**A few weeks ago I was talking to a long time friend.
Her show had just been canceled and work prospects were looking a little grim for this season of shows.
It was probably going to be a lot of guest starring roles rather than recurring and definitely no main roles.
At some point we started talking about yachting and she admitted she has done it a couple of times to supplement her income.
Early summer can be slow and she speaks French which makes things much easier.
I asked her if she wanted to write about her experience.
I changed some of her descriptions to make them a little harder to guess but other than that, it is pretty much how she wrote it.** I’m an actress.
A generally out of work actress.
If not for voice over work, things would be bleak right now.
I had high hopes for this past year but the show I was starring on got canceled.
It happens a lot.
I was on a hit network show for a few years.
Just a recurring role.
It was a vicious back stabbing show.
Oh, not for the guys, but for the women on the show.
The women who were the original cast members were fiercely protective over their turf.
Unless you were a female A lister just coming in for a week or two, they would do whatever they could to show you the door.
I came in to it about halfway through the run of the show.
Here I was, on this great show, but I was not guaranteed anything other than one episode at a time.
The main cast were locked in.
Whether they appeared in a certain week or not, they got paid.
What also hurt me is that I couldn’t get any other work just in case this show needed me.
For a whole season I would wait by the phone.
Meanwhile, I still had all my expenses and the money was quickly being drained from my account.
It was on the show that I started talking to another actress.
While we waited for a scene to be set up, we would talk.
Hours of free time gives you a lot of time to discuss things.
It was not that long ago that I was working every week in a pretty good show and making quite a lot of money.
I decided to buy a house.
Then, the star of the show got tired of acting and just like that, the show ended and I was scrambling.
I told her this story and she said I should think about heading to Europe for the summer.
She had done it before.
She didn’t tell her boyfriend at the time who is now her husband about it.
He thinks she was there to do some magazine shoots and promotional appearances for products.
The more she talked about it, the better it sounded.
I have been on television since I was 10.
In my home country, everyone knows me for a certain role I did when I was young.
Throughout my teen years I worked a lot.
The jobs didn’t pay as much as a network show, but things were good.
At the time, you think things will always be great and you will work full time.
So, I didn’t save as much as I should.
I was young and I thought the money would just keep rolling in.
As I got a little older, the parts I landed were bigger and paid more, but they were more infrequent.
I would get a network show and it would last for two years.
The money was great for those two years but then it would get canceled and you would be looking for a job for the next year.
By the time you landed the next show and got paid, most of the money you made in the last show was gone.
I’m not complaining.
Just trying to explain.
Each week you never know if your job will be lost.
Will the show be canceled?
Will the audience hate your character and you get fired?
Will you ever get another job if you do get fired?
I remember on my first movie, I thought I knew everything.
I had been working for a decade and breezed into work, excited about this new challenge.
I think it was day 3 on the movie when I was told I had to f**k the lead actor in the movie or I would lose my job.
The thing is I had known this actor for a long time.
Apparently he is the one who had me cast in the movie and now was payback time.
I didn’t know he cast me.
I didn’t know he liked me like that.
My network show I had been on just ended.
I had nothing lined up but this movie and a crap movie someone talked me into doing.
I needed this paycheck.
I did it.
I slept with the guy.
I have hated him since.
I have never seen anything he has done.
He is a f**ker who took advantage of the situation.
I had known him almost my whole life but he was willing to have me fired unless I had sex with him.
On a side note, after filming I went to do a guest shot on a television show supposedly leading to recurring and the lead actor in that show said he heard from the actor I had sex with that I was good to go.
I said I wasn’t good to go and wouldn’t have sex with the lead of the show.
Instead of the recurring role I was promised, it was a one off thing.
A week later they brought someone in who would have sex with the actor and she got the recurring role.
So, back to the present day.
The actress I was talking to made it sound super easy and that she only had sex a few times with guys while yachting and that it was mostly partying and being arm candy.
I asked her what I needed to do and she said she would introduce me to the person who could make it happen.
