Model Journal – Introduction


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This section contains scans of the articles from the eight issues of Model Journal to which I contributed from 1989 to 1990. As with Travel Days, the association left a bad taste in my mouth, but unlike Travel Days it also left a hole in my wallet. It all began when I replied to an advertisement in Loot; the advertiser was looking for a business partner/investor for an established magazine, he said. Hoping he might be looking for writers too, I gave him a ring. That part at least was successful. I was very impressed with Model Journal and with its publisher, Marcel, who told me he had a thirty year association with the modelling industry, a claim which turned out to be true, but not in quite the way I thought.

Shortly, if not already he found his investor/partner (read mug), a young entrepreneur named John Payten; the paper moved to his office, and Marcel stayed on as editor. Although Payten is credited as publisher from the first issue to which I contributed, No. 9, Oct ˇ89, and his Croydon base is given as the editorial office, when I met Marcel he was operating out of an office in a London suburb.

It wasn’t too long until he decided he was going to set up a new publication, and gave me, and his other contributors, a choice: stay with John Payten or come with me. This was an obvious act of disloyalty if not treachery on his part, and was just as obviously done behind Payten’s back, something he made clear to me at the time, ditto the other contributors, although I only spoke to one of them about it, the girl he had promised the editorship of the new publication, which did actually get to the design stage, because I saw the front cover, not to mention researched and wrote several articles for it, all of which are long since lost.

I have to say in my own defence that I didn’t see my behaviour as disloyal at the time, and I still don’t. I liked Payten, but my first loyalty was to Marcel, and on top of that, although I and the other contributors were invited to a celebration dinner, for which our new publisher picked up the tab, the commission cheques under the new régime were noticably smaller, which is understandable because unlike Marcel, Payten was paying them out of his own pocket. I soon lost contact with the new outfit; it wasn’t a case either of resigning or being fired; I just didn’t phone the office, and they didn’t phone me. I did toy with the idea of asking Payten if I could freelance for one of his other publications too, but the commission fees for them were, as far as I could ascertain, even more modest, and though I have always loved seeing my name in print, I wasn’t that desperate for money. Besides, Marcel seemed to have everything sorted, and his new magazine was to be backed by a new model agents’ association, which he would run. However, the truth emerged, slowly and painfully for me, that he wasn’t all he seemed to be. He was certainly very charismatic; the fact that he was shacked up with a stunningly attractive young model some thirty years his junior was testament to that. I say shacked up, I think they may have been married, or married at some point. I was invited to the Christening party of their baby son, and took Mark along.

Marcel had two computers in his living room, which he said would soon be networked, and the new agency would be not only well funded but a going concern from the off. It was actually the subject of an advertorial in the October 1989 issue, but in view of what I discovered shortly (see below), I’m surprised he even got this far, even in the days before the Internet.

Time dragged on, and nothing materialised. Then one day when I phoned him, he had been cut off. What happened next, what I did next, was an act of total folly; I should have realised there was something terribly wrong by the desperate look in his eyes and the nervous tremor in his voice. I should have shaken hands and walked away, but, against the advice of my accountant, I took six hundred pounds out of my pocket and gave it to him with a properly drafted and witnessed formal contract on the strength of his worthless signature. I don’t know how many other people he tapped for money, if I were the last I certainly wasn’t the first, as I discovered in due course.

Like all con men, Marcel blamed other people for his problems, and as with so many he succeeded in deceiving not only others but himself. At some point he started a small circulation magazine called French Property Choice in the hope of bringing in some money to tide him over while he sorted out his problems. This was a crudely photocopied circular which I doubt brought him in a cent, although I am also fairly certain that he ran up an unpaid bill with a local secretarial/office service. “I am still talking” he said more than once with regard to the model agencies. The penny finally dropped when I phoned him and he had been disconnected again.

I didn’t keep a chronology but I think that is what happened, I’m fairly certain that he had the phone put on again – this was before the days of universal mobile phones. Probably he had paid a small part of the bill or maybe he had persuaded British Telecom to put it back on temporarily – he could charm the birds out of the trees.

