Interview: D. R. Hildebrand
by James Tuttle
D. R. Hildebrand, a model, is the author of Walking Marina.
JAMES: Just how autobiographical is Walking Marina? There are some pretty graphic sexual situations involving the protagonist whose name also begins with a “D” and more than one involves a cash transaction. Hmmm.
D. R.: So essentially you want to know if I’m a big ho’. Nope. Sorry, James, it’s fiction. But it feels real—thank you—because it’s inspired by years at castings, listening to models tell some very graphic stories. I started creating a plot out of their diverse and intriguing experiences, peppered here and there with some of my own. But it certainly isn’t autobiographical, which is better because my life really isn’t all that fascinating.
JAMES: You paint a vivid picture in your book of the Great Divide in the business between male and female models, where the girls are working steadily and the guys are waiting for scraps. Do you think that it’s possible that, male or female, the most in-demand faces are getting all the jobs whether it’s Lara Stone and Karlie Kloss or Jon Kortajarena and Clement Chabernaud?
D. R.: Definitely! And that’s part of the reason why I wrote the last chapter as I did, but when women are booking 80% to 90% of all modeling jobs in New York, it’s difficult to argue that any parity exists. An article in V Man a few years back put it all quite plainly: “Modeling has always been a woman’s world—economics and simple psychology have conspired to make it so.” Walking Marina simply exposes this world. It takes modeling, the most obvious exception to patriarchy’s rule of supremacy, and uses it as a mirror.
JAMES: We’ve spoken before about how modeling can be a great catalyst into other careers, even outside the fashion industry. Why do think that is?
D. R.: Models are as diverse in their interests and goals as people in any industry. Some do nothing but model but I meet just as many who are becoming lawyers, working in real estate, writing, teaching, managing restaurants or health clubs. Many segue from modeling into styling, acting, agenting, photography and design, not because it fell into their lap but because they’re savvy and motivated and they used their position to acquire it. This is one of the aspects about models—about perceptions of models—which I hope to have conveyed in the book. I want the reader to think differently about these people they see so often in print.
JAMES: Walking Marina is written so cinematically that the reader can really picture what’s happening as they read. When is the movie coming out?
D. R.: One day, around the time I was finishing my first book, which is autobiographical and I’ll probably never publish, I overheard a model say, “I swear, my life could be a movie.” And I thought, “Or a book!” I could write the screenplay, but I wrote the book because I thought it would be a challenge to take something so inherently visual—fashion—and show it in words rather than pictures. There’s no doubt Walking Marina has movie written all over it. It’s pictures. It’s appearance. It’s nuances and details and movements so subtle and rich that ultimately they have to be seen, not described. So, hopefully soon! Let me think: a true-to-life movie about male models—um, yeah, that would sell…
JAMES: I think it might! Well, thanks so much for sharing your work and your thoughts with us. Hope to see you soon!
You can watch another interview with author D. R. Hildebrand here: