Kindle, A New Way To Read

Monday, June 2, 2008

Paulina Porizkova: From Supermodel to Budding Novelist

I was browsing through Lifetime’s website and was shocked that formersupermodel, Paulina Porizkova, was now a novelist. It was an interesting article. She is still married to Ric Ocasek from The Cars which I kinda felt she would be anyway, but the novelist part --- didn’t get that vibe from her! Anyways its nice to see she’s not just another pretty face. She also says some stuff about the other supermodels Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Janice Dickinson. I was so proud to read this. The article is by Carla Hay and its dated 08/24/07.

Back in the ’80s, Paulina Porizkova was one of the world’s top supermodels — she appeared on hundreds of magazine covers and made millions as a longtime spokesperson for Estée Lauder. The 42-year-old Porizkova has also had stints as an actress and a TV host, but she’s now focused all her energies on writing.

Her critically acclaimed novel, “A Model Summer,” [1] is about a Czechoslovakian-Swedish teenager named Jirina who begins her modeling career in Paris, and plunges deep into the highs and lows of the fashion industry. It sounds a lot like Porizkova’s life, but she says that her book’s protagonist is not a fictional version of herself.

When asked how much of her book was based on real events, Porizkova says coyly, “Kind of everything and kind of nothing. I lent [the Jirina character] some of my experiences, but it’s not me and it’s not my life. When I first went to Paris, I had a slightly different personality from my protagonist. I was much tougher than the girl I created, and I have a much better sense of humor. So I was much better prepared for that world than she is. The book is not a memoir; it’s a memory.”

However much of the book’s fiction is based on fact, Porizkova does admit that some of the book was inspired by her best friend, Joanne Russell, who was a model during the same era as Porizkova’s modeling heyday. The two pals and Adam Otcasek (Porizkova’s stepson) also cowrote the 1992 children’s book “The Adventures of Ralphie the Roach.”

It took about five years for Porizkova to write “A Model Summer,” she says. “I didn’t have a ghostwriter. I did not have a publisher when I was writing the book. I’m very serious about being a writer. It’s blood, sweat and tears.”

And she’s ready to tackle her next novel, although she’s keeping most of the details under wraps for now. Porizkova says, “The only preliminary thing I can tell you is that it will be about the interesting dynamics of the modern family.”

If family will be the subject of her next book, Porizkova has lots of experience from which to draw. Married since 1989 to musician Ric Ocasek (the former leader of the band the Cars), Porizkova is also the mother of two sons, 14-year-old Oliver and nine-year-old Jonathan.

Plus, Porizkova’s own childhood had enough drama to be made into a book. Her parents were Czech refugees who emigrated to Sweden and left her behind to be raised by her grandmother until they could reconnect. When her parents tried to regain custody of their daughter, they encountered obstacles and delays due to international government politics. After seven years apart, the family was reunited, but Porizkova’s parents divorced shortly afterward.

Nowadays, Porizkova is a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in New York. And in some ways, she’s a typical American wife and mother. She confesses that she’s addicted to reality shows. “They’re a guilty pleasure,” she says. “It’s like candy. You can’t stop at just one, and it can make you sick if you have too much.”

And, of course, she watches all of the fashion-related reality shows. Porizkova notes, “‘America’s Top Model’ is fabulously addicting but it has no bearing on being a model. Tyra Banks is a smart cookie and she’s amazing for building this empire, but they haven’t broken a top model yet. I love ‘Project Runway.’ That’s a show with a little more substance. Heidi Klum cracks me up. ‘The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency’ kind of reminds me of watching ‘The Anna Nicole Show.’ I felt sick for not being able to avert my eyes from that train wreck. I’m only human.”

Her love of reality shows, Porizkova says, is one of the reasons why she jumped at the chance to be on “Dancing With the Stars.” And even though she was the first person voted off during the show’s fourth season, she doesn’t regret the experience. “What surprised me was how incredibly rewarding it was to spend that time on the physical stuff and actually be able to do it. The camaraderie of the celebrities backstage bonded us together.”

As for Porizkova’s thoughts on today’s modeling industry, she doesn’t hold back her opinions: “It’s a lot harder right now because celebrities have taken over supermodels [on fashion-magazine covers], thanks to computer retouching. I was so incredibly fortunate to have the career that I did when I did. It was a perfect time to be a model. The industry has clearly changed for the worse. The sample sizes are now double-zeroes. Nobody but anorexic-looking ‘coat hangers’ will fit into that. Either you’re naturally ridiculously thin or you have to really diet to get a job. And that’s not a good thing.”

Although Porizkova is best known for being a supermodel, she’s not one to live in the past. For example, she confesses that she didn’t keep a lot of mementos from her glory days.

She elaborates, “I never saved anything like my magazine covers. I don’t care. How many pictures of myself can I have? I became a model accidentally, through blind, dumb luck, and I’m extremely grateful for it. All the fame and fortune I got was sort of handed to me. I never felt like I did anything to deserve it. And maybe because I feel like I wasn’t quite deserving of it, I never took it very seriously. I took my job seriously. I showed up on time and was very professional, but I never took myself seriously in it. I was just in the right spot at the right time.”

06/03/08 12:38am