The Secret Life of Models

I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals…The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus.

-Agent Smith, The Matrix

Perhaps you have spotted those exotic-looking creatures around Thailand, walking down the streets of Bangkok in broad daylight. Some them them seem otherworldly, with impossibly long limbs and features chiseled from alabaster. The males typically sport black tank tops, while the females wear as little as possible.

I’m talking about the ubiquitous foxius carouseslots, more commonly known as the Foreign Model.

Sorry, I'm with Jack Jumblies.

Oh really? You like my necklace?

Today, I will share with you a Steve Irwin-inspired peek into the lives and habits of these amazing creatures. Don’t worry, they don’t bite…hard.

This is just a snapshot of the life and times of a Foreign Model in Thailand. Of course there are always exceptions, and we are not accounting for half-Thais and other Asians in the industry, though they can (and do) move seamlessly through these circles.

Their migration habits vary, but the majority of Foreign Models come to Thailand for up to three months at a time, as this is the length of time dictated by their visas. The Foreign Model hails from Canada, Brazil, and former Eastern bloc nations, where their “Mother Agency” at home takes note of their vaguely Asian looks and send them abroad. While they are here, they are obstensibly looking for work, on the catwalk and in commercials. A fortunate few arrive as a result of a direct booking, where they are cast remotely and come to Thailand for a guaranteed job, usually shooting a television commercial (TVC).

Herds of Foreign Models can be seen zipping around Bangkok during the day–usually on the Skytrain–portfolio of past jobs (or “Book”) in hand, headed for castings and modelling jobs. Bookers with each agency direct them to these appointments, often going to as many as five in one day. At each TVC casting, the models have make-up applied, their hair styled, pictures and measurements taken, and a short video made, introducing themselves (name, age, height, weight) and performing a short audition. It’s not unusual for a casting to take two or three hours, most of the time spent waiting: chatting with other models, flipping through Thai fashion magazines they cannot decipher, or simply staring off into space. It’s a rough life.

For fashion shows, castings are usually quicker, and often accomplished in absentia with photos. If the show is late in the evening, models have to arrive hours beforehand, and do a quick rehearsal of the order they walk out on the runway.

But most are not here just to make money. For many, this is secondary, as these are for the most part not tall or proportioned enough to be professional models like you see in Milan, New York City, or Paris. These are kids that happen to look good to Asian advertisers. Many are also on a serious mission to party and hook up.

With you? Doubtful. You see, the female version of Foreign Model is an elusive creature indeed. For one thing, it is not guaranteed that you will be able to understand them, as their English is sometimes mangled. Not to imply that they are dumb–I met one girl who was studying to be a lawyer and another brilliant fellow who already had a masters degree in architecture–but there are a few space cadets out there who fit the “dumb model” stereotype. God bless them.

A Couple Brazilian Nuts

Okay, we get it. You are Beautiful AND Sassy.

They travel in packs, with each member usually belonging to the same agency. Big-dogs Mode Modelling and E&L Modelling are the veritable Sharks and Jets of Thailand, though you’ll see representatives from other established agencies such as Red, Candor and Jim’s. If you see any models that look like they came from Khao San Road, some of them actually might have. Smaller (and often dodgy) Thai modelling agencies (often a gay guy with only a name card and a cell phone) scout farang models all the time inviting them to cast for jobs.

Since often the first people they meet upon arrival are other models, the Male Model has a distinctive advantage over any Joe Schmo trying to chat up these fresh faced young ladies. They have already divided up the available ones amonst themselves. When they travel, it’s like herd of sheep, with the females in the middle and the males acting as sheepdogs patrolling the perimeter, protecting their fine flock.

Not to say the foreign model is always the most faithful creature. Many of them have a significant other waiting for them back in their home country, but choose to have innocent flings. The Male Model (especially the Brazilian variety) is a notoriously adulterine specimen, trying to copulate with as many females as possible. They are more than likely to stray into the local population of available Thai females. Since they are oblivious to the Thai concept of face, they flaunt their six-packs on the catwalk (as virtually all swimwear/underwear models in Thailand are Foreign).

This is not a reason to hate them, however. Along with the annoyingly tousled hair, the Male Model’s sometimes startling lack of fashion sense is more disconcerting, as they often feel like they can wear noxious-armpit-exposing tank tops on every occasion. All the while, their pursuit of free food and drinks reaches almost a fever pitch. And virtually all of them smoke cigarettes. A dirty habit, yes, but gotta you admit they look fabulous puffing on a Marlboro light!

I'm so not even close to 20.

The Free Drink: Sure-fire Model Bait

In fact, if you wishes to see Foreign Models in Bangkok, all you have to do is go to one of the many Models Night events at the hip nightspots. On these occasions, models drink for free, though some of them abused it to the point where now they are sometimes issued coupon books, entitling them to eight or ten free drinks each. Usually this is more than enough to invoke a typical Foreign Model form of territorial marking: aggressive open mouth kissing.

Engaged In The Mating Ritual

Models Engaged in Mating Ritual

It’s not uncommon to see Foreign Models engaged in a bout of vigorous tongue wrestling in the middle of a crowded dance floor. While this behavior would draw derisive “Get a room!” jeers in America, in Bangkok it leads to fascinated stares by uninitiated locals, who are far less inclined to perform such public displays of affection. The Foreign Models live in their own bizarre universe, and we mortals are merely uninvited bystanders at their never-ending party.

