Rhod Gilbert tries his hand at a variety of jobs. Rhod investigates modelling opportunities and ventures into parts of the fashion industry he never knew existed.
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I'm Rhod Gilbert, stand-up comedian. People tell me I've got the toughest job, but I'm sure I'd find
other things far more difficult, so I'm ditching my job and trying something completely different.
This is my work experience.
And this week, I'm a male model.
I had no idea how to get into this glitzy world. The closest I've come to modelling anything is
trying on my girlfriend's underwear while she was at the dentist.
So I catwalked over to London to meet top fashion designer Julien Macdonald.
If there was a male Kate Moss strutting around inside me, Julien would find him.
-Hello, nice to meet you.
-I know nothing about this world...
-And apparently, you do.
I know a lot about the world and the world you would like to
enter into is very, very difficult, very cut-throat, very competitive.
Most of the successful models in the world, the biggest models,
probably start when they're about 15, 16.
Right, I'm sort of 25 to 30 years late.
-You're a bit late.
-That just makes it more of a challenge.
At least you've got hair. Some guys at 45 haven't even got hair.
All you can say about me is, "at least you've got hair".
I'm going to show you a picture that was me at that age
and you will probably have some idea of why I didn't go into modelling.
-Are you ready?
-Facial hair is quite fashionable now!
Look at that moustache!
You're 6ft, skinny. You know what? You could have made it there.
-Oh, a flat top at some point in the '80s.
-I'm quite impressed.
You've actually got a jaw line, you know, a chiselled jaw.
I'm amazed at how positive your reaction is to this.
-I thought you were going to be instantly sick on the spot.
-When you were younger, I think
you actually could have been a male model.
You actually look quite Scandinavian, you look interesting.
I do not want to challenge your authority in this area,
but people viewing at home are not going to think he could have been a contender.
I'm not going to be looking at that screen now, going,
-"I think Julien is right."
-Some men age better. Look at George Clooney.
Some guys, as they get older, they become more mature, more handsome, more desirable.
I don't think that's happened in your case, but...
-To be honest!
'Julien had shrunk my ego to a size zero.
'I may have had a chiselled jaw in 1984,
'but it looked like someone had had a go at it with a lump hammer since.
'My looks hadn't just gone downhill, they were wedged in a fence at the bottom.
-'But ignoring the fact I was wearing clothes, Julien had a radical idea.'
-We've talked about the way you look,
but how do you actually look in clothes?
-He's got it on.
-It's too small!
-That's model size.
Most male models are that size. One of the things, you've got to fit into actual model clothes.
If you don't fit in the clothes, you can't be a model.
Let's see how you would walk on the catwalk. Give us your best catwalk.
You must forget everything around you and you own the space,
you own the clothes.
And it's your...time to shine.
Own the space.
Don't do that!
Is it that?
-Is it that or is that...?
-You've got to sell that red jacket.
-It's your job.
-My job is to sell this red jacket.
-Sell the red jacket.
Go on. Hit the runway.
Who's for the red jacket? Anyone want a red jacket?
Red jackets, five pound.
See? You've got to take it serious, without laughing!
-You always laugh on the way back.
The thing is, that was about as interesting as a dull mat.
-You've got to be intriguing.
-How am I supposed to be intriguing?
The thing is, you've got to be entertaining to people.
'I looked about as intriguing as Kris Akabusi in a cycling helmet
'and I just couldn't get the hang of it. I was trying my best,
'but even Julien's travel Doberman knew I was bad. I was dreading Julien's final assessment.'
Bottom line, do you want me as a male model?
-Can you do anything with me?
-I don't think so.
I don't think so!
-Thank you for your honesty.
-I don't think so! But perhaps somebody might.
-You might be somebody's cup of tea.
-All right, I can take it.
You could be somebody's.
There's not even 'I WILL be somebody's' - I MIGHT be!
You never know. As a model, you spend most of your time being rejected.
-This is my first rejection.
-Well, I'm sure you'll have a lot more.
'My first taste of the industry, a brutal rejection.
'But while Julien was 99.9% sure he didn't want me, he gave my career a last-minute reprieve.
'He agreed to put me through my paces in one of his charity shows.
