You’re Ugly When You Come
By Alana Noël Voth
A famous rock star saw my picture in Playboy and called. He said he couldn’t wait to meet the sexiest looking girl on Earth. I said I’d have a drink with him. Four days later, we eloped.
From “Hot Girl” by Jet Calloway (number one song in nine countries)
Hot girl, teen dream, beauty queen
I want you. Sweet tease, wet dream. I want you.
Hot thing, sex machine, main squeeze. I got you.
When I was twelve, my dad left. I didn’t take it so well. I was depressed. But I was also sorry I scared Mom like that and promised I wouldn’t hurt myself again. In school, I wanted my male teachers to love me. I paid attention to what they said, smiled, raised my hand. I got good grades. When I was fourteen, I discovered a supermodel, Kate Moss, and wrote a poem about her, “Waif,” and submitted it to a contest and won third place. I was devastated I hadn’t won first. My composition teacher, Mr. Macky, hugged me. I said I wish you were my dad. He said, “I wish I was fifteen years younger.” I didn’t care what he meant; I didn’t want him to let go of me, but he did. When I was fifteen, a modeling scout approached me. He said, “Do you want to make a lot of money?” I said yes because Mom and I lived in a studio apartment and got food stamps. I felt happier than I had in months. That kind of attention. Mom wouldn’t let me call the agency.
She said, “What sort of person approaches a teenaged girl?”
I called the agency behind her back. The agent explained I couldn’t do anything until I was eighteen without my mother’s consent. I finished high school with a 4.0 and an acceptance letter from Berkley. I had the summer to decide. A friend drove me to a modeling agency in L.A, and I told the guy who took Polaroids of me I was the next Kate Moss.
He lowered the camera. “You remind me of Dorothy Stratten.”
“Very angelic,” he said.
When the guy introduced me to an agent, I said I’m the next Kate Moss.
“She’s built like a boy. You’re built like a Barbie.”
I want to do Calvin Klein ads.
“What about Frederick’s of Hollywood and Playboy?”
What’s Frederick’s of Hollywood?
“Like Victoria’s Secret.”
I called Mom and said I was staying in L.A. a couple months with my friend. She was worried. I told her I was having the time of my life. That sort of attention. I got my portfolio together and made it to nine go-sees in one day. I told photographers I had a boyfriend back home because they all made passes at me, and I didn’t know how to say no any other way.
First time I posed for Frederick’s of Hollywood, I was nervous and threw up on a stylist’s shoes. The other stylists joked I was hung over. “Nervous?” one of the other model’s said.
I guess so. Very.
The lingerie was tiny and uncomfortable but soon as I saw my contact sheets, I couldn’t believe it. That’s me? “Drop dead sexy,” a photographer said. When I went home with five thousand dollars Mom cried. I thought she was happy. “You aren’t going to Berkley?” She held my face, tears on her cheeks. I said, Mom take the money. Mom, take the money, please.
Jet Calloway lies naked across a bed in a hotel suite in Las Vegas. Dark hair, light eyes, and a salacious grin. First time I saw Jet Calloway he grinned just like that. I was in high school. He’d hit number one with his remake of “New York Groove” by Ace Frehley. He sang with Kiss at Madison Square Garden. He appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone sticking his tongue out.
On VH-1 or MTV, an interviewer asked, “What kinds of girls do you like?” Behind them, girls screamed. Jet Calloway turned and waved then looked at the camera grinning.
“Angels,” he said.
He’s my own Pete Dougherty except prettier and more successful.
“Let me look at you.”
I pose at the end of the bed. Jet has one arm above his head on a pillow; in his other hand he holds a cigarette. I wear a white bra and white panties. I haven’t had time to tell him yet.
“Turn around,” Jet says. “Wiggle for me.”
“Smile for me. Mess your hair. You love me?”
I saved myself for him. I tell him. I’ve never done this before.
Jet smiles. “Fuck on blow?” He has made a cocaine heart on a table beside the bed.
No, I’ve never fucked before.
Jet sits up. “No way.” He puts his cigarette out then blinks. “I married a virgin?”
I guess so, yeah. You mad?
