Patti Hansen: Coke Mirrors and Hot Dog Stands
Michael Gross's book Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women is crammed with industry facts, profiles of cursory superstars, and lurid interviews about beautiful ladies, sometimes captured in ritzy moments: "We loved to spell our names out on a mirror in coke," one says. Or sometimes in disfiguring accidents, such as the woman who was "moved to a burn unit at New York Hospital, [and] died a few days later, anonymous and unmourned." There's also an expensive photo shoot impeded by a frantic drug fiend: The "poor girl was on the phone with her supplier, he wasn't coming through... All I needed was one tight close-up, but she kept moving," the photographer told Michael. And so he "finally secured her head with two-by-fours... But just as he was ready to shoot, she started crying, destroying two hours of makeup."
The most compelling stories belong to hot-shit '70s cover girl Patti Hansen. "She didn't really have boyfriends," Patti's friend told Michael. "She had hair and makeup guys who liked to hang out and party, and Patti was their star. Gay guys. One of them said to me, 'I'm looking for a man like Hansen.' I said, 'So's everybody.' She was big and strong. A photographer once came on to her, and she flipped him over her shoulder and knocked him out." There was also the time in upstate New York when she "dropped acid and went rowing," and the time when she disembarked a plane in Mexico City wearing high heels and "transparent plastic shorts with no underwear" and her body "was literally steaming," which couldn't have been all that comfortable, really.
Patti worked at a hot dog stand just before she plunged into the complicated world of fame, with its Times Square billboards, Vogue covers, celebrity run-ins, and enormous sums of money. Even still, being successful and sexy as fuck came with its own special batch of problems. In Charles Gandee's Vogue interview, Patti described her ritual night visits to Studio 54. "Maybe because I hated being alone, I would stay out as late as I could. Actually, I always felt better if I didn't go to sleep." Though she claims she wasn't overdoing it, Patti admitted she "did do a lot of drinking, a lot of drinking," and during one shoot, Richard Avedon pulled her aside to show her "a photograph of a model who was obviously stoned out of her head. He didn't make a big deal out if it, he just said, 'Look at her eyes, Patti.'"
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