Author Topic: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam  (Read 8941 times)

richonomics

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I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« on: September 06, 2015, 04:40:51 AM »
Have you ever been approached by a person claiming to be a 'scout' for a modeling agency?  It happened to a friend and I in Portland, OR some years back.  I knew it was a scam from the start, but my friend was curious to check it out for the potential comic relief and we were blown away by what we saw.

These 'auditions' had to have been happening regularly, if not daily.  It was a major operation.  There was easily over a hundred hopeful 'models' in various queues registering,  getting measured, and getting a Kodak photograph taken of them.  There is no good way of saying this - most of these fellow scouted future models were simply ugly.  The collective hope in the room was thick and overwhelming.

After we made our way through the various stations, groups of us were ushered into a room to watch a 20-minute video on the modeling and acting industries.  This was followed by a presenter, who explained the various costs involved in getting started in this line of work: “…and for only $495 you too can have a modeling composite card and starter portfolio.”

People were signing up and handing over their credit cards.  It was amazing.

A close family member told me something similar happened to him in Los Angeles.  They approached him about his kids.  He also went to the pursuant 'audition' with his kids.  Instead of a $500 starter portfolio, they tried to sell him $1000/month tuition for acting lessons.

It's pretty amazing that people fall for this type of stuff.  Judging by the volume of people and seeing this happen in multiple cities, I am sure it is very effective in getting people to hand over the cash.

MgoSam

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 05:53:12 AM »
Someone I'm FB friends with posts occasional pictures of a "photo shot," where professional pictures of her have been taken. She has referred to herself as a model, but I don't think I've seen a single picture of her that has her actually modeling for a magazine or any paid work, and so I suspect that she pays for professional photo shoots. Each time she posts such pictures, there are a ton of her friends complimenting how beautiful she looks. I just wonder how much this all costs.

justajane

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2015, 06:42:29 AM »
I went on one of those model week-end events in Atlanta over 20 years ago. Mind you, I wasn't the potential model. My friend was. We had gone to a mall months earlier in our hometown where "scouts" chose certain teen girls who had potential in the industry. I refused to even do this part, since I was more Seattle grunge than model pretty. Plus I am short. But my closest friend at the time was almost six feet with blonde hair and very pretty. Of course she was chosen.

Then you paid for this conference where former and current models talked about the industry for a day or two. Then there was a catwalk and a small number of the girls were chosen to be represented by this agency. My friend wasn't chosen.

This sounds much more legit than what you are talking about, although if you are really going to make it in the industry, why would you need to pay for the conference? I read an article recently about these Midwest scouts near where I live who discovered multiple supermodels and actors (including Karlie Kloss) at malls. But I don't imagine these people needed to pay much to get started. The scouts likely invested in them in the hopes that it would eventually pay off.

Zamboni

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2015, 07:26:18 AM »
Yes, I knew several girls in high school who claimed to be models. This was in the high profile fashion mecca of . . . wait for it . . . Denver. To be fair, most of the girls making this claim were generally tall and pretty, had a lot of their self-worth wrapped up in their appearance, and they certainly spent a lot of time on their appearance on a daily basis.

As far as I know, none of them ever actually had a paying job as a model. One friend did an unpaid fashion show at the local JC Penney (her dad was a manager there) as part of some sort of charity event. At least one other friend had her mom pay to have her "modeling portfolio" prepared at one of the many ubiquitous mall Glamour Shots businesses. Ummm, okay, you're a model if you say you're a model.

And then I went to college in a city where there might actually be working models. One of my roommates said she had a modeling career, and yes she had a somewhat professional looking portfolio. Again, no evidence of actual work as a model, but a fancy folder of pictures of herself shot in a studio. In this case, though, she was very short, fairly stout, and not at all attractive in any conventional way. Not a nice face, not pretty hands, nothing I could see that would interest a modeling agency.  Honestly, I had to suppress the urge to laugh right in her face when she announced "I am focusing on my modeling career." That was when I realize the whole thing was a big scam. She failed out of school that first year, by the way. Too much time spent on her modeling aspirations, I guess.

But whateryagonnado? People are vain, and this whole industry feeds their vanity.