'If I could pull this off, then who knows, Paris and Milan might beckon.
'All I had to do was show some potential in Julien's hometown,
'the fashion epicentre of Merthyr Tydfil.'
When I went to see him in London, in his swanky offices,
he told me that even if I was 20 years younger, even if
I got a dietician, a nutritionist, even if I lost weight,
started going to the gym, working out, even then, I'd have no chance of being a male model.
This is my chance to prove him wrong.
If I can't do it in Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre, then I give up.
'The hall would soon be rammed with 1,000 of Merthyr Tydfil's top fashion movers and shakers.
'I felt as out of place as Timmy Mallett in a documentary about Malcolm X.'
-How do you feel?
-It's right up my street, this.
-My kind of music, my sort of scene.
Yup. Bang up for this!
'As rehearsals started, I was feeling increasingly self-conscious.'
Look to the front again, hold for two, and back off.
Are you all right with that?
-Go on, the more I do it, the easier I will find it.
# Man, I feel like a woman. # I think it was apt for what you've got on. Is that all right with you?
-Have you got 'Man, I Feel Like A Complete Dick'?
-No, I haven't got that one.
'The boys from the Merthyr rugby team were loving it, but I was dying inside.
-'I'd already Tommy Hilfigered it out that this wasn't for me.'
-Move your leg. Keep going.
# Bad boys! #
And walk. This time, clicking fingers.
-# Bad boys! Bad boys! #
'To make things worse, Julien was watching my lack of progress.
'A good model is supposed to be a clotheshorse. I felt like one that had been turned into pet food.'
-What are you expecting from me?
Everything that we taught you. Strong, confident, a modern man.
'As the lights went down, the cream of Merthyr Tydfil's fashion scene looked on.
'But I was feeling about as modern and confident as Ethelred the Unready.
'The thought of going out there made me as happy as Naomi Campbell's face.'
-There he is!
-There's the main man!
-There he is, the dick himself.
Apparently, we're on in about two or three minutes.
There's no time to complain, there's no time to...question it.
I guess that is the life of a male model.
Stick these Speedos on, get out there.
Well done! Break a leg!
Go, guys! Go!
'My performance wasn't just ham-fisted, it was a head-to-toe ham onesie.
'Problem one, quick changes.
'Problem two, choreography.
'Problem three, the wrong clothes.
'Problem four, no clothes.'
Julien's not got a suit for me.
What I have got is a pair of boxer shorts and a dickie bow.
-We'll find some way out of it, I'm sure.
-I like that. Sounds creative, sounds positive.
-Is it just total bollocks?
Just as I thought.
There's a guy over there in a suit. My life pretty much depends on me having that off him.
'Problem five, dealing with criticism.'
-You look like a bag of shite!
-I look like a bag of shite, I know I do.
'Problem six, backstage divas.'
-Good crowd out there?
-Yeah, good crowd. Gave me a real lift.
'I was really annoyed with myself.
'How was I going to do London Fashion Week if I couldn't even nail Merthyr Fashion Hour?'
Totally shit. That's how I would describe myself as a male model.
Total and utter shit.
'I knew this was the end of the runway for me with Julien.
'I'd never model for a superstar designer like him, but he'd told me to expect rejections,
'so I dusted myself off and lowered my sights a bit.'
There's plenty more fish in the sea and I'm going to tout myself around some modelling agencies.
I've put a little portfolio together with some shots I've had done over the years.
We'll see what happens.
I've come down to Hertfordshire to meet BMA Modelling Agency.
One of the top modelling agencies in the country.
And I'm going to get a second opinion.
That's what I'm going to do.
-Catwalk is out for you. You can't even go there.
And you would be 100% sure that every model agency in the world
-would tell me the same thing?
-In the world, yes.
-In the world!
That sounds quite definitive!
'Agents Lyn and Jo were clear. I'd make the worst model
'since Morph was caught snorting Blu-Tack in Tony Hart's lunchbox.
'More rejection and this time I had nowhere else to turn.'
-I'm looking for anything. That's too desperate!
-Well, he's cute.
-He's very cute!
-We'd sign him up!
-The cow is cute, yeah.
