Interview With Jessica Clark

 
 

AE: You totally changed my mind about
models. I think I actually feel bad for them.
JC:
And no one asks them their opinions about things. If someone asks me what
I think, I’m always shocked.

AE: I’ll ask. What do you think of America’s Next Top Model?
JC:
I think it’s great TV. Tyra Banks is a business genius. It’s like a high
school catfight. That’s definitely entertaining. Does it accurately reflect the
industry? No. When you’re a young, real model, you’re in low-end, low-rent rooms,
in bunk beds. It’s not nearly as chi-chi as they have it. But certainly, all the
insecurities or cattiness and all that, that you see amongst the girls? That’s all
true.

AE: The show always makes sure there’s
at least one super bitch in the house. And often there’s a lesbian in the mix, because
that’s always a good time.
JC:
Yeah. They discovered that’s a winning formula. Everyone loves to watch
it if there’s a potential lesbian in there. I think that’s their thing now.

AE: Have you ever met Tyra?
JC:
No, I haven’t, actually. She’s one of the few I’ve never come into contact
with. The stories abound far and wide, though


Robert C. Mora/WireImage

AE: How about her nemesis, Naomi Campbell?
JC:
I have met Naomi. I’ve done a bunch of runway shows and things with her.
During one of my first runway shows when I was about 16 years old, she was changing
next to me. I was fascinated and terrified because I had heard all the stories.
I was waiting for her to scream at me.

AE: Did she throw anything at you?
JC:
[laughs] She was actually very nice to me. She’s like a panther. When she
was undressing next to me, I was like, "Whoa." [She's] very lean and muscular,
with crazy skin and stuff. She’s amazing. She’s a weird combination of simpering
little girl and a crazy warrior woman, depending on what mood she’s in.

AE: I don’t think "simpering little
girl" when I think of Naomi Campbell. I think diva.
JC:
It’s weird. She can definitely be a diva, but if she’s being nice, or if
she’s flirting, she kind of flirts a bit like a little girl. You know, that whole
coy, the head to the side thing. She does that and she does a little-girl kind of
voice. It’s weird coming out of a glamazon like that.

AE: There were days when you were not
a happy model; the days of nothing but cigarettes and Diet Coke.
JC:
And coke.

AE: Right. Cocaine is standard craft services
for any modeling job.
JC:
[laughs] Yeah, absolutely, it is.

AE: Did you have an epiphany that you
didn’t want to live like that anymore?
JC:
I had an epiphany I couldn’t live
like that anymore. I was in Paris doing a runway show, the last one in a circuit
that starts in New York, goes to London, then Milan, then Paris. You’re traveling
constantly for about five to six weeks; it’s really exhausting and stressful. And
you’re starving yourself and becoming completely strung out.

By Paris, everyone’s getting sick. I was probably the thinnest I’ve ever been
in my life — really feeling like death warmed up and living on nothing. And they
said: "Oh, can’t you just lose a couple more kilos, like five more pounds?
Then you’d be perfect."

AE: How much did you weigh when they
told you to lose more weight?
JC:
I’m 5-11, and I think I weighed 105 pounds. And I couldn’t really stand.
I was pretty ill.

AE: So, that vacuous, hollow expression
you see on runway models’ faces is actually because they’re seconds away from
passing out?
JC:
Oh my God, totally. I’ll tell you what it is, no joke. People say, "Oh,
you people are so bitchy and vacant" and whatever. And I’m like: "They’re
hungry. They’re hungry and tired and they
don’t know what you’re talking about because they can’t think straight because they
haven’t eaten for a month."

AE: And you couldn’t do it anymore.
JC:
No. I called my New York agent from backstage at the show and had a meltdown.
"I’m quitting, that’s it! I can’t take it, I’m losing my mind, I hate
myself!" She talked me down off the ledge and brought me back to New York.
I went through the whole process of getting clean. I had all different eating disorders
and all that crap. So, that took me a good year — obviously, it was a work in progress
… very up and down. I didn’t have any natural appetite. I destroyed my own metabolism.

AE: Your stomach was probably the size
of a walnut.
JC:
Yeah, it’s weird. It swings in the other direction, and your body is like:
"Oh my God, food! It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life."

AE: Has maintaining a healthier weight
affected your career?
JC:
I don’t do runway shows anymore. I mean, I can’t. I can’t do runway and
not starve myself.

AE: Runway is the most stringent?
JC:
Runway is the most stringent. If you’re in the more "commercial"
arena, which is still the fashion things, but also things like Pantene and L’Oreal,
you can be a [size] two to a small four, which is what I am now.

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