Melody

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2015, 08:14:39 AM »
I got approached for this as well, didn't pick it as a scam at the time, but basically told the lady I wasn't interested as I was focusing on my high school studies and that was that. I kept the card (thinking maybe I would have more time in university)... They did an expose on a prime time tv not long after (same mob, I checked the card). I have done a bunch of (unpaid) modelling work since then (to help photographer and designer mates out) and have a nice portfolio, but never had the interest to take it further. Far too old now at 26, and would have to be very well paid by modelling standards to approach the income I make as an accountant ($100k)... Most full time models (not super models, just working models) make about $40-60k here. I also find I am enjoying it less and less these days (being a decade older than everyone else at the last show I did didn't help ha ha ha) so quote happy to have aged out from helping friends in this respect!!!

Davids

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2015, 10:07:56 AM »
As a young child in the 80s when I was at a mall with my mom a scout approached my mom and thought that I could be a model. And no I am not stealing this from an episode of The Goldbergs on ABC since it did really happen to me. Thankfully my mom did not waste money on this. Although maybe if she did I could be famous....

clarkfan1979

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2015, 11:19:40 AM »
One of my friends in college was very good looking and he would get approached by people. Nobody else in our peer group would get approached, just him. He always threw the cards away because he was embarrassed.

I worked at a Jamba Juice in an area of town with a lot of strip clubs and porn shops. There was a pretty girl that I worked with that would get offers for porn. She was in college and would get excited about the prospect of a business card. Then when she realized it was for porn she would also get embarrassed. She was so conservative it was kind of funny. We kind of had to explain to her what is was in the beginning.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2015, 03:26:00 PM »
Even legitimate models make very little. I'm familiar with a number of child actors and models because of my husband's job and people in the know suggested it for Babytooth. Baby and child modeling is a lot of unpaid work in terms of unpaid photo shoots and castings and if you book a job, it'll pay $50/hr if you're lucky, and child labor laws limit very young models to no more than two hours of work a day. It very much seemed to not be worth it.

The labor laws make me laugh on that.  To the baby it doesn't matter if he's sleeping at home or sleeping on a photo shoot.  It's work for the parents, not the infant! For a toddler, sure, it's work.

justajane

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2015, 03:33:56 PM »
I've also wondered what the increasing use of celebrities instead of professional models for advertising has had on the modeling market. It probably hasn't affected the lower rungs of the business but there appears to be less high paying work for those who break through to more lucrative modeling.

Travis

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2015, 04:08:44 PM »
I've also wondered what the increasing use of celebrities instead of professional models for advertising has had on the modeling market. It probably hasn't affected the lower rungs of the business but there appears to be less high paying work for those who break through to more lucrative modeling.

I recall a documentary on MTV or some such channel several years ago about the rise of the supermodel (Brinkley, Dickenson, Banks, Crawford, etc) and how they had a solid decade or so to themselves until magazines started using famous actors and celebrities in the late 90s.  At that point there was nearly a crash in their market with only a few surviving to continue to get regular work.  Most of the names of the late 80s/early 90s that we're familiar with moved on to tv shows, movies, or more or less retired.

justajane

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2015, 04:48:39 PM »
I've also wondered what the increasing use of celebrities instead of professional models for advertising has had on the modeling market. It probably hasn't affected the lower rungs of the business but there appears to be less high paying work for those who break through to more lucrative modeling.

I recall a documentary on MTV or some such channel several years ago about the rise of the supermodel (Brinkley, Dickenson, Banks, Crawford, etc) and how they had a solid decade or so to themselves until magazines started using famous actors and celebrities in the late 90s.  At that point there was nearly a crash in their market with only a few surviving to continue to get regular work.  Most of the names of the late 80s/early 90s that we're familiar with moved on to tv shows, movies, or more or less retired.

Interesting, thanks! I imagine the same thing has occurred in the voice industry. These days so many of the voice overs in ads are done by celebrities. I guess companies have figured out that hearing Julianna Margulies telling me about a Chase credit card leads me to spend more? To me it seems silly, because they must have to pay her much more than they would pay an unknown voice over artist.

Travis

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2015, 05:20:21 PM »
I've also wondered what the increasing use of celebrities instead of professional models for advertising has had on the modeling market. It probably hasn't affected the lower rungs of the business but there appears to be less high paying work for those who break through to more lucrative modeling.

