Just about the only thing I regret about that Summer was that I couldn't have my girls by my side from back home. I was plopped all alone in a crowded place. Like when you use Mapquest and you get into street view and you can just grab the little guy by the scruff with that hand icon and drop him any damn place you want. It was exactly that feeling. Only real life. I was a lanky 17 year old white girl with a padded bra and some black chucks with rainbow laces. Nothing fit me correctly off the rack and I was about as lucky as a teen could be because I had designers hand stitching dresses for my measurement to the centimeter. I had no cell phone, no laptop and an asshole boyfriend back home who was no doubt cheating on me. I also had no idea why I was chosen to be this cool. Clearly they had made some epic mistake and I would ride that mistake out all the way to the bitter end. But, I would not be kicking and screaming when they figured it out. I would just gracefully thank them and apologize for the misunderstanding. In my mind I was the most odd pick of the liter. My perception was altered a tad every new roommate I had there. Androgyny, striking sharp features, cat eyes, blondes, fiery redheads with massive freckles, huge asses ( mine) and flat asses alike, all of these things piled up to change the way I saw my peers. More than half of us were waiting for the dream to evaporate and the other half had a creepy dose of entitlement and more than likely a thinly veiled eating disorder.
Let me clarify. It was 1997. I was in Tokyo. And living in a apartment building made up entirely of models who all worked for the same agency. It felt like dorms and just like college, we had rival sororities which were other agencies in our ranks who lived in model housing nearby. We also had fraternities made up of extremely hunky man whores who were primarily gay. After getting all teen crushy on several only to find out they were crushing on one another I died inside and moved on to focus on work and partying.
The drinking age in Japan is practically non existent. As long as you can see over the bar they trust that you are of age. Or if you are American they talk to you about Elvis and pour you any stiff drink you like. Horrible yet fantastic, they gave us free drink tickets everywhere we went because we traveled in packs of thin, made up dolls looking to drink away worries and stress. Contrary to popular belief, models worry a shit load about life. It's an unsecured job for the insecure. There is always the chance you won't get picked for a job and be broke while all your girls are doing show after show after catalog after billboard. I was in the middle of the success chart. I bombed all my Go-sees when I first got there and had to learn how to dress bland in order for my desired features to shine. Like for instance at home I wouldn't be caught dead in a black leather mini skirt and a body skimming gauzy tank top sans bra, plus heels. But there, it was a sure fire win. Ponytail and chapstick as accessories. I had found my niche and was running with wolves. Or foxes. I was faking it well and pulling in jobs. I watched some of my "friends" start to hate me and eventually some of them even went home because work had dried up for them. A little part of me felt guilty because a girl I really had gotten close to from Denmark had to give up and she was working her ass off to pay for school. I wasn't. I was lucking out because it was a brunettes time to shine and her blonde pixie cut was last season. I was escaping my mother and my adventure was so much more selfish and frivolous. In hindsight I give my 17 year old self credit for having a little depth of reality. I knew exactly why I wanted to keep working and stay.
This is more or less the prequel to the Johnny Depp story and exactly what made my dad ask me not to drink in other countries. Tokyo was a candy store for being bad. The things I witnessed my girls doing slapped the rose colored glasses right off my country bumpkin face. I had forced what was left of my naivety right out the fifth floor window of that amazing apartment that overlooked so much city and so many neon signs. On our terrace us girls took up smoking cigarettes in our underwear because it was 105 degrees and Japanese swim suits didn't fit us amazons. We bought bottles of wine from vending machines on our corner and had slumber parties on our roof. We made it through 6 typhoons that Summer and a cicada infestation that would make any squeamish person lose their mind because they were flying bugs as big as my hand.We also got a bit burnt out and started hitting the bars a lot. I watched a 14 year old from our rival group dance on a table and then do lines of coke while old business men bought her bottles of champagne one night and got so freaked out I went back to my place to call home at 4 am my time. God knows what time in Portland. I had gotten so home sick that I considered leaving. I called my best friends almost every other day for a while and woke them in the night. I was probably hammered a bunch of those times. I also called and chewed out my boyfriend for being trash. The progression in my journals is intense and makes me want to write a book about it all someday.
