Are you a wealthy hedge fund manager based in the New York City metropolitan area? Are you looking for a comely, long-stemmed, doe-eyed young thing to drape over your arm at your next corporate luncheon or fundraising dinner? Look no further than Eve, an employment agency for exceptionally good-looking people that’s marketing itself as a “model concierge agency.”
“To have models on demand. For most men, this is the hottie Holy Grail. The bosomy Land of Canaan. The great white buffalo of gams. And now it can be yours. Introducing Eve, New York’s first ever ‘model concierge,’ now accepting members,” a press release for Eve reads. (What is a “bosomy Land of Canaan,” or a “great white buffalo of gams”? That’s unclear, but what is clear from the metaphor mixing is that Eve's copywriter didn’t major in Rhetoric and Comp in college.)
So what, exactly, is a “model concierge”? Basically, it’s “a fancy term for model staffing agency. We provide models for any job that is non-fashion-related,” Eve founder and CEO Kalin Moon, a New York City-based event planner, tells me. “We provide atmosphere models that are able to accompany clients of ours to corporate events, outings, nightclubs, restaurants.”
All you have to do is fill in an application on Eve's website, and the company will match you with one of its models, who are hired based on their “looks, personality, and professionalism.” (Hired models earn anywhere between $50 to $150 an hour, based on how high they rank according to this metric. Most of them are women, but Moon says about 10 percent of the requests he’s received are for male models.)
While Moon says a model’s looks obviously are taken into account in the hiring process, being a professional model is not a prerequisite for employment. “We’re more looking at their ability to communicate with members,” he says. “We’re looking for someone who’s well-educated, well-traveled.”
These all certainly sound like qualities someone would be looking for when hiring a model. But they also sound suspiciously like qualities one would be looking for when hiring an escort. Moon, however, insists there’s a difference between the service Eve offers, versus that of escort agencies. “We all know escorts are hookers. But we’re not selling sex here,” he says. “We provide professional models that are highly vetted to clients who are also highly vetted.”
In order to ensure that clientele are aware that Eve is “not a dating service,” the company sets forth a strict list of guidelines that clients and models are expected to adhere to. Models aren’t allowed to hold hands with clientele, for instance, nor are they allowed to stay out at an event past 3a.m. (Unlike employment services like Taskrabbit, Eve also imposes restrictions on what types of jobs you can hire a model for: “Our models aren’t allowed to do manual labor, like for instance, you can’t ask a model to do your laundry,” Moon says.)
So if Eve isn’t strictly an employment agency, or even an escort agency, what, exactly, are men hiring the models for? And if Eve’s clients are so high-powered, why must they shell out $50 to $150 an hour for a model-for-hire, rather than, say, pick up an attractive woman at a bar?
“These guys have wives, so they’re not going out trying to pick up girls,” Moon says. “They’re here to entertain their clients. They won’t bring their wife out to a nightclub trying to schmooze with guys they’re trying to close a deal with. They’re using the models to boost their image and try to close deals. And what better way to attract a guy’s attention than with a pretty girl?”
Moon rebuffs the idea that using attractive young women to lure in businessmen might sound a tad sexist. When I ask him if he's concerned that his businessmen clients—many of whom are presumably liquored up from hours of networking—might behave in a misogynistic or demeaning fashion toward the clients, he says that while Eve will try to control for this by vetting their clients, such behavior is a “sad reality” in the world of modeling. “Most guys in high-powered positions just wanna blow off steam and have fun and they don’t live in their own reality,” he says. “I’m used to dealing with those types of personality, and I’m not gonna say they don’t exist. But we’re trying to just be a really simple professional service.”
While Eve is marketing itself as “the world’s first ‘model concierge,’” it’s not like there’s no precedent for such a service. For years, nightclub promoters and party planners have kept a rotating crop of wide-eyed, pretty young things on staff to attend various high-profile events, occasionally putting them up in apartments and paying them in free clothes and booze.
A recent New York Magazine piece by a former “professional pretty girl” shed light on this phenomenon, recounting tales of “girls whose prettiness negates the need for employment.” Such women, author Kristin Huggins wrote, are usually young and minimally employed, accompanying wealthy businessmen who spend thousands of dollars on bottle service and drugs at clubs in exchange for their companionship . “The more money the men spend, the better they are treated. The better the girls, the better they are treated,” she writes.
With the upcoming launch of an Eve app, which Moon says should be about two months from now, it will be easier than ever for well-heeled New York moneymen to order a comely young woman at a moment's notice, the way one would a late-night cheeseburger on Seamless. “We have all these services on demand: dry cleaning on demand, or doctors in demand,” Moon says. “That’s where staffing is going too... I think this service will be a gamechanger in the whole modeling industry.” Although Eve is currently in its invite-only stage, he says he’s so far received 150 applications for 100 member slots.
But while the life of a professional piece of arm candy might sound shallow and demeaning, it’s roses compared to the life of a typical unemployed model scrounging for part-time gigs, says Moon. “Models go from casting to casting all day, usually getting rejected at each one. Then they have to resort to bartending or waitressing at night,” he says. “We pay them extremely well and treat them well.
“As far as demeaning and monetizing women and all that, that’s not what it’s about,” he says. “This [hiring attractive men and women for events] has been going on for years. We’re just making it more accessible and easy for everyone.”
Photo by fervent-adepte-de-lamode/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)