I bought this novel in 2013 for only RM11 at Amcorp Mall which is famous for its antiquated stuffs (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/a-retro-rush-sunday-antiquated-flea-market-amcorp-mall-petaling-jaya/). For the longest time ever, the novel remained dormant in my car’s dashboard as I was concentrating on finishing 2 novels :-
- “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe” by J. Randy Taraborelli (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/norma-jeanne-mortensen-the-unfortunate-barbie-the-secret-life-of-marilyn-monroe-by-j-randy-taraborrelli/); and
- “Salina” by A. Samad Said (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/a-retrospective-artisticliterature-social-responsibility-a-malay-geisha-in-the-hedonistic-world-of-taboos-salina-by-a-samad-said/).
The novel, penned by Stephen Fried. For RM11 at Amcorp Mall.
It took me around 2013-2015 to actually finish reading those novels as I already started my Master’s Degree on February 2014. Lack of time and engaged with various assignments as well as school workload forced me to abandon these light-reading, for a while. After I finished reading “Salina” circa February 2015 which so happened to be the hiatus period – from Semester 2 to Semester 3 (so, I had quite ample time!),- I decided to start reading this novel about Gia entitled “Thing Of Beauty – The Tragedy Of Supermodel Gia” penned by Stephen Fried.
Nevertheless since the commencement of Master’s Degree Semester 3, I was forced to abandon the reading from the end of February until early June (as Semester 3 is a hectic and stressful one!). And finally on 24th June 2015, I have finished reading it. Definitely a stunning novel entailing about the tragic life of Gia Carangi.
Maybelline “SuperShiny” Ads.
The life of Gia Carangi had everything you could ask for in a movie – sex, anger, playfulness, tragedy, danger, etc. Born to an Italian-American family, Gia was a natural tomboyish girl but with mesmerizing face. She was always drawn to the androgynous feats and adored Bowie’s alter ego, the gender-bending Ziggy Stardust.
Max Factor ads.
Accidentally, she was introduced into modelling world, inspired by her mother’s own ambition, Kathleen Carangi. Being a wild-spirited, Gia followed her mother’s advances only for the sake of doing something to please her; and also the money. She was lucky that in New York circa 1979, she was cast under Wilhelmina Models, a modelling agency by the renowned Wilhelmina Cooper.
Versace printed ads. With Jerry Hall at the left side.
Her career went nuclear and spectacular. She graced many of Vogue magazine covers (the benchmark of an American model’s success), cast in Versace’s printed adverts along with other high-profile models during that time such as Patti Hansen, Janice Dickinson, Beverly Johnson, Jerry Hall, Rene Russo, and many more. Besides that, Gia also starred in a TV commercial of Maybelline. She also had the opportunity to work with the best photographer in the era namely, Scavullo – a maestro in creative photography; as well as Way Bandy, the famous make-up artist which added magical touches on American models’ faces in the 70s and 80s. In a nutshell, Gia Carangi had a promising career in modelling and experience of working with the who’s who in the American modelling industry and not to mentioned being hailed as someone who had ‘the greatest titties in the industry’!
Giorgio Armani’s exploring on tomboyish persona, of which Gia was gladly performing like breeze. This was her real persona. She was the butch.
Unfortunately, her affinity to Quaaludes (or Methaqualone) which gradually transcended into heroin caused Gia Carangi to become a drug addict. She partied a lot, usually at the famous Studio 54 (with a few attempts by Jack Nicholson trying to bed her!) and after the defunct of the club, she moved to the downtown The Mudd Club.
Along with the low self-esteemed of longing for a mother’s genuine love as well as several unhealthy homoerotic relationships (Gia Carangi was into women and she was the butch a.k.a. The Dominant; which contradicted to her feminine elegance), Gia’s focus on her work deteriorated. She would come late to appointments and threw tantrums. She even left the photography session abruptly at one time; and took a ride on motorbike, sped off from a shooting location!