In due course I discovered he was bankrupt, and spoke to the guy who had bankrupted him. For a bankrupt to solicit money without declaring his financial status is a criminal offence. Marcel tried to claim later that I knew he was bankrupt when I loaned him the money. As if. At times I can be gullible like the rest of us, but I have never been that gullible.

Even though I doubted I would get back any of my money, I brought an action against him in the County Court. Judgment followed, but it didn’t do me any good. I reported him to the appropriate legal authorities, who took note, but nothing was ever done as far as I am aware. Doubtless other people can tell the same story.

Having run out of legal options I had one course of action left, apart from walking away. I decided to sell – or try to sell – a story about him to one of the Sunday tabloids. And what happened next simply added insult to injury. I got a commission for the story out of a scumbag named Ted Hynds. And basically he took the piss, running me around, and never published anything. Why he treated me like this I’ll never know. I suppose it was simply because he could. Hynds had exposed Marcel before; and later he was himself exposed as a crook who had ripped off a photographer big time. Tim Gopsil, the editor of the Journalist put me in the picture about him, and shortly his words were vindicated. The October/November 1992 issue of the Journalist carried a story on page 3: Besley wins £54,000 from ‘thief’ Hynds which reported that after a ten year struggle, West Country photographer Andrew Besley was awarded £44,500 in damages plus an estimated £10,000 in interest by Judge Ian Mackintosh at Truro County Court who branded the former owner of Devon News Services “a liar and a cheat and a thief”.

I took up my rip off by Hynds with the NUJ, but although Don MackGlew pursued it for me with some vigour, I didn’t get a penny out of the paper. I did though, many years later, get some money out of Hynds for a world exclusive he chose not to use – but that’s another story! Needless to say, Hynds didn’t see eye to eye with the judge who had damned him so forthrightly, but I know who I believe. Back to Model Journal.

As with Travel Days I did not maintain a bibliographical file at the time, but unlike Travel Days, most of the articles I wrote for Model Journal were signed, so there is less ambiguity where my memory is fallible. As with the former, I did not take any of the accompanying photographs myself.


Comment On The Articles


The following list although neither alphabetical nor chronological, has a certain continuity.

My first contribution to Model Journal was a letter; Marcel had a big thing about exposing crooks and rip off merchants. He should have looked in the mirror sometime.

A Question Of Judgement: Are there really two E’s in judgment? Whatever, although this article does not look complete, this is the way it was published. As with all or most of my articles for this magazine, it was edited minimally if at all, but, I stress, the fault lies with the person who edited or typeset it, not with me. There are only a few words missing, something like “and themselves a great injustice”, as best I can remember twenty years on. I do remember though that like me, Marcel thought Keffi was a joke, and it was he who asked me give the article a flippant tone.

Anne Scott Agency: The interview is page 6; page 7 is all photographs.

Are You The Bardot Of The Nineties?: I’m not 100% sure that I wrote this piece; if I did, it was a reworked press release or something. It appeared in the April and May 1990 issues (scroll down).

Black Models And Agents: This was the first article I wrote for Model Journal, and it nearly didn’t get off the ground. Initially, Marcel sent me to Hammersmith to interview a couple of jokers who basically took the piss out of me and then threatened the paper with a libel action if he published the not unflattering article I filed about them. Fortunately (or otherwise!) he blamed them rather than me for this contrived misunderstanding (the tone of their letter was hysterical), and I reworked the commission by interviewing the charismatic Debbie Hillaire and others. The scan includes an inset article by Yolanda Hester.

Childsplay: An interview with a child model agency; I made a note at the time that the photographs of the two women who ran it may be miscaptioned. Although this article is complete, there are three photos at the bottom of the next page which may belong to it; page 19 contains two similar articles to which I did not contribute.

