TransGriot Note: I mentioned Claudia Charriez when I wrote about Isis becoming the first out transgender contestant on America's Next Top Model. Stumbled across this Out.com interview with her.
By Christine Champagne
She’s a Lady
Exclusive: Claudia, the transsexual beauty from the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency dishes on Janice, eating (finally!), and her love for Madonna.
By Christine Champagne
UPDATE ON CLAUDIA AND HER FIRING FROM THE JANICE DICKINSON MODELING AGENCY
So much for Janice Dickinson’s love and support for transsexuals. As we saw on the season finale of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, transsexual model Claudia Charriez was one of several models fired because they weren’t making any money for the agency. “It was so hard for me to let Claudia go… but this is a business, and, unfortunately, there’s no place for her here,” Dickinson opined.
What a lame excuse. Dickinson knew that the 24-year-old Charriez would be a hard sell from the beginning. Obviously, Dickinson hired her to create some buzz for her Oxygen series—not because she planned to put in the time and effort it would take to land Charriez work.
It’s bad enough that Charriez was fired. But she really got beat up on the way out. Troy, one of Dickinson’s lackeys, insisted, “She’s gotta go—she’s a legal disaster waiting to happen.” Really? How so?
And to make matters even worse, Dickinson, clad in a white tank top that read “Gay Friendly,” dared to ask Charriez to pose as a man right before she swung the ax. Charriez seemed stunned, initially replying, “Excuse me?” to Dickinson’s offensive request, then gamely went along with it, clearly hoping she might save herself.
In the end, though, Dickinson ditched Charriez, who tearfully told the camera, “It hurts big time. I’m really trying to hold all this in because I don’t want to be a cry-baby. I just really wanted to work with Janice.”
This isn’t the first time Charriez has lost out because she is a transsexual, by the way. She made it all the way to the semi-finals of UPN’s America’s Next Top Model—then she got kicked off the show for being a transsexual.
Out.com spoke with Charriez recently, and she said she wouldn’t be taking part in the show if Oxygen renews The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency for a second season (at this point, the network has yet to announce whether the show will be back). But she didn’t actually reveal that she had been fired—it’s likely that contractual obligations kept Charriez from sharing the revelation.
Some models are so dour, but you have such a beautiful smile. When you smile, your whole face lights up.
This guy at the Burger King—I went to the Burger King because now [that the show is done taping] I can eat whatever I want!—was saying how pretty my smile was and how it made his day and how it’s good to smile. So I try to get in a couple good smiles a day.
Well, your smile drew me to you. I don’t know if you ever have a bad day and get bitchy, but if so, we haven’t seen it on the show. You just radiate positive energy.
We models as a whole were so happy to be there. There weren’t attitudes.
Except for Janice’s…
Janice is a very theatrical, outrageous woman.
What kind of reaction have you gotten to being on The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency?
I didn’t expect it to be as much of a hit as it is. The gays love the show. I’ve been getting such a positive response from people from all walks of life. It’s been so inspiring.
How did you get started in modeling?
These past two years have been a journey for me as far as modeling goes. I started the modeling thing when I was 16, 17 years old. Peter Beard—I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, but he is a pretty famous guy—[photographed me]. Then I did this audition for America’s Next Top Model with Tyra, and she was the one who actually initially got me noticed. She flew me out to L.A., and they had us at the Ritz, and we did that show, and then they really didn’t know what to do with me because they thought it would be unfair if I won, which is bull. I think that they weren’t prepared to have someone like me on the show. So they sent me back out to do “America’s Next Top Transsexual Model” on Tyra’s talk show [The Tyra Banks Show], which honestly I didn’t even really want to do. But Tyra’s just been so supportive of me that I did do it, and I won the silly thing.
Then Janice hired you to work for her agency and be on her show.
Janice, from when [she was a judge on America’s Next Top Model], took a liking to me, which was really, really cool.
Has working for Janice helped you develop as a model?
I’m one of the older ones in the group, and like I said, I’ve been taking pictures since I was 16, 17 years old, so I came in knowing what I was doing. I didn’t need that much coaching. But as far as Janice goes, she is a natural. There are certain people that are naturals in front of the camera, and her age has no importance, no relevance, because she gets in front of the camera, and her poses are like clockwork. She knows what she’s doing, and, of course, I was soaking in all that like a sponge.
You mentioned before that you were hesitant to take part in the “America’s Next Top Transsexual Model” contest on The Tyra Banks Show. Why?
Naturally, I’m going to be a little protective of my identity.
Do you find that you have been able to overcome labels and have people respond to you as Claudia?
I know that the transsexual thing is going to have some shock value. That’s the world we live in. But everyone I meet on a personal level, they don’t look at me like that way. All my friends that I have now that are straight or gay or whatever, the whole transsexual thing after knowing me becomes secondary. It’s not me, or anyone for that matter.
It must have been a fantasy come true to leave your hometown of New York and live it up in L.A.
It was. But it was definitely hard. We didn’t have the America’s Next Top Model budget, so my funds began to disappear very quickly. A lot of time when we were shooting, I thought, “Should I keep on going, or should I just go back home?” But I stuck it through. I’m pretty proud of myself for that.
I know you have some acting auditions coming up. Have you acted before?
My first [acting job] was in the movie 54 [about Studio 54]. I was the little go-go girl, and I must have been about 17 at the time when I did the movie. But it was fun. We did it in my old stomping grounds in New York. It was awesome. That was a good movie.
I wish I had been an adult in the 1970s because I would have loved to live in New York when disco was hot and Studio 54 was the place to go.
I know. New York is awesome, but that was a totally different time. I had a couple of boyfriends who were DJs, so I have always known New York nightlife, but I always wanted to know it back in the day of Donna Summer.
Yes, we missed the heyday of disco and the early 1980s when Madonna was first coming up in New York.
You’re talking to a diehard Madonna fan!
Me, too! Did you see the Confessions tour?
My friends and I go to nearly every concert—no matter how much the tickets are, we’re on Craigslist searching. And we all go as Madonna—my girlfriend will go as Madonna from “Like a Virgin,” my other girlfriend will do “Nothing Really Matters,” and I went one time in a complete latex body suit like Madonna wore in “Human Nature.” Oh, my God. We make it an event. We really have a good time.
Oxygen has yet to announce whether we will see a second season of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, but if the show is renewed, will you be back on it?
It’s time to move on to a different path now. Everything I’ve done so far has kind of been good at leading me to the next level, so I’m going to hit the agencies very seriously, and, hopefully, with the show and all the stuff that’s going on today, somebody will take a risk. There’s got to be some gay designer out there who will put me in their clothes.
Here’s your chance to make it known what designers you would like to work for.
Roberto Cavalli and Karl Lagerfeld. They just mean everything to me.