-Right, lots of character. Very nice.
-Lots of character in these?
-Lots of character. Very characterful face.
You're basically too real.
-What does that mean?
-You're real. You're like everyone out there.
I can see you doing a commercial with something like spaghetti hoops,
that kind of fun...active.
I started out, I went to see Julien Macdonald.
And I've ended up as a possible spaghetti hoops commercial!
Have you any idea how crushing that is?
It does seem as though this is a big moment.
The door to my international male modelling catwalk career
has been firmly slammed in my face.
But there is hope because apparently I have a characterful face
and people are on the lookout for guys who just look like regular,
boring, dragged-in-off-the-street, utterly unremarkable people like me.
'I just needed to lower my sights a bit. Again. My real person's face
'would never grace the cover of Vogue, but it might work on a tin of spaghetti hoops.
'I was determined to prove Julien wrong and set off in search
'of someone who'd appreciate my tinned pasta face.
'I found a character modelling agency that could help, although its name didn't lift my spirits.'
Coming to a place called Ugly to get work, it doesn't feel weird?
No, I'm 6ft 6, without heels. And today, I'm about 6ft 10.
So the average agency doesn't specialise in the different look,
it's more your generic look. These guys, they do everything.
-Tall, short, fat, thin.
-Let's have a look.
I feel such a wimp!
Ugly's just a name. It doesn't define the company.
It's just the name and everyone's unique and everyone's an individual.
-Do you think I'll get any work?
Generic, boring, bland.
'Julien hadn't been joking about this hard-nosed industry. Too characterful for the catwalk,
'now I might be too bland for character modelling.
'As I went in for my audition, I was feeling pretty pessimistic.'
Yeah, give me a bit of a fake laugh.
If you can kind of pop your eyes open a bit wider than what you're doing.
-Big eyes and smiling?
-Yeah, big eyes and big laughter.
That's it. That's good.
'I was determined to do whatever it took to get on Mark and Coxy's books.'
Yes! Come on! Yes! Yes! Woo!
If you can give us an angry alphabet, so then we've got your mouth moving all different shapes.
What possible scenario will I have to do an angry alphabet?
A, B, C, D, E, F, G,
H, I, J, PISSING P!
P? Doesn't come after J!
'They'd Hugo Bossed me around and I waited patiently for another rejection.'
I think you've got a really good, character face.
The more weathered you are, I mean, if anything,
-I'd like you a bit more battered really.
A few more late nights and a little bit more...
Believe me, I can't do it any later or drink any more or look
after myself any less than I do now.
We've got plenty of beautiful sort of 6ft models, they're boring to us.
-Someone with character in their face.
-I've got webbed...
-Aquaman, that's good.
-Aquaman, yeah. I've got webbed fingers.
That's what it's all about, being something unique and different.
It sets you against the rest of them, the rest of the norm.
'Maybe I wasn't too bland after all. A lived-in face could be an asset and let's face it, mine
'looked like it had been squatted. My weathered looks and all-weather hands were now the way forward.'
That's it. I've given them my photos, I am on their books.
Webbed fingers crossed. Let's see what they come up with.
'As one Christian Dior had closed, another one had opened.
'I'd taken the beatings but refused to stay down and my tenacity had paid off.
'The catwalk wanted beauties like Elle 'The Body' Macpherson, but
'maybe there was other work for Rhod 'The Battered Spaghetti Face' Gilbert.
'But weeks later, without so much as a Stella McCartney
'from my agents, it was all feeling hopeless again.'
The first sort of week, ten days, I was really optimistic.
I was positive that something was going to come of it,
but that hope has now faded.
'The modelling world was as tough as it was glamorous. I needed to be Ross Kemp
'and Kate Moss all rolled into one. I considered changing my name to Ross Moss.
'I called my agents again instead.'
Just wondering if there's any news.
Um, we've been putting you out there. We've been sending your pictures around
and putting you forward as one of our new faces.
Lukewarm reception, some positive feedback from some, some not so positive from others.
-I do appreciate you checking in. That's what a good model should do.
But obviously, don't check in too much or else you'll start to piss us off a bit.
Didn't sound great, did it?
