Thirst is real, and you should, so to speak, hydrate. I love the podcast Thirsted Kit from Slate, where bin Meadowood, me and Nicole Perkin's dig deep into how and why we express desire. Bhiman Nicole, talk about Hollywood and pop culture and sexiness and sensuality. And they've got special guests, original fan fiction and a thirst Somalia to help you select your new crush. It honestly feels like a wicked little brunch with your smart friends. First aid kit from Slate.
Grab a glass of something cold and thirst out loud. Listen in Apple podcasts or at Slate dotcom slash podcasts. Slash first aid kit. The cut.
The cut. The cut. The cut. The cut. I am a model by profession, that's how I've made a living, and models especially are silent figures generally, even in the age of influencer type models. There's a wall, sort of a separation. You know, anything that's ever been written about me in a magazine was often written by someone else or almost always until now.
Emily Rouda Koski is writing in her own words.
I started writing a collection of essays, and this is one of those essays that New York magazine was generous enough to give me the opportunity to publish. And it comes out tomorrow. How are you feeling? Good.
I feel a little like excited and scared.
Emily's essay in this week's issue is called Buying Myself Back, and it starts with a story from twenty nineteen. So I was with my friend in the East Village walking my dog, and I got this text from my mom's ex-husband, who's a lawyer and gets Google Alerts for me.
And he was like, So you're being sued?
And I was like, what for what? You know?
And I found out that it was for a post I had done on my Instagram stories of a picture of me that a paparazzi took outside of my apartment where I'm holding flowers in front of my face, trying to shield my face from from the paparazzi.
Because you have paparazzi pretty much every day outside of your apartment.
I do. Mostly men, actually. I think like men. There's maybe one woman who I've seen like maybe twice in my life. And it's hard because sometimes these images get me right up in vogue because I looked cute when I was walking my dog.
And that's obviously good for my overall image in the world.
There's also this feeling of like whatever image is taken of me on any given day could just be like the image that you see when you Google my name for my whole life, which is a really weird concept.
I told my husband that when we were dating early on because he was like, fuck them, like wear whatever you want and whenever. And I was like Badoo like, think about that.
You know, it's not something I try to think about every day, but it is also a real a real thing, a real possibility.
Although Emily didn't think she could get sued for posting a paparazzi picture that was taken without her consent in the first place. That picture where she is obviously covering her face with a bunch of flowers.
The lawyer who's suing me, who filed the case, he files these cases. Cirilli, like Amy Schumer and Hadeed, had also had similar situations and I talked to them about it. You know, it's a great way for these paparazzi to make money because a lot of people are just like, OK, what do you want? Like, I'll settle with you out of court and it never even goes in front of a judge.
But this one was particularly ironic because I posted the picture to make a statement about my relationship to the paparazzi because I'm like so clearly hiding behind this veza flowers, trying to hide and not have my picture taken right outside of my apartment.
Emily has had a complicated relationship with Instagram long before this particular paparazzi debacle from last year, because when she was rising in her career in her early 20s, she used to feel like Instagram was hers.
I really love it, loved Instagram, especially at that point in my life.
It felt like the thing that where I did have control over my image and what I put into the world and this is who I am and nobody else can curate that.
It was about six years ago when Emily was twenty three, that she learned this wasn't quite the case.
My ex-boyfriend was getting involved with collecting art and I had a friend at a very important gallery. He called him and was like, Oh, this Richard Prince show. Emily's in the show. There's a picture of her from her Instagram, like I'm giving you the heads up because like maybe you could get it.
The artist Richard Prince made a series called Instagram Paintings where he took screenshots from Instagram and printed them on canvas. One was a picture Emily had posted on Instagram after her first appearance and Sports Illustrated.
One part of me was like, Oh, that's so cool. So I understood the Warholian approach to the image and Instagram. And, you know, and I also studied art at UCLA. And my dad's a painter, but I also was like, wait, how much are they selling for?
I think that's that's a picture of me. Like, I that picture was my crop. My I chose to to share it.
Like the curation itself, which is honestly a big part of Richard Prince's process, is like I chose this picture that says a lot, but I chose it originally, you know, so they offered it to us for eighty thousand dollars.
And, you know, I was like starting to make enough money to be able to afford that kind of stuff.
And I was like, it's a good investment from what I understood about the world of art, which was, you know, a decent amount.
