2010-08-10

The Model Journal- Part 1

There is a large journal that sits next to the phone in the PT Boys’ Model Dorms. It has a light leather cover with “Ancient Chinese Secrets” written elegantly in red Sharpie. The pages within are filled with the advice and experiences of former PT models. This is the first entry:

“Greetings, new guy! Welcome to Shanghai!
At this point you’ve probably realized that you’re not in Canada anymore and that you’ll need to be very adaptive to survive and thrive in this city. To start off, here is a list of things you should probably know before stepping out into the wild:

Basic Shanghai Survival Guide
Etiquette:
Staring is not considered impolite.
Don’t take your shirt off in public or you’ll spend the entire afternoon taking pictures with local girls all making the Peace Sign.
Spitting in public isn’t rude. In fact, the way you spit says a lot about you! According to Chinese superstition, a white loogie signifies high status, yellow is virility, green is a sinus infection and black is sterility. The bigger the loogie, the more street-cred you will inevitably earn. The distance, height and accuracy of the launch all count in the overall scoring, too. Watch the locals... the guys/ladies in pajamas tend to be especially good.
Public urination isn’t exactly taboo, but it’s not a sport like spitting because women can’t compete.
Go ahead and smoke/drink anywhere. ANYWHERE! Bars, restaurants, convenience stores, taxis, churches/temples, hospitals and pre-schools are all fair game.
People here don’t customarily shake hands, probably for sanitary reasons
If you fall asleep in the taxi after the clubs, you are responsible for paying the extra hundred quay that the driver racked up while you were out.
Tip if you get the happy ending.
If a dog’s ears and tails are dyed neon, it’s not intended for food.

Health:
1) Don’t drink a lot of the water at first. Even the beer can do you in.
Street-meat is China’s greatest gift. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you the meat isn’t safe. It’s the cheapest, most delicious food you’ll ever find. Plus, there’s no such thing as an MSG overdose. 1.3 Billion people can’t be wrong!
Take off your shoes in the apartment, for sanitary reasons
Don’t take any dumpster-babies home, for sanitary reasons
There is a gym down the street. Call the agency to arrange a membership.
If you don’t want to pay for the gym, you can either dance with the girls at the various nearby spas in the morning or use the exercise equipment behind our building. Please note: nobody has figured out how to use the exercise equipment yet.
Believe it or not, the traffic here is more afraid of you than you are of it. As long as you cross the street slowly, you can probably do it blindfolded!
Don’t get scared or offended when the traffic honks at you. Honking, yelling and burping are all considered affectionate gestures by Chinese standards.
***Many Chinese words sound like inappropriate English words. Don’t get offended! For example: The word “Nigga” in Chinese is the equivalent of “That” in English.
Slapping someone with a Peking duck is believed to bring increased fertility... but a Beijing duck brings herpes.
“Cantonese Duck” means “Cat”... It’s actually not so bad.
Playing the crazy-chinese-dice-game for longer than ten minutes can do some serious damage to your liver.

Enjoy your first glimpse of Shanghai. Make sure to check out the next section before hitting your first castings!

The Canadian in China

Last week I welcomed my new roommate Xander to the Shanghai model-lifestyle. When I met him at the guys’ dorm, he had the look of someone who had been traveling twenty six hours. His first words to me were “Holy hell, I’m in China!”

“Even I still say that every couple days, and I’ve been here a month!”

“I just went for a walk... the people just STARE at you. They’re so weird!” Xander is a twenty-year-old, six-foot-three Canadian with blond hair and green eyes. His shirt had the sleeves cut off and the sides were torn out, showing off his guns, abs and of course the crack of his ass. His eyes had dark circles below them, but he wouldn’t sit down. “I think we live across the street from a whorehouse! I walked away from there towards the street where I saw the Starbux on the drive in and saw a little kid taking a dump next to the sidewalk! He didn’t even pull down his pants; there was like a hole in the back of them!”

I tossed Xavier a bottle of Tsingtao and said “Welcome to Wonderland”. He passed out before finishing the beer.

We had only one casting the next morning. Lauren, Paolo and I took Xavier to Qipu Lu for the real China experience. We all spent most of our weekly advance from the agency on designer knockoffs, had some legit China food (Xander especially like the dish we affectionately named “Moose Knuckles”) and then split a cab home. In just one day, China had exhausted Xander and cleaned his wallet. “Can you get MSG poisoning?” He said, “ don’t think I’m gunna survive this crazy place”

Paolo and I decided to take him out for a little expat fun and show him how the models in Shanghai party. The first stop was the party at Hamilton House near the Bund. The models have been anticipating this opening for weeks! There was an upscale crowd, live DJ and wine that didn’t contain MSG! Unfortunately the models there too late for the party and just hung out as if it was an upscale casting that served good wine. “It’s an early spot. We’ll try again tomorrow.” I said after making plans with the rest of the gang.

Xander wasn’t as disappointed as I thought he’d be. “Real meat!” Xander almost cried when they brought him a plate of chicken that didn’t still have the feet and head attached.

After Hamilton, the models marched M1, but Paolo and I took Xander to Mint first. The girls from our Agency were already there in skimpy bunny-suits and pouring shots down to open, upturned mouths from atop the bar. After a couple rounds of that crazy-Chinese-dice-game, we jumped in a cab headed for Mao with three girls in bunny-suits bouncing around the back. It’s a good thing we’re not allowed to drive here!

Xander woke up this morning with the look of someone who had been traveling seventy two hours. “I don’t know if I’ve ever drank that much” He groaned from his bed next to mine. “What do we have to do today?”

“Gym, castings, dinner, then party. It’s Friday; the weekend’s just getting started!”

“I don’t think I’m going to survive this place” Xander rolled out of bed. Light poured into the blacked-out room when he opened the door to the hallway. In that instant, a very distressed-looking bunny from a different agency popped out of the Paolo’s room, waived ‘Hello/Goodbye’ and scurried out the front door. She was missing her fluffy little tail. Xander’s mouth hung open as memories from the night before came back. “What the Hell?” He asks me.

“Welcome to Wonderland” I toss him an extra water-bottle from next to my bed, flipped onto my back and adjusted the covers with no intention of getting out of bed before noon.