#249 It’s all fun and games on models.com until someone loses a life

models.com screengrab

New York based models.com, one of the fashion industry’s largest and most respected model-specific websites appears to find humour in the drinking habits of the underage models it promotes. A video interview entitled The Ash & Eliza Show featuring boyfriend and girlfriend Ash Stymest and Eliza Presly appeared on the website on 8 December. In it, the young models appear to be exhausted and possibly even drugged-up – but this is of no concern to the interviewer, who repeatedly giggles at the pair’s stories of going to pubs underage, getting “totally shit-faced” and fighting with bouncers.

The video interview came out just one day before the frockwriter blog announced late model Randy Johnston’s cause of death: accidental heroin toxicity. Interesting to note is that both Randy Johnston’s and Ash Stymest’s first big jobs in the modelling world were booked by Hedi Slimane – a Dior Homme campaign and Vogues Hommes Japan cover respectively. Slimane is credited with having brought in the skinny rock ‘n’ roll look ubiquitous among male models today. He is also famous for choosing notorious drug addict Pete Doherty as his muse for two Dior Homme collections.

LiveJournal (Randy Johnston, shot by Hedi Slimane)

models.com (Ash Stymest, shot by Hedi Slimane)

Drug and alcohol abuse is a widespread problem among young people, and one that is certainly not specific to the fashion industry. The difference in the fashion industry however is that drug and alcohol use among underagers is accepted, even glamourised. In a LiveJournal post, a commenter named Matt who claims to have been a good friend of Randy Johnston writes:

“F*ck the modeling industry for introducing him to the nice little coke parties held up in modeling houses. You f*cking assholes need to keep in check what your EMPLOYEES are doing to keep themselves looking that slender. I really do partially blame Ford for his demise…and countless others.”

It is unclear whether Johnston’s mother agency Ford Models knew of his drug habit when promoting him to clients such as Dior Homme.

An extraordinary moment occurs in the models.com interview in which Presly complains that the downside of being in New York is not being old enough to drink:

“I’m not old enough to drink over here, well, I’m only 17, but in London I can get in.”

Stymest interrupts, saying:

“Yeah in London they don’t ID anyone.”

Presly then interjects to say:

“You can’t really say this on camera.”

To which the interviewer laughs and replies:

“Everyone knows in Europe it’s much more relaxed.”

There have been 46 comments on the interview so far, most leaning towards the negative. One commenter, calling herself katemossusx, says:

“Tell me if two American teens were droning on about how they get smashed, try to get into bars despite being underaged and droned on incessently about sweet FA, peppering every other word with “fuck” would you still laugh? Would you still think it fresh, charming, youthful??? And if those teens weren’t models, would it still be so?? They’re idiots, there’s nothing fresh, fun, charming about it, its’ just boring.”

But despite comments like the one above, there are still people (including Betty the interviewer), jumping to models.com’s and the model’s defense.

What kind of message is models.com sending out to young people by extolling the virtues of a place where it’s easier for underagers to get hammered? How many Randy Johnstons need to die before the fashion industry makes a concerted effort to stop exploiting young, impressionable kids? It might all seem very glamorous now, but you can bet it won’t be when these same kids are choking to death in a pool of their own vomit.

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  1. Anonymous says

    models and drugs is a such a cliche. I’m shocked that people are still that fu*king dumb they still do hard drugs. Who in this day and age apart from a homeless junkie does heroin?! Not even Lou Reed does heroin anymore, and he loves that stuff! How could anyone, friends family, co-workers, bookers and agents ever let that go on? It truly boggles the mind.
    You see it here in New Zealand as well, all the weekend rock stars and shore kid pretty boys think it’s super cool and glamourous to be into that sh*t, these kids are all still in their teens and they’re already burnt out, bad skin fu*ked up teeth, who’d wanna be like that? It’s such an outdated idea of what models and musicians should be into, it’s like a baby boomer idea of how things are done, stuff from our parents generation, it doesn’t apply to the day and age we live in, we should know fu*ken well better.

