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KRISTEN by Riley John-Donnell

How Are You Affected By Seeing Your Image Printed? Evaluating yourself by
how beautiful you look in a magazine? "It affects me enormously. Tearsheets
have been my life. If I sit alone in a hotel room or go home to visit my parents,
I'll feel like I'm nothing and I'll have to open a Versace book and look at it to
feel important. I swear. It's a bit sick...I can page through a good story the
whole night and just say 'Wow, that's me! That's me, wow, that's me!' Or I can
look at a horrible picture of me and say 'Oh God, I'm so horrible, I'm not a model,
I'm ugly.' I am. I'm always slightly scared that they will discover that I'm not
supposed to be a model (snorts and laughs). God, I hope I get over it. What
do you think it is that sells your image? It doesn't sell. I don't get any campaigns.
I really get very few. But I think I get photographed more than any other girl, as
far as editorial goes. Why do you think that is? I have a blank, blank, blank face,
and you can really make me look a thousand different ways Like the photos in
*surface. I look kind of goofy in some, and glamorous in others. I think the
photographers and the designers have kept me in the business. They have fun
working with me-I really beleive that.With Avedon and Stephen Meisel the creative
energy is so amazing! But then they'll try to get me for a Ferretti campaign, and
[the client] will say "No way!" {laughs) That's happened a few times. Actually,
about 24 times. Anna Wintour [of American Vogue], she can't accept me either.
My "face isn't sellable," so they say. But I'm good on the catwalk. (Laughs) I have
big shoulders. Like my baby [Lily, two-and-a-half years old] said to her nanny,
"Oh, Phatima you have big boobs," and I said, 'And mama?' And Lily said, "Mama,
you don't have boobs, you have shoulders." I love that one. Mama doesn't have
boobs, she has shoulders. I think you've made a large mark In the Industry.
Have you stepped back to analyze your own impact? It seems like the trend
right now is toward more of an accessible kind of beauty and lifestyle. A lot of
girls now can look imperfect, and still be cool and beautiful. You know? Like
Stella (Tennant) and all those girls. I don't want to pat myself on the back, but
maybe I was the forerunner for that whole thing. Those three big powers, Karl
Lagerfeld, Steven Meisel and Peter Lindbergh, took this weird-looking girl and
liked her personality, and pushed her-me. They had the strength to promote this
kind of [awkward] beauty. How would you like for the public to perceive you? I
have no idea. I guess I would like them to think of me as they do Claudia Schiffer...
ln what sense? Haaa! (she cackles) Just kidding. I hope people see me as a little
more down to earth, someone who isn't that beautiful-but who has made it. It was
my dream just to be popular, not even a model. I mean, when I was young I couldn't
get a date. 1 guess I was given the bone structure and all that, but I am not a
pretty girl. I chased being a model...l chased it until my feet were bloody. I wanted
it sooo badly. Did you ever do anything self-incriminating to get it? No. I never gave
a blow job. Never stepped on anyone-l just worked my ass off and posed in front
of the mirror. A lot. And now that you have what you wanted? I know it sounds
cliched, but I was always in awe of fame. And fame has turned my dreams into
reality-the problem now is that I don't dream anymore. So what takes precedent
now? What is your priority? It's not about money for me. I'm 32. I've been doing
it for 14 vears-I'm still going. I don't make that much money.* I make enough to
support myself and my baby. My priority is that I want my daughter to be happy,
I just don't want her to be fucked up. So I think I need to stay young at heart. I'm
not scared to stop modeling, I I'm not scared that one day they're not going to accept
me, because they damn well always will! (she laughs) I mean, If you become-well,
you know (I shouldn't mention the name), like Cher. You'll want to be [physically]
young forever. I don't want to be that way; I don't want to fear aging. What about
whan the modeling start* slowing down? You know what? I've never planned anything
in my entire life. I've never even had a filofax, let alone a computer. Just lucky? I'm
damn lucky! God is going get revenge on me one day: it's all just going to overflow
like cham¨pagne bubbles onto a very dirty floor. So absolutely no plans for the future?
I don't like to plan anything because it gets fucked up. But okay, I hate to sound so
cliched-but-well, acting. What scares you about the cliche? People would expect
perfection. I made myself perfect as a model-I mean, as perfect as I could be.
Believe me, the public's level of expectations for model/actresses aren't too high.
Good point! (laughs) I'm an exhibitionist-an entertainer in my heart. I couldn't be
behind the scenes. Everyone says I have great taste in fashion and should be a
stylist, but I couldn't dress a girl: I'd be so fucking jealous! (laughing) I'm not going
to make a young girl look good-no way! Like I said, I couldn't even get a date in high
school. I was a gawky, unpopular girl. They called me 'skeleton.' Do you relive this
pain when you go back home? I don't see anybody but my family. But I still feel like
the little Krissy who would come home from school, go to my room and cry. I was not
allowed to show my parents my emotion; I still kind of put on an act in front of my
parents. Do you feel like you've attained vengeance on the past: or on past tormenters?
It's not like, 'Haaa, look at you.' It's [more] like, 'Thank you, Lord!' I want to give them
money or something. I mean, they're probably work¨ing at Pizza Hut. So 'let 'em sling
slices?' Exactly. Do celebrities owe something to the public? Of course we do. We give
them fantasies, and they want to touch the fantasy. Being asked for an autograph is a
privilege. Oh, these little bitchy [model] girls, complaining about it! I'm sorry, but with
every job you have to give up something-you have to com¨promise. They are complete
brats to the public. I'm not mentioning any names, but I clump a few of them together.
They want to have beautiful tearsheets and pictures and work with the best photographers,
yet they don't want to give an autograph to someone who admires those pictures-who [buys]
the fantasy. Do you want be a role model? I'd like to show people I'm a fucking human being.