This is what being a male model is all about -
not being a male model. That's what it's all about.
Being a male model is all about not being a male model.
'The modelling world's focus on appearance was unsettling.
'Now, even character work was out. I was desperate.
'Ideas ricocheted round my mind like a sequined rat in a microwave, but then one went ping.
'Days later, I found myself outside a community centre in East London.'
I've had no luck so far with my modelling career
so I thought I'd come along here,
where I know they're looking for models.
'I'd had more doors slammed in my face than a second-hand meat salesman.
'I had to prove Julien wrong. These were desperate times and for someone as shy as me,
'these were desperate measures, but at least, here, they wouldn't judge me on my looks.
'As I contemplated what I was about to do, I retreated further and further into my own insecurity.'
I don't think I've ever been this nervous in my life.
'The group took a break and Lydia tried to get my heart rate back within EU guidelines.'
You don't have to be nervous, you have just to be proud
because you will be part of a piece of art because every people here,
they are just producing a piece of art with their own mark.
Possibly, you will not have the same experience again in your life.
I wasn't intending to have this experience ever in my life.
These people, they make me feel beautiful. They make me feel important.
When I see their drawings, their paintings, it's just...wow!
'I listened to Lydia's passionate, artistic
'and personal experience of life modelling, then ran like shit.
'But she cut me off on the stairs, determined to help me fulfil my modelling ambitions.'
-I don't think I can do it.
-I think that you can and I think that you will enjoy also.
I'm definitely not going to enjoy it.
-Why? Why do you think that you can't?
-I can't! I'm too embarrassed.
-A lot of men, they have a problem when they model the first time about erection.
I'm worried for an erection! I'm worried for a not erection!
If I have an erection as well,
then that takes me into a different plane of worry.
You're part of the community, doing something artistic.
I think it is something beautiful.
Part of the community, I will do neighbourhood watch,
all sorts of community work I can do,
without getting my dick out.
Again, but why are you so busy thinking about your dick?
Why do you think I'm so busy thinking about my dick? We think about it every seven seconds.
And that's when you haven't got it out in front of a hundred people.
How many things do you do during your day
and you don't think about your dick?
Yeah, but almost all of them I do with pants on.
So we're going to start with some quicker poses.
The first pose is going to be for five minutes.
Got nothing to say.
There is nothing in this life that I can think of that is less
appealing right now.
'But I hadn't come this far for nothing.
'I thought of all the rejection, the verbal batterings I'd taken.
'This might be my last chance to say I'd worked as a model.'
Look first at the motif, the person or the object you're drawing.
And then to other elements in the space.
All those details, they make up the space.
'I'd failed. At the last second, I'd bottled out of going naked.
'It was a hashtag epic schlong fail.
'But Lydia wasn't going to let me get away so easily.
'Determined to help me benefit from an enriching experience,
'she wrapped herself around me like a sex burrito. We were entwined like an erotically charged Curly Wurly.
'Ten minutes later, I'd silently recited every bus timetable in mainland Europe.'
Thank you very much, guys. OK, a round of applause, please, for our models.
'I had enormous respect for the models, but it wasn't for me.
'We saw life through very different filters. Theirs was artistic, experiential and profound,
'and I'm just a repressed clown.'
That was physically harder than it looked.
I felt very intense and vulnerable, but ultimately I failed.
Because I was trying to be a life model...and who is going to
pay a life model if you don't get to see his wang?
'I admitted defeat. Julien had been right. I was no-one's cup of tea.
'I'd given it a damn good shot, dusted myself off more times
'than Miss Havisham's health visitor, but it just wasn't to be.'
-Hello, Rhod. It's Coxy.
-Hiya, mate. How are you doing?
-I've got some good news, actually.
We've been sending out your pictures to some of our clients
-and today we had a call-back for one of them.
Seems we have a bite. They like the look of your hands.
RHOD LAUGHS I know!
Have they seen the dicky one?
We've shown them the hands and, for some reason,
that's what they want for this specific shoot.
-I'll be in touch with your details.
-Cheers, pal. Thanks, Coxy. Ta-ra!
These little beauties!
My little webbed hands have got me... I feel a bit tearful.