In fact, the may be the most boorish aspect of some of these Foreign Models is this sense of entitlement. They spend virtually nothing, yet expecting to be treated like VIPs. One day you see them scarfing down expensive seafood appetizers at an event held at a five-star hotel, the next they are crashing a hi-so afterparty and drinking free champagne. And at night they go home to dingy dormitory-style apartments, which are closer to their modest backgrounds in the tenements of San Paolo or Slovakia these kids kids usually come from.

Actually, I have met some models who wind up staying for many months and even years, learning a bit of the language, making Thai friends, and developing appreciation for different aspects of Thai culture. While still unreasonably good-looking, we can appreciate them for being a bit more enlightened than their carpetbagging counterparts. They often have photos from parties surrounded by beautiful drunk people, though you would be hard pressed to determine in what context (nevermind what country) it was taken in, except for maybe the odd Singha bottle in the background.

For those who are lucky to be blessed with the right look at the right time, then Thailand can seem like a paradise to these hormonally-charged, carefree youths. Think about it, if you had the chance to go to a foreign country where no one knew who you were, meet gorgeous people from all over the world and constantly get laid with these other models, living not just for free but even making a little money at the same time, wouldn’t you jump at the chance? Can you really blame them for taking advantage of the situation?

The cruel thing is that it is a fleeting life. As looks fade with age, so does the opportunity for such a carefree existence. In this regard, modelling in a foreign country is not much different than partying your nights away as a university student.

Because eventually, we all run out of free drink coupons and have to get a real job. Just as the coroner said to Humpty Dumpty, “Dems da breaks.”

Sawasdee,
Jack


NEXT UP: Techniques You Can Use To Chat Up a Model!

17 responses to “The Secret Life of Models

  1. hehehe
    Any suggestions where I can find these “models”? 😀 Astra? Bed? Slim? 😀

  2. Godd stuff Jack, Have to admit to waltzing around 3-4 castings a week during my heydays of TVC stuff. Never did make it big, but they were fun times.

    Actually, i failed so badly at getting any decent parts on TVC that i ended up going for ‘proper’ roles on Thai Soap Operas instead. A different kettle of fish totally (and the pay!) but me language abilities were a major plus.

    Back in those days, the biggest hangouts for the so-called pros of the modelling business was Silom Soi 4.

    Have to admit to having a couple of pro-modelling foreign friends who made some seriously successful money from TVCs in Thailand. As for any success chatting up ‘proper’ Thai girls however…they were pretty useless.

    I did notice that a lot of the local Thai girls would actually be put off at the site of a 6′ 4″ hunky model from say…Europe. Rather too much too much for a local girl to handle!?

  3. hehehe
    hey Steve… I always thought silom soi 4 is where the gay hangs out… 😀

  4. Silom Soi 2 is the big gay hangout, though there are a couple big gay bars in soi 4 as well. On an unrelated note, Silom Soi 4 has really gone downhill. Nobody goes to Speed (they are all at Slim or Route), Home and Xantrix are closed. Tapas is still doing okay and gets somewhat crowded on the weekend, but it’s more of an expat crowd and not so hip anymore. You want to meet models, stay tuned for next week’s entry!

  5. Mr. Jumblies, your blog is so hot. I really like your take on vapid lifestyles, and whatever. You must be hot…have you tried my new purfume, its hot.

  6. Oh come on. 6’4″ AND hunky?? I’m all over that in a second.

    Oh wait. I’m not local. AND I’m married. I have the liberty to gawk and flirt. 😉 Look but don’t touch. I’m very good at that. HAHAHAH.

  7. Fluudenhamen'

    I do like that necklace…what is it pearl?..all I have time for today…Tell Paris I said hello and her new ead de toilette is HOT!…
    deac, deac…

  8. Fluudenhamen'

    Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Only try to realize the truth.
    -What truth?
    …There is no spoon…Is anyone truly a hot foreign model?

    Swallow the Red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes…
    story, story…

  9. BKK Inkslinger

    Hi Jack,

    Well written blog delving into a pretty peculiar subculture.

    Also a visual treat.

    Look forward to your next post.

  10. Hi.
    congratz Jack fun stuff to read; not to mention I am a mdl myself. Wad do u do?

  11. dears,
    am lookin for extra and supporting freelance talents for casting making TVC any nationalitys any ages r welcome ( male&female) if anyone intrested plz forward snaps wiz profile to. akkuchange@gmail.com
    thx and reagrds
    akku
    star hunt casting studio
    bkk

  12. Tom-Thejobpro.com

    Teaching/working in Thailand:
    On our web site you can find more details of the jobs that are offered. Work in Thailand, Teach in Thailand.

  13. Hey Jack,
    Very interesting incite. You are right towards the end about when reality of the NORM kicks in, some of those kids won’t be prepared for it. Humbleness and integrity goes a long way in any profession I believe.

    Akku,
    I’m interested in what you have to offer. Will I get feed and paid as discribe by Jack? ( = Aside from the the humor, I always wanted to be in the Modeling, Movies, and the Music industry. Hook me up before I’m all wrinkled up! = D

  14. How about the lives of the look krun Thai models! 555555

  15. j’aime bc les filles

  16. Dear all on BKK,

    We are casting for TVC and for magazines, send profile&photos now to tommiholm at yahoo.com.

    Catwalk Casting & Promotions, BKK

  17. For the models and non-models alike living in thailand wanting to fit in with the locals, why not take a look at my blog:
    http://tipsonlearningthai.blogspot.com/

    Who knows, you may pick up some useful vocab to use whilst at the ‘hi-so’ parties.