Anyway, long story short, the galleries called my boyfriend at the time back and was like, actually, it's old sorry, buddy. Like a big time collector took it.
And then later a friend of a friend told me that the galleries had the piece hanging in his house.
So he's actually taking it for himself and just lied to you about it. Yeah, I mean, which later, like my ex confronted him and he was like, sorry. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately, Richard Prince had made another Instagram painting of Emily. And so Emily and her ex bought it and split the price.
It was probably the biggest purchase that ever made, aside from like a place to live. That was really fancy and a big deal. So when it came, you know, I had seen on line, I had you know, I'd been following other models and whatever, just personalities. And I'd seen that they'd be like things.
Richard Prince, like you sent me the study for this study is just a smaller version of the larger pieces. They were gifting them to subjects. And I was a little bit upset when the when the large painting came that we'd paid for and there was no study.
They called up Richard Prince's studio, who then sent a study to Emily.
Well, at least I have this study. It's like gave me some kind of feeling of like, well, that's fair. Know.
But then I ended up actually having in my breakup with my boyfriend, he asked me to pay for it, so I ended up having to buy it back from him. I still don't have an issue necessarily with the work itself. I think that for me it was about later like having to buy back an image that felt so clearly like it was my gift to me, especially from somebody that I trusted so much and like feeling like, wait, dude, like, come on, that's a picture of me.
Like, why? What are you going to do? Like sell it like sell an image of your ex-girlfriend to make a profit, you know.
You know, for me there was a feeling of like all these these guys, some of them who were like super intimate sort of feeling, they had a right to to my image in a way that, you know, and then when you're negotiating job, it feels really different because you are saying, like, for this amount, I will do this. This will be the usage of it. You know, that's like the basics of modeling. And I also think that the Internet felt really different to me, like the Internet felt like a place that I had a lot of control.
And because I was had this relationship to my Instagram, all of a sudden it was like this thing had been taken off the Internet and been recontextualized as a valuable and important piece of art. Where does this come? Where to my rights and ownership and consent and collaboration come into play. And where is their ownership for the world? Because I've put this image out there.
Yeah. And I mean. You know, what does it mean if we were to let. Subjects have control, you know, you studied art, art history is full of unwitting Dorothea Lange photographs like photographs of people who didn't know they were being photographed. And, you know, if I were to take this interview with you and you were like, I don't like it, what does it mean to give people control of their own public image? In some ways it seems incredible, but in other words, it seems kind of dangerous, you know?
Yeah. I mean, I think about this now. I run my own business and clothing company and we work with models. And I obviously have a different idea of what the best picture is. The they might sometimes I'm like, wow, this puts me in a very like on the other side of this or an even as a writer, like if I'm sure if I gave a lot of my work over to the people I'm writing about, they would cross out all of it.
But as somebody who's worked as a model and an actress, where you're basically like a part of someone else's vision when you are on set and you're there, you are consenting to a collaboration like this interview, for example, like I listen to your podcasts before and was like, OK, I'm going to trust her to edit this and give her this interview. And that doesn't mean that you need to send me the recording, you know what I mean?
But that's really different. Also, if you then, like, decided to take this interview and write a book on it and use it for a completely different purpose, that be really different.
Right. Really, really different. And Emily is actually referencing a specific time that her trust was betrayed in this regard as a warning. The second part of Emily's essay deals with an instance of assault. But first, we'll take a break. If you think you may be depressed or you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, better help offers licensed online counselors who are trained to listen and help talk to your counselor in a private online environment at your own convenience. Better help.
Counselors specialize in areas like family and relationship conflict, LGBTQ issues, self-esteem and more. Whatever you're feeling, better help can help you navigate it. You know, right now it feels like we're all kind of walking through peanut butter in slow motion. Just all the days are sort of blending into each other. And sometimes it's hard to even process my own emotions right now. And I have really found the value in talking it out. You know, it's hard right now.
If you think professional help could ease whatever you're going through right now, check out better help. First, you'll fill out a questionnaire to assess your needs and then they'll match you with the counselor. And under 48 hours, you can exchange unlimited messages with your counselor in addition to your scheduled video and phone sessions and everything you share is confidential. Better help is an affordable option. And our listeners get 10 percent off your first month with discount code. The cut get started today at better help dotcom slash the cut.