I worked at Roy Rogers, I'm the same old girl from Buffalo. Celebrities are a part of the public
(just like] the next person. The other night I was at a party ,and they blocked off an area for
the stars to dance in.The stars werenít dancing.So I got up on stage,took off the ropes and
told the crowd, ĎGet up here! Everyone get up! Ď And we all danced. Those people danced
and had the best time: and most of the celebrities just sat there looking down at me. A
bodyguard came to me and said, ĎDo you need some help ?í And I said, ĎIím having fun,Iím
dancing- so get the fuck away!í Itís ridiculous . Actually, the one thing I donít want people to
view me as is a role model for single mothers. I donít believe in single motherhood. My
pregnancy was an accident, but I am happy to have her. Still, I donít want the press to say
Iím an example like Madonna wants to be. Or like Michael Jackson is, for single fathers.
I donít believe in just going out and having a baby- thatís the end of the generations of happy
people. THE END OF HAPPY PEOPLE? I truly believe in destiny, but I also believe that family
and friendships make for happy people. There are happy taxi drivers with pictures of their kids
hanging from their rear-view windows. It gets disgusting to see these girls complain because
they canít get a pair of shoes. So you think there's a formula for happiness? I think it's genetic.
In a way, it's what your family has taught you. Did your family teach you happiness? Well, I
had a very distant Roman Catholic family. I had six [siblings]. We never learned to hug or kiss,
or say 'I love you.' My parents were kind of afraid to show their love for me; that's probably what
their parents did to them. As a baby, my mother probably put a blindfold on me while I was
breast-feeding. I don't know, that's probably where my exhibitionist side comes from, (laughs)
Are you purposely raising Lily differently? I wish I was married-well, not to Lily's father. 1 wish
for a family life. I'm not intentionally raising her against the way I was raised. But yeah, I hug
her and kiss her and I'm free with my body around her. [I] make it natural and not a dirty thing.
I mean, I never saw my mother naked. Do you envy anybody? I envy happy taxi drivers. I
swear to God. I envy those people who are happy just doing their jobs. I have to see good
tearsheets to be happy. I've been to so many countries, and never really seen them. I get
off an airplane, take a picture, then go home. And years of modeling and three passports
later, I don't remember where I've been. I never [expe¨rienced] the cultures or saw the famous
monuments. Now I realize that all I want is a family. Who knows, maybe Miles [Miles Aldridge,
photographer of the images which accompany this interview] will marry me. Be a surrogate dad.
You seem like a 90s woman-have you asked him? Yes. Really? Well, he asked me. And?
I threw the ring away. I've thrown four rings away. First, he gave me a really nice gold band,
very expensive. I threw it away. Then he got a little cheaper; I threw that one away. Then he
bought me one from a gumball machine-l swear-and I threw it away. This time, I have a beautiful,
simple diamond ring. So is that a yes? It's a yes. Set a date? No, we haven't told anyone. But
people have seen the ring on my finger. So you've been flashing it around? (laughing) It's small
and beautiful. Actually, I bargained it down, and got him a ring too-got it all for seven hundred
bucks. So is Miles going to make a good pop? He's learning so much...I've seen him change so
much in the last year. He loves Lily, and Lily loves him. Yeah, he's going to be a great pop. Not
to mention the baby will be beautiful. Another one? It's off the record, (hysterical laughter) Our
original concept for this spread was to photograph Lily styled as a representation of you. You
were worried? Well, she's starting to do modeling poses and to 'walk the catwalk.' I think she's
becoming a little obsessive. She has to go to nursery school and learn how to play with blocks
first; I don't want her becoming a Shirley Temple case. God help her, I hope she's ugly! (laughs)
Why? I don't think I'd let her become a model, she'll be smarter than that. I would like her to have
a career, be married, have a family, do whatever she wants to do as long as she takes care of
her decrepit old mother. No life in the spotlight?. All celebrities are kind of fucked up-I'm talking
about myself also. We are not happy people. Are you fucked up going into it or do you think
you're fucked up because of it? Both. Maybe they lacked love in their youth and now they need
to be adored. If you asked 90% of the population if they would like to be a top model or Michael
Douglas or somebody like that, they would say, 'Yes!1 But if they really knew the's a
lonely life, living out of a suitcase. Okay, so you've seen glamorous places and met glamorous
people. But those people are damn boring. I'd rather have the dream of looking at a movie star,
instead of knowing him. Just like fashion-l don't buy clothes anymore. I put on old slips over what
I've dug out of my closet. The fantasy is over...its sad. Once you've met Elton John and Prince,
and kissed Katherine Deneuve and flown in private jets with Karl Lagerfeld, you start to get-oh,
what's the word? Desensitized? No...Jaded? Exactly. You get jaded. It was nice to have the
fantasy, but now that's what I'm creating for other people. Are you troubled by anticlimax?
At the moment yes. I have to decide where to go-if I take the acting route, things could possibly
end up worse. But where can I go? I can't go back to Roy Rogers-! won't wear that hat again and
say 'Howdy, partner!' I could be a mother...but I still need an outlet to perform, (phone rings)
Oops, that's probably Michael, (switching tones) Did you hear he has breast milk sent to him?
He took the baby from his mother and has her milk shipped in. Is that an example, or what?
Who is what example? Michael Jackson. You're expecting a call from Michael Jackson? I don't
know him. Oh-I thought you said that was Michael on the phone, (bursting into laughter) It was
a joke! Yeah, he's just calling to ask for my breast milk, (laughs) But you know, at least he's
trying to have a family. You really do believe in family as the formula for happiness? It's about
those taxi drivers, with the pictures of their kids hanging from their mirrors. Close family and
friends. You know, in the end, it's not about wearing a Versace dress.*

 Article: SURFACE USA s/s 1997