Back in the 1990s, I did a lot of work on old-school fashion catalogs, most of them out of New York. My ex-wife Sandy and I had East-West Productions, and at the same time Marc & I were partners in a production motorhome via Cinemasters. I used to do everything in those days—Be the local producer/location guy and chauffeur everyone around in the motorhome. I honestly can’t remember the particular client, but Heidi Klum was one of their regular fashion catalog models long before she became famous. I had worked with her several times by then with the same client, so we knew each other on a casual professional level. She was in her early 20s or so and was always a really fun, easygoing person who never took any of this stuff too seriously.
We were shooting down in Tucson on one of Arizona’s rare rainy days. The photographer was struggling a bit to find overhangs to park the models under in Tucson’s barrio district, so each shot was taking quite a bit of time. I think he was shooting a double or triple (we usually had 3-4 models each day), so Heidi and I were the only ones in the motorhome, and she was a little bored. To relieve her boredom, Heidi got the bright idea that it would be fun if she did hair and makeup on me, a rather plain 35-year-old dude who was not remotely photogenic. I looked at her quizzically, but within a nanosecond or so thought: “What the hell—If Heidi the Hottie wants to fondle my hair and face for a while, who am I to disappoint?!!!
At this point she told me to sit at the hair and makeup station but that I had to remove the mirror so I would have no idea what she was doing until she was done. Who was I to say no? For the next 45 minutes or so I got a complete makeover from one of the most beautiful (and funny!) women on the planet. To her credit, Heidi gave me the complete treatment including face makeup, eye makeup and a completely new hairstyle (good for her and I that I actually had kind of long hair!) I got the curling iron, hairspray, and the whole nine yards. Coincidentally, I had taken a couple of years of German in high school (thank you, MUHS!!!), and I could still remember a few hundred words or so. I’m sure she was impressed—NOT—Hahaha!
As we were finishing up, I asked Heidi when I would get to see her fine work. I was honestly imagining that I had become some kind of beautiful drag queen from the neck up and really was curious to see what I looked like as a femme gay dude or a “woman” (long before the days of #LGBTQXYZLMNOP, etc.!) She then explained that we were finished and she was ready to “model” with me outside live in front of the entire crew!!! I asked if I could at least see what I looked like first; Heidi refused of course, and led me arm-in-arm down the sidewalk toward the rest of the crew.
Well, as soon as we got close enough for them to see me, everyone broke out into derisive laughter! Of course, I didn’t know exactly why but the photographer and his assistant were more than happy to show me via their Polaroid camera. They snapped a few Polaroids of Heidi and I arm-in-arm on the sidewalk, and I waited anxiously for the Polaroids to develop (yes, I know I’m old, dammit!) When they finally came out, I looked something like the image at the end of this post from the neck up. I was appalled on the one hand but totally laughed my ass off on the other hand, because after all: “If you can’t have fun doing this, you’re doing it wrong!” And Heidi obviously agreed wholeheartedly with this sentiment.
So the obvious question remains in terms of where the original Polaroids are and why the hell am I not posting those? Well, I sure wish I had those to share now, but I have only myself to blame. I took the Polaroids at the time, tossed them on the dashboard of the motorhome and finished the shoot a few days later. We had all had our laugh and I didn’t think anything more of it. Stupid, stupid me got back home with the motorhome and while cleaning it up after the job, mindlessly threw the polaroids in the trash!!! I never gave it a second thought. We had our laughs on a rainy day, and Heidi wasn’t a household name yet, so why would I save them? Who would have thought I’d kill to have them now to share with the world. Thank you Heidi! That memory is unique and priceless and I’m extremely grateful for it. I am glad you stuck to modeling and didn’t get into hair & makeup though!
Eric “Mrs. Doubtfire”