That's better l.p dot com, slash the cut. Talk to a therapist online and get help.
Today we are at war with a virus. We are not at war with each other.
I'm Sean Ramos from host of Vox Daily News podcast today explained. And we got Dr. Anthony Fauci on our latest episode. He's been a paragon of patience throughout this pandemic. But this week he seemed to finally lose his cool while being questioned by Senator Rand Paul.
I challenged that, Senator, because I want to please, sir, I would like to be able to do this because this happens with Senator Rand all the time.
Dr. Fauci joins me to talk about why he called the senator out and why, despite all the politics, Americans should still trust the vaccine approval process. And if it turns out somebody tries to force it out, I tell you, I will be one of the first ones that will object to that.
Dr. Fauci, on pandemic politics today explained wherever you listen. Yes, so this piece of that essay, which is really kind of the biggest piece, this this particular chunk was actually like not something that I initially thought I would maybe include. It was something that I couldn't even talk about for a really, really long time. And I think by writing about it, like reading it, editing it, being mean to myself, being nice to myself, feeling all the different kinds of things every time I would work on it, that I was able to sort of be like, you know what, I actually do want to include this in this piece about image and power and consent.
I graduated high school in 2009, so it was the year that the market crashed and I was going to UCLA for art, which I definitely didn't feel like a pathway to a career. And all my friends who were older were like moving home to their parents' houses. And I started to like, look more and more jobs. I started to make all this money are like, oh, my God, like I'm free. So my agent said, I think you should come to New York because that's really where fashion stuff is.
And this is like your opportunity to take this to the next level. So I moved into a city apartment in the East Village that I paid way too much money for and had bedbugs and like a pigeon, built a nest in my bathroom one day just like shit like that.
But I was really determined. My agent that was out here had signed me at 14 and it felt like a really big deal that she had wanted me to take this next step. So one of her jobs was just building my portfolio, which means getting me to shoot with the right photographers so that I have a really strong book, which is just a book of images of me to book better jobs and make actual money. Magazines don't pay money, like if you see a model inside of Vogue or Allura or whatever, they are not being paid maybe like one hundred and fifty bucks or something, but you just basically do it so that you have the exposure and then the book.
So the shoot with Jonathan came up that way, which was that it was an unpaid editorial for a magazine called Dariusz. She sent me this email, Jonathan letter. Here's a link to his work. And I remember seeing a picture of women in like Tallgrass, like very like beautiful heavenly light and long dresses. And like, if anything, I think I thought, like, it's going to be kind of boring. Like, I don't know if I really believe this guy is like a great photographer.
So the whole thing was like, you're going to take this bus, look at yourself. But he will refund you for the fare because that bus fare was like costs a lot of money for me at that point. And it was part of the deal, you know, and I was going to stay at his place for the night, which definitely was unusual. But any time you traveled for a job like you'd stay, sometimes it would be like somebody's house or a hotel or it just depended on the budget.
So it wasn't the most unusual. And yeah, I guess I just was like, whatever my agent wants, like I will do, because I am now following her lead as to how to build my career as a model. It's so important. I mean, people talk about in the industry now like, oh, she's so nice, she shows up and she'll just like do whatever and like it's so convenient and easy to work with. Easy to work with, though often means you don't say no, there's no pushback.
You do what they want, whatever the set requires that a photographer requires.
So when I got out there, he picked me up from the bus stop in Woodstock and he had like a vintage car. He was older and he was really disinterested in me. He seemed like he was very quiet and he seemed kind of annoyed that he had to pick me up, which automatically made me feel super uncomfortable. And then, yeah, we got to his place and there were two kids there. It made me feel weirdly closer to them than to him in some ways, because when I saw his kids, it felt more like, oh, no, you're like a doll, you know, which made him feel more grown up than me for sure.
And at that point, I was kind of late. So I was getting a little weirded out because I remember really running the math in my head of when we were going to shoot and being like, OK, there's no way like the light is now gone. So we have to be shooting tomorrow. Like, we'll probably shoot really early in the morning. That must be what's happening. But a makeup artist started setting up and his kids got picked up and he started making dinner.
He was still really like not looking at me, but the more I felt him being dismissive and more not interested in me and writing me. Off the more I really wanted to prove that I was cool and different and smart, I remember like being like Stanley Kubrick, like what's your favorite? Which is so painful to say even right now. Like, I hate that that's true. When he started making dinner and then make a roast and doing my makeup, he opened a bottle of wine.
