Just Shoot Me

Do I know what product I’m selling? No.
Do I know what I’m doing today? No.
But I’m here and I’m gonna give it my best shot.

Sawasdee,

Last month, I was at this uber-private “share” party (which was a blogworthy event on its own, remind me to tell you about it if I ever run short of ideas). My friend K introduced me to one of the big dogs there, owner of FHM (Thailand). He looks at me and says, yeah we can use you for something, give us your number and we’ll have someone call you on Monday. I guess I should have asked him which Monday, because it was actually last Tuesday when they finally called to offer me a fashion advertorial for the September issue, shooting on Friday. Cool.

I lobbied hard for my friend Kari with E&L Modelling, a willowy 5’11 ex-volleyball player from Colorado to be my counterpart on the shoot. We were both hopeful for the chance to work together, but she was doubtful because she “wasn’t an FHM-type girl.” I asked what she meant, because girl is hot. She smirked and she pointed to her less-than-ample bosom.

After a false alarm (“Yeah, Kari is booked with you. Uh…no, actually it isn’t her.”) it turns out that I would actually be working with Maggie, a different girl from E&L. Seeing how they both have two syllables and some vowel similarities, I can see how you could confuse the names…if they were uttered underwater.

I called Kari to tell her the bad news and mentioned I would be working with some girl named Maggie. She relayed the information to her roommate Sophie, and I heard a burst of laughter over the phone. I asked what’s the deal. Still giggling, she said that I would find out and tell her all about it when I was done. Hmmm…

Shrugging off this cryptic message, I stayed in Thursday night. Since all the pubs and bars were closed on Friday for Mothers Day, everyone was out getting their drink on. Me, I have to be up at 4:00 am to leave for the job location in Hua Hin. You know, sometimes having such a “flexible” work schedule is a restrictive beeyotch.

Normally, fashion editorial focus on the cool clothes (or lack thereof). This one would be featuring a “digital truck.” What the heck is that? Voice activated gear shift? Does it have Windows instead of windows? Instead of a license plate, does it just have a cool red light like K.I.T.T., or is it just flashing 12:00? Digital Truck. The mind boggles.

After a sleepless 3-hour van ride from Bangkok to Hua Hin, we arrive at “Yoo Yen”, a charming seaside restaurant which would serve as the location. To my disappointment, the digital truck was a just a normal-looking Mitsubishi Triton. There was nothing ordinary, however, about Maggie from Slovakia. About 5’10 with dark brown hair, high cheekbones, dangerous curves and creamy white skin. Surprise, she had “an FHM body.” An assistant introduced us and this was our first exchange:

Maggie: Who are you?

Jack: Hi. My name is Jack.

Maggie: No, what are you?

Jack: Uh, I’m Thai?

Maggie: I mean, are you stylist? Make-up artist?

Jack: No, I’m shooting with you.

Maggie: Photographer?

Jack: I’m, uh, shooting this thing with you.

At this point she gave me a blank look and walked off towards the beach. She stood there, with her back to me, staring at the water for a while, leaving me wondering…do I really look like a make up artist?

I headed into the restaurant and chatted with the photographer, Ace, who I had met several times at The Bed. Since neither of us got any sleep on the ride over (“They’re called shock absorbers, buddy.”) we each grabbed a chair and got our snooze on. A few minutes later, I hear…

“Hey. HEY YOU. Come here.”

I awoke from slumber to hear Miss Maggie, having her hair styled, calling for aid. She was complaining (a theme which would be repeated the rest of the day) that no one offered her anything to drink. Meanwhile, she is swigging water from her own personal gallon jug. Then she goes on about how Thai people are so rude and have egos. I look at the stylist, who is clearly annoyed but pretending he doesn’t understand any English, a skill Thai people have mastered, and perhaps I need to learn.

