|For one sweater shoot, Scott Brown stared at breaking surf on a Fire Island beach with model Julianne Phillips.|
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Armed with his Cosmo portfolio of photographs, Brown decided to plunge into the New York fashion scene where male models could bring in up to $1,500 a day. Taking a leave of absence from BC Law School, he enrolled at Cardozo Law School in Greenwich Village and made the rounds of casting directors. Within months, Brown signed on with the Wilhelmina agency, whose catalog trumpeted his impressive vitals: “Height: 6’1”. Suit size: 40R/L. Shirt 15½, 34-35. Waist 32. Inseam 34. Shoes 10. Hair: brown. Eyes: brown. Excellent hands.”
With his classic looks, Brown was used for catalog work by retailers like Macy’s and JC Penney. Stylists put him in trim men’s suits, conservative sweaters, and predictable ties and leaned him against computer consoles and executive desks. Many liked his hands, which were strong and unblemished.
Dan Deely, director of the men’s division at Wilhelmina at the time, remembers him as “a good-looking, normal guy. He was not European-looking or exotic.’’
Deely, who now lives in North Carolina, says he also remembers Brown because of his professionalism. At the time, a certain quarter of New York nightlife was dominated by hard-partying and heavy drug users who frequented such celebrated locales as Studio 54, The Underground, and Plato’s Retreat, once regarded as the world’s most infamous sex club. Brown writes in his book that although he visited those places, he turned his back on drugs and drank only orange juice or at most a beer or two. Deely says he believes that is true.
“Scott was very professional, very businesslike,” said Deely. “People who focus on modeling to make money cannot live crazy lives. We see and talk to them several times a day, and you cannot be hung over or strung out. Scott was a decent guy, and he did not cause any problems of that sort.”
But Brown was no homebody, either. When he joined the surging crowds waiting outside Studio 54 or another hot spot, door keepers routinely ushered him inside. As Brown describes it in his memoir, “ ‘Hey,’ the bouncers would say, ‘It’s the Cosmo guy.’ ’’ And the first time the Cosmo guy walked into Studio 54, “Steve Rubell and Calvin Klein tried to rip my shirt off as kind of a prank to, ‘see what you got’ as I went in the door. I was pissed; I didn’t know who they were or why they were doing it.”
On another night Brown attended a birthday party for Christie Brinkley at the nightclub and wound up going home with a New York socialite with a low-cut dress. When he woke up the next morning, he wrote, he could not recall where he was and his memory of the evening had been erased, “as if someone had slipped something into my drink, which is probably what happened.”
After nearly two years, Brown returned to Boston and resumed his studies at BC Law School. But he continued to work, then represented by the Boston agent Maggie Trichon, into the late 1980s. Around the same time, he met his wife, Gail Huff, a well-known local model, and the two of them occasionally worked together.
Brown modeled for several companies, including WearGuard, maker of uniforms and men’s clothing, and KingSize, a retailer of clothing for large men. His hands clasped executive pens for American Express and Fidelity. He also appeared in a host of newspaper store ads displaying men’s clothing and underwear, according to several photographers who worked with him. In 1984, he was the chief model for the Bernat Yarn & Craft Corp.’s catalog, which featured him in 14 poses clad in their bulky cardigans while contemplatively fingering hay and saddlery.
Several photographers and stylists say they liked working with Brown partly because he was reserved and got the job done without much talk, but also because of his appearance.
“Scott had a very versatile look, very handsome,” said Carolyn Ross, a Boston photographer who worked with Brown a number of times. “You could put him in a working-class outfit and then in something nicer, and it worked. He did not always look the same in every picture, which is valuable from a photographer’s point of view.”
Brown, however, has not always recalled the sessions quite so vividly. Nearly two decades later, Ross coincidentally won a charity drawing in which the prize was a lunch date with then state Representative Scott Brown. But Ross says that when her husband called Brown’s office to arrange the lunch and mentioned Brown’s work with Ross, Brown’s secretary said he had never heard of her.
“She said that Brown had never modeled for anyone and had never heard of me and didn’t know what my husband was talking about,” Ross recalled. “I thought it was so odd because when you are in public office it is hard to keep a modeling career hidden.”Continued...