PROMO MODELS and CHEESECAKE HAD SO-MUCH IN COMMON.
In the mid-eighties, Atlanta, Georgia was the place to be for the young and good-looking. It was a “HOT CITY” for love affairs; a “RISING STAR” for those who’d left the closet to explore their homosexuality and search for a partner.
BUT for me, having recently lost the Mayoral Race in my hometown, I went to Atlanta to find a job. Briefly, I sang at a restaurant with a piano bar. The pay was lousy….and the married owner kept pressuring me for “fun and games” so I quit. But, before leaving I made a significant discovery: The popular restaurant served tasteless desserts. I’d never eaten worse Cheesecake. In my opinion, a restaurant is nothing without memorable desserts…..
So…in my smallest of condo kitchens-ever….I made the-best-ever cheesecakes and sold them to Atlanta’s top Restaurants. I started my cheesecake venture by first printing some business cards then contacting a list of restaurant managers to taste-test my cheesecake. I quickly learned that many restaurants preferred to out-source their specialty desserts rather than hire a Pastry Chef.
Soon, I was making six and seven Cheesecakes at a time then delivering them to the restaurants that placed orders. My Cheesecake Recipe was classic and made with the finest ingredients. Everyone who tasted it-- loved it—but it didn’t take long to realize that promoting, selling, baking, and delivering, was more than a one-person-job.
At the time, my daughters were attending college in Georgia while working part-time jobs. Since both daughters were extremely photogenic and had modeled in the past, they decided to try modeling for a while. They spent time and money creating portfolios with professional photos and were immediately accepted by Atlanta’s top modeling agency.
I had secured a part-time, on-air talent position with Georgia Public Television but the money wasn’t good enough to “retire” from Cheesecakes. Soon after appearing on Georgia Public Television’s first fundraising segment, a man in the production room approached me about a business he and his partner had recently started. He asked if I knew any attractive young men who might be interested in modeling in their new mail order magazine called MALEPAC. And that, my friends, was the beginning of PROMO.
Believe me when I say: Never Say Never. I recognized his request as the perfect opportunity to leave the kitchen and launch another business!
When you don’t have start-up money for a business….you rely on your creative talents and…think smart. I liked the name “PROMO” because MODELS PROMOTE FASHIONS, PRODUCTS, AND BUSINESSES.
I advertised for models by posting attractive, handmade requests on bulletin boards everywhere….including local colleges, Atlanta’s famous Lenox Mall, popular workout centers, even churches.
Within days, I was inundated with phone calls. Every morning, I presented the security guards at my condo complex with a list of people who would be interviewed that day. The guards were extremely helpful, especially when I’d say “thank you” with a Cheesecake or two. NEVER forget those who help along the way!
Let’s face facts. Whether someone is young, old, tall, short, male, or female…not everyone has a model’s “look”. Some people, regardless of being pretty or handsome, don’t photograph well or don’t know how to move their bodies in ways that look attractive, natural, and professionally-perfect. Professional photographers are costly and, they don't have budgets that include "training" a model to pose in front of the camera or "play to" the camera.
I was able to place some PROMO models in Atlanta’s Apparel Mart as showroom models. These models were paid well for seasonal work and were treated as professionals. In most cases…the designer showrooms used them on a regular basis.
But…MALEPAC proved to be the answer for PROMO models who didn’t mind showing some “skin” while posing in some rather unexpected outfits. The majority of PROMO’S male models enjoyed modeling for MALEPAC’s mail order catalog. The money was good and…some of the male models became celebrities, especially in the ever-growing gay community.
As I dig through more of my boxes and find copies of MALEPAC….I promise to share some of the more-interesting pages with you. In most cases, PROMO models clearly stood-out from those used by the catalog’s owners. I was also able to coax the catalog’s owners to create fashionable outfits for females while “inserting” a female model-here and there-for variety.
I’m proud to say that the two PROMO MODELS featured on my website’s home page--- wearing outfits designed from the same fabric---appeared in MALEPAC-- at my suggestion.
I wish I could have continued developing PROMO into the South's top modeling agency. PROMO had unbelievable potential but….as always…it takes an abundance of time and big money to operate/ establish a growing business. I didn't have time to find backers and was simply too-practical and too-afraid to borrow serious money.
Sadly, the majority of Modeling Agencies today—much like Charm Schools/Finishing Schools/all girl colleges or all boy colleges--once very popular--are now history. No one seems to care anymore... about being photogenic or camera-ready. In fact, it’s been years since I’ve heard any girls or boys wanting to look “pretty” or “handsome."
I'll always believe some of my ventures were simply too"VALUABLE" to leave behind.