New York City at this time of year is as gray as the pigeons in Central Park, as cold as the skating rink at Rockefeller Center and about as friendly as a cabbie stalled in rush-hour traffic. Angie Everhart steps out from her parkside apartment building and into this grim winter landscape. Angie is a model, a leggy supermodel, if you will, with very red hair.
Looking like some 1940s Hollywood starlet, Angie is wearing sunglasses and a black suede coat with a fluffy boa collar. At the end of a red leash trots her little white dog, Eddie, a Maltese. On her arm is a distinguished gentleman, her father, Bobby. Her mother, Ginnie, who is the original redhead, walks a few paces behind them, talking with a visitor. Angie's parents are in town for the weekend, and today they are going shopping with their daughter.
As the Everharts and Eddie stroll down Fifth Avenue, men suddenly lift the brims of their caps to get a better look; women eyeball the entire Angie package, from the high-heeled boots to the fiery hair. Children, the only ones brave enough to approach the Everharts, coo at the little white dog and pet him gently.
She doesn't have a catchy name like Vendela or a movie-star husband like Cindy Crawford or even an uncomely rock-star boyfriend like so many other models do. Still, these passersby all seem to be thinking the same thing: I know I should know who she is, but I can't think of the name. Sure, Ginnie could fill a whole newsstand with her collection of the magazine covers her daughter has appeared on, but a household name Angie Everhart is not. At least, not yet.
February 14, 1994
As she passes Bergdorf's, a man in a navy coat glances her way, passes by and then does a double take, or rather, a near-Exorcist-full-rotation-of-the-head triple take and...boom!...bumps into an unsuspecting pedestrian. Me, the one left in Angie's wake. "See what I mean?" Ginnie says to the visitor, 'it happens all the time. Never walk behind her. People will just crash into you."
But that was my assignment: to walk in Angie's wake for a few days; to get a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous life of a top model, one who's pictured on page 113 of this very issue. At first Angie and 1 both felt uneasy with the assignment. Me, I would have been far more comfortable writing about the Super Bowl. As for Angie, journalists with cameras have always been good to her, but she doesn't quite know what to make of the ones with notebooks. There was that time when a writer from a fashion magazine asked Angie about her beauty secrets. "I don't really have any," she replied. In print her answer read something like this: "Angie likes to put sea kelp on certain parts of her upper torso to keep them firm, and she also rinses her hair with strawberry yogurt to keep it red."
To put Angie's mind at ease, we set a few ground rules. I promised not to ask any sea-kelp-and-strawberry-yogurt questions. She asked me not to write about her boyfriend. "I just don't want to jinx us," she said. I told her I knew nothing about the world I was about to enter. She agreed to answer even my dumbest questions. If we flew somewhere during the next few days, she demanded the window seat. I said fine. I did nothing but aisle. With those guidelines in place, and my ego checked at the airport gate, we were ready to begin.
You want glamour? We've got Glamour at 9 a.m., a photo shoot for the magazine's March cover at a studio in downtown Manhattan. By 9:50, with about a dozen fat red Velcro curlers in her hair, Little Orphan Angie is ready for makeup. "Did you ever have someone pluck your eyebrows'?" she asks me. Vincent, the makeup artist, eyes me, menacing tweezers in hand, which is my cue to leave the room. An hour later the taupes, peaches, rosewoods and pinks have all been applied to Angie's face, and the curlers are out.
"Is that your real color?" Mitch, the hairstylist, asks her. It is a question that will be repeated every day, countless times. Mitch needles Angie about her hair, stopping just short of demanding baby pictures for proof of its authenticity. If you really want to see this redhead's temper flare, call her hair color orange. Angie, a native of Akron and a Cleveland Brown fan most seasons ("The Browns suck," she says, "and Bernie! How could they have ever cut Bernie!"), is fully aware that orange looks good only on helmets in the Dawg Pound. "How would I describe my hair color?" she asks, repeating my question. "It's a shiny copper penny in the light with an old copper penny mixed in."
