A while ago I spent some time in Los Angeles with a well-known (and self-described) “naked model” who spends her weekends working with photographers of all levels. Although I will not name her, many of you may recognize who I am talking about; she is a former Penthouse Pet, and widely respected in the Internet modeling community. For good reason, I hasten to add.
She is also, during the week, a very successful fashion model, with one of the top agencies in the world. In the largely commercial market of Los Angeles, “fashion model” doesn’t mean quite the same thing as it does in New York, but she does routinely work with fashion clients, many of whom know of her “other life”, as does her agency. Clearly, she is able to make it all work.
In smaller cities I have heard tales of conservative clients who insist that their models never have posed for nude pictures. There is even suggestion of clients who rummage around the Internet, looking for nakie pictures of commercial models to disqualify them from modeling for their corporation. My personal view is that such stories are largely the stuff of urban legend, although there may be some isolated cases where something like that happens.
In New York, commercial clients never ask about what else a model does, or has done. Arguably, there is, for some of them, an implied request that a model supplied by a commercial agency not turn out to also be a Vivid contract girl, but it is never explicitly stated.
The “high fashion” (editorial fashion) community of New York is a little different. There, “branding” is important (it is not in commercial work), and a carefully nurtured image of the model is created to make her – uniquely her – more valuable. It can be true (has been true) that a “bad girl” image (from porn or glamour) has been used to create a valuable fashion persona, but generally anything related to “glamour” (or, almost worse, “commercial”) is the kiss of death to such branding efforts.
All this is made more complicated by the fact that a non-trivial portion of commercial modeling is glamour, even though not usually stated as such. The stereotype is the Budweiser Girl (St. Pauli, pick your brand . . .), but glamorous young women are certainly used in commercial advertising quite frequently.
All that said, I agree with the generally given advice that keeping glamour and more mainstream modeling work separate is a good idea, at least unless an agency disagrees, and that tear sheets from one discipline (whether it be fashion, commercial or glamour) should not be used when marketing yourself to another.