I recall a documentary on MTV or some such channel several years ago about the rise of the supermodel (Brinkley, Dickenson, Banks, Crawford, etc) and how they had a solid decade or so to themselves until magazines started using famous actors and celebrities in the late 90s.  At that point there was nearly a crash in their market with only a few surviving to continue to get regular work.  Most of the names of the late 80s/early 90s that we're familiar with moved on to tv shows, movies, or more or less retired.

Interesting, thanks! I imagine the same thing has occurred in the voice industry. These days so many of the voice overs in ads are done by celebrities. I guess companies have figured out that hearing Julianna Margulies telling me about a Chase credit card leads me to spend more? To me it seems silly, because they must have to pay her much more than they would pay an unknown voice over artist.

A voice-over is worth the cost?  There is something to be said about familiarity when all you're hearing is a voice and there is probably a big enough ROI in voice work to make it worthwhile. 

slugline

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2015, 07:59:03 PM »
It seems like entire casts of animated movies are also being voiced by celebrities now.

partgypsy

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2015, 02:10:16 PM »
Yeah I've heard that about both modeling and voice work, that celebrities (or celebrity kids) are getting the work that otherwise anonymous but good at their job people used to do.

My older brother as a child was in a print ad, and my Mom was approached to have my sister and I do television ads (we were identical blonde twins) when we were toddler which my Mom said no, she was too busy to ferry us around.
My oldest daughter has gotten numerous comments that she looks like a model (she is tall, slim and has good bone structure) but she just laughs and says she does NOT want to model. She is 12 and taller than me (I'm 5/6).
Sometimes I think about it, if it is a decent way for her to make money but then I think of all the scams and think it probably would not be worth it. My youngest on the other hand is a big ham bone big personality and would LOVE to do something like that, but she is just regular/normal kid-cute.   

JoJo

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2015, 04:52:48 PM »
Years ago, my former sister in law had bragged that my nephew was a finalist for Gerber baby.  I found out several years later she forked over several hundred dollars for expensive baby photos.

Argyle

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2015, 04:57:52 PM »
The weird thing is that sometimes those people are legit.  (I'm sure the legit ones don't demand money from the prospective models, though.)  You may recall that Jennifer Lawrence was "discovered" when a modeling agency rep approached her in Times Square, when she was there as a tourist with her mother.  She was about 14 and said she didn't know enough to suspect it might be a scam.  But in that case it wasn't.

richonomics

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2015, 06:50:51 PM »
I think these scam companies feed off of the fact that people like Jennifer Laurence was discovered that way.  It feeds the mentality: if it can happen to her, it can happen to me?

MgoSam

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2015, 07:38:03 PM »
I think these scam companies feed off of the fact that people like Jennifer Laurence was discovered that way.  It feeds the mentality: if it can happen to her, it can happen to me?

Didn't know that, that's kinda cool. But it feels like advertisement for lottery winners, or the people that win a million on slots.

kite

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2015, 05:48:07 AM »
Even legitimate models make very little. I'm familiar with a number of child actors and models because of my husband's job and people in the know suggested it for Babytooth. Baby and child modeling is a lot of unpaid work in terms of unpaid photo shoots and castings and if you book a job, it'll pay $50/hr if you're lucky, and child labor laws limit very young models to no more than two hours of work a day. It very much seemed to not be worth it.

The labor laws make me laugh on that.  To the baby it doesn't matter if he's sleeping at home or sleeping on a photo shoot.  It's work for the parents, not the infant! For a toddler, sure, it's work.

My friends had their daughter in some print work for a kids' clothing chain.  She says it was exhausting.  The babies have to be cute and happy, and even the happy ones aren't thrilled every moment, with travel, wardrobe changes, strangers, flash photography, disruption to routine, etc.
It was a lot of unpaid work for the mom, a modest start to the girl's  college fund, but not enough to replace anyone's full time job. 