“Fuck no.” Jet pulls me on top of him. “I married a smoking hot virgin, the hottest virgin in the world.” I feel his heart pound through his ribcage against my breasts. “A real-live angel, hot damn. You nervous?” When I say yes he says, “Do a little blow so it doesn’t hurt as much.”
Before I married Jet Calloway, I’d been in L.A. three years, four months, two weeks, and one day. I kept track of it. Part of the time, I was on cloud nine; the other part I was down in the dumps or scared shitless. Like a ticking time bomb. I could go off. I lived in a house with five other models. When one of them got a job I wanted, it killed me. I wrote in a hard-bound journal. Tabitha got the Venus swimwear ad I wanted. Lacy got the spokesmodel gig I wanted.
My goal was to make Maxim’s Hot 100. I mean, I wanted to be number one.
Lacy wanted to marry Justin Bieber then appear in all his videos.
“Using a guy to make you famous is sad,” said Rachel; she was from Amarillo, Texas and had been in L.A. six months.
The other models ignored her. We shared a room. I shared clothes. Rachel shared books. She had Alice Sebold, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Sylvia Plath, and xTx. Who’s that?
“No one knows. I think a woman.”
xTx sounded like a stage name to me, someone beautiful and scandalous and dangerous.
“You want it?”
The first story in the book was, “For the Girl Who Doesn’t Know She Has Everything.” A part of me inside a part of you but you didn’t know it yet. Not then. Instead, you kept on crying whenever you felt so lonely it made you want to swallow pills, cut yourself, say yes to boys.
I closed the book and tucked it under my pillow.
Some nights I talked back to it. I don’t have anything yet.
Modeling started with luck. You looked right; the camera liked you; you liked cameras. Then you worked hard, long hours, showed up on time, never pulled attitude, and smiled. You wanted to make money to give Mom. You wanted Mom to feel proud you earned that kind of money. Off your looks! That sort of attention. Went to your head sometimes. You’re so hot! You’re so sexy! Look at the camera like it’s a man you want to fuck. There you are in crotchless panties giving millions of people a “fuck me” look and you’ve never fucked. Sometimes it’s like a joke. Sometimes, you’re lonely. Sometimes you worry you’re the only girl in the world faking it.
Sometimes it’s like you’ll never be a star.
Once, you booked a swim suit calendar and were the last girl to go home. The photographer looked like Ryan Gosling. His hand trembled when he brought a strand of hair across your eye just so. You were lonely. The photographer put down his camera, kissed you. You kissed him back. You kissed for hours. You let him take your bikini top off.
He sucked in a breath. “Wow. I. You’re. So . . .” He undid his pants.
I can’t yet. Except it’s sort of like you might die if you don’t keep his attention.
The photographer directed you to your knees between his thighs on the floor in his van.
You blew at his dick like an oven-fresh corn dog because you didn’t know any better.
He said, “Tell me you’ve done this before.”
I don’t know. Guess not. You blushed and wanted to hide, sort of. You didn’t want to disappear. Like his eyes had become tiny stages or spotlights. You imagined yourself a star.
“You’re something,” he said then stroked your hair. You curled against his lap.
This went on several minutes. You’d never felt so loved by a man before.
“Lick and suck it,” he said. “Open your mouth wider.”
You worried you didn’t look pretty sucking cock. He held your hair back to watch. You got the hang of it. Like a lollipop. Your own finger after Mom made cake and you licked the pan.
He moaned. “Here I go.”
His semen didn’t taste like corn dog but maybe like corn starch.
He said, “I can’t believe you’ve never sucked cock before.”
You were embarrassed and wiped your chin. You tried to curl up in his lap again.
When you called two days later he said, “Sorry, honey. I have a girlfriend.”
He also passed your pictures along to Hugh Hefner.
My agent said Playboy wanted me to test for them. I said okay and called Mom because I guessed I just wanted to warn her in case it actually happened, I became a centerfold.
The idea made my heart thump harder.
“Are you going to take your clothes off?” Mom asked.
I’ll wear panties.