Genuinely feel a little tear coming.
I can't even wipe them away. I don't want to over-moisturise.
'I had to lower my sights again. As a complete package,
'I'd got nowhere, but my four-clawed sea mitten had landed a job.
'I went to meet someone who knew all there was to know about hand modelling.
'Nina's hands were the face of some of our most familiar faces's hands.
'From pens to, I don't know, maybe an egg. You name it, she'd held it.'
And these are the hands! I was very aware of shaking your hand.
-I shook it quite firmly.
-Is that OK?
-Yeah, course it is.
-I don't want to break it.
-Well, they are insured actually.
-How much are they insured for?
It's a seven-figure sum.
-A seven-figure sum! So millions.
-Something like that.
Where would I know your hands from?
Billboards, sides of buses, magazines, TV adverts with Kate Moss.
-So are these Kate Moss's hands?
-Well, no. They're my hands, obviously.
But yeah, they stand in for Kate's.
I'm very aware that we're standing here with me holding your hands.
I've only just met you! So we may be, sort of...
I sort of work with the product, but the way it's edited
-and cut makes it look like it's Kate picking up the product.
-So, are you there like this?
-When Kate Moss is there, do you go like this?
-Sometimes. Yes. Something like that.
-Something like that.
-Yeah. So, there you go.
I mean, it's one part of my job really and I've been able to
make a whole career out of this for over ten years.
'With my hand model job just a few days away,
'Nina gave my all-weather Donald Duck love gloves a full examination.'
-Do you know what? You've actually got a nice finger shape.
With male hand modelling, thumbs are very important.
-Here they are, at the end.
-I know you've got them.
-But it's the way they look that's quite important.
-There's more to it.
-Yeah, there is a little bit more to it.
-How would you rate them out of ten?
-Well, the nails are an issue. So you need time with that.
'I was desperate to hold something, or at least just pick something up.
'But Nina said I wasn't ready and deep down, I knew she was right.
'My hands still looked like I lived in a tree.'
My beauty regime starts and ends with me
-washing my hands after I've been to the toilet.
-That's a good start, but I think we need to...
-It's more basic hygiene.
-What's your hand regime?
At a basic, what I do for my regime is I moisturise about 40 times a day.
-40 times a day, you moisturise your hands?
-Yeah. Did you say you wanted to be a hand model?
Cos you know you're going to have to start doing that.
'I made a mental note to pick up some...moisture on the way home. My hands were finally ready.
'Nina would teach me everything, from basic grabbing
'to the techniques of the French master holders.'
-Try one where you're just resting it.
-Pepper nestling in the cradle.
Yeah, let's try one of those.
We don't want to see the inside of the hand.
Just cradling it and just giving people a bit of stalk.
I feel like I'm selling it.
Good! Do you know what? That's what it's got to feel like.
Am I supposed to be on the phone, or am I just holding the phone?
-You're a hand model!
-I feel like that top finger's working it quite subtly.
Kink in the thumb, check that out.
And then this index finger might just rest on the corner there.
And the thumb here, that can vary. See the thumb?
-Now, you can either have it straight...
-Or bent a bit.
Ever so slightly.
'Nina and I had worked intensively on my holding, but I could hardly
'believe my ears when she said I was ready to do an action shot.
'This was where the thumbs Nina had found on the end of my hands would come in.'
So, the thumb is the hero now.
Remember these fingers around here as well. Don't forget about these ones cos you've lost that now.
I think it's going really well. I think I've learned a lot
and the before and after photographs speak for themselves.
It's hard. There's a lot more to it than you realise, but I'm really getting quite into it.
'Like a two-inch tall De Niro, my one-take wonder thumb had nailed it.
'As a final treat, Nina let my hands pose with hers. I was on cloud nine.
'How many people can say their hands have worked with hands that people think are Kate Moss's hands?'
-My hand's nervous.
-Just hold the rose.
There's a lot more to this than you would ever imagine.
-Are our hands working as a team?
-They're working very well as a team.
-I'm giving you plenty of hand, but I'm not detracting from the rose.
Just thinking, this is the maddest, weirdest thing I've ever done in my life.