Watching a photo shoot is about as glam as sitting in a doctor's waiting room, except the studio doesn't have any National Geographics with which to pass the time. Every 10th photo or so the shoot comes to a halt so Vincent can apply another layer of rosewood lip pencil to Angie's mouth. Every 12th shot or so Mitch scrunches and spritzes her hair. Angie, wearing a sheer silk dress with a red-and-pink-rose design, leans uncomfortably on the floor, propped on an elbow. Her eyes are watering from the stiff breeze coming from the wind machine. "Isn't this glamorous?" she says.
Almost everyone wears black, the primary color for those who work in the fashion world. PIBs (People in Black) never seem to have last names: they arc simply Vincent on makeup or Mitch on hair or Neil from South Africa or Lucienne from Toronto.
Angie from Akron is 5'10" and weighs 118 pounds. At 24, she has traveled to more countries than most foreign diplomats and has lived in Paris for 5½ years. She owns a condo on a golf course just outside of Akron and an apartment in that parkside building in Manhattan. "I've met so many famous people, it doesn't faze me anymore," she says with a sigh. She would rather talk about Mary from Akron, her best friend since age four, than Oliver, Arnold or Cindy. As for her substantial bank account, she refuses to reveal the amount of her accumulated riches but says, "I started [modeling] at age 16, making $55 an hour, then went up to $1,200 a day, then to $2,000 a day. I have earned up to $10,000 a day, but that's not just me. When you reach a certain level, that's standard."
Today .Angie will be paid $250 a day to pose for Glamour. "Editorial pays nothing, but you make up for it with the exposure you get," she explains. Did somebody say exposure? By the end of the six-hour shoot, Margaret, the photographer and a PIB, has taken 1,188 photos. "It's going to be hard to edit this," Margaret moans. "Every shot was great."
Fifteen minutes after Angie has given her air-kiss goodbyes, she arrives at a nearby casting agency to audition for a shampoo commercial that will air on European television. "Shake it, toss it, run your fingers through your hair." the PIB behind the camera instructs. Ten minutes later she is in another cab, and the driver is running red lights up Madison Avenue. Angie's next job is in Los Angeles, where she will pose for a leather company's spring catalog. The plane for L.A. leaves from Kennedy Airport in an hour and a half, and Angie hasn't packed yet.
At 5:30 p.m., with the goods zipped up in a black duffel bag, Angie hands her plane ticket to the airline clerk at the counter, who doesn't suspect a thing. All Eddie has to do is keep a low profile, which is fairly easy for a dog the size of a' loaf of bread. Eddie knows the routine. If he doesn't stay quiet, it will mean a very long flight with a cargo full of Samsonites.
Once on the plane, Angie sweetly asks a passenger—Mr. Harris is his name—if he would mind moving so we can get two seats together. Leggy supermodels get away with murder. Not only does Angie smuggle her little white dog on the plane, not only does she use her cellular phone seconds before takeoff, but—egad!—she also pulls off the old seat-not-in-the-up-right-position caper. "Here, put yours even with mine," she whispers. "They'll pass right over us."
Well, they do, at least until dinnertime, when Martin, the flight attendant, asks me. "And, Mr. Harris, what would you like for dinner this evening?"
"Huh? I switched seats with Mr. Harris." I say, "not genders."
Around Angie grown men sometimes forget how to complete sentences, cab-drivers stare in rearview mirrors instead of at the road, and...boom!...just as Ginnie had warned me, it's as if Angie were traveling alone. Mr. Harris indeed.
She orders the Chateaubriand and then cuts the meat into small pieces for Edward Van Halen II, who is snug in his duffel, tucked under Angie's seat. I opt for the salmon. It tastes like two-day-old Mrs. Paul's fish slicks, so I offer my dinner to Eddie. "If you're not going to eat it, I certainly am not going to give it to Eddie," Angie says.