If I became a centerfold, of course I’d have to take off my panties, but I’d have a lot more money to give her. So I tested for Playboy. I wore jeans and a tank top, two different bikinis, then just panties. It didn’t feel much different from posing in lingerie. My nipples showed. I felt a breeze on my nipples. I felt lights on my nipples. Everyone could see my nipples. My nipples got hard. The photographer said, “You’re all hot glamorous innocence.” A mouthful. I liked it. When Hugh Hefner gave a green light, I shot my centerfold. We started with jeans again and a tank top, then just the tank top with panties, then the jeans and no top and no bra, then nothing but body glitter and lip gloss. It didn’t feel much different from posing topless. I didn’t open my legs wide. Admittedly I felt sexy and vulnerable all at the same time.
I met Hugh Hefner.
“You remind me of Anna Nicole Smith,” he said, which was how I became known as “Baby Anna.” I figured it was okay. She did ads for Guess jeans. I was Miss June and the cover.
I completed a questionnaire that appeared with my pictures in Playboy. For the question, who is your role model, I put Mom because she’s strong. For the question, who would you want to spend one night in Paradise with, I almost put the man I love.
Instead I wrote JET CALLOWAY, all caps.
I got an adrenaline rush doing that.
The first time I saw Brody, he sat on a stool playing acoustic guitar while glancing at me then blushing before looking at his guitar and singing this song, “You’re Ugly When You Come.”
I was in the wrong bar; the other models were someplace else; I was lost.
Brody stood next to me, playing the surface of the bar with his fingers like he still played guitar. Finally, he looked at me. He had amber-green eyes and rusty-blond hair, a crooked smile.
I said I don’t understand your song.
“It’s about unrequited love.”
Love? How can you tell someone you love she’s ugly during sex? That’s mean.
“It’s about loving a girl who fakes it.”
Oh. I excused myself to the bathroom to send a text to Lacy but really to check myself in a mirror. Brody made me nervous. He was still there when I came back.
“What’s your name?”
They call me Baby Anna. My real name’s Lisa. I’m a model. I just did Playboy.
Brody smiled on one side of his mouth.
Do you like Playboy?
“Sometimes.” He blushed.
I’m Miss June.
“I don’t know if I should check that out.”
Why not? I worried he didn’t think I was pretty or sexy enough.
“I might want to get to know you first.”
Really? I couldn’t look him in the eye then.
“How come you’re alone? You don’t have a million boyfriends?”
I’m supposed to be someplace else.
He made a flower out of napkin. “I’m from Bend, Oregon. Ever heard of it?”
No. I’m from Grass Valley, California. Ever heard of it?
He laughed. “No. I’m going back in three months, one week, and four days.”
“Permanently. I said I’d give myself three years to make it as a musician then call it quits and go home and help my dad run his store.”
What if it takes three years and two months to make it?
He gave me the napkin flower. “I made a deal with myself.”
I touched the flower to my mouth. You should do American Idol, like Jet Calloway did.
“I don’t like that guy.”
You know him?
“I don’t dig his music, what he’s about.”
Yeah. You’re more like James Blunt. The way I’m like Anna Nicole Smith.
“You should be yourself.”
I guess. But what’s wrong with being compared to someone else if it gets you attention?
“Promise you’ll be yourself when we go out.”
We’re going out? I felt a flutter.
Except right after I met Brody, I traveled for Playboy. So exciting. I’d send him a text. I’m in Dallas! I’m in Miami! I’m in Chicago! I’m in NYC! Once, I sent him a message. I miss you. My agent sent me to Japan two months. I shot four commercials and three magazine covers. I called Brody and told him stuff. I told him about the poetry contest. About Mr. Mackey. How my dad left. What I did after my dad left me. About Berkley. I’d never told anyone all this. Brody said my secrets were safe with him. I said I think you’re my best friend. He said I’m glad we’re friends. He told me his Mom died. He worried about his dad. He wanted to get back to Bend. Soon as I was home in L.A., Brody invited me over. Behind him in a tiny apartment all his stuff was packed.
What’s going on? I panicked. Where you going?
“There’s a college in Bend.”
What do you mean? You’re leaving L.A?
“Come with me.”
