Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Baby Model who had Too Much Baby Fat for Tommy Hilfiger.


How many times have you stared at a beautiful baby and then looked up at her mother and said, "She's so pretty, she should be a model." Or perhaps you've heard somebody say this about you. The truth of the matter is that every mother dreams of their baby becoming a star. Or at least being recognized as one. Including me. But for me, being that I wasn't working, my desire for my daughter's success was strictly business. So after I changed the Bean's diaper, gave her a bottle and burped her I said, "Now, let's go put those big blue dreamy eyes of yours to work.” Go pay for that college fund. Or at least next month's rent. Or maybe just a nice lunch in Soho. But I didn't know the first thing about baby modeling, let alone any modeling (except when I posed for Playgirl back in 94, just kidding) so I started googling and googling about the child modeling industry so people would soon be going goo-goo and gah-gah over my first born. So after I took some photos and put together her Book, the search for a model agency had begun. My daughter was gorgeous, just gorgeous, so why not start at the top. We hit Wilhelmina and a couple of other players in the field. And then one day, I decided to just crash an agency. More like stroll on in. We hit Funny Face on Park Avenue. "Oh, what a cutie she is. A little darling. Gorgeous, just gorgeous," Doris, the booking agent, melted. And then her and her star-making baby maniacs started in with the baby talk. “Look like we hooked a winner, Bean.” So the next step was to get the Bean's measurements and to hand off the head and baby body shots. And then, like anything in life, we had to wait. And wait. And wait. But then one day, the phone rang and Doris, the Bean's booking agent, said a client needed a baby the next day. No audition necessary. Just show up and get paid. One hundred bucks an hour. Not too shabby for somebody who could poop wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and on whomever they wanted. Her contract also clearly stated she could cry and whine and drool. That's why there were always a few babies on a set. You never know who's gonna spit up eggs or throw a fit.


So the big day was here. After I picked out a few dashing outfits for my child star to wear, I gave her a pep talk and said, "You'll do good kid." But the Bean didn't seem to care, she was dozing. "Oh great, her big break and she was gonna go down for a nap." Hell no. At $100 bucks an hour, I didn't care if I had to shake a rattle in her ear. She had plenty of time to sleep later. So we arrived at the set. Fashionably late due to diaper duty. I'd been at plenty of photo shoots in my advertising days but this one was a bit different. They didn't serve wine, they served juicy-juice and orange fish. And there wasn't a model holding a coffee maker. There were about thirty kids, thirty wild Indians, running around, bumping into cameras and reflectors. And there were no casting couches here. Here in babyland, there were just couches used for changing diapers and breastfeeding. The place was madness. Naked babies galore. Stuffed animals and chew toys and crying. And crying. There were so many babies that they actually ran out of the changing couches so there were bare baby bottoms everywhere. On the tables. On the kitchen counter. And even on the floor. It really was amazing what these mommies were going through trying to make their child a star. Now, my daughter was pretty, beautiful even. But some of these children were so gorgeous it was on a whole other level. They just had that look. Born to be on stage. But their dimples and radiant green eyes weren't enough for some mommies. Their mothers dressed their angels up like little Little Miss Moviestars. Gold earrings, gowns, and one even had a nose stud. And then there were the kids who were just so beautiful, such outrageous features, giant ears, bulging eyes, they looked like aliens. I'm sure they were lovely, but they did look like aliens.


Okay, so after I peeled off Bean's pink bear snow suit with the ears, I got her dressed into her first outfit. They said bring colors. But they didn't say what colors, so I brought them all. I put on a blue and pink polka-dotted onsie and we took it from there. The funny thing was, after I signed us in and signed my daughter's life away, I still had no idea what she was going to be doing there. For all I knew, there was going to be a stupid friggn' clown. But there wasn't. There was a beautiful model from London. Wah. Wah. Wah. Long brown hair, tall, very attractive. Her name was Valerie, I think. But I do remember she was Miss UK. Or some British supermodel. I don't think I ever told my wife that little detail. So after the casting person introduced us, I learned that Miss UK was going to be my Bean's Mommy. It was an ad for a baby carrier and Bean was the chosen baby. It took about a month to put the friggn' carrier together before we could even put it on the model. The instructions needed instructions. I was so paranoid too about getting it to fit right. After all, this pretty Brit was going to be carrying my offspring. And if anything happened to Bean, if I dropped her again, Brooke would really kill me this time. So as I was giving the carrier a final tug around Miss UK's waist, I touched her breast. Her left one. "Oops," I said. All she said was, "Don't worry about it. After all my years of modeling, I’m used to getting pushed and pinned and poked." So I did it again. The right one. Just kidding.


So after an hour of waiting around for my daughter's debut, which would basically be just hanging out and bobbing her head around on this strange woman's chest and then just smile when they said to. "Okay, places everybody. Here we go. Action." The model looked good. The bean looked good with her face popping out in front of her, arms waving, bare feet dangling, like a cute turtle. The only thing wrong was that she wasn't laughing. And that was the whole point of the ad. That the mommy and the bean are so happy with their carrier. So I bypassed the baby wrangler and stood up behind the photographer. I jumped up and down and started singing. "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round...." and the rest was history. The Bean was cracking up. Having the time of her life. The model was smiling. I was smiling. It was a great time. I was looking forward to seeing my daughter and Mrs. UK in the upcoming Parenting Magazine. When it was all over, I thanked the photographer, signed some more papers and dressed the Bean back into her pink bear outfit. With the ears. By the time I had finished changing her, she was out. Cold. Down for the count. It had been a long day.


Since our first model shoot was such a big success, Doris got us more auditions. Go-sees. And some were really, really nuts. Triple the kids, triple the insanity. The most recent one we went on was for baby jeans. Tommy Hilfiger baby jeans. After me and my mini-me trekked all the way down to their studio, by the west side highway, frozen in the cold with the stroller, the whole try-on took about 4 minutes. “Come on in, we’re ready,” they said. The Bean stood on the table and we went to slip the stylish jeans on. Only their jeans weren't slipping on. So we tried a larger size and they weren’t going on either. Then all of the snobby snobs looked at each other and then they looked at us. "That's all, thank you.” So I took Bean from the table and laughed. I couldn’t believe they thought my daughter was fat. She was four-months-old for God sakes. It's no wonder teenage girls have self-esteem issues. Anyway, it was time to go. So I strapped the Bean in the Snap-and-Go and away we went. “Hey Bean, you wanna split a chocolate cupcake, and have a bottle? Maybe surf the web? Write a screenplay. No answer. Maybe 'cause she didn’t speak yet. She didn’t even mumble. But when she smiled, that was all her daddy needed to hear.

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