  2. Anonymous says

    1st anon probably thinks its ridiculous because drugs and models and rock stars are connected by choice, not by necessity. You don’t have to do drugs, so whatever the guys name was who died wasn’t fed drugs, he did them himself, so its his fault, not the industry, not the agent. Sweet, nice anti drugs speech, but no one puts coke up your nose apart from yourself.

  3. Anonymous says

    nah you’re dead right dude, everyone has free will. That’s not the point though, the point is why is it glamourised to be ‘elegantly wasted’, and image perpetuated by models and rockers. and the main theme being why didn’t anybody do anything to try and stop this guys habit? Left unchecked heroin only ends up one way. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.
    From a purely financial point of view, didn’t Ford want to protect their asset? get him clean so he can work harder and make them more money? even if they hated his guts, he had potential to earn them more money.

  4. Anonymous says

    …the best post you’ve ever made IMO…
    yes drugs are in all walks of life but teenagers in school aren’t in an enviroment where cocaine use is normalised as it is at fashion parties etc, also they don’t have the money and easy availability of drugs that models have, nor the same pressures to be thin or such a lack of parental supervision usually…all these factors add up and I doubt the parents of Randy Johnson would think that Isaac’s post was ridiculous, they’ve lost someone at only 20 years of age …(or Ruslana’s Mum or the other young girl who recently hurled herself out of a model apartment window in Milan).. that’s what is ridiculous!!
    1st poster , i know you don’t work in the fashion industry… maybe comment on this when you know something about it…

  5. Anonymous says

    These two models have a real cool look. Everyone’s jumping to big conclusions, anyone think they could just be two british punks with bubbly personalitys?

    Course you find drugs in the modelling world, but there are also a huge number of models who don’t do drugs.

    Was agyness deyn ever bashed for being a british punk with a bubbly personaltiy? I think not.

  6. Anonymous says

    Kids do dumb things. And, one of the dumb things some of ’em do is drugs: I did ’em in my teens and early twenties, my friends did ’em and just about everybody else I knew was doing ’em. So, it’s not just models and rock stars that do drugs; doctors, lawyers, accountants and plain every day, average people do ’em too. And, nobody does drugs to be “cool”. They do ’em to get high, period.

    However, I do acknowledge that dumb kids can be influenced by some waster, like Pete Doherty, to think that certain self-destructive behaviors are OK. It would be fine if Pete just puffed the occasional joint. But, he doesn’t; he stick needles full of heroin in his arm and smokes crack.

    While most soft drugs – weed, X, ‘shrooms, etc – are relatively harmless the thing about buying ’em is that the harder stuff is usually for sale at the same outlets. And, since kids are dumb – yeah, I know they think they aren’t (I didn’t think I was either) – they’ll try the harder stuff just out of curiosity and for kicks. What they don’t count is an accidental overdose. Or, a hellish addiction that just gets worse and worse until it either kills ’em or they wish they were dead.

    Maybe this is how Pete got started on his road to ruin. I don’t know. However, it’s a relatively common starting point that almost always ends in either addiction or death.

    One who’s been there and lived to talk about it

    P.S. And, shame on Hedi Slimane for endorsing Pete’s lifestyle by selecting him as a muse. When someone is suffering from an addiction they need to be ostracized; not glorified. There’s nothing glorious nor inspirational about being an addict; it’s just the waste of a life.

  7. Rosetea says

    this is the coolest, most brilliant  blog ever;  how outdated some people  are  when drugs are involved; it is really from other times; read Keith Richards (auto) biography, who describes how Patti, completely junkified, and he, not much better, lost their little baby.
    Of course the strong force that beauty is,  attracts money and money attracts evil; like  drugs, but also malformation of young lifes,in several ways.
    The fashion industry should be very aware of this and protect the sometimes very young and always absolutely gorgeous  models, should also be aware that  young kids are also innocent and  may do very  dumb things, so therefore others do  have to protect them.

    With so much creativity and beauty gathered  we all  do have the best cards for  creating a swell  fashion world;  let’s just go for it.
    Just be aware the international fashion world and everyone in or around it is always subject to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The best way to let others know you still human is to read these articles to know your rights & to respect these rights, at the end you are a human and these are for you.

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