You’re leaving L.A?
He cupped my face then kissed me. “Did you hear me?”
Why are you leaving me?
He kissed me again. I loved the way he kissed me.
You can’t leave.
“Come with me. You can go to college in Bend.”
But I live here. My life is here, my career.
“I listened all those nights, Lisa. You’re not happy with your career.”
I started crying.
“Don’t cry.” He kissed me so hard I thought I might crumble.
I pulled away. YOU’RE LEAVING ME!
“I’m sorry. I tried. This town isn’t for me anymore.”
You could do American Idol.
“I don’t want to do American Idol. It’s a game show and has nothing to do with music.”
Why are you scared?
“I’m scared? You’re scared, Lisa.”
I’m scared because you’re leaving. Just stay three more months.
“What? And fall in love with you?”
You love me?
“Come with me, Lisa.”
Stay. Please. You’re the next James Blunt.
“And you’re the new Anna Nicole Smith.”
I’M HAPPY HERE, BRODY.
“I hope so.”
Do you love me?
He hugged me. Then he said in my ear, “It wouldn’t make any difference if I did.”
I’m under Jet Calloway on a bed in a hotel suite in Las Vegas. He smells like cigarettes and wet armpits. He’s turned on by his virgin bride. I think maybe the blow helped. I stopped shivering. It didn’t hurt too bad, a little worse than the first time I inserted a tampon. He took his time, was gentle. I felt his breath in my hair. I closed my eyes and thought you’re with Jet Calloway famous rock star husband then saw Brody in my head. I felt him kiss me, lick my neck. He licked my eyebrow. Licked my chin. I dug my nail between his shoulder blades.
“Fuck!” he said.
I opened my eyes.
Jet Calloway moved above me, mouth slack, eyes rolling into his head.
I said, “Do you love me?”
Jet said, “Jesus ChristIloveyou, ahh.” He shuddered then collapsed on me.
Second time, he rolls me on top of him. “God, you’re fucking beautiful. Slap me, yeah.”
I slap him a little.
“Harder,” he says. “Hurt me.”
I feel myself getting wet. I want to hurt him badly. I slap and then smack him. Jet flares his nostrils, bucks, and then comes. I float above him. I’ve done too much blow maybe. I feel like I could bounce right through the ceiling.
My husband says, “Let’s trash a hotel room soon.”
I imagine the Mark Hotel in New York, my own Johnny Depp.
I laugh and laugh then do more blow.
In the shower, I remember a line from one of Rachel’s books, a poem called “Lady Lazarus.” She read it to me. Out of the ash I rise with my red hair, and I eat men like air.
“It’s about suicide,” Rachel explained. “Sylvia Plath offed herself.”
Before Sylvia Plath was a poet, she was a model. That’s what Rachel said. Steam fills the shower. I haven’t called Rachel. She’ll see it on TV. EVERYONE will see it on TV. Mrs. Jet Calloway, Baby Anna marries Jet Calloway. Shit, I hadn’t called Mom. I jump from the shower and leave the water on and find my phone. I say, Mom? I drip water into the carpet and shiver and grind my teeth from the blow. Mom, I got married. Guess what? Yeah, I’m married. Guess what? I married Jet Calloway. Jet Calloway. Jet. Calloway. Maybe you heard his song. Yeah, I’m naked in Playboy. It’s fine. It’s tasteful. Mom? Don’t cry. I’m MARRIED.
Jet came in the room holding a video camera. “We’re the next Pam and Tommy.”
I laugh. Put the camera down.
Mom says, “What? Who’s there?”
My husband. I love you, Mom.
Jet circles me with the camera.
I laugh again. Bye, Mom. I love you. What are you DOING with the camera? I shove Jet away laughing again. He laughs too then directs the camera at his cock. “Am I as hung as Tommy? Did you see their video? You’re so hot, babe.” He hugs me.
We laugh then holler then knock into stuff.
How much coke did we do?
“The heart is gone!” Jet slaps his chest. “Demolished!”
I take the camera then point it at him. He looks into the lens. “I love you, angel. You hear me? I love you so much. You’re so hot. I want to fuck you a million fucking years then some.”
