BBC Documentary on Elite Models Sex & Drug Scandal
You may have heard about the one-hour documentary about fashion modeling, MacIntyre Undercover. The program has been described as the most sensational TV program of the year. Much footage was covertly filmed with an undercover camera planted on Donal MacIntyre, behind the scenes at several leading fashion model agencies. The documentary was first televised on November 23 '99 in Britian and since then it has been aired internationally with North American networks fighting over the rights to air it.
The documentary focuses primarily on Elite, the worlds largest fashion model agency, and on the Elite Model Look Contest. The film also exposed the seedy world of Milanese night-club hustlers. These "PR hustlers" are hired by nightclubs to deliver school-age models to wealthy Italian VIPs. The models are given free drinks and drugs and are then expected to make themselves available to the club's male clientele. The PR's are then given a second payment (like a tip) for delivering the models.
In the documentary, PR's brag about how many models they have slept with saying: "Every single girl wants you to f*** her, no matter if they're babies." In fact, the very person that Elite Milan trusts as a chaperone to look after their youngest and most vulnerable models is an ex-PR who brags on film about having slept with 325 models in ten years. Some of the male staff at Elite even go so far as to collect the girls comp cards as trophies after having sex with the young models.
The documentary also profiles a top British model, Carolyn Park who, often high on two grams of coke, admits to having been addicted to cocaine and heroin since she was 16. She is being dealt cocaine at higher than street price by her booker at respected Paris-based agency, Marilyn Models. She tells MacIntyre that "there is no way I could come off drugs" because of the pressures of her work and her need to keep her weight down. "I think its sad that 15-year-olds come into the business and their mothers think its going to be fine. You lose your childhood." she says.
"I'm not an angel," Gerald Marie repeats, referring to the BBC film, "And I shouldn't have gone to that whorehouse. I should have gone home and f***ed a couple of models!"
TALK magazine, Feb 2000 Former model Christine Davi described the unprofessional attitude of some male staff at Elite. Davi claims that she had a relationship with Gerald Marie (president of Elite Europe) when she was 15 years old and that no one in the modeling industry ever thought to question the age difference. Other models corroborated Davi's statements and described the code of silence surrounding the models and the male staff at Elite. Several other models described the corruptive effect of drugs, and how their dreams had been turned to nightmares.
The final segment of the documentary focuses on the "Elite Model Look" contest, the fashion worlds biggest recruitment exercise which draws 300,000 hopeful girls every year. The average age of the contestants is 15. The collection of models waiting to be judged for the Elite Model Look 1999 Competition is described by the owner of Elite Europe, Gerald Marie, as the "Stadium of p***y". Above: The 49 year old president of Elite,
Gerald Marie. Elite executives were known to use pressure on inexperienced girls to get them to have sex and they could break a girl's career if she did not comply.
The documentary shows that Gerald Marie clearly looks at the competition as another opportunity to have sex with underage models. About the opportunity to have sex with young models he says, "You're not going to be a monk and say 'I don't want to know.'" When his borrowed yacht is called away, making it harder to get the models alone, he gripes constantly, saying "I've been here four days and I didn't f*** once."
The president of Elite Europe (Gerald Marie) and the president of The Elite Model Look Contest (Xavier Moreau) subsequently resigned from their jobs. The director of recruitment at Elite New York (Olivier Daube), and a driver for Elite were also suspended. There are claims in some newspapers that these resignations are temporary, and that these people may return to their jobs.
Below are some extracts from an article about Carolyn Park, who was featured in the documentary, printed in The Daily Mail (shown right):
A fashion model revealed last night how quickly she became hooked on drugs after being signed up by a leading agency at just 16. The darker side of her glamorous world was exposed last night by undercover reporter Donal MacIntyre.
The model says "I think its sad that 15-year-olds come into the business and their mothers think its going to be fine. You lose your childhood." In last nights show MacIntyre is seen on camera buying cocaine (for a higher price than the street price) from a booker at a Paris based agency (Marilyn) without the agency's knowledge. The same booker has been supplying model Carolyn Park with cocaine, which Carolyn has been hooked on since she was 15. Miss Park was discovered by a talent scout from London's Select model agency while on a shopping trip with her mother.
The year-long BBC investigation into a number of agencies uncovered a world in which young models, whose parents believe they are well looked after, are at risk of being seduced and offered drugs. The revelations have prompted calls for tighter legislaton to protest young models.
Below are some extracts from a newspaper article in The Mail, The Corrupt Silence of This Catwalk Conspiracy by Suzanne Moore:
Donal MacIntyre's expos of the fashion industry was shocking because he provided us with evidence of what many of us have long suspected - that this business is corrupt from its coiffured head to its designer shoes. What we witnessed was a form of prostitution in which the pimps and procurers of these young girls were men who run the worlds top model agencies. What of the fashion writers and journalists who must know what is going on? Are they so busy trying to think of 50 ways to say 'grey' that the abuse of young women is not worth writing about? Are they scared - or have they simply been paid off?
Some of the revolting reptiles exposed in this film have been suspended and their agency is launching an enquiry. This has been done, one senses, out of embarrassment rather than any real feeling of shame. If I were a fashion journalist I would be ashamed of myself - for either these people have been bought off or they genuinely believe the cut of a frock is more important than the loss of a girls childhood...
As I sat watching beautiful women parade up and down the catwalk, insiders would tell me which model had track marks on her arms or which one had to be given cocaine to get on the catwalk. Girls could never be too thin or too wasted. Every time during the past few years when something ugly raises its head the fashion industry closes ranks.
If the fashion industry wanted to clean up its act it could. It could refuse to use girls under 18 or girls with drug habits. It could and should run scared of those who report it instead of assuming they can be bought off. It is time fashion journalists stopped colluding with what they know is wrong.
Says Oliver Daube, director of recruitment at Elite New York:
"It's the same thing with hookers as with contestants... and we are pimps. You know that."
"You find a girl, go to her place, she's with her mum and her agent. In the airport she's talking to you and you fly in a plane and after two hours talking to her she rests her shoulder. At the airport she takes your hand and you take her home. And you f*** her. And the girl is 16. It's fantastic."
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