Friday, August 04, 2006

Model Fools

For the thousandth time, someone told me that Isaiah is so cute he should be a baby model. I, of course, agreed wholeheartedly because I honestly do think he is the most adorable baby who has ever lived since the beginning of time. I know that some of my opinion is clouded by the motherly bias, but you can't deny his cuteness. So, I thought about it for a little while, and decided that baby modeling might be a fun way to start saving up for Isaiah's college. Lucky for me, there are several major corporations headquartered in Minneapolis that employ baby models, including Target, Huggies, Lifetouch, and Marshall Fields. Along with those are several modeling agencies. Since I didn't know where to start, I called Target headquarters and got the names of the modeling agencies they use from their advertising department. Then, when I was looking those up in the phone book, I also found one called "" I thought this might be worth checking out as well, so I jotted down their number.

When I called, they immediately put me through a phone interview asking about Isaiah's hair and eye color, if he has any marks or blemishes on his face, and if he is shy or outgoing. Then, since everything sounded good, they asked both Michael and I to bring Isaiah in for an appointment on Saturday. We were pretty excited because we thought this could be a fun opportunity for Isaiah. When we got to the office that Saturday morning, we were seated in the waiting room. Michael asked me if we would have to pay anything for the agency's service, and I told him that to my knowledge, any company that charged an upfront fee wasn't very legitimate because good agencies only take commission.

We got into the office - Tony Guy's office to be precise - and he declared Isaiah an absolute doll. He said that he was almost positive Isaiah could get jobs because he's so cute and in a really good age bracket. Then he explained that child models will make $85 to $100 an hour for print ads, and thousands of dollars for television commercials or appearances on soap operas. (Apparently there is quite a demand for babies on soap operas.) Then he said that would be willing to have his picture taken, send that out to modeling agencies in the Twin Cities, put it on their website, and make all the callbacks for us that are needed. That deal sounded pretty good to us until he mentioned that it would cost $600, plus there would be a commission fee of 15% to and 15% to the modeling agency. There was a stunned silence in the room, but only for a moment, because Tony Guy expertly filled the void with more talk, and asked us about where we were from and how we met and if we wanted more kids. He kept talking as he handed me the contract to read, making sure Michael and I didn't have a moment to talk to each other. Michael, at one point, asked how we could do it ourselves. (After all, we could just have his picture taken ourselves and send it to places, and we already have a website or two for him.) Then Tony Guy talked some more about how that wouldn't really work very well and asked us lots more friendly questions. I told Tony Guy that this wasn't really a good time for us to shell out $600, and so he drafted up a payment plan that split it up over three months. He kept talking about how Isaiah would be covered by this for five years including pictures (which isn't true at all because we would still have to pay the $20 sitting fee.)

Throughout all this, Michael wasn't saying anything and nodding politely, probably too shocked to do anything else. I was also nodding politely, not having any time to think between Tony Guy's friendly banter. I finally asked Michael what he was thinking, because I honestly couldn't tell, and I didn't know what to do. Unfortunately, often when I ask Michael what he's thinking it's because I want him to lean a certain way. This time, he thought I was asking because I wanted to sign the contract. So, he said "I guess we could make it work." Then I figured that he wanted to do it, so I said that I guessed we could make it work too. Then Tony Guy smiled and big smile, and we signed the contract.

As soon as we walked out the door, we looked at each other and realized that we had been smooth-talked into something bad, but luckily there was a clause in the contract that we could cancel within three days with written notice. So we got home, typed up the written notification, sent it off, and cancelled it on our credit card.

We feel pretty silly that we got duped into something so obviously shady. There was nothing about the office or the headshot book or the contract or Tony Guy that made us feel good, and we're still a little confused as to how we signed the dotted line at all. But we did, so silly us. At least we got it all straightened out.

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