My Agent, Bill M.

Two weeks after the Cavalier photo shoot, I drove to the Gowlands’ home to collect my $200 payment, hoping they might have another job for me. Alice Gowland was expecting me but still seemed annoyed when she invited me in; her annoyance, I soon discovered, was not directed towards me but at a middle-aged man sitting on her sofa. She attempted to politely dismiss him while I stood waiting for my cheque. But he continued talking, and then introduced himself to me – his name was Bill – and asked if I was a model. When I said “yes” he asked if I had an agent, and I said “no.” He was an agent; that was obvious from the conversation I overheard between him and Alice. He asked if I wanted additional jobs, to which I replied “yes,” and then wrote down my name and telephone number.  Alice finally got him to leave and went to her office to retrieve my cheque. She was very polite, but cool, thanking me for my cooperation and saying that it had been nice working with me. She said nothing about any further modelling jobs, didn’t even offer a vague, “I’ll be in touch later.” It was a dismissal and I knew it – no more work with Peter Gowland. As she opened the door, she said I should “stay away” from Bill. I nodded, as though in agreement, but thought to myself, “Why?  You are not offering me more work.”

First Set of Test Photos

That evening, Bill phoned. After a short conversation about my background, he said he would like to take some “test photos” to show photographers who might want to hire me. He asked if he could come up to the apartment the next day (Sunday) to shoot them. I agreed. I lived with my mother and son, so I felt comfortable about this arrangement, as I was still wary about appearing nude with only a photographer present. Now I realize that Bill was sensitive to the feelings of new figure models and he suggested this arrangement precisely because he knew I would feel safe.

Sunday afternoon, Bill shot about twenty photos in my bedroom. (He shot two of my son and me also, to give my mother. Bill could see that she was a bit anxious about my nude modelling, and he did this, he said, to “please her.”) A week later he gave me copies of some of my “test photos” (as well as the ones he shot to please my mother). During this shoot, Bill used only one strobe light in addition to the natural daylight streaming through my bedroom window. For props, he made use of my basic bedroom décor. It’s obvious from the photos below that he wasn’t a professional photographer, but he was good enough to provide an indication of how I appeared in front of a camera.


Second Set of Test Photos

Bill phoned a couple of days later and said he wanted to take some better photos of my face using natural daylight. Given my work schedule, this had to be done the following weekend. These photos, taken outdoors in a “friend’s” backyard turned out to be among my favourites. My all-time favourite is the top one. In it, I am wearing almost no makeup, just some neutral lipstick and eyeliner. In couple of photos, Bill tried to get me to look more “sultry” and I am wearing a bright red lipstick and have filled in my eyebrows. Bill also took a few full-length photos of me wearing dresses. The patterned dress was my favourite; I have pictures of me in it taken in the summer of 1959 – 3½ years earlier than these photos were taken. (In the 60s, I didn’t have lots of money to purchase clothes and so tended to wear the same few dresses to work.) The oriental dress was one that I kept for “evening dates.”

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished photo taken for modelling portfolio.)

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished photo taken for modelling portfolio.)

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished test photo.)

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished test photo.)

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished test photo.)

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished test photo.)

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Test photo taken by agent.)

Gloria Dawn by
Bill M. (Unpublished test photo.)

I like the above picture because it is a good rendition of me in everyday life.  I have personal pictures of me taken in this dress dated June 1959 (3½ years before the above photo was taken).  The shoes were the same ones I wore every day to work — note the two-inch heels, I didn’t wear anything higher.  I wore only light lipstick and my hair was this carefree all the time.  The only extra makeup I’m wearing in the above photo is eyeliner.  I liked the look that eyeliner gave my eyes but it also irritated them, so I only wore it on special occasions, like dates or when modelling.

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished test photo.)

Gloria Dawn by Bill M. (Unpublished test photo.)

I purchased the above dress in October 1959; I have a picture of me wearing it just before going to a Halloween party.  I also have a picture of me wearing it on my 23rd birthday (July 27, 1963).  So this was another dress that lasted more than 3½ years.  I only wore it on special occasions.

My Accessories

Note that the bra and panties worn in the top photos, and the gold shoes in the bottom photo, appeared in several magazines over the years. These were accessories that I possessed before I started modelling. The panties finally gave out near the end of my blond modelling period, but the bra and gold shoes stayed with me until the very end of my career. You’ll see them in Elmer Batters pictures of me, in Michael LeRoy photos, in Ron Vogel photos, in Phil Jacobson photos and in Jim Sullivan photos. The gold shoes are in pictures taken on my last day of modelling.

3 thoughts on “My Agent, Bill M.

  1. I love the story about first meeting and shooting with your agent, Bill, but I think a couple of questions were raised that weren’t addressed. First of all, was that really the end of your professional relationship with the Gowlands? That seems a little petty of Alice Gowland if she decided to cut you off simply because you were looking for more work with someone else. And she warned you to stay away from Bill. Did you ever find out why she said that? Did he ever give you reason to regret hiring him as your manager? Did he find you a lot of work or was he just looking for pretty, young women who would pose nude for him for free? I hope I’m not prying too much with these question, but it seemed to me that your story needed a little more resolution.

  2. Yes, that was the last time I saw either of the Gowlands. I didn’t even know that Alice used several of my test photos in the book she was writing “Peter Gowland Photographs the Figure.” (Alice really wrote the books; Peter gave her the technical information needed to put in them. I assume that Alice also played a major role in choosing the illustrations.) I don’t know if she cut me off because I worked for someone else or if she simply felt there was no more use for me after the Cavalier shoot. I do think that at some point she would have been aware of all the Ron Vogel photos and should have cursed herself for putting wigs on me. But I simply don’t know. I never heard from her again. She warned me to stay away from Bill mainly because she didn’t like him, that was obvious when I entered the room. I don’t think that she liked all the competition and Bill was providing models to the competition.

    Bill did find me quite a bit of work, but he also sold some nude photos of me (to third-rate magazines) without having a Model Release Form — these were some of the test photos he took. But he definitely wasn’t just looking for young women to pose nude for him for free. He found me work. Unfortunately, his number of contacts was limited. He met these photographers because he also developed their color photos. (All the photographers developed their own B&W photos, but they had to send out their color film to someone like Bill for developing.) Other than the photographers that he worked with, he didn’t have many contacts (to provide, for example, pinup work, or trade show work, that many models did in Los Angeles.) Bill was fine as an agent while I was modelling part-time (supplementing the full-time income I received as a secretary), but he did not have the contacts to provide work for full-time models.

    I know that Paula Angelos left him shortly after I met her. Maybe she was tired, also, of the fact that Bill couldn’t provide steady work. Paula then went into burlesque, which was steady work and paid much more than the nude modelling sessions.

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