On the phone with … janice dickinson / 202
Model / Janice Dickinson Photography / Adina Doria Creative Director / Warrent Satt
Styling / Naila Make Up / Simon Rihana
@ Phallon Riley Hair / Inna Sogomonyan @ Fernando Romero Salon Photography Assistant / Montel C. Joiner
Janice Dickinson was dripping in Givenchy as she took the inaugural Concorde flight from Paris to New York, modelling for Air France. Photographers snapped images of the legendary supermodel with the Prime Minister of France as a hostess handed her a large bag of caviar and champagne. It was the epitome of a model getting star treatment. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Dickinson had to fight to get where she is today, after coping with physical abuse from her father and battling a drug and alcohol addiction. She talks us through her hardships and recovery, her surgeries and how, despite the rush of it all, perhaps the fastest button is pause.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned in modelling school?
I learned make-up, hair and poise. I practiced runway. In fact, I won a huge competition in New York for the Miss High Fashion Award when I was 16. I went around all the agencies and photographers, begging them to take my photographs, but to no avail. It was very difficult for me.
How has your perspective of the fashion industry changed since you first started modelling?
The rates were different and models weren’t as revered as they are today. After being rejected by Eileen Ford, who said my look wouldn’t sell, I challenged that and got an airplane ticket to Paris. There were five or six models to a room. It was wonderful, like going to college. We were going on Vogue interviews. So, I actually got a PhD in Vogue. It took me all over the world.
What makes a good model?
Movement. Studying dance. Maintaining a balanced life. Being flexible and being kind. Remaining true to yourself and remembering that modelling isn’t everything. Giving back to the community. Models should take the time to smile and [not] act out as a diva because it will be damaging for young girls who think that models are unapproachable.
How do you feel about the modelling industry’s standards on how thin a model should be? A model has to be proportionate. Personally, in my case, I was flabbergasted because – before I had my breasts done at the end of my career and after I had my first child – I realised what it meant to be thin. Models on the covers of magazines are airbrushed. There’s hair, makeup and lighting. Photo retouchers could digitally manipulate a healthy girl… to the point that it’s absurd. It sends the wrong message to teens that could develop body dysmorphia at a very young age.
I’ve seen a lot of models smoking cigarettes, trying to remain thin. Cocaine was prevalent. Backstage, there was alcohol. In my days, we had to do runway during the day – sometimes six or seven shows a day, then shoot the editorial at night. It was a vicious cycle and I got lost in it for a few years. I became addicted to drugs and alcohol. With the help of the twelve-step program, I’ve come through on the other end. I think that young girls should really pay attention and not believe that Angelina Jolie or Cara Delevingne or anyone looks like the way they look.
What was the first cosmetic surgery you had and why did you do it?
I had a procedure on my breasts and that was in my 30s. It wasn’t until my late 40s or early 50s that I had a mini facelift. I was quite vocal about it. Not many women talk about it. I just decided to say that I do have Botox and I did have plastic surgery. It was… like going to the dentist.
After being a judge on America’s Next Top Model and having your own show The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, what did you hope to express in televised modelling competitions?
Television was amazing for me because Tyra Banks read my book No Lifeguard on Duty, which was a cautionary tale of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. She realised that I was the only judge that had more experience than she ever will. Tyra wanted me to be the mean judge, the Simon Cowell of the panel. I was famous already, being the world’s first supermodel. Television taught me to be kind and generous to the public, because at a very young age, I remember going up to Sean Connery and asking him for his autograph when I was on a location shoot with Patrick Demarchelier. Sean Connery told me to go fuck myself. Since then, I said if anyone asks me for an autograph, I will be kind, patient and accommodating. I wanted to be a mentor for young girls so I started a modelling agency. It gave me a chance to help them understand self-esteem and the things you can achieve by getting an education.
How do you manage to juggle all your projects?
By remaining me. I understand there’s still more in life to achieve, such as reducing our intake, trying to remain as green as possible and giving back to the community. It’s hugely important for me to speak around the world in rehabilitation centres. [It’s] such a verboten thing for people to admit they have dark problems. It’s OK to seek outside help… My father was a paedophile: he verbally and physically tried to abuse me at a young age. I didn’t resolve it, so I acted out in my 20s. I went to rehab, got my shit together and became a mom.
Did you resolve these issues with your father?
Yes I did. The only way I could do it was through forgiveness. I forgave him because he molested me, and I was able to forgive myself for being the victim.
What do you think about today’s obsession with speed?
I think technology is dangerous. The art of letter writing is almost non-existent. Even for shopping, you can’t support the local economy or local businesses because everything is being shipped to the house by these blogs and shopping networks. I was glad that I was born in 1955 and I experienced real music [as] opposed to digital crap.
What is next?
I am going to continue writing. Presently, I’m working on a movie. I’ve met the love of my life, Dr. Robert Gerner, on a blind date set up by his son Rob Junior. We’re engaged. We’re going to get married in my next TV-movie project that I’m presently writing and producing. I’m working on my projects, being a fiancé to Robby, and giving back to the community. That’s it for me.