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I knew the REAL Gia Carangi--This Movie is Trash!
on September 2, 2014
Gia Carangi, Sandy Linter, Wilhelmina Cooper, I knew and worked with them all. I was NOT best friends with Gia, just same circle of mutual friends, who are all long dead now. But Oh, the stories I could tell. I know the real Gia story to a Tee, but it would literally take me HOURS to explain every single detail. I usually don't speak about dead friends and acquaintances because it is tacky, but there's just a few things I would like to clear up so bare with me. The people of the world now idolize Gia, but only because she is safely dead and she can't effect or interfere our haunting little fantasies with her troubling reality. Sad but true.
Angelina Jolie is a gorgeous and talented actress, but she was such a huge miscast for the role of Gia. Period. She has a striking, unforgettable face, yet did not capture the essence of who Gia really was. Gia was a lot of diffrent things to a lot of different people, but Angelina did not accurately portray any of those things. However, she did a great job as an actress, and I suppose that's all you can hope for.
The HBO movie was trash. Yup, thats right, trash! It left so much out and stretched the truth and embellished on Gia's story turning it into typical melodramatic Hollywood nonsense. Not to mention that the real Gia's eyes were brown and not blue like it is portrayed in the film which is BLASPHEMY! If your gonna make a film about a real person, at least get eye colour correct. And don't even get me started on all those terrible wigs they have Angelina wearing. If people think they know Gia from watching the movie; they have no clue what it was really like, just being around her or around the people who knew her. I knew and was roomates with some of the people who helped make her. Tony V (Fashion Illustrator who died of HIV over 20 years ago). Tony had just started traveling to Paris when Gia came into the picture. Steven R and Meisel G (party promoters and gay socialites) were young and brilliant and considered the taste makers. They were the fashion police of the 70's and 80's. Believe it or not GIA was a model that was considered "ugly beautiful", that sounds crazy given her beauty but after decades of same Cheryl Tiegs look, her thin lipped, no curves, all American girl next door look. But when Gia came with her ethic look and perfect breast, brown hair and dark brown eyes and full lips, and curvy hips, she was like an attractive Drag Queen. And considered a sexual sensation. This moment in time even the ugly girls who were not attractive in real life worked for top designers and celebrities because the main Vogue editors and the agents wanted BIG HIPS and FULL LIPS and the bigger the better, skinny and blonde was out and brunette and voluptuous was in. I was close friends with D Cohen ( hat designer) who knew Gia from the age of 15 in philly when he would party at this one gay club called "Oz" that was entirely Judy Garland themed. He told me she was a tomboy and wore smelly clothes and would not wash her hair in weeks and wore a dirty tee and jeans and when they walked down the street on Gia's "Go-Sees", but men would still stop in shock and whistle at her. For the time, her beauty was something that was unreal. Though there was airbrushing then, it was nothing like the technology that exists today. She was a bombshell, Gia still looks better than most models of today. All in all, it was a time and place that will never be repeated, a time and place when people actually had to have REAL raw talent to make it big, with help of word of the mouth. Nowdays anybody can be famous thanks to things like YouTube. It was a time and place when elegance and class still existed and the fashion world was a much more private place. Back in those days, nothing like the internet existed, so you had to be truly gifted to get noticed! So it was a lot more difficult to make it than it is compared to now. But Gia didn't really care much about the glamour surrounding her, she didn't even like being a model.
That being said, people who could care less are often the most beautiful and mesmerizing. And Gia, being THAT attractive really had no clue how beautiful she really was. Gia's beauty was more of like a cruel curse to her because it seemed like nobody could get over her physical beauty to see or appreciate her inner beauty.
We felt sorry for Gia, even before she made it big, she was always lonely and always by herself much of the time and in a HUGE amount of pain, that no one could fix. She would drive across town in the middle of the night just to get a hug. It was very sad. She was also an extremely sweet person but had a bad temper. If you made her mad, you had better run!
I was the most naïve one of the group of friends. Being an assistant I was nobody important, my job was to get the models like Janice Dickinson and Patty Hansen whatever they wanted. I think Patty was the one who introduced Gia to Heroin. Overall, I knew little of their ways and extreme drug use. On Thursday nights they would buy thousands of dollars in Hash, Heroin and Cocaine and it would be all gone by early Sunday. My old Friend Way B (Magazine editor) was a major player and between Steven, Way and Tony, GIA became the "IT" girl overnight, literally. Sadly most all are dead now, and Gia was born at the wrong time, being a Lesbian was something that really tormented her and her family. Tony V was one of the most brilliant illustrators of the day and his work is still considered directional. And Gia was like his living muse. He used her image, her slighty androgynous face and her overall symmetry as a guideline example for much of his artwork. If Tony had lived, he would be the most talented man in the fashion world by now.
