November 21, 2001:
the lens for Esquire magazine
"I'm looking good, and I certainly have hair."
By Benjamin S. Farmer '01
I will soon be bald. Though my older brothers scoff
that I have more hair-retaining genes than they, the fact remains
that within 20 years I will be combing over or facing fate. And
so it was with great joy that I learned I would soon be able to
retort my grandsons' cue-ball jokes with more than family photos
or threats of genetics, but a full-page, color photo in the October
2001 issue of Esquire magazine.
Delightfully bored one afternoon in late May, almost
a month after handing in my thesis and still two weeks away from
graduation and while I was setting up for the department picnic
outside of 1879 Hall, I was approached by two fashion casting agents.
Others will tell you that these chic New Yorkers were interested
in photographing the majority of students and faculty who attended
the picnic, but in my story they asked if they could take a few
casting shots of me for an upcoming photo essay on Princeton's students
and campus, then abruptly left. A few days later, flyers went up
around campus announcing an open casting call for an Esquire photo
shoot, and while I universally avoid such events, I was nevertheless
quietly satisfied I would still be considered. Plus, I could always
tell the department picnic story should things not go my way.
I don't understand the motivation behind a fashion
essay. "This Side of Paradise," Esquire's version, contains
13 photos over eight pages and captures each model in a scenic or
fashionable pose wearing merchandise that costs between $1,000 and
$3,000. The confusing part is, who justified paying a staff of at
least 10 expensive professionals for three days in order to photograph
very expensive clothes on average looking Princetonianbut
If you take away the diet and exercise and never-ending
traveling and long hours, I think being a model would be great.
During preparations for the shoot, I was able to relax in a RV,
watching movies with friends Matthew Hyder '01 and Preston Bottomy
'01, while Esquire staff picked out my clothes, combed my hair,
applied make-up, and fed me. Take away the make-up and it would
stand as a perfect morning. Being photographed was a little bit
unnerving, I'll admit. And not even $475 shoes make posing for nine
rolls of film comfortable. And yes it was hot in all those layers,
but you'd really be surprised at how well a thousand-dollar wool
parka breathes. And then there was the $50 pay.
All in all, the folks were nice and the shoot was
fun. Plus, over the summer I was able to brag to a few select family
members, especially those with less hair, that I'd traded in my
upcoming corporate job to be a male model (read: been delayed nine
months). The real joy, though, was learning that by early summer
my grandmother had already pulled aside the owner of her local drug
store and requested 10 copies of the October issue of Esquire because
her grandson Ken's third boy, the one from Princeton
had his picture taken for it. And years from now, when I've succumbed
to the genes her husband gave me, we can pull out a photo of a well-dressed
man with long, full hair and I'll tell her the story one more time.