I was captivated by her sudden success and with all these designer houses she was working with BUT I was deeply moved and overwhelmed when I read the few last chapters when Gia was diagnosed of having AIDS. It was really heart-wrenching to read that even hospitals and psychiatrists – which patients usually turned to when the health went wrong – REFUSED to accept AIDS patient, let alone female (which was still considered as outrageous in the era!). Nevertheless, Kathleen Carangi managed to persuade the hospital to treat Gia and reluctantly was warded.
Gia was making fun of her poster. She was certainly the rock and roll chick.
There were also stated in the novel that Gia was one time served as prostitute to afford her the drugs and she was raped for several time during the transactions of buying the drugs in the slump areas.
Her normal self without make-up.
I was also moved during the counselling period where Gia underwent her rehabilitation in Eagerville Hospital. The patients were asked to draw caricature to represent their inner emotion. Gia Carangi drew a body of human with the symbols “male+female” at the genitalia part (her sexuality confusion) and also underneath the drawing, she wrote these words :-
- sexual abuse;
- mental abuse;
What enrage me the most are the facts that many of her ‘friends’ deserted her when she was at the downside of her life especially Sandy Linter, the attractive make-up artist of which was described as someone of whom Gia was having an extreme infatuation towards to! They developed ‘friendship’ (Gia claimed it was sexual; Sandy said it purely platonic) but when Gia was entrapped with her drug problem, Sandy Linter practically shut her out of her life!! And guess what, NOW SHE HAS BEEN MAKING YOU-TUBE VIDEOS on Gia (REFER to https://www.youtube.com/user/sandylinter1/videos). I mean, HELLO???!!!! FOR WHAT?? FREE PUBLICITY BY MANIPULATING SUDDEN INTEREST ON GIA??? Seriously unbelievable!
Sandy Linter who reportedly had sexual relationship with Gia but she denied. And now, she is doing You-Tube videos on Gia! Sheesh!
Personally, I feel connected to her when I read this tragic biography. When she was unable to express her feeling, she wrote in her little book and it started to become a routine as her life was fueled with setback and tribulations. I do the same. Writing is my solace in expressing my feeling. Sometimes, I feel that my verbal words are contradicted by people around me. Yes, I do have some confidantes but I know, not everything I said to them are agreeable. Sometimes I get frustrated when I didn’t get the response I want, so writing is my escapism in quenching that thirst.
The TV film “Gia” starring Angie as Gia. The role was perfect. They both breathed the same agony.
I also feel connected to Gia’s feeling of being a misfit in this world. I had that feeling since I was a kid and sometimes is experiencing it once a while now although now I have gain quite confident to face the world. You just know that you are different and instead of running away and loath yourself, you try to embrace that and love yourself. Sometimes, there were times when you feel like people were drawn to you because of your facade and not your heart and there are superficial people around you trying to spin some spellbinding words to allure you. But Alhamdulillah so far, I have been surrounded by good people with good hearts. It is always important for you to be grounded.
Cindy Crawford who was nicknamed as “Baby Gia” when she first penetrated modelling due to the uncanny resemblance with Gia! She was whisked to those people who loved Gia in the industry.
Similar, isn’t it?
On whole, I saluted Stephen Fried for the rich content of Gia’s life and how she rose to fame and down in the abyss within merely 4 years. It felt as if Fried was interviewing Gia herself as the accounts of the scenes were graphically real and the emotions transcribed was authentic; you could feel the pain and the agony that Gia was suffering for ages. It is also a no wonder why Angie excelled in her portrayal as Gia (she won an Emmy for that) because I could see that Gia was Angelina Jolie and vice versa; they shared the same wild sides and tigers that are kept in cages.
Only 4 years of career from 1979-1982, yet she was working with top-notched people of the industry.
The 20/20 interview which was meant to boost her image back after her entanglement with drug. But the interviewer asked provocative questions and left Gia startled, especially on the drug problems. The interview did not produce the result as what Elite Model Management, her subsequent agency after migrated from Wilhelmina Models, aspired.