What made me tough it out was a three day stretch of amazing encounters. Because of one rock festival that was in town. My two closest pals in our house were from Canada at the time. They were pretty close already and I was hoping to force the pair to become a trio as I was the comedy addition they needed. Holly was classy and Alaina was crazy and a bit slutty. They really needed someone funny. It worked well for us and after a while we had begun running with a few male models that were the absolute best to have around. All gay ( I'm nearly positive) and some of the sweetest guys to invite out on our terrace for cigarette and wine hangs. The weekend was gearing up to be as always, a trip to our three favorite hot spots for drinks and dancing the night away. Followed by giggle fests and photo taking as we stumbled our way home. Stepping carefully over peacefully sleeping businessmen with their briefcases and shoes tucked under their heads. Those were everywhere, I shit you not. Our pack had really reached the perfect balance and the city was ours for the taking.
It was a perfectly buzzed adventure into the first bar where I ordered my usual cocktail and found my way to our section where our agency chics all hung out after work. Girls showed up in full makeup from every type of event you can imagine. So the range was awesome. The hair was wild and the dance party was in full effect. I however had only had wedding shoots that day and was in clean looking sparkle shimmer nonsense with a top knot of semi teased hairs. Less garish then the other gals and feeling much more comfortable. One of our guy friends showed up and was over the moon excited about something he could barely get out. There was a rock festival in town and he and a few guys had gone that afternoon. They caught a Red Hot Chili Peppers towel thrown from stage and he was completely freaking out about it. As well he should have been because that is amazing. Canada pair and I were super jealous to say the least and we talked about going to the show the next day because we were all off work which almost never happened on the same say for a whole day. We agreed on it and it was set. And the it was the Typhoons decision to cancel the next day of bands.
Holly was bummed more than I had ever seen her and Alaina was just eating all day so I made those bitches get dressed and come out. We hit the bar wayyyy too early out of boredom and were soon incredibly glad we did. Standing the bar ordering my melon fizz and chumming it up with my favorite bartender I ran into THE Dave Grohl. Holly and I were enamored and talked to him and a guy named Ernie for hours (Ernie drunkenly swapped addressed with me and we agreed to be pen pals but he never wrote back). I had to explain that I liked to drink Midori/vodka/sprites because the lighted bar made them glow all cool and after feeling like a five year old describing a Shirley Temple I switched to long islands for the rest of the night like a big girl should. I confessed my undying love for Taylor to which Dave laughed and pointed to a corner booth where blonde hot chicks lap danced all over him. I died visibly and Dave laughed again and gave me the advise to NOT date a musician ( thanks Dave, though I spent too many years after we met trying to land one without success before I fully got your point). The incredibly talented though ridiculously pigtailed man is just about the nicest I had ever met and I think he was genuinely stoked to sit and joke and laugh with us. He could have just said hi and bye but instead he asked if we wanted to meet some other bands. We of course were totally into that idea and followed him around meeting some I had never heard of, and then, in a VIP area he introduced us to Billy. Billy was harsh cranky prick in comparison to the kindness and laid back demeanor of Dave. Maybe it was the contrast or maybe it was the fact that he full on asked "do you KNOW who I am?!" in the most self righteous tone. But at the moment I decided I no longer like Green Day. And I told him so. We were whisked away to continue drinking elsewhere with the Foo boys and introductions ended there.
The rest of the night was spent drinking and dancing with people I never in a million years would have had the chance to meet otherwise. I will forever be grateful for the typhoon that canceled the show for all those other fans. Because it made my night epic. As we got ready to move the fun to another bar, Holly and I found Alaina. Though I hadn't noticed losing her, it dawned on me she hadn't hung out with Dave like we did. She had embedded herself in the midst of Prodigy for all those hours and they loved her rude charm!!! She proceeded to bring them all with us. I can confirm solidly from personal experience that most musicians and singers do not like to be asked to dance to their own songs. I can also confirm that asking repeatedly throughout the night gets you pegged as annoying. Some do however enjoy an 80's dance off.
Tokyo will forever have my heart as one of the most fun cities in the world. Hands down. I started remembering all the crazy good times as I was rummaging through my hope chest and found my diary from that trip. I wish I hadn't written so many code words and phrases in there that I have no clue what they mean now. I also found photos tucked into that book that took me back instantly. Makes me wonder how any of these people are doing now. ::sigh:: P.S. Ernie, I found your address again. Jerk.