She orders the Chateaubriand and then cuts the meat into small pieces for Edward Van Halen II, who is snug in his duffel, tucked under Angie's seat. I opt for the salmon. It tastes like two-day-old Mrs. Paul's fish slicks, so I offer my dinner to Eddie. "If you're not going to eat it, I certainly am not going to give it to Eddie," Angie says.
When dessert arrives, King Edward II's food taster does not offer her Häagen-Dazs Carmel Cone Explosion ice cream to the royal pooch. Between spoonfuls Angie talks about the world she has known since that day in 1985 when her mother took her to a modeling convention at the Akron Hilton. There an agent from New York saw her potential, and soon Ginnie was making the 10-hour drive to New York, and 15-year-old Angie was modeling for Seventeen magazine. At 16 Angie's minimum hourly wage was 16 times what she would have earned slinging burgers at some fast-food joint back home. "There were a lot of good things about it, like the fact that before I even had my driver's license, I bought a new gray Honda Prelude," she says. "But I missed out on a lot, since I finished high school a semester early to model full-time. For example, I had to ask my brother Mike to be my date at the prom." When Angie was 17, she left for Milan, Italy, to work in the industry that has formed her adult impressions.
"Modeling is so misunderstood," she says. "People don't think it's a real job. I can't tell you the last time I slept four straight nights in my own bed. To someone who lives in Ohio and works in a factory, sure my job is glamorous. It's so hard to be a normal person. Why are people called stars? Because they're so far away from the ground. You can get caught up in all of it. But it's a very short-lived 15 minutes. You have people telling you you're beautiful all day long. It's tedious sometimes, and sometimes it's nice. It's my family and friends who keep me grounded."
A disembodied voice interrupts her. "We will now be showing Free Willy," the loudspeaker announces. Early in the movie, the little boy, Jesse, is at the edge of Willy the whale's tank. Suddenly, like Poseidon rising from the deep. Willy shoots up out of his pool, and Angie lets out a shriek so bloodcurdling that I scream, too, emitting a screech I normally reserve for horror movies. The shrieks alarm the poor woman in 9G, who cracks her knees on her tray table. Angie and I laugh at ourselves—it's not as if Willy would snack on a little boy in a G-rated flick—and then, the marks from Angie's fingernails etched in the armrest, we watch the rest of the gripping tale.
At 7 a.m. the 34-foot Winnebago pulls up to a deserted lot in East L.A., North Beach Leather's first location. All the beautiful people, still recovering from their 5 a.m. wake-up calls, tumble out onto the garbage-strewn street. Homeless men push grocery carts full of their belongings down the street. DOGSY, RISM, ROXIE and BROMA have left their signatures on the walls with cans of spray paint. "You know, this actually looks beautiful in the lens," says Michael, who owns North Beach Leather.
A broad, affable man named Harold, who's in charge of the video for North Beach Leather, is shooting Lucienne, the makeup artist, as she carefully brushes Angie's eyelashes with a substance that resembles pine tar.
Harold moves in for a close-up when Angie takes over the eyelash task. "Have you ever poked yourself in the eye?" Harold asks Angie as she applies mascara to her eyelashes. Angie nods. "Sure, lots of times." Harold continues, "It's just so close to the eye...."
"When did you make that startling discovery?" Lucienne hisses. "Imagine that! Eye makeup, actually close to the eye."
Harold recoils. Angie blinks hard. Bits of muffin fall from my mouth. It's tough to digest attitude so early in the morning.