Tomorrow our actress goes yachting.
One day I was talking to my co-star about being on a yacht and a few short weeks later I was flying to France.
It was a blur.
She made a call and that night we went and had drinks with a woman who gets a fee for sending people to model.
That’s what she called it.
She had some fake British accent which sometimes turned into a fake French accent.
“You’re there to look pretty.
A yacht is elegant and so are you.”
The comparisons between myself and a yacht went on and one.
Owners of yachts liked to have parties and needed to fill those parties with models.
Again and again the word model.
I guess that line would work with someone who was new to acting or modeling, but to me it sounded fake.
Fake like the agents who will get you a part if you pay them a bunch of money and use their photographer to take your head shots.
I think this woman’s spiel probably worked best in small towns where she probably advertised in Craigslist.
She would get a group of them in some Holiday Inn conference room and show them photos of yachts and parties on yachts.
Sprinkle in a few pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio and other hot looking actors to really get them excited.
Then dangle that money carrot and international travel and most of them were sold.
I saw Leonardo DiCaprio when I was there.
He was at a restaurant having a drink surrounded by a bunch of guys.
My reality was a bunch of sweaty, overweight guys who thought they could dance and had too much body hair.
Oh, which they liked to show off.
Anyway, blah blah blah went the recruiter.
I was already in.
I knew what to expect and I also knew I needed the money.
Oh, lets talk about the money for a second.
First of all she promised to pay $10,000 per week.
Each trip was one week. I would get $2500 upfront and then the other $7500 while I was there.
My co-star already told me about this scam.
Apparently the $7500 was what a model could expect to earn if she slept with a guy each night of the week long trip.
$1000 a night was the going rate.
The thing is though that wasn’t guaranteed.
I didn’t want that kind of guarantee.
My co-star said she learned from the models brought in that none of them were told they would have to earn the $1000 a night on their backs.
They assumed that the whole thing was legit and would actually get paid the $7500 on the ship.
The vast majority of the women my co-star encountered just partied on the yacht and never slept with anyone.
They just took the $2500 and the airplane ticket and had fun.
They would be where they needed to be, but never ended up having sex with any of the men.
Those that did often got screwed over because they guys wouldn’t pay them anything or would give them a fake Rolex or something similar as payment.
There were boxes on the ships filled with fake French handbags and Chanel jewelry.
I told the woman I wanted my fee.
I was treating this like an acting job.
I would play the model part to a tee.
People know my face.
People know my work.
My fee at the time was $25K per episode and each episode took a week to film, so I wanted $25K upfront.
When I fly somewhere for work, I always hope for first class, but will settle for business class.
I thought that was fair.
The woman kept going on and on about some crap about how they could not afford to pay that.
My co-star told me $25K is what she got so I knew I could get it.
Plus, they use your name to recruit other women to go.
Two days after meeting the woman, the money was in my account.
I didn’t have to share it with my agent or manager or lawyer or anyone else.
On my flight to Paris, I didn’t notice any other women who looked like they were “models,” but when I got to Paris that all changed.
My flight landed and I was met by a guy holding a sign just like any other limo driver would in the US.
The only difference is this guy was herding everyone on to a bus.
A flight would come in and four or five other models would get on the bus.
I landed around 8am so I only had to wait on the bus for an hour.
Some of the models had been there since 5am and waited and slept as the bus filled.
I guess I assumed I would get to Nice by plane or train but had been put off when I asked and only told that someone would meet me at the airport.
A hundred women all on a bus.
Most were wearing just regular clothes.
Many though had obviously either gone straight from a club to their flight or they thought they were going to be put to work immediately upon landing.
I’m not sure how some of the women could even sit because their dresses were so tight.
Almost all of them left nothing to the imagination when they sat.
A guy with the most enormous pinky ring I have ever seen gave a welcoming speech in French and then in English.
Then, another guy who looked like he beat people up for a living spoke in what I later learned was Russian and Polish.
Well over half this bus was filled with women from Eastern Europe.
