Thursday, May 7, 2015
My Brief Modeling Career
One of the highlights of my freshman year at Augustana was my brief -- very brief -- modeling career.
I had my own radio program, the "International Pop Hour," where I played pop songs from Europe. In between, I interviewed anyone who might have the slightest international connection, from the political science professor from China to the Italian-American manager of Langomarcino's Chocolates.
One day in April, shortly after I got back from determining that my friend Mary's brother was "straight," I interviewed Lars Lundquist (not his real name), who came to Augustana as a foreign student in 1968 and now had his own photography studio in Chicago.
"I do everything -- kids, dogs, weddings, even passport photos," he said, "But I'm specializing in fashion. I want to get some clients and go into talent management." He paused. "You know, you've got a nice fresh-scrubbed all-American look. Did you play football in high school?"
"No, I was an athletic trainer. But I saw more moldy towels and stinky athletic supporters than any football player." I cued the laugh track.
"Can you come out to Chicago next week? We'll do a shoot, and see what happens."
It's a scam! My inner skeptic told me. But then..."He's got a studio in Chicago, on Michigan Avenue!" Besides, my listeners -- all 5 of them -- wanted to know what happened.
So the next weekend I drove out, and he took some shots of me wearing an orange leisure suit, a polo shirt and jeans, and a yellow turtleneck sweater with green pants (bright colors were "in" that year).
I quit my job at the Carousel Snack Bar, and through the spring and summer of 1979, except for my 10 days in Colombia, I drove out to Chicago every few weeks and let Lars photograph me. I got some work: see if you can find the Christmas 1979 catalog for the Marshall Fields department store, or Chicago Magazine in the spring of 1981. I didn't keep any copies -- the photos were too embarrassing.
The money wasn't very good, and I was too busy with classes, clubs, and my job to drive out to Chicago every five minutes, so I was getting tired of it by the fall of 1979, when Lars asked, "Would you consider working for the gay market?"
"What?" I asked, stunned. "What kind of market is there for gays?"
"All you have to do is pose nude -- there's no sex involved. And the pay is good."
Was it legal? And where could you go to buy nude pictures of men?
I could be a beacon of light to gay men in small towns!
But I would be out to millions of people. Ok, hundreds. They wouldn't be seeing my real name, but still...what if my mother saw the photos...or my friends at school....
A few days later, I met Fred, my ministerial student boyfriend. I was sure that he would disapprove, so the nude photo shoot never happened, and my modeling career fizzled out (except for the adult movie I made, sort of, a few years later).