I lower the camera.
“Film me. Baaabee . . . film me. Film us. Like Pam and Tommy.”
Okay. Go in and wait for me.
Jet stumbles into the bedroom. “Waiting!”
My heart hurts. My heart hurts. Boom.
“Angel, can you hear me?” It’s Jet.
It’s a man I don’t know. “Can you hear me?”
From “You’re Ugly When You Come” by Brody Phillips (unknown song)
When I’m in you, you’re not with me really
Love is hardcore, come undone
The way you fake it
You’re ugly when you come.
What happened my wedding night was an accident. I did blow the first time and did too much. The doctor agreed not to release information to the press about faint scars on my wrists. The rest was publicity. Jet asked about the scars. All I said was ancient history.
I moved out of the model’s house into Jet’s mansion.
Our wedding picture appeared on the covers of Star, People, and US.
Jet said, “Shit’s about to get crazy. Hang onto me.”
Jet and I are mobbed. Fans sit on our car. Jet cranks the radio because “Hot Girl” is on. He lifts his fist and pumps. The fans bounce the car. Jet grabs my head then sticks his tongue in my mouth. Flash bulbs. The fans bounce harder. We’re stuck an hour before the police come. We try and slip into a hotel and a fan grabs me by my hair then tries sticking his tongue in my mouth. Jet punches him in the face. Because I speak to the fan in person, he doesn’t press charges. He has a black eye and a fistful of my hair. I’m on the cover of Rolling Stone with my husband. The head line is, “Hot Things in Love.” Inside, Jet and I talk about how hot we are for each other. We pose nearly naked inside a giant barbeque pit. Jet’s newest single, “Hot Girl” hits number one in nine countries, bigger than “New York Groove.” The press says the video for “Hot Girl" is especially hot. Jet and I walk around in it with hardly anything on. Hugh Hefner hosts a party for us. I talk with a producer about a movie. My husband gets drunk and pees in the grotto. Later, I get drunk and pee in a champagne glass and Jet drinks it.
I get a call from Mom and fly to Grass Valley.
Mom holds my face and says, “What happened to you?”
I’ve been all over the world. I got married. You’d like him Mom.
You haven’t even met him yet.
“I’m sick,” she says again. “Like dying.”
Mommy? Quiet. We check her into a hospital.
As I smooth a blanket over her, the diamond on my hand catches the light. Her eyes flicker over me. “Why do they call you by someone else’s name?”
Hugh started it. He thought I looked like another famous model.
“Did her father leave her too?”
It worked. Now I can afford to give you the best doctors and a private room.
“You didn’t do any of it for me.”
Yes, I did, Mommy.
She turns my arms over and looks at my wrists.
I’m happy, Mommy.
Does this husband of yours know, does he care?
Let’s worry about you.
“You don’t love him.” She tries staring through me to see if she’s right.
He doesn’t want me to change for him, Mommy.
“Look me in the eye, Lisa. You haven’t changed?”
Cameras are safer than eyes. I look into them.
Ten days later, Mom lies still under a hospital sheet. I say, she wants a blanket. I say this over and over again. The medical examiner steers me away to sign a form. I collapse in tears outside the hospital. The paparazzi get it on film. A headline says, “Hot Living is Hard.” My mother died. They don’t get it?
There’s a message on my phone from Brody.
“Hey. I wasn’t sure if I should call but . . . I’m sorry about your Mom.”
I listen to it six times. I hold the phone close to my ear. I hold my phone to my chest then sit without knowing how long I sit until Jet finds me and says, “What’re you doing, angel?”
Where do I start?
Hugh Hefner announces I’m Playboy’s “Playmate of the Year.” I make the talk show rounds. I appear in a print ad for Candies. I appear in a commercial for Rimmel. I appear in a sitcom. Guess jeans contacts my agent. They’re interested in me as the next Guess girl. I top Maxim’s Hot 100. My husband begs, “Let’s disappear a while.” Impossible. A major movie star called. He wants to meet about a movie. I’m almost a star.
Alana Noel Voth keeps a blog here: http://maybeatypicalsupermodel