When dessert arrives, King Edward II's food taster does not offer her H‚Äö√†√∂¬¨√üagen-Dazs Carmel Cone Explosion ice cream to the royal pooch. Between spoonfuls Angie talks about the world she has known since that day in 1985 when her mother took her to a modeling convention at the Akron Hilton. There an agent from New York saw her potential, and soon Ginnie was making the 10-hour drive to New York, and 15-year-old Angie was modeling for Seventeen magazine. At 16 Angie's minimum hourly wage was 16 times what she would have earned slinging burgers at some fast-food joint back home. "There were a lot of good things about it, like the fact that before I even had my driver's license, I bought a new gray Honda Prelude," she says. "But I missed out on a lot, since I finished high school a semester early to model full-time. For example, I had to ask my brother Mike to be my date at the prom." When Angie was 17, she left for Milan, Italy, to work in the industry that has formed her adult impressions.
"Modeling is so misunderstood," she says. "People don't think it's a real job. I can't tell you the last time I slept four straight nights in my own bed. To someone who lives in Ohio and works in a factory, sure my job is glamorous. It's so hard to be a normal person. Why are people called stars? Because they're so far away from the ground. You can get caught up in all of it. But it's a very short-lived 15 minutes. You have people telling you you're beautiful all day long. It's tedious sometimes, and sometimes it's nice. It's my family and friends who keep me grounded."
A disembodied voice interrupts her. "We will now be showing Free Willy," the loudspeaker announces. Early in the movie, the little boy, Jesse, is at the edge of Willy the whale's tank. Suddenly, like Poseidon rising from the deep. Willy shoots up out of his pool, and Angie lets out a shriek so bloodcurdling that I scream, too, emitting a screech I normally reserve for horror movies. The shrieks alarm the poor woman in 9G, who cracks her knees on her tray table. Angie and I laugh at ourselves—it's not as if Willy would snack on a little boy in a G-rated flick—and then, the marks from Angie's fingernails etched in the armrest, we watch the rest of the gripping tale.
At 7 a.m. the 34-foot Winnebago pulls up to a deserted lot in East L.A., North Beach Leather's first location. All the beautiful people, still recovering from their 5 a.m. wake-up calls, tumble out onto the garbage-strewn street. Homeless men push grocery carts full of their belongings down the street. DOGSY, RISM, ROXIE and BROMA have left their signatures on the walls with cans of spray paint. "You know, this actually looks beautiful in the lens," says Michael, who owns North Beach Leather.
A broad, affable man named Harold, who's in charge of the video for North Beach Leather, is shooting Lucienne, the makeup artist, as she carefully brushes Angie's eyelashes with a substance that resembles pine tar.
Harold moves in for a close-up when Angie takes over the eyelash task. "Have you ever poked yourself in the eye?" Harold asks Angie as she applies mascara to her eyelashes. Angie nods. "Sure, lots of times." Harold continues, "It's just so close to the eye...."
"When did you make that startling discovery?" Lucienne hisses. "Imagine that! Eye makeup, actually close to the eye."
Harold recoils. Angie blinks hard. Bits of muffin fall from my mouth. It's tough to digest attitude so early in the morning.
The three models on the shoot—Angie, Stacey and Rebecca—do not have attitude. These arc their jobs, they all insist, not their lives, and they would rather talk about what they do during their free time, not about modeling. Angie takes an acting class; Stacey is into yoga; and Rebecca loves to surf.
But they aren't traveling alone. The Winnebago is packed with couturiers whose conversations range from how to serve lamb 50 different ways to the weather, "I think I would take hell over New York," sniffs one PIB. "And London. Yes, London I love, but the weather is too terrifying for words."
As the day progresses, the Winnebago stops at two more locations, the Los Angeles River and the Wells Fargo Building. In front of the colossal corporate tower, Angie wears a short suede dress with spaghetti straps, dubbed The Dress by a second Michael, this one the fashion director.
"What will be The Cost of The Dress?" I ask.
"Oh, $395. We want to make it affordable," says Michael.
"Isn't this dress a home run?" Michael asks the baseball aficionados among the crowd. "We have to send it to Vogue. Tonight."