Despite looking so feminine in her fashion photos, Gia was really tough and butch in person; a big ole bull dyke. She was very street smart in spite of being a poser who came from a rich neighborhood but told everyone she was from the ghetto. She always carried a switchblade knife with her and walked like a truck driver and swore like a sailor. Her few shows ( Perry Ellis ) were funny in a sad way, she had to learn how to walk in high heels and hated it, yet she was on the cover of Vogue that season wearing Ellis ( pink hand knit sweater I think). Polly M and Patty H loved her because she was so new and different, being a brunette in a blonde hair blue eyes dominated industry. She was praised in the same way model Esme was a few years earlier for her thick dark brows. It was a time to love away from the typical ford model norm.
Janice Dickinson, who came around the same time frame Gia did, experimented with her own sexuality and did a lot of drugs also. She's a mess now but she is like a cockroach, somehow she survived all the craziness around her. She tried desperately to take Gia's spotlight, when Gia was the REAL first Supermodel, NOT Janice. But Janice was still a very beautiful girl at that time, and I guess you could say she was second runner up and quickly took Gia's title once her career started deteriorating. Gia and Janice were cool with one another though, they would horse around on set when they were at the same shoots and Gia would flirt all the time and say "Hey Janice, lets go get some Tequila, let's go get some mexican guys and Lesbians and party!" And Janice would reply "Gia, this is Vogue, this is Vogue honey! Not a Village People music video!" Once Janice hit on Gia because she "missed her boyfriend" who she would fight with a lot, but surprisingly Gia didn't bite. The other models however hated Gia, mostly cause she was gay and for a short while, more successful. They hated the fact a Lesbian was more successful, and beautiful than them. Especially one who hadn't been in known that long. It got so bad, Gia had to be separated from the other girls who she would send flowers to, she would flirt with the other models and hit on them, and the models would freak out and complain to the agents. One girl even broke out in hives she was so flipped out.
You have to remember, this was a time when being gay was still an extremely taboo thing, not nearly as open or accepted as it is now. If you were a homosexual back in 1980, you didn't flaunt that sh*t, you kept it to yourself! So for Gia to be queer, it was always a "What? No Way! But she's so beautiful, how could it be?" Type reaction. People told Gia she was too pretty to be gay, which was devastating to her.
When the 20/20 interview aired on TV that was about the dark side of the fashion industry, I had already moved back with my parents in California. I was transitioning from being an assistant for the models and makeup artist and looking into getting into being an assistant for Tv commercials. But I would still go to Atlantic City and NYC to visit during work and school breaks. The 20/20 special was more like a cruel joke because by the time it broadcast Gia's career was in the toilet.
Scavullo really did love her. Him and his BF sean who I met through Tony put her on her final Cosmo cover, as a gift. I personally believe they gave her that cover because they knew that Gia's career was over, they wanted to try to give Gia a chance at a comeback, but it just didn't happen. The sparkle that Gia once had was long gone. In appearance, she looked TERRIBLE by that point. The HIV had already done a number on her beauty. They had to airbrush the heck out of that last cosmopolitan cover. And sadly, other than Scavullo, I really don't think that anyone gave a f*ck for anyone else. It was all about making magic and money.
Then Gia suddenly disappeared just as quick as she came, and which gave her the nickname "Shooting Star". I was lucky and saw her once after she left the industry. It was at a GBLT bar in NYC. She was with her then on again off again girlfriend "Rochelle", they were always fighting, and Rochelle wasn't even attractive! Guess it's true what they say, you cant help who you love. I said "Hi Gia, remember me?" And Gia gave me a hug. But Rochelle gave me a dirty look. Then Karma Chameleon by Boy George came on and Gia went to the front of the bar to dance. That was the last time I saw Gia alive.
I dislike when people make snarky or callous remarks about Gia, like she deserved to die or something because of her recklessness. Yes, Gia was a MESS, but she certainly wasn't the only one in that troubled place and time. Gia wasn't the only model who used drugs, she wasn't the only model who had a bad reputation or showed up late, if at all. Gia was just rather, unlucky. But definitely not unique when it came to self destructiveness. There were plenty other girls who were just as physiologically messed up as Gia was, AND THEN SOME! Some models even committed suicide. Gia was not the only girl in the business with serious mental issues and inner demons. They almost want to make it seem like Gia was some big ole Italian, Lesbian junkie who was beautiful yet tragically careless, which is not true. There were times when Gia was surprisingly very boring to be around. She wasn't that intelligent, she wasn't "too good for this world". Gia was just at the right place at the right time, and then at the wrong place at the wrong time, basically.
In the end, it didn't matter how beautiful Gia was, like many of the lost souls in that drug infested era, there was no happy ending for her. She didn't have a chance from the start.
Back then people in that circle were dying like flies when the AIDs first hit, there were deaths weekly! Gia was NOT the only one who got infected. A lot of good people who didn't deserve to die did die because of this virus. So much wasted talent! And because there was no medication for it then, it was a really horrific demise. It really was something that a lot of us couldn't comprehend, it was scary! Looking back, it still haunts me. And it was worse for Gia to have AIDs because she was gay, and back then people were not as educated about the virus as they are today.
This movie lacks the in depth truth about Gia's life struggles and the people and retionships around her. It does not portray Gia in an accurate light. Skip this film, you're being lied to, read the book "Thing of Beauty" by Stephen Fried instead.