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Models write?

August 10, 2008|Emili Vesilind | Times Staff Writer

FASHION models aren't prized for their braininess -- or their literary pursuits. But that hasn't stopped this genetically blessed crowd from expanding its brand with tell-alls, novels and self-help books. Iman and Cindy Crawford have makeup guides, Christy Turlington put out a book on yoga, and reality TV queen Janice Dickenson has spilled three tomes on her sordid, affair-strewn life.

Now three more models -- two marquee names from the '80s and one modern-day ingenue -- are promising juicy tales of triumph and humiliation inside the chaotic modeling industry. Here's how they measure up.

By Bruce Hulse, Harmony Books, $23.95 (on sale Tuesday)

Sex, Love and Fashion

The hype: Tell-all memoir from one of the "top 10 male models of all time."

The reality: Exhaustively detailed chronicle (it has an index!) of a relative unknown.

The scribe: An '80s model more famous for bedding supermodels -- Andie MacDowell, Paulina Porizkova, Elle Macpherson, Tatjana Patitz -- than gracing the cover of GQ.

Why he wrote it: "To talk about my life in the wild and exciting fashion world and also to explore my journey to find true love and happiness."

Literary prowess: Cliche central. "I let the sea wash over me like a baptism."

Its charms: Supermodel dirt. A tryst with Paulina Porizkova was "like a professional wrestling match." Trying to remain, um, calm, when Elle Macpherson stripped down was challenging.

Its defects: Chapters devoted to his pre-model life are as titillating as a tax appointment.

Make-it moment: Hulse's girlfriend urges him to shop test photos around. Vogue Hommes bites, and soon he's a face for Calvin Klein and Levi's.

Meltdown moment: Drinking four beers and falling asleep in the sun during a Bruce Weber photo shoot, then facing the Weber wrath ("Do you think you're so important now that you're exempt from being professional?")

Lesson learned: It takes a hunk to land a supermodel.

Bottom line: Twice as long as it needs to be, but the gossip factor -- Naomi Campbell was once sweet and innocent? -- will keep fashion fiends turning pages.

Where he is now: Living in SoCal with a wife and two kids, modeling occasionally, working as a photographer and fitness consultant.

This Year's Model

By Carol Alt, Avon A, $13.95 (on sale Aug. 26)

The hype: Fictional roman a clef for teens and twentysomethings about breaking into the rough-and-tumble modeling world.

The reality: True to billing. Follows the lightning-fast ascent of a teen discovered by a photographer at her waitressing job.

The scribe: Cat-eyed '80s supermodel-turned-raw food fanatic most famous for gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated's 1982 Swimsuit Issue.

Why she wrote it: "To teach without someone realizing they are being taught."

Literary prowess: Acceptable, despite irritating inner-dialogue ("Who knew designers were doing vodka now?")

Its charms: Realistic fashion world observations -- Teen Vogue editor Amy Astley dresses like a schoolgirl; designer Randolph Duke attempts a comeback with cowboy pants and bolero vests.

Its defects: Sleazy guys. Weight-watching model bookers. Cocaine-pushing British rock stars. In other words, realistic fashion world observations.

Make-it moment: Corn-fed protagonist becomes favorite face of fictional uber-designer after jumping like a frog to prove she can "propel" clothes on the runway.

Meltdown moment: Stranded at a Hamptons estate crawling with lecherous modelizers, she unwittingly snarfs down hash brownies.

Lessons learned: Avoid photographers looking to "build their book" and geriatric Italian playboys bearing diamond tennis bracelets. Oh, and stop eating.

Bottom line: "The Devil Wears Prada" of the modeling industry -- a quick, guilty-pleasure read bound to score big with the "America's Next Top Model" crowd.

Where she is now: On Donald Trump's "The Celebrity Apprentice," and in a relationship with a Russian ice hockey player 13 years her junior.

Model

By Cheryl Diamond, Simon Pulse, $23.95

The hype: The "triumphant rise, disastrous fall and phoenix-like comeback" of a teen model.

The reality: Job-by-job story of a street-savvy young woman navigating New York's cutthroat modeling world.

The scribe: One of a million worker-bee models earning her keep working hair trade shows, catalog jobs and small-time advertising gigs.

Why she wrote it: "Because modeling really is bizarre."

Literary prowess: Written for teens with language as basic as a tank top, with none of the juicy stuff about modeling's real pitfalls.

Its charms: An alien could read this and start going on go-sees. The industry is explained ad nauseam. ( "Many agencies don't send a booker out to look at models, relying instead on the impeccable judgment of a slightly daffy receptionist.")

Its defects: Crazy slow at times -- but we're not 14 and Agyness Deyn-obsessed.

Make-it moment: None yet; Diamond's first big gig was in Dance magazine.

Meltdown moment: Spending the night in a New Jersey diner after getting kicked out of a crummy hotel when money wired from her parents doesn't come through. And of course, there's a callback in Manhattan the next morning.

Lessons learned: When your long blond hair is your fortune, don't let anyone dye it tangerine orange.

Bottom line: A decent read if you're curious about life as a model when you're not Gisele Bundchen.

Where she is now: Pounding New York pavement in stilettos as a working model.

--

emili.vesilind@latimes.com

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