The Ultimate Makeover

Modeling agent Page Parkes never wore mascara in high school. But don't let that fool you.

Breaking out of a gaggle of ridiculously long-legged girls is Page. She has spent much of the party peering up at people with her large blue-green eyes. But despite her stature, she is clearly the center of the action. Because this is her agency. These are her models. They all want to talk to her, and Page moves about them with ease.

She is wearing a sleeveless black turtleneck and black-and-white pants so fitting they seem to be painted on her tiny body. She is wearing makeup. Her blond hair glows around her like a halo. She grabs the beautiful people by their arms, pulls them across the room to meet so-and-so, talk to you-know-who.

There are helium-filled red balloons everywhere, and free champagne. The promo piece being revealed tonight is a CD case filled not with CDs but with round cardboard discs that have photographs of Page's runway models on them. On a table at the front of the room is a sort of shrine to the promo piece; a bright light shines onto an artfully arranged display of the discs. A screen hangs above the table, and shots of models' faces are projected onto it as club music thumps quietly in the background.

Page devotes each Tuesday afternoon to meeting with her models.
Deron Neblett
Page devotes each Tuesday afternoon to meeting with her models.

Page spots Sam Steph, a handsome man with salt-and-pepper hair dressed in black. He's modeled for Page for 18 years, mostly doing print work for catalogs like Lands' End.

"I've made a living being the nonthreatening white man," he says. He goes on to talk about Page's professionalism, her kindness and her loyalty.

"Can you imagine loyalty in this trampy business?" says Page with a little shriek. She grabs the tall Sam around the sides and gives him a quick squeeze.

Earlier in the night, standing by the CD promo piece shrine, Page explains that this party is really not for her at all, it's for her models. She insists once again how she was just a "natural girl" in high school, how people think that because she's this big-deal modeling agent she should also be this big party queen. Page has told her husband that when they retire to their land in Austin she'll grow her hair out long and gray and be a hippie in the woods. She's beyond the time in her life when parties mean something to her, she says, even though she's got to keep showing up to them. They expect her there.

If she had it her way, Page half-whispers, she'd forget all the glitz and get on Bob's Harley for a weeklong motorcycle trip with nothing but "seven pairs of panties" and the open road ahead of her.

After she says this, Page Parkes looks across the room, sees someone she absolutely must go talk to and darts across the room to squeal hello.

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