I figured Jenny Shimizu would be the same after seeing her strut on a runway modeling fashion on the E! Channel a couple of years ago, and standing silently in black and white for Calvin Klein's advertising campaign. Everyone knows that she's supposed to be a tough mechanic with the short, cropped hair and the tattoos, but I figured it was clever posturing by The Man who's creating an image. But on the morning of our afternoon hookup, she left me a message, "Hey, Eric. Anyways, I was working on a friend's GTI all morning, and it's 1:30 and I'm sitting here wondering if I should bondo my car." So I broke in and started asking her if she uses Husky brand tools, to which she barfed and cussed me out and started professing, "I use Snap On, Bitch."

She didn't bondo her car, but she did pull a dent from her '72 Scout and then she finally agreed to get out of her tiny garage and into our office. Along with her came her ass-whipping lady, Florice, to back her up since Jenny was scared. But it was no big thing. N8 was watching my back, so the battle was even. The first thing I had Jenny do was check out our gas line and stove since it wasn't hooked up. She said it would be an easy thirty minute job. These days Jenny isn't working mindless in front of the camera, she's using her brain and hands to earn her tool money.

GR:  Am I allowed to ask anything I want?
JS:  Go ahead, feel free. Just ask. I'm just sober samurai. That's all I have to say.

GR:  How much money did you make for a photo shoot?
JS:  I made a lot of money during those times. The last thing I did that was a lot of money was the Pirelli calendar.


GR:  Tires?
JS:  Yeah, Pirelli. In modeling, if you get the calendar it's one of the top jobs in the world. I know it sounds weird out here. It's for Italy, but it goes all over the world. If you do the Pirelli calendar, it's the twelve most beautiful women in the world. Every year they do it. They vote, and it's not mechanics and stuff voting, it's actually photographers and everybody like that. That was the last job I did in New York City.

GR:  The Pirelli calendar?
JS:  Yeah, and it's actually in the Pirelli museum now. My aunt wrote to me and told me it was on Entertainment Tonight. I don't even watch that. I didn't even know about the Pirelli calendar until I got it. It was one of those things that I was like, "Oh, another happy, lucky thing happening to me." Like I said, I wasn't striving to be a model. I wasn't trying to be most popular.

GR:  Who else was in it, Pamela Anderson?
JS:  No. Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer. They do it almost every year.

GR:  Was that the first time you ever did that?
JS:  Yeah, it was the highest level of modeling you can go. That's when I moved back to LA because I really didn't want to be a model. You know, if I aspired to be a model for my whole life, then I'd be staying in New York and all that. But I didn't. I had my fun. Now I want to use my brain a little bit more.

GR:  Who votes for this Pirelli thing? Herb Ritts?
JS:  Well, Herb Ritts is not so much a fashion photographer. He's more of an LA doo-dah. In LA, he's postcards. In New York City, fashion photography is so different. There are Gods and stuff, like Bruce Weber. There's people like Avedon. I worked with him. That's who I did the Pirelli calendar with.

GR:  Avedon?
JS:  He's insane, and it was great because I'm kind of insane myself. So we ended up just going crazy the whole day and then I had to get hired the next day because we didn't do any of the work we were supposed to do. We were playing like we were gorillas for the entire day. I got paid another day which was a lot of money.

GR:  What was going on?
JS:  He was like a little animal and so was I. We had fun. He was nuts, so I was like, "Alright, I'm going to go nuts, too." He was fun. They actually got me a chaperone for three days to wake me up, come get me, and to take me to the place.


GR:  How much money did you make?
JS:  Oh, God.

GR:  Could you buy a car with that money?
JS:  I could have bought a lot of cars with that money. I made a lot. I made a little bit over a million dollars in three years.

GR:  No way.
JS:  I swear. The Avedon job, for Pirelli, I was paid $20,000 a day. It's a lot of money, and then a lot of money is taken from you from your agency. Especially when they are thieves. They still owe me. Don't let your daughters grow up to be models!

GR:  Did you make more than the photographer?
JS:  No, because I was working with people like Bruce Weber.

GR:  They make more than $20,000 a day?
JS:  They make 50 grand a day at the least. Richard Avedon's fees are $100,000 a day and all he does is run around and act like a gorilla. Just genius. Mismatched shoes, just the mad scientist. I love that.

GR:  Did you like the photos they took of you? Did you look at it and go, "Hey, that looked good"?
JS:  I'm like, "Oooh, who's that hot motherfucker?" Actually, I really don't see myself. I look at those photos and I go, "Wow, that person is photogenic." But I had a problem because I wouldn't associate it with being me. The photos I always like of myself were just the ones without make-up. I was always a mechanic. It's so different because I guess I never pictured myself as being someone who was going to be physically... Physically photogenic? ...to so many people, and people would pay me all this money to take my picture when I think of it as a joke. That's the thing that's kept me sane, I think. Especially for me, if I start thinking like, "Oh, my God, I'm dirty. Oh, my God, am I going to have zits?" Because I do right now. It's not good. It's a lot of money, but it's not worth the shit that happens in your head. I don't want to be like all those 14, 15, 16-year-old models that are so twisted now. It was very painful to see the changes in these young girls who weren't finishing high school because they were making all this money. But you could see that if they don't marry a rich guy... because they're not going to save that money... it comes as fast as it goes in New York. You don't keep track of it when you're 16. A half a million dollars is so much money. You just blow it. You don't realize there's taxes, there's drug dealers, there's your parents you have to pay off and all that. No, I'm kidding. Not that, but it's so true.

GR:  What would you do with all your money? Would you go shopping and spend like crazy?
JS:  I wouldn't do that. I'd go shopping...