Lucienne pinches a wad of Drum tobacco from a pouch and, as she does every 2.4 minutes, rolls another cigarette. She lights up, draws deeply and asks which fashion magazine I work for. Before I can get out the "Illustrated"... bells clang, sirens blare....
"I am the world's biggest Blue Jay fan!" exclaims Lucienne, who begins speaking so fast you would think Joe Carter had just hit the Series-winning home run all over again. It seems the Toronto native worked at a concession stand at Exhibition Stadium as a teenager, and she plans her trips home around the Jays' schedule. She watched every pitch of the World Series. "Can you believe the Phillies sent in West in Game 4? The guy had an ERA of infinity! Unbelievable!" Lucienne continues, spewing stats and pitch counts like a Rotisserie geek.
Unbelievable is right. I have found the unlikeliest soul sister in the bunch, the very same snippety eye-makeup-close-to-the-eye-wisecrack artist.
Angie needs to move her chin only a centimeter to completely change her look. In one picture she's the girl next door, all freckles and smiles. In another she's a heavy-metal seductress, all leather and lips. Angie is asked what she thinks about when the camera is clicking. "Sometimes I'm not thinking anything," she says. "Sometimes I'm wishing it could be over. It can become so mechanical."
The shoot finishes at 3:30 p.m., and Angie decides to do some shopping on Melrose Avenue. The first stop is the Optical Shop of Aspen, where she buys sunglasses for herself and her boyfriend. Cha-ching! Cha-ching! The cash register adds up the total, $500. Before you know it, the salesman is bringing out a special pair of sunglasses from the back.
"These were on the cover of Vogue," he says of the gargantuan shades. He admits that he hasn't sold very many and says Angie can have them for $50.
"What do you think?" Angie asks.
"They might come in handy on Halloween for a costume party," I say, assuming she is not serious.
"I like them."" she says, ignoring my comment. I wouldn't ask me for fashion advice either.
Angie puts on the Harry Caray-sized frames, and like some optical illusion, her face disappears. She takes them off. She looks in a different mirror. She is on the fence, wavering.
It might be...it could be...sold! To the redheaded lady with the American Express card.
"I can get away with wearing these," she says while picking out the case. "I'm a fashion model."
At 6:45 a.m., in the hotel in West Hollywood, no Angie. At 7:10 a.m. she shows up with a red leash in her hand and puts out an APB: "Eddie ran away!" The Edster made a clean getaway when his old lady opened the door to their room. He was last seen rounding a corner in the third-floor hallway and heading toward the stairs, perhaps in search of some uncollected room-service trays. "Someone probably opened their door. Eddie ran in, and they closed it behind him," says his now frantic owner.
On the lam a few minutes, Eddie finally is spotted by Angie cruising south on the second floor and is returned to captivity.
"Bad dog! Bad Eddie! You're getting the leash from now on," soon becomes "You're still the cutest bunny in the world." Eddie the dog receives more adulation than his namesake, the lead guitarist of the rock band Van Halen, ever dreamed of, although Angie is a big fan of his. Her bedroom in Akron was wallpapered with Van Halen pictures. Last summer at a Van Halen concert in Pittsburgh, she paid a scalper $900 for three second-row seats. There was also the time at the Cleveland Coliseum when lead singer Sammy Hagar invited her onstage to dance to the band's rendition of Simply Irresistible. Backstage after the concert, Hagar asked Angie, then 16, if she wanted to go bowling with the band. "Yes, bowling," insists Angie. "He was serious. I said no. I said I had a plane to catch. Yeah, a plane to catch. At 10 o'clock at night. I was nervous, but it was the only excuse I could think of."
The shooting location for the day is Smashbox Studios in Culver City, Calif. It's 9 a.m., and Neil, the photographer and a PIB, is already impatient. He pokes his head into the hair-and-makeup room and inquires, "How are we doing, guys?"
"Well, the cruditès are out, and I just put the turkey in the oven, dahling," Lucienne sniffs, brandishing the blusher like a basting brush. Never rush an artist.
