It’s me, Sim-Wise, with another blog. I’m sure there is another way of working it so that when we write it comes under our names but so far I haven’t figured it out yet. Bloody websites!
Today I am going to talk about FRIENDSHIP because it is something that I think we all struggle with a little bit. In the Sexy Business (that weird sexy world that models and sexy content creators inhabit) friendship is really important, yet it is also a place that really tests friendships to the limit due to its inherently competitive nature. It can be hard to trust and befriend people doing what we do, but I am here to tell you that you should always TRY - if not to be friends then at least to be nice.
I super struggle with the idea of friendship and the process of making friends. I have ADHD and Aspergers so I can find it hard to read people as I am very literal. As a teenager I was incredibly socially awkward, which lead to more than a few horrible experiences where “friends” were Point-Horror-level nasty to me. Because of that, I tended to keep to myself, and avoided BIG GROUPS OF GIRLS like the plague, because honestly, we are all a bit evil when we gather en masse.
However, this is a blog about FRIENDSHIP not AVOIDANCE! So in the nature of all that is chums, I am going to tell you a little story about how me and Von became friends. I used to be a little bit obsessed with Von y’see. All the way back in 2005 or something when I was making my tentative start in modelling while living with my then boyfriend’s parents in Kent. I would spend all day not washing and smelling bad, lolling around their computer room in my dressing gown collecting pictures of models like a complete weirdo. This was a hobby of sorts, and something that I had done for years, since I was 15 and had gotten my first desktop computer. I absolutely rinsed my 100MB hard drive collecting pictures of Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra and my favourite (before she turned anti-vaxxer): Jenny McCarthy. By the time I had gotten to university I had found a new obsession - Masuimi Max - and it was through her work with FUEL that I discovered Von.
When I first saw Von in an errant copy of Max Power Magazine I literally thought she was the coolest person in the world. She just looked so maddeningly confident. No lie, I was such a fan it was embarrassing, and I collected loads of pictures of her that I would take with me to shoots to try and recreate. Eventually I shot with a photographer called Mark Barnfield who had worked with her and knew her quite well and he was like “oh you should totally just message her, she’s really nice” and I was like “whattttt, no I couldn’t do that, she’s TOO COOL”. So anyway I ended up sending her a massive long nerdy email asking if she would shoot with me and she was like sure! And I properly freaked out and the next thing I know we are on a 2-day shoot in Wakefield and I was terrified. Of course, Mark was right - she was super nice - and during that northern sleepover we became friends. She even convinced me to join the FUEL girls for all of… oh… three weeks or something (another story for another time).
Von wasn’t anything like I thought she would be. Of course she was confident, but she was also an absolute secret SUPER GOTH who introduced me to all kinds of weird stuff like Rotterdam Terror Corps and Trevor Brown. Her interests varied wildly from Japanese gore anime to Slipknot. As a pretty nerdy person myself I felt like I had met a kindred spirit in Von in that we could just be properly unapologetically weird together and it was okay. At that time she was the only other weird model I had ever met, everyone else seemed super groomed and polished whereas Von would just wrestle me and make me smell her earhole cheese. She had a mad kind of sexual energy which as a borderline asexual I used to find simultaneously terrifying and attractive. Due to my combined deathly fears of vomit and vaginas, nothing ever happened, even though we decided one night (when we were both drunk and single) that it would. We went on a “date” to see a Marilyn Manson tribute act in Camden and both took so much Ketamine that Von K-holed and was repeatedly sick on herself causing me to run away into the night like the terrible friend that I am... because I thought I was a puppet. Which was pretty much a standard night out for us, thinking about it. We were never very good at drinking or drugs, but that didn't stop us. Don’t even get me started on the time she “accidentally on purpose” made me smoke skunk to get over a bad break up - I thought I was a scorpion in a Linkin Park video!
We went out partying SO MUCH that we had to cut down and started doing a thing we called “party bursts” where we would spend ages getting ready to go out and taking stupid photos for our respective columns (the best bit) and then we would go out for exactly one hour and have the MOST FUN WE COULD POSSIBLY HAVE before getting anxiety, going home and trying to get an early night. Which never happened because Von had insomnia, so I would just lie there, scared to breathe, silently terrified of Von’s sexy goth energy.
Over the years that we knocked about together, we never really talked about our problems. We both must have just thought that the other had it together whereas independently we were both complete messes and both in the midst of pretty serious mental health battles, which Von touched upon in her last blog. Back then, people didn’t talk about mental health much, least of all in the modelling industry. We were told that we were lucky to be where we were so we didn’t like to admit to anyone that we were struggling. But oh gawddd were we fucking struggling. I spent A LOT of time trying to kill myself over various stupid boyfriends and Von… Von did A LOT of drugs.
At the height of our struggles we fell out pretty massively, over boys (what else), and we didn’t speak for almost five years. I guess in my head I thought we hadn’t been as close as I thought - that we had just been good times, party friends and nothing more. But during those years I came to miss her terribly, especially after the birth of my daughter, and it was only when my husband repeatedly caught me hardcore lurking on her that I decided to get back in touch… which took a lot of courage and encouragement as I am stubborn as all hell. We spoke and it turned out that Von had been hardcore lurking me too! She knew everything about my life (as I did hers) so we didn't really need to catch up with much and honestly, the past few years have been a joy. She was even a goth bridesmaid at my wedding!
Back in the day, whatever I did I wanted Von to do it with me, and that still rings true now. When I was first approached by FRONT to write a column for them they asked if I knew anyone who could write their sex advice and Von was my first choice, I just knew she would be really good at it. I made sure she got the cover of Bizarre after mine and literally any job that came up I would always sing her praises. Which is why in our line of work friendship is important - not only does it get you MORE work (not less!) but it makes you happier too.
I think sometimes in life you meet people who really bring out the best in you, who you really want to see be happy and shine. Von is one of those people for me. And even though we fell out for years I am so glad to have her back in my life as while individually we will always do well for ourselves, when we work together it just has a certain magic.
So next time you are looking enviously at that creator who seems infinitely cooler than you, just think - they could be your best fucking dork mate and you don’t even know it. So get out there and say hello!