes apparent when a top, reputable photographer offers a “deal” for a photo shoot-Pay AND all images, in exchange for doing a fetish photo shoot with the twist of also providing a pro-domme session, and by that, I mean flogging, C+B torture, clamping, trampling and smothering, you name it!
So from our experience, the square route of Photography=Sex.
But the key problem is, even whilst writing this, I was wondering what kind of impact telling the truth from only a few negative experiences will have on not only my own reputation but on Steph’s career as a model, who am I going to vex, why should I even care?
It’s the truth, but this is the issue-fear is holding models back- “what if I leave him a bad reference because he tried to touch me” “maybe no one will want to work with me again” “what if I’m accused of lying” “what if…” it goes on, but simply put, you know I’m right.
If you’re a model you will have more than likely related to some of the stories in this article, and if you’re a photographer grumbling because I’m supporting use of chaperones then have a look in the mirror and ask what sort of photographer you really are if that’s a problem to you.
Women are people, they can be vulnerable and fragile, they are not pieces of meat, they aren’t for sale for your sexual needs and they should be treat with respect if you expect to get it back in return-if not-you’re getting your ass named and shamed!
Either way, I’m sure the girls will agree with me, it takes a special breed of person to be a model in a world ran predominantly by men; skin needs to be perfect, blemish free but also tough as hell or you are going to burn badly!
Give it back to them harder than they give it I guess if you are going to survive! Literally.