My co-star told me more and more women from Eastern Europe were being brought in because they were willing to have sex every night.
Less women from the US and other countries were being brought over because so many were not having sex.
The men on the yachts either paid a fee to get on the yachts or in some cases were being wined and dined to write big checks.
Especially with the fee paying guests, they expected sex for their fee.
Apparently some companies charged as much as $2000 a night to these guys for all the liquor, food and women they could manage.
If I was a guy on the ship, I would be ticked off even if I was going to get laid.
First of all, if it is a dinner/night cruise you are actually cruising.
There are very few places to actually have sex.
You have to wait until 3am when the yacht docks and then take the woman back to your hotel or wherever else you are staying.
Chances are though, she has to be back at the ship by noon for the afternoon cruises.
Those are where the guys go out on the yacht a mile or so off the coast and then everyone plays in the water.
The models are all in the tiniest of bikinis.
Most are topless.
The guys are trying to slam their junk into the tightest Speedos they could find and look ridiculous.
I hated the afternoon cruises.
There was a lot more groping and staring.
You would be in the water and some guy would grab you and touch you.
They wanted to shower with you when you got out of the water.
They wanted to rub oil on you and have you rub it on them.
At night, guys wanted to dance and drink and eat and knew they had a long night ahead of them before they could try and get you to f**k them.
During the day, they only had three hours and they were on their worst behavior.
It was drinking and hot sun and between the groping and comments and picture taking, you just felt like a piece of meat.
I know that is an expression that is used loosely.
Not in this case.
Guys with cell phones and video cameras and cameras were in your face.
If they saw some poor model passed out they would film her and grope her all while she was being filmed.
For the most part it was a three hour sexual assault recorded.
I hated it.
There was not enough hot water to make me feel clean after those day cruises.
Almost all of the women had hotel rooms on shore.
A couple who were favorites of the people running the tour would stay with those guys in the yacht.
The rest of us were six to a room in a hotel.
The routine went something like this.
You would get up around 8 and there would be a hangover slow procession to the showers and then makeup in time to get to the yacht around 11:30 for the noon cruise.
You would cruise until 3 and then make your way back to the hotel where we would nap until 6 or 7 and then get some food.
We would then do the procession thing again and get back to the ship about 10pm. We would then cruise until about 3am and head back to the hotels and sleep.
Some mornings we would get a call in the room and some model would be requested by a private yacht.
These were the guys with the big money.
These were the ones most of the models wanted to book.
They would do anything to get on those yachts.
Those were the Russian oligarchs and rappers and businessmen.
They were the actors.
The handlers hated sending women over to those gigs though because they never came back.
That would be one less person for the cruises.
By my last night there, half of the women were gone.
Most of those had moved on to private yachts.
Some had just quit.
Some had ended up with some guy who they liked.
At least one person from my week overdosed.
I get asked if I would ever do it again.
Never. Not a chance.
I stuck it out because I got paid to stick it out.
I never walked away from a gig where I was paid and I treated it just like that.
I have never felt more degraded in all my life.
Some of the women there had been doing it for a year.
They had moved from the Caribbean in the winter to the Med in the summer and never planned on quitting.
I hated it.
I cried for a f**king week when I got back.
I got invited to go to Cannes to promote a show I was in.
The only time in my life I begged off.
I want no part of that city for awhile.
I never slept with anyone while I was there.
My co-star said most women don’t, but in my experience, most did.
In my opinion, half were looking to make as much money that week as possible and the other half wanted to find a husband.
I will say that the week I was there, only two or three women I met were American.
When my co-star had been, there were well over half.
Did I mention how much I hated it there?
Vanessa Lengies (Montréal, Québec, Canada)
Cancelled show: Second Chance
Hit network show: Glee
Other actress on “Glee”: Naya Rivera
First movie and star: Waiting/Ryan Reynolds
Guest show on TV show: Leni Hayes/Moonlight
Lead actor: Alex O’Loughlin
Replacement: Tami Roman (of the “Real World: Los Angeles” and “Basketball Wives LA” fame)