Hand collage art

Hand Modeling is the Gateway Drug to Body Parts Modeling

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The highs and lows of a Beverly Hills body parts casting call.

After brainstorming for ways I could make money, I decided hand modeling seemed like the right get-rich-quick scheme for me. I have a vague memory of being told I have nice hands by someone — probably me — so off my imagination went to the millions of dollars I’d make holding things.

When I Googled ‘hand modeling L.A.’, there seemed to be only one casting agent who held open auditions — Body Parts Models, Inc. If not for an open audition, an audition where anyone is welcome, I’m not sure how hand models are discovered.

I imagine being in the food court of the Glendale Galleria mall, holding a soda delicately, but with gusto. A hand modeling scout sees the practical and purposeful way I make a medium-sized paper cup gleam. “Excuse me, miss, you should be a hand model,” he says to me. “I’ll think about it,” I say, taking his business card with my nimble fingers.

Body Parts Models, Inc. lists audition instructions on their website. The first step was to paint my nails with Essie’s Ballet Slipper pink — two coats. I found Ballet Slipper, among Powder Me Pink and Fairy Wings, admired the sheer, purchased it with a coupon and headed home. I figured a manicurist would not be open to someone micromanaging them, so I did my nails myself. The color looked amazing on me. I was ready to hold cilantro for a grocery store ad.

The next day, I drove to the audition in a Beverly Hills neighborhood. The street was full of older homes that seemed to be inhabited by elderly couples enjoying a quiet existence on Coldwater Canyon Drive. The residential home aspect made me cautious to go in, but there was a trustworthy sign taped to the door directing “talent” (who me?) to enter from the back (hopefully not a euphemism). I opened the back gate (not a euphemism) and before me stood a crowd of the best and most desperate of America’s hopeful body parts models.

I found Ballet Slipper, among Powder Me Pink and Fairy Wings, admired the sheer, purchased it with a coupon and headed home. I figured a manicurist would not be open to someone micromanaging them, so I did my nails myself. The color looked amazing on me. I was ready to hold cilantro for a grocery store ad.

I was clearly wrong thinking I had found a niche job market. People were there not only for hands but for any one of the 14 qualified divisions: lip, eyes, hair, neck, ears, feet. I can’t even name 14 body parts let alone 14 I’d like to see modeled in a magazine ad.

The long line wrapped around the pool and swirled through the patio. No one looked the same. I found myself looking people over, trying to guess what they might be there for. You could tell some people had done this before because they seemed to know the process and where everything was. I think someone even brought their own fold-out chair.

A few employees were helping people sign in and directing people to the pool house if they needed the bathroom. I jumped in line behind a shirtless guy. He was probably there for abs or thought he’d make good use of this Beverly Hills home and tan. Finally, the casting agent, Linda Teglovic, came out. Tall and blonde, you could tell she loved her job by the way she importantly stopped to whisper to her two staff members before walking through the middle of the crowd and planting herself at the highest point of the backyard, where I recall the jacuzzi was, making it her stage.

I was clearly wrong thinking I had found a niche job market. People were there not only for hands but for any one of the 14 qualified divisions: lip, eyes, hair, neck, ears, feet. I can’t even name 14 body parts let alone 14 I’d like to see modeled in a magazine ad.

With such a public platform, you could see everyone’s audition. Linda would decide then and there if you were to move on to the photography line, a good sign that you might get signed, or just leave, meaning no thanks. Pretty much everyone went to the photography line. About 45 minutes into the wait, I saw the first rejection. A girl was loudly begging Linda to consider any and all body parts that might qualify. During a pivotal moment of desperation when the girl would not leave, Linda asked to look at her hands again. After a moment of reconsideration Linda approved and off the girl went to go get her hands photographed, her thank you’s fading away as she walked off.

When my turn came, I shared a knowing look with Linda. In an effort to get ahead I had taken photos of my hands and emailed an introduction to her. The photographs were quite an accomplishment for me because I had to hold the camera while simultaneously trying to pose my other hand in a relaxed, demure way.

To get both my hands, I used a self-timer and held the camera in my mouth. Yes, I have friends, and I could have asked them to help, but I recognized the embarrassment and wanted to maintain my facade of self-respect. “These are nice hands!” read the email I got back, along with an invitation to an “Exclusive Model Casting” which was the same public event listed on their website that anyone could see and attend.

A photo of the writer's hand delicately posed.
Sophia Loomis had her sights set on monetizing her hands — pictured here — but discovered a career as a hand model lay just out of reach. Photo by Sophia Loomis

Linda asked to see my hands and I awkwardly held them out while she scrutinized. Her variation of ’no’ was a little drawn out. Something about how she didn’t feel like my hands were good enough and asked if I had anything else to show her. She meant any of the 14 qualified body parts. I do have nice elbows, but I decided she didn’t deserve to see them, so I said no and left.

About a month later I received an email from Linda asking hand models on her roster to confirm attendance for an audition. My misunderstanding of the hand modeling biz was that only one audition was necessary, the one to get signed. From there I thought that if companies selected your photo, you showed up for the shoot.

I could not fathom that it was more work than that. I was wrong. Once you’re signed, you might go on multiple auditions before someone wants to book you. For someone really wanting to pursue hand modeling this may be exciting. For me, it was far too much effort. I didn’t respond to Linda’s email. Let’s be clear, I rejected hand modeling. Not the other way around.

While I have not added hand modeling as a skill to my resume, I do find ways to bring up it up in everyday conversation. Don’t ask me to pass the salt, as it becomes a whole body affair.

“Here we have a fine pink Himalayan,” I say, gently lifting the salt with only my thumb and index finger, pinky up.

Los Angeleno