And so like, of course I was like, oh yeah, of course. Like I have some wine, I'm sophisticated, you know. And he pulled out laundry and I was like, oh, this is different than what I kind of thought. Like, this is going to be sexy. He was talking more than he was sharing stuff about his ex-wife and his ex-girlfriend, who was only a year older than me. And I remember him like telling me that they had all been living together at one point and that his ex-wife was like serving breakfast.
And the model like put her foot in his lap underneath the table with his kids, like. And I remember getting really stressed, like hearing that story and being like, whoa, this made me feel really uncomfortable. So I was drinking a lot. And he showed me Polaroids of his ex-girlfriend and they were super sexy, like old school, kind of like nineteen fifties, like mouth open, like fluffy hair, like boobies. You know, that was a really weird moment for me.
Now I can recognize it as internalized misogyny, but I felt really competitive in that moment. I was like, oh, he's shot other girls. And I just remember having this feeling of like, OK, I have a lot to prove here. Eventually we started shooting. At this point, it was pretty late, like I would imagine it was like 10:00 p.m. Maybe we went upstairs to this four bedroom and I was really like nineteen forties style hair and rollers that would have been taken out and red lipstick.
And, you know, we shot them and I thought they looked really good and he was like, these are so stiff. I really don't like these, like really disappointed, you know. And I was like fuck up her hair and like take off her red lipstick. Like, I remember he was like fooling with the camera. I was film and was like, let's let's do naked now. You know, I've been shot a lot actually naked before, all by men.
And, you know, there was a part of me that was like really proud of my body because I'm only five seven and I have big boobs. And, you know, I'd go into these castings and there'd be these like tall like I just didn't feel like a model. But I knew that, like, I booked a lot of jobs because of my waist. I like my boobs. And so it felt really good because I would be in lingerie or get naked.
And people were like, whoa, this is like an incredible body, you know? And it felt really powerful to have this like tool. But I think another part of me also, you know, couldn't handle the like intimacy of this moment of like Jonathan and the makeup artist in this tiny bedroom that I think was like maybe his daughters or his kids. So I disassociated. And, you know, I in general, I, as a young person, was disassociated to my body.
And honestly, even now, I tend to do that around my body. And I think it has it is a symptom of modeling for so long. But I remember sort of being like really I was really drunk. So I was like seeing all these lights from the Flash and I was on the bed posing and I was super focused on like what the images would look like, what I would look like in the pictures, not what Jonathan thought of me, not what I was feeling in myself, but like these are going to be really powerful images.
Jonathan kept making little comments about my body that weren't nice. They were like, weird. Things that really have stuck with me, like about my nipples or about my weight and what he thought I was going to look like versus what I look like, and he really didn't want me to look at the poor kids on my own, I think because he was scared that I was going to like Instagram one because he'd made a comment about you girls in your Instagram, like, I don't get it.
But more than anything, it just felt like he was hoarding them, kind of like just the whole night. And he definitely didn't like when I was looking at them, you know, and I would like kind of go over.
But then he'd be like, OK, like moving on.
Like, let's do the next shot the night when I really shot for so long. And we were in his living room and the makeup artist was really quiet and she left, she was like, OK, I'm going to bed. And I remember like a really distinct moment of her leaving because all of a sudden I was alone with him. The next part was just this really brutal memory that I had had buried for a long time because I felt so confused by it, I think is the right way to put it.
We were on his couch talking and I remember it was really cold and he was asking me about boyfriends. And I didn't I didn't realize what was happening until I felt the way he was touching me. Like that was when I was like, this isn't like this isn't right. I never was like, no or stop, basically, until it hurt, and I was like worried for my physical self that I like, didn't I actually didn't say anything. I just, like, grabbed his hand and then he stood up really abruptly and, like, walked out of the room.
And I just kind of laid there and and I had to kind of like make my way up stairs into this, like, cold bedroom that didn't have enough blankets. So it was cold. And I remember being like, what does it mean? Like, what does all this mean? I think I slept very little. I came from upstairs and I remember Jonathan was like, do you want a coffee? And, you know, I said, Sure, I only had like an extra t shirt to wear.