ETA:  they landed this opportunity because the casting agent for the ad campaign saw their daughter's picture on a Christmas card sent to a relative.  It was completely thru knowing someone who knew someone, and not an approach via a stranger. 
« Last Edit: September 09, 2015, 03:01:20 PM by kite »

mm1970

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2015, 02:25:19 PM »
I've got cute kids.  When my older son was a baby (under 1), there was a group that came to town to look for child models. One of my mom-friends was telling me about it.  Her daughter was also exceptionally cute (I know people say all babies are cute, but it's totally not true.  Many of my friends had really funny looking babies.)

She was excited to go and told me that my Nick was so cute I should go too.  I said "great, thanks, but no. Full time job."  Never did hear how that worked out.  My friend had her baby when she was 45 and her husband was 60.  And they were old enough and wealthy enough to not really have to work much, so they split their time between So Cal and a ski spot.

When I was in college, one of my roomies did occasional modeling.  She was 5'11", blond, and a swimmer.  She and her sister would model for local places.  I don't know if she made much money - but the ROTC scholarship was paying for school anyway.

justajane

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2015, 03:01:08 PM »
I know people say all babies are cute, but it's totally not true.  Many of my friends had really funny looking babies.

Snort. This is so true. But my story to everyone is that their baby is absolutely adorable and I'm sticking to it.

Capsu78

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2015, 06:15:09 PM »
My daughter and wife were approached at an upscale mall and to my horror, my wife bought in and we bought a "cycle"- weekly training, professional photo shoot, $165 haircut (along with a $40 parking ticket!) and a trip to LA to present and walk the catwalk an a "American Idol" quality event.

Now, as much as I was critical of my wifes decision, it came at a time my daughter was having self esteem challenges, I had been reclassified from being "Hi Daddy!" to "...Can you leave now...you are creeping out me and my friends" status.  And my wife not letting me in on the sunk cost- " Look, I am paying for this (and she was) so F- off if you don't like it."

My takeaway-  I got to ride on a train for an hour each way once a week downtown which my daughter and I kinda enjoyed and looked forward to.  I dropped her off and picked her up from her photo shoot and honest to God, I walked right by her not recognizing her!   She went to LA, had her moment of introduction in front of a thousand people, carried herself well and really came back a more confidant young women for the experience... on the flip side, I met some others in her classes that probably were future blow users with limited talent, but this was probably the biggest thing that they were going to do in their lives! The ones who "fit the mold" in terms of weight, height and bone structure were obviously considered the stars even if they were dumb as rocks.

My now adult child is responsible and an excellent and confident presenter... I look back fondly on those weekly father daughter train rides.  YMMV

richonomics

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2015, 08:32:43 PM »
That's a really cool story Capsu78!  There is always a silver lining and sometimes our attitude makes all the difference in the world.  Thank you for sharing.

iris lily

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2015, 09:06:42 PM »
Girl from my hometown was working fast food and someone from Miss .USA corp. saw her there and asked her try out for the local pageant. She won that, won the state pageant,, and went on to win the national Miss Teen USA pageant.

But that said, she was home from New York during her college break, was home from doing a modeling gig. So she already was kinda in the biz.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2015, 09:08:13 PM by iris lily »

Melody

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2015, 06:43:54 PM »
The porno industry ones are generally quite transparent though. I knew a girl in who got approached a few times, while she was living in los Angeles, said they could get her work in hustler etc. It was paid work and she was an unemployed actress at the time so she considered it but ultimately chose not to.

MrsPete

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Re: I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt: The Modeling Agency Scam
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2015, 02:26:36 PM »
The your-kid-can-be-a-model are most common, I think.  Most adults are somewhat realistic about their looks, but moms aren't known for moderation when it comes to thinking their kids are THE CUTEST! 

These places really do prey on the idiots among us.  I'm thinking of a single-mom receptionist I knew at a part-time job when I was in college.  She and her daughter were BOTH approached about becoming models /actresses!  Imagine!  Both of them.  They were both average-looking at best.  The company promised the receptionist that they could put her to work as a "body double" in the movies.  They said she looked just like Melissa Gilbert (she didn't) and they could use her for, say, a distant shot of Melissa Gilbert walking on the beach -- and she was perfect because of her green eyes!  She fell for it hook, line and sinker and bought a large portfolio so she and her daughter could both start working!  I'll leave you to figure out how the story ended.  I bet you'll guess right.