Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi there, my name is Adele
. I live and work bicoastal, between New York and Los Angeles. I’m married to a wonderful man, and have two furry children –Stella, a Corgi mix, and Marvin, a 12 year old cat, who acts a lot like a gay elderly English butler.
I write a blog called Hand Jobs: Tales of a Hand model
, and I’m working on a book about the parts profession, and how I grew up originally in New Orleans, part of a large Italian family, in the food and restaurant business -until my mother high tailed it out of town with a man named Lightning, in a bus called the Mars Hotel.
Eventually we settled in Northern California, on a commune, where I spent years eating raw foods and watching people experiment with various drugs. I certainly wasn’t reared for a life in the fashion/beauty biz, since most folks at the commune wore no clothing or makeup. And I’m pretty sure none of them owned a razor.
For those of us who don’t know, what does it mean to be a parts model?
Parts modeling is short for body parts modeling. Personally, I model just about every part (with the exception of my private ones), yet I specialize primarily as a hand model.
How did you get your start?
I didn’t plan for a career in parts. As a kid, I never once prayed that my hands would one day be all over the world. I dreamed instead of becoming a great person or a great artist – sort of a Mother Teresa meets Madonna. My maternal grandmother used to tell me I should be a hand model, but back then I had no interest, and didn’t really know what she meant.
Then one day, my modeling agency sent me on a casting for OPI nail polish, and I booked a big campaign. I thought hand modeling might be a good way for me to make some extra cash, so I made a card with my new pictures, and from then on, slowly started booking more hand jobs.
You’ve done work for lots of different brands and you work as both a ‘fashion beauty’ hand and a ‘commercial’ hand. What’s the difference?
In the industry, the term “fashion hands” refers to an elegant hand – think of the hands you find advertising jewelry or cosmetics, in magazines like Vogue. Whereas a “commercial hand” fits into the category of everyday – the hand-next-door you’d see on a Clorox commercial. I’m primarily known as a high-end hand, but I do a lot of commercials as well. On my website, there’s a reel that shows samples of commercials my mitts have had a hand in.
How do you take care of your hands? Are they insured? Are there things you don’t do because you need to be careful with them?
I’m not crazy about care-taking my hands (just crazy in general – wink wink). Other than moisturizing obsessively, I live a normal life – except for gloving-up more than the average person. I get asked all the time if I have insurance for my hands, and the answer is no. I’m banking on good karma this lifetime, and no major accidents involving my appendages.
How do people react when they find out what you do?
Most people, when they first hear about what I do for a living, ask me if I’ve seen the Seinfeld episode, where George becomes a hand model. The answer is yes – I’ve watched the episode once, yet I’ve heard it referenced thousands of times. And as I just mentioned, I’m also often asked if I have insurance for my hands, and do I know JLo insures her ass…?
Can you walk us through a normal day on the job?
Every job is different, but most of the time, I’m sitting around a lot, staring at my laptop, or visiting the craft service station, ordering up another caffeinated beverage (I have little self discipline around an espresso bar) – speaking of, I learned early on that too much caffeine can lead to shaky extremities, which can cause big issues in tight close-up shots. Therefore I recommend decaf to the novice hand model.
Since I’m usually hired as the insert shot for the main character – i.e. the hand pushing a button on a car stereo, or revealing the inside of a steamy crescent roll, or squeezing the latest skin serum onto the tip of my finger – there’s a lot of downtime on commercial jobs.
On the other hand, if I’m shooting for a polish company or magazine editorial, I usually spend a lot of time with wet nails, unable to text for hours. The set up time for print is quicker than for commercials, and usually the overall mood on those jobs is more mellow, because there’s smaller crews and simpler setups.
Is there anything about your hands in particular that sets you apart from other hand models? Like, you’ve got nice coloring or you’re also super pretty so you can be a ‘model model’ AND the hand model?
Thank you Sarah. Yes, I also ‘model model’, though my mitts are my biggest money makers.
Do you anticipate this being your life-long career?
I don’t think anyone yet has made modeling a life-long career, though hand models have a longer shelf life than most models. I love what I do, and I see the industry changing in many ways, so who knows what I’ll be doing in years to come. Eventually I hope my career involves other creative and business avenues. But for now, I’m enjoying the opportunities at hand.
What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in breaking into the business?
I get a lot of questions on my Facebook Hand Jobs page about how to break into the business. Honestly there’s only a handful of us hand models who do this full time. But if you’re interested in pursuing parts modeling, I’d recommend calling your local modeling agency, and asking if they have a parts department – and if so, ask if you can submit some pictures. They don’t have to be professional pictures, just something that shows the shape and texture of your hands, or other parts.
What’s one thing you’ve learned on the job that any of us could apply to our daily lives?
I’ve learned to embrace my career with acceptance and enthusiasm, and be the best I can be at whatever I do. I used to think hand modeling was silly (still do, but in a different way) – I thought I should be doing something “meaningful” with my life, contributing more to society than nice nail beds… It’s taken me a while, but I’ve come to appreciate my small part.
I don’t have to save the world to make a difference. I can show up to work, with positive friendly energy, devoted to the day and the task at hand.