So I threw on a different t shirt, would have on the same shorts. And I remember opening Instagram and seeing that he had actually posted a picture of me from the night before and captioned I Karlee, which was like in reference to the show I'd been on twice when I was in high school for two episodes, and my first feeling was like, that's good. Maybe I converted him a little bit to like Instagram because, like, Instagram is actually cool.
And like maybe he realized that and and also, like, I was worthy enough to post. Like, that means I made enough of an impression that, like, he wants to show that he he shot me. I got on the bus and I remember like hugging him and his, like, shoulder blades felt like and I remember him saying Byrock early and like turning and getting in his car. And I got on the bus and I was freezing.
Like, the main thing I remember is being really cold and it was raining. And I realized, like, he hadn't fucking paid me for the bus fare. Years later, I got a call from a media outlet through my publicist, and they were reaching out because there was a book that was called Emilia-Romagna Koutsky or rather Koutsky, and they were like, oh, Emily must be producing a book. Like, we want to talk to her about it and promote it.
And my publicist was like, what do you know about this? So I Googled it. And there had already been a decent amount of press, kind of like hype, beast type stuff, sharing all these really explicit images of me. And I mean Polaroids that Jonathan had taken of me and Jonathan had not reached out to me directly at all or through channels. I sent an email and like, got a lawyer on the phone.
And slowly but surely it was revealed to me that ultimately, if I did go after him legally, the only thing I could do would be to get a percentage of the profit of the books or have them destroyed. But having them destroyed at that point wasn't that important to me because the images were all over the Internet and that was really what I wanted to not have happen. So I decided to tweet saying, like, this was not this was done without my consent and it backfired.
It brought more attention to the book. It brought them more sales. There were articles like The New York Post wrote an article. This is the art show Emily Rakowski doesn't want you to see. The show in the Lower East Side was like completely overflowing with people staring at these images of me that I had openly said I didn't want in the world, you know, and there were all these people pouring out of this gallery. And Jonathan was like kind of being toasted in the middle.
So it was a really hard lesson because basically I thought, like, OK, I'm going to, like, make my position clear. And then it felt like the whole world was basically like so like, you're wrong. You took these picture like you posed for these pictures and therefore, like, we're going to enjoy them in some ways.
I think, you know, there's sort of a wave of feminism that's like, listen, like we live in a patriarchy, like the way to get powerful and get money is like commodify yourself.
And you learn to capitalize on your sex appeal and your image.
And there's some truth to that. Like, I own a home. I live a life that I wouldn't have lived if I had gone to UCLA for art.
But the truth is, is that ultimately there's only so much control you can have.
He's going to do what he's going to do. And like, I don't have power in this situation. And when I tried to to get power back, it didn't work out for me.
So certainly, like. What is the lesson in all of this, because it's just like there's nothing you can do?
Well, yes, but I'm talking to you about it right now and I wrote this essay. And I think that the lesson is that you carve out control where you can find it and that hopefully I mean, we'll find out, you know, there is some power and something important that comes from telling your story. It's certainly a very specific like obviously we went from paparazzi to Richard Prince to this really specific story when I was 20. Like, it's very specific to me.
But I believe the more specificity and stories, the more they tap into the universal truths, the specificity of it provides like an opportunity to reveal the truth about power dynamics.
That's, I think, actually really universal for women, because we live in a world where our truths and our perceptions are often very inconvenient. So I think when I was thinking about putting this out into the world, I was like, one, I need to do this for myself. And it's really affirming of my reality and like, OK, this is what happened. But secondly, also, maybe more importantly, that other women will recognize themselves in this piece and be like, holy shit, these are power dynamics that we don't often acknowledge and they are so real and they can be so painful and that that's why I'm putting it out into the world.
Now, what I feel is that writing this essay is the best way for me to reclaim power because I'm able to talk about things that I would never be able to talk about had I just commodified my image further.
Emily radicalized. Huh? Uh huh. The Parkers, our show's lead producer, production and editorial support from Allison Barringer. This episode was engineered and scored by Gautam Shriekers, original music by Brandon McFarland and Ray Royalle. Special thanks to Corrine's A Cárdenas sensitising Kurts and Oad White Stella Buckbee in the Shot. Kawa are the show's executive producers. The cut is made possible by the team at New York magazine. Subscribe today to support their work at the cut dotcom slash subscribe.
I'm every woman. Thank you for listening.