Debbie Holmes Top Team Model Agency: An interview with a former model running her own agency. This PDF file has lost a tiny bit of detail due to compression. The wording just above the photograph is “...but I built that up to what it is now.” And “...we’re getting a lot from London and beyond.” The caption reads “Debbie Holmes is 28 years old. A former model, she now runs her own agency, Top Team, based in Brighton.”

Derek’s: The interview is page 10; page 11 is all photographs.

Cadbury’s Flake Finds Winner In Search For Face Of The Nineties and Women In The Nineties...; these two articles are really a continuation of Fenella (below). I have included a scan of the entire page.

Fenella ‐- Face Of The Nineties and Fenella Is A Winner! – I remember interviewing Fenella George, and I definitely wrote one of these articles but can’t remember which. I may even have written both.

Gary Stretch ‐ The Punch Perfect Model: At the time I wrote this I was a boxing fan, but I lost interest in the sweet science almost overnight thanks to Herol Graham, but that’s another story. Although he wasn’t quite as talented as Graham, Stretch had a similar style, was just as charismatic and even better looking. I was really gutted when he lost to Eubank. I bought a ticket for one of his fights – and he didn’t disappoint. I actually interviewed him on a train, at some point he gave me a signed photograph – to “Alexandra” – and was pleasantly surprised at my boxing nous, having been introduced to me as a fashion journalist. I had to let on that I was both a boxing fan and a Gary Stretch fan, and we had a long conversation in which he explained to me how the apparently daring style he adopted was not quite so outrageous. I remember him stressing that most movement came from the hip, so sticking his chin out was one thing, but hitting it was quite another.

Although he didn’t succeed at the very highest level, Gary was still one of British boxing’s success stories, and with his stunning good looks the progression from boxer to male model to film actor was inevitable. Good for yer, Gary.

Another sad note, here – sometimes I think there are more crooks and liars in British publishing than British prisons. Although Marcel wasn’t keen on running the Stretch interview – whyever not? – he did publish it eventually after some gentle prodding. I spun it into a secondary article which I hoped to sell to Boxing News; after typing it up I sent it in, and in due course received a phone call from editor Harry Mullin. Very impressed, yes, we’ll use it, come in and have a drink sometime, blah, blah, blah. The end result was that he strung me along for months and months, and didn’t use it. Then much later, an entirely different interview with Gary was published in the paper. Rot in Hell, Harry.

Kostas Grivas: The original title of this article was Kostas Grivas: Photographer, which will give you dear reader some idea of just how minimally most of my contributions to Model Journal were edited. Following publication, Kostas wrote to the paper to thank us for the interview and to clarify a couple of points. This letter appeared on the front page of the Dec/Jan 89/90 issue.

Lucy & Debbie: I’m not certain I wrote this, but I remember interviewing them.

Model Journal At The Clothes Show Live: This is a scan of pages 9-12 of the February 1990 issue. I remember interviewing Claire Surridge and one or two others, but don’t think I contributed to pages 9 or 12. Marcel is the old guy on the far right at the top of the final page.

Models And Media People Needed For A Good Cause: I’m not absolutely certain I wrote this; as with A Question Of Judgement (above), the article has been poorly subbed. That may have been the reason it appeared on the front page of the next issue too! These are large format scans; the hard copy of the second is actually about 9 by 7˝ centimetres.

Models And The Stage: The first of these articles was published in the May 1990 issue; the second was published the following month. Each article focused on one particular drama school.

Our Cover Girl: This is the only time a Baron article has made the front cover of any publication, apart from one of my own, that is. The story is on page 2; though I’ve included a scan of the full page, the other articles were not written by me.

Profile: Sacha Lilac International Make-Up Artist: An interesting aside here, it was pointed out to me at a party that some people had read some innuendo into this article, of a sexual nature, which was more than I did. I can’t remember if the woman who told me this was the one who asked me to ring her at her office/studio or whatever. She was somewhat older than me, and I never did.

Watch Out For The Normal People: I remember interviewing these two loonies. [See also Model Journal At The Clothes Show Live (above).]

Alexander Baron

May 16, 2009

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