She says she is sick and wants some hot tea. And that she hates being treated like a machine, a non-person. I can empathize with her to a point, having experienced a few Zoolander moments where I have been manipulated like a poseable G.I. Joe action figure. But in this case, it’s her attitude that was clearing the room. She started berating me for falling asleep when I am the only one who she could talk to. I said okay let’s start over, where you from, blah blah blah. Now usually you ask someone how long they have been in Thailand, answers are understandably vague like “a couple weeks or so” or “about a month.” She says she has been in Thailand for 54 days, and will be here for 72 days total. She knows how long she has been here so specifically because she “hates Thailand.” The hairdresser rolls his eyes.

I weigh the options. Ignore the girl and commiserate with the crew about how difficult she is? Or bite the bullet and attend to her crazy whims? In the interest of creating a conducive work environment and agreeable chemistry that would translate in the finished product, I chose to indulge the pretty girl. Never let it be said that I have not suffered for my art.

Unfortunately, rain came intermittently (as it is wont to do during the so-called Rainy Season) turning what should have been a quick three hour affair into a variation on Chinese Water Torture. During one break, Maggie asked to look at my Time Magazine, then asks if she could have it. I look at a message on my cellphone while she is saying something and she says that I am rude. We have fruitless debates: she declares Slovakia the happiest place on Earth, I insist that Istanbul was Constantanople.

Finally, Ace says “F it, let’s just shoot in the rain.” Everyone was ready to risk pneumonia at this point.

But all eccentricities aside, Maggie was an absolute pro in front of the camera. She knew all her angles and had a gift for showing off what God blessed her with, as the stylists had to tell her “not too sexy na.” I only look decent in about half the pictures, so she was carrying my dead weight like Jordan did the Bulls. Since Ace was shooting with a digital camera, we got to see previews on his Powerbook. Blue steel in effect, y’all!

Then sometimes when you least expect it, Fate has a funny way of giving you a wedgie. As Maggie and I huddled together under an umbrella, she put her head on my shoulder and I felt her fingers lace through mine. Mind you, we are not shooting, just waiting for the next set-up. The proverbial green light was on, brother.

Now, what to do with this knowledge? I admit, the old me would have been too excited and fouled it all up. A more recent–yet less refined–version would have brought her straight home and…I dunno, made her a sandwich. But I don’t feel the urgency. I analyzed the situation dispassionately. Yes, carnal congress with a gorgeous head case (who is leaving the country in less than a month) could be mind-blowing, but is it really worth it?

On the drive back, she wants us to sit together, to the relief of everyone else. Magdalene leans her head on my shoulder virtually the whole way back to Bangkok, and in that moment she appears almost angelic. It’s late when we get back, and she’s asks if anyone is going her way. I say doesn’t look like it, escort her into a waiting cab, a kiss on the cheek and off she goes, perhaps never to meet again outside the pages of lad mags. Hope you enjoy your twenty (or so) days left in Thailand.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I won’t feel the pangs of missed opportunities. I don’t have time for silly little regrets, as I’m still working on avoiding the big ones.

Sawasdee,
Jack

4 responses to “Just Shoot Me

  1. Thanks for that “inside” story. It is always good to read about life in Thailand from a different perspective. Are there a lot of foreign models living and working in the country or are the majority flown in for the shoots? What would you say the main difference is between Thai female models and foreign female models? Do Thai models become “westernized” once they step onto the world stage?

    I look forward to reading more of your stories.

  2. Yeah, thanks for the read, good stuff.

    Richard:

    Most of the foreign models here in Thailand are just mostly on holiday and take up modelling as a way to pay for their day to day expenses.

    Especially in regards to TV commercials, a model is a model and they don’t need to be good-looking, they just have to ‘fit’ the character needed.

    On occasions howvever the agents have to import their international standard models as there just arent enough in Thailand. A lot of these ‘professional’ models work the scene, around say Asia, and are flown in when an assignment comes up.

    Their pay is often pretty top-wack too.

  3. I haven’t actually met any that were in BKK for vacation and took up modelling just to pay for their expenses. Most of them, especially with E&L, are all flown in just for modelling, but they do rotates througout Asia thought.

  4. so Jack, u still in BKK? It seems like u’ve been there a long time! Good stuff btw. Keep it up.
    luv