It is, but it's a job. It is. It's a career.
Well, good job.
Oh, I don't want to...just in case. What if I break them?
-That's a million-quid claim.
-Do it softly. There you go.
-There we go.
I don't want to ruin your no claims bonus.
'After Nina's hand boot camp, I'm feeling pretty good.'
I'm going to take these babies home and pamper them
and give it my best shot. I'm now feeling pretty confident.
'That night, I started to get in shape.
'I had one gig in my diary, but this was a competitive world and Julien's words still haunted me.
'I was up against guys who were 25 years younger than me, 25 years fitter, stronger.
'I had a few hours to turn back the clock.'
# Every little bit of my heart is true
# This is where I belong
# Every little bit of my heart's for you
# So long
# Every little bit
# Every little bit of my heart. #
Come on! One and two, and one and two! Come on! You can do it!
Feel the burn, come on, you horrible little amphibious shit! Come on!
Feel the burn! Work it! One and two! And one and two!
Julien Macdonald told me I would never get work as a male model,
but I've proved him wrong. Today, my hands are my golden ticket.
They've landed me my first big hand job.
It's time to put everything Nina taught me into practice.
My hands are pumped, they're psyched up, I've cleansed, toned,
I've moisturised 97 times in the last 20 minutes. My hands are so up for this,
they haven't slept a wink. They've been excited all night. It's time...to nail this!
'This was it. I was going to be a model.
'I'd prepared and done everything I could to make sure this hand job had a happy ending.
'But when I met photographer Hazel and head of PR Julia, they dropped an almighty hand grenade.'
We have a great range of products we would like you to model for us
with your hands. Secateurs, a watering can, some seeds.
Most of all, we would like you to do it all wearing our gloves,
our new range of gloves that we've brought in for this season.
-Got a range of colours, pink or blue.
'Gloves. The hand model's Kryptonite.
'I felt like I'd been stabbed in the back...with the secateurs.
'This was the cruellest rejection of them all.'
I am disappointed.
I'm trying to think positively about it, but it's hard.
Cos I've been quite psyched about getting this job
and it was two fingers to Julien. He said I could never do it and I had.
And then now...this is a job, this is a profession
and I've got to somehow...my hands have got to sparkle through this.
And not show the disappointment that they're feeling.
Anyone behind me, watching this... What the...?
Just gently sprinkle.
I always have very dark thoughts whenever anybody puts something like this in my mind.
I just imagined cutting my own nipples off.
I think we'll just focus on the rose bush today, if that's OK.
-I probably won't do it, almost certainly. But it does go through my mind.
-Just relax your fingers.
I won't tell you... In my mind's eye, I've already cut it off.
'My hands had put on a brave face and my clients seemed happy.
'When I got home, I'd ensure my flippers and, if the harsh world of modelling ever got too much,
'at least I'd have free breakdown cover.'
And I did it. I made it. I got a job. All right, it might not be Paris or Milan.
It's a garden centre near Cardiff. And OK, I might have had to wear gloves throughout the whole
shoot, but these were my hands.
I've taken the rejection, I've got back up again.
I never made it as a catwalk model, I didn't make it as a life model, but I took the rejection
and I got back up and I didn't give in and I got work. I'm a male and I've modelled.
Those are my hands that are going to be used in that campaign.
And that, I think, is a success.
I'm happy with it, anyway.
# This is where I belong
# Every little bit of my heart's for you
# So long... #
If you could just take the tits for me.
-Shall I take the pair?
-Yeah, the pair. Lovely.
-Just perch yourself on the side of the table.
-By the balls?
-That's it, lovely.
-I've got a head in my arse.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
After being voted Wales's 14th sexiest man, Rhod thinks he's in prime position for a career in front of the lens. But when his dreams of strutting catwalks in Milan and Paris are shattered by unimpressed fashion guru Julien Macdonald, Rhod's male model quest leads him into parts of the fashion industry he never knew existed. He faces the challenge of getting his kit off modelling for a room full of budding artists, meets the UK's top hand super model whose bare hands are her fortune, and signs up with an agency which sells 'character models' rather than good looks. Can they make a model out of Rhod or must he face the brutal truth?