Lucienne is downright domesticated, compared with some others on the shoot. Michael the fashion director is barking in Angie's car. "Woof!...That's me wishing I was Eddie," he says to Angie, who is cuddling her canine. Pam. the marketing director, is explaining the term favored nation to me. No, she's not talking about U.S. trade policy with China but about the modeling biz. "Favored nation just means that all the girls here make the same rate, $3,000 a day," she says. Neil is pulling down $6,000 a day, which makes him the most favored nation of all.
Cruditès? A barking flirt? Favored nations? How are we doing?
In Angie's case, not well. "Some things just set me off," she explains, speaking softly so that the stylist who has just dressed her cannot hear her. "You know, when you wear an outfit you hate." Looking like a referee. Angie is wearing a black-and-white-striped jacket, a white-skirt and...heavens! North Beach Leather should be penalized at least 15 for this one ... black pumps. The couture cognoscenti take one look at the fashion faux pas and send Angie back to the dressing room to put on a black skirt to match the shoes. Much better.
"Smiles, Prozac smiles, everyone," Neil says from behind the lens, like Mr. Rourke in the opening scene of Fantasy Island.
So far this experience has only seemed like scenes from a bad TV show, then a bad TV show actually arrives on the set. A crew from the tabloid program Hard Copy shows up to do a piece on Michael, the one who owns North Beach Leather, who has a reputation for "discovering" the next megasupermodels.
"Michael predicted Cindy and Christy would be huge, and he's saying the same thing about you three ladies," says Anthony, a Hard Copy associate producer, during an interview with Angie. He asks her if she sees herself following a similar path as Cindy. "I don't see myself going the route like Cindy did, being a newscaster for MTV," Angie answers. "I want to be an actress." Fade out....
Two years ago Angie was on the Concorde when she noticed Lauren Bacall sitting several rows in front of her. She had never asked anyone for an autograph but decided to make an exception.
"What's a pretty young girl like you want with an old lady's autograph?" the whiskey voice asked. "Sit down."
Fifty years earlier Bacall had been discovered after she appeared on the cover of Harper's Bazaar. Within a month she had a Hollywood movie contract, and soon after, she starred with Bogie in her first film, To Have and Have Not.
"I feel like an actress more than I feel like a model," says Angie, who has been taking acting lessons for the past year. "I know that goes along with the stereotype. Models thinking they can jump into acting. But with me, it's something inside."
In her first movie Bacall delivered one of the most memorable lines ever uttered on the silver screen: "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." Angie's first movie was last summer's forgettable Last Action Hero, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, hey, Arnie is no Bogie. Still, Angie's two lines as the Video Counter Girl may someday be an answer to a trivia question, so tuck these words away: "Foreign films are in the back," and, "Down the aisle to the left."
"Down the aisle to the left," the flight attendant says. It is 10 p.m., and we are on the red-eye back to New York. The plane will arrive at 6 a.m., and Angie has a booking for 9 a.m. "I think it's for Saks," she says wearily. "Maybe Bloomingdales."
We decline the meal because we had dined two hours earlier at a Taco Bell drive-through. Angie eats like any normal 24-year-old. A testament to her superhuman supermodelness is the fact that she does not have to work out, nor does she belong to a gym or employ a personal trainer. And she eats junk food, lots of it. Before we boarded the plane, Angie had apparently knocked over an airport candy shop and gotten away with a bagful of fancy chocolates, gumballs, Nerds, lollipops and paper dots.
It is Day 4 when the plane lands at Kennedy. The sky is midnight blue, a perfect backdrop for a fairy-tale moon that's so unreal I half expect to see a cow or a spoon nearby. In drowsy silence Angie and I stare out of the taxi's windows at the lunar brilliance. "Everyone is still asleep," she says as we cross the Triborough Bridge to Manhattan. Her stop is first.
Angie says goodbye and gives me an old-fashioned hug, not one of those phony air-kissing two-checkers. As the cab pulls away, it leaves in its wake a plume of exhaust fumes and an exhausted supermodel who in two hours will begin another glamorous day all over again.