GR:  Did you buy yourself a Prada bag?
JS:  That's the funniest thing. I never bought myself a Prada bag, but I bought some other people Prada bags. I went out with a bunch of whores. But I did buy a lot of things for other people. It was dirty money to me. It wasn't like now. I'm doing art department and stuff for films, and I work hard. I feel like I earn my money. I feel a lot better about it. I don't mind having a lot of money, but there are different, varying degrees of integrity.

GR:  Can you still get those jobs?
JS:  It's harder now that I moved from New York, because in LA, there's not really modeling here. It's more commercials, TV, and all that. I can't sell butter or something normal out here. I have stopped. I have an agency. I don't call them anymore. I don't do anything like that. I don't know what it is but I think I'm taking a break. I've gotten some acting things. I'm gonna actually do that thing with Margaret Cho coming up. And I feel like, you know... I don't know. I feel kind of weird about sitting around all day and getting made up. For certain things it would be wonderful, yes, but in LA it's kind of... Not a lot of good photographers come out here. It's more cheese-ball. I don't want to do a Hush Puppies commercial or something like that. Maybe I would do it if they offered me one. I moved out here to do a different thing, to do something different.

GR:  Do you know what it is yet?
JS:  Well, to do something that feels more human. You know, like contributing, not being so selfish.

GR:  Where did you live?
JS:  I lived in a huge, beautiful, gigantic loft. When I first moved there I lived near, right across about two streets down from... What is the big building there?

GR:  The Empire State Building.
JS:  Yeah, the Empire State Building. I lived there in a huge loft with a fireplace, and it was sick. I was like, "What in the hell?" Because I moved from Koreatown in LA. I packed my bags for three weeks. I was going to go shoot with Bruce Weber. I ended up staying in New York City for three years with one bag. I got this loft from another model that was one solid floor, the seventh floor. I had 20 huge French windows. It was my place alone. We used to skateboard in my loft. We had huge parties. I lived there by myself and I was lonely, but I was living.

GR:  Damn.
JS:  It was all luxurious. I moved to a two-story loft, an even bigger place. It's famous. It's on Greenwich Street and I can't remember the name of the building. It's an old, huge building that's right on the Hudson River. The Archive Building. Yeah, it's this famous loft building in New York City. Very posh, let's nosh. No, I did a limerick. I threw these extravagant parties and I played basketball because it was two stories so I attached a hoop. And, yet again I was lonely, too. It was so extravagant. And I never lived that way before and it was so boring to me.

GR:  Did you save your money, all of it, or some of it, or whatever?
JS:  I didn't save practically any of my money. Also, a lot of legal things happened to me that I wasn't expecting. Like ex-psychopathic, criminal minds I ran into.

GR:  Ex-? Like who?
JS:  A whore. She and her mother. It was a team. They robbed me.

GR:  Is that over now?
JS:  Yeah, I kissed that goodbye. It was just to keep that bad energy out of my life. It was worth it, a small price to pay.


GR:  You were sitting next to Madonna? Was that during her Dennis Rodman phase?
JS:  No. That was after her Dennis Rodman phase. It was like Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman...

GR:  She went out with all those dudes?
JS:  Yeah. I prank phone-called Charles Barkley. I loved it. We were in the back of her Mercedes and she's like, "Prank Charles Barkley." I was like, "Dude, I don't want to prank Charles Barkley." So when he got on the phone I was like, "You're stupid," and I hung up. Sorry, Charles.

GR:  Were there other basketball players?
JS:  Well, Shaquille O'Neal I heard. She did definitely go out with a lot of people. You know, whatever "going out" means. I heard him rap one time... Am I going to get sued for this?

GR:  No. You're just making it all up.
JS:  This is all fiction. I actually stayed at Madonna's house in New York City for a short bit when I was in the process of moving between lofts. She was gone in Los Angeles...

GR:  Did you eat all her food?
JS:  Not only that, but I danced naked in her bedroom. You can't use her bathroom. You have to go in the bathroom next to it. I would sit in her bathroom and use it. I would do number one and number two...

GR:  What were you doing there?
JS:  Just dancing with my poop in her bathroom. She let me stay there again, when I moved back to LA and was looking for a place to live. She has a lot of houses all over. So when she's not there or if she's there, she's very kind that way, very generous.

GR:  You never peed in her bed?
JS:  No, I never peed in her bed. Anyways, I've heard Shaquille O'Neal rap while being on the toilet. Rap into her phone machine while he was on his toilet. Can you imagine the visuals right there? He is a huge man. I've never come across a bigger man in my life.

GR:  Was the rap in reference to him taking a shit?
JS:  No. It was already gross enough. It was so bad. It was kind of like what he does now. It was so bad that I wanted to take the tape because no one would believe me and how funny it was. He's like, "I'm Shaq....I'm Shaq...I'm Shaq..."

GR:  Could you hear farting in the background?
JS:  I'm serious. "I'm having a Shaq attack. Excuse me. I'm Shaq and I'll be right back [fart sound]."

GR:  What other basketball players? She doesn't like the little guys? What about Spud Webb?
JS:  Spud Webb is my man. I would have to fight her. I love Spud Webb. He's the slam dunk champion, he's so teenie. He just makes me...

GR:  Feel good?
JS:  Yeah, he makes me feel good.

GR:  Why does Madonna have a bunch of Asians in her video? You were in that video.
JS:  I was not in that one. I refuse. Wait, which one?

GR:  "Rain." Didn't that have nothing but Asian people in it? What was up with that? Does she like Asian guys? Or Asian ladies?
JS:  She liked Asian me, all right? I don't know. Maybe you're in the mood for sushi one day and one day maybe you're in the mood for tacos.


Read the rest of Jenny Shimizu's article in GR10!

|  GR10  ||  Jenny Shimizu  |  Simply Jeff  |  Karen Mok  |  Slick  |

Copyright © 1998 Giant Robot.