By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
"They wait months to see me," says Page. "So I always have to be up."
Page can act like her models' mother. She often refers to them not by their names but with one of the following endearments: "Baby," "Angel," "Sweetheart" or "Little One." She has no children of her own, but Bob says it's not uncommon for models to call Page at home in the evenings or send Mother's Day cards to their house. But Page thinks she's the "cool" mom. If she tells them not to smoke cigarettes, not to drop out of school and not to wear blue mascara, they'll listen to her.
They file in all Tuesday afternoon to see Page, who hugs them when they walk in the door. There are the young male models, most of them quiet, shy. They nod their heads at anything Page says. She beams at them. The girl models come in too, folding themselves up like swans on Page's face chairs. The younger ones bring their mothers, who sit quietly and listen as Page maps out their goals on a sheet of paper.
She is breezy in nature, moving swiftly from opening a file to placing a call to flipping through a model's "book," or portfolio. She can do about ten things at once. She is constantly interrupted. Everybody wants to see her, needs to talk to her. She laughs as she tells the story about the time she and Bob were in a grocery store and a teenage girl recognized her, wanted to know if she was "the Page Parkes!" and Page said yes, she was, and she waited patiently while the teenager called a friend on her cell phone to say she had met the famous model agent.
Even though Bob was slightly annoyed, says Page, she was glad to do it.
"If you were a singer and they were your fans ," she says, shrugging her shoulders.
She is honest with her models. When one boy explains that a large agency in New York told him he was too short and to come back in a year, she tells him that was a "brush-off excuse" and they probably didn't want to see him again. She decides to help him book another New York trip, reminding him never to make appointments with New York people on Fridays.
"Mentally, they're already in the Hamptons," she says, opening a book to search for a number.
She fawns over them too. When one of Page's newer models, a shy 18-year-old girl who says she's wanted to model since the eighth grade, stands to have her hips measured, Page plucks one arm and holds it out, explaining, "Her little arms are longer than normal humans. You're a genetically born model."
She takes a tape measure and wraps it around the girl's boyish hips and coos softly, "This little girl's hips are 35 and a half inches. Perfect, perfect, perfect." The girl smiles at Page.
The most exuberant visitor of the day is 16-year-old Shantel Vansanten. Tall, with long brown curly hair, Shantel practically falls off her seat with excitement over finally meeting Page. Shantel is a graduate of the Page Parkes Center of Modeling and Acting, and like roughly half her classmates, she impressed the center's review board enough to be accepted into Page 713. Not all of Page's models are graduates of the center; it's certainly not a requirement. But Page clearly likes the ones who are, because they're trained in the Page Parkes way of doing things.
Shantel has just appeared in an ad for Foley's, a job that earned her $875. Page 713 received 20 percent of that, and today Page is trying to explain to Shantel and her mother the best way to use the remaining 80 percent. According to Page, at least 40 percent should go into savings, 20 percent toward her Center of Modeling tuition (it ranges from $850 to $1,275) and other modeling-related expenditures, and 20 percent is left for spending. Page also is talking to Shantel and her mother about sending the two of them to her Dallas agency to scope out possible work in that city.
Shantel is interested, but she would rather talk about how exciting it was to appear in the Foley's ad, how the kids at her all-girls Catholic school recognized her from the newspaper and came up to her and asked her about it.
"It makes me feel so special I glow!" says Shantel, starting to cry.
"But, sweetheart, you get the bookings because you glow!" says Page. It looks for a second like Page is going to start crying too.
Shantel's mother, Denise, says she is so glad Shantel took the classes at the center.
"I know she was able to find herself." says Denise.
Page looks at Denise, nods her head and says in a sad voice, "Do you know how many kids I'd love to help find themselves, but I can't because their butts are too big?"
Then she pulls out a sheet of paper to plan Shantel's trip to Dallas.
Practically everyone at the party is gorgeous. And that makes sense, of course. Because practically everyone at the party is a model. The event is a special one, held to announce the new runway promo piece for Page 713. It's being held at the Gatsby Social Club in the Rice Village, and even though there's a torrential downpour outside, each of the models who arrives walks in looking glorious, beautiful, surreal. A doorman in a tuxedo checks their umbrellas.