Of course, when one hears “professional boxer,” one thinks of a guy in a ring (or as Gorilla Monsoon used to call it, “the squared circle”) trying to beat his opponent’s brains out – not someone standing over a counter putting pillow covers destined for JC Penney into boxes (as I did).
On the other hand, what about “professional model”? Someone who gets paid to wear clothing (or in the case of nude models, nothing) for the purpose of being photographed, drawn or seen in some way by others – right??? Well, I can honestly say that I was a professional model in the meaning of the term that I just described. I even got paid an hourly rate.
“Okay, okay. There’s got to be a catch,” I can hear you saying. Well, I admit it. There is a catch: I only did it for one hour.
In the summer of 1978, when I was all of 19 years old, I had a job working for a promotional firm on West 39 Street in midtown Manhattan. I was basically a gofer, as I recall (I can tell an amusing story about making the coffee every morning), and one time I was told to assist in making a small catalog for some camping gear the company was promoting. One of the things I remember that we had to do was to steam out the wrinkles in some of the bags to be photographed for the catalog – and we didn’t do a very good job of it, looking at the photos now.
A more interesting thing I was asked to do was to model a rain poncho – and hey, who was I to turn down an offer like that? I really don’t remember much from the photo shoot, other than that I got to take an hour off of work to go to the studio – and that I got paid $25 as a modeling fee, in addition to my regular salary. (So, I like to say that as a professional model I got paid $25 an hour – but I only did it for one hour.)
I still have two copies of the eight-page catalog and the photo above is scanned from its back page. The guy on the right is Wayne, one of the people I worked with at the firm. The pretty boys in the middle were hired from a modeling agency (and I have no idea what they got paid).
The guy on the left, of course, sporting the rain poncho and looking a bit like Jesus (or so I thought back then) is me.
And that, my friends, is the story of my career as a professional model. Like I said, that was in 1978. Little did I know at the time that being a professional boxer was just a year into my future.