Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hanging with newsroom supermodels

LAS CRUCES — America really is still the land of opportunity, I was thinking the other day, while hanging out in the newsroom with my fellow supermodels, including cover girl Tracy Patrick and video vixen Jenn Kistler.
This is kind of a Clark Kent-Superman situation, though in this case, you may know our superstars more by their not-so-secret journalistic identities: Jenn is Pulse editor and Tracy is our online editor.
While doing a story about what it takes to make a music video, Jenn had a running role in a Jared Sagal video … literally. She was shown running with her co-stars and as fate would have it, she’s also a marathoner who has chronicled her runs and training regimen in her own blog.
And Tracy, of course, is staring at you at sites all over the Mesilla Valley, from the cover of this month’s Healthy U magazine. That’s Tracy’s beautiful, supersized aqua eyeball over the “Saving Your Vision” headline.
“I’m not sure my eyes are really that blue,” Tracy said last week, when I asked her about her first cover gig.
It’s true that the really great newsroom supermodels are modest … and often anonymous.
Modeling, even newsroom modeling, is generally regarded as a young woman’s game, and I must admit that after a long career, I’m happy to turn things over to a new generation.
But I do keep my hand in, now and again — literally. That was my hand you saw modeling Dracula and skeleton rings in a Halloween feature last fall. Usually the glam hand gigs go to my supermodel colleague Amanda Husson. Amanda’s not only a great singer, fine writer and one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with, she also has very pretty hands.
It might be nice to say my experienced, expressive appendages won out after a spirited hand-to-hand competition, but the truth is, deadlines were looming and it was Amanda’s day off, so I was recruited.
If it were generally known how easy it is to get in print, I suspect newsrooms everywhere would be prime gathering spots for models.
It’s not that we manufacture news, I stress … these are feature photos, often secondary shots, as we call them in the trade, when deadline desperation can be the mother of invention and opportunity, and the parts are usually more important than the sum of one’s pulchritude.
I’ve had a long and rewarding career that started in Michigan, when I got my first professional newspaper gig at age 13, reporting school news for the Muskegon Chronicle, and the occasional pick-up modeling assignments that came with the job.
If I remember right, my first, last and only real fashion shot as an identifiable person came during my teens, when I was asked to wear a paper dress for a day to see if a prospective fad of the late 1960s had any potential. I recall that the dress was kind of cute, but had the texture of a fast-food napkin and developed some pretty revealing rips after a few hours.
As a journalist in Portland, Ore., I covered a lot of assignments with an arty photographer, so I had several years of steady extra “modeling” work, casting ethereal shadows on various breaking news scenes and as an anonymous bystander in the fog and rain.
When I defected briefly to public relations and advertising in South Florida, my modeling career suffered almost as much as my soul. There was too much competition from the pros. Still, I managed, even in my 40s, to get my foot in the door. One of my feet, in a chic sandal, entering a gilded door, appeared in a proposed ad for an upscale gated community.
It was only a stunt-foot gig, as it turned out. They called in a professional foot for the real shoot.
But with the Halloween hand, I figure I’m already in the company of Lauren Hutton, at least in terms of career longevity.
It’s quite an accomplishment, I think, for someone who never soared much higher that 5 feet, 5 inches (and lately, have been shrinking, alas) or managed to get skinnier than a size 7 (and lately have shown no signs of shrinking in girth, alas).
Still, experimenting with video cams recently, I accidentally shot my feet and noticed my toes are holding up rather well. My focus these days remains on mentoring younger newsroom models, but I think I’ll keep my pedicure current, just in case.

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