Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Tatiana mystery: Is Kiwi Jenna Sauers Jezebel's model mole?

Jenna Sauers/elite milano

This is waaay more fun that trying to work out who is/was behind 4inchnails (as one wag dubbed it). Following on from the Model blogs post, comes word (many tks Timo) of another model blog penned by Summer Rayne Oakes. Then there is the ongoing mystery hovering over the real identity of the author of the hugely-entertaining – and well-written - Modelslips column that is currently running on high profile New York-based women's blog Jezebel, as penned by the anonymous “Tatiana Anymodel”. After a few clues were dropped by Fashinfags and TFS, I did a little sleuthing.

The only ID info provided by Tatiana is that English is her first language and that she has “attended” college.

Three names have been tossed in the air as potential candidates.

Emina Cunmulaj in Stella McCartney R09/

The first is 23 year-old Albanian American Emina Cunmulaj. Born, and now based, in the US, Cunmulaj lived from the ages of 4-17 in Yugoslavia.

Perhaps I’m not looking in the right places (and thanks to anyone who can point me in the right direction) but I can find no reference to any tertiary education – or indeed writing experience, blogging or otherwise. I have overheard Cunmulaj chatting backstage at shows and from memory, she sounds pretty fluent in English – with an American accent. She also sounds quite bolshie.

Cunmulaj is, however, pretty high profile and enjoys a lot of prestige work. Tatiana, I suspect, may be much more under the radar.

Shea Prueger/IMG

The second name is 21 year-old Shea Prueger: a Peggy Moffitt/Charlotte Gainsbourg hybrid who, according to model maestro Joseph Tenni, is an Iowa-born Leo.

Leos tend to love attention.

According to what looks to be her Friendster profile, Prueger is currently attending Iowa State University, studying Fine Arts and philosophy.

And....she blogs!

Two blogs pop up under Prueger's name: Blushed Out, which does not look to have been updated since January 2005.

Far more interesting is the current (RED) CHARDONNAY, which is subtitled:

“just some things that happen to me or whatever”

The writing style is nowhere near as fluid as Tatiana’s. But my God, this blog is funny.

Prueger's social commentary is acerbic. Given the age of this blog (three years), it deserves more visibility.

Here’s a New York Fashion Week entry from February 11th, in which she talks about a casting session:

“The Calvin Klein wait was over two hours. After an hour and a half of sitting in a narrow hallway on a dirty, cold, tiled floor a chair opened up. I found myself sitting across from an extremely beautiful Russian with long red hair. She introduced herself immediately to me and then said, do you have any drugs?. After laughing and telling her "no", her phone rang. It was her agent who told her that after the Calvin Klein casting she needed to go to the Bronx for a job. She hung up the phone exasperated. Is it true that if I go the Bronx I will get KILLED the second I come up from underground? She asks me this while wildly making quick stabbing motions with her hand above her head. I choked back laughter and a series of sarcastic comments. And then after a second thought, replied, maybe not the second you reach sunlight, but yeah it happens. You should be really careful. Wide-eyed, she stared at me for a second and said, this is no good".

Prueger is currently based in Taipei. This entry dated May 28th describes a nightclub scene:

“Upon arriving to my table filled with tall, thin girls in short dresses and heels - most of them younger than both of my sisters (probably), I was already cringing. When a Guns and Roses song came on the speakers and my roommate looked at me and said, see this isn't so bad, they even play rock like you like, I really didn't know if I was going to last ten minutes. And then immediately some guy walks up to me, some guy that all of the models seem to know, and offers me a line of blow. I declined nicely, no thanks. And he persisted:

I heard you are from NY. Everyone in NY does blow. Come on.

No, really. I don't touch that shit. Thanks anyway.

All right. So what about some K?

Are you kidding me? K is the LAST thing I want right now. I'm fine.


No. I'm fine.

What can I get you then? One line won't hurt you, I promise.

“I mean this dialogue was absolutely ridiculous. This is what you hear on TV talk shows when those tragic cases of supermodels turned drug addicts with eating disorders finally come forward to "tell their story." It's something I've never experienced in the industry. And now I know why. I don't hang out at clubs with weird, old, strange men.

“Here is the thing I have learned from my few years of working in a bar. People who always "have" drugs, are always "on" drugs, are not the biggest drug addicts on the planet. When you are doing something wrong, you don't tell anyone about it - definitely not offering it to friends and people you don't know. In the bar world, we call these guys, 'fashion druggies'".

Jenna Sauers/Cynthia & Philippe Barigan

Prueger’s name was dropped by another model called Jenna Sauers in this TFS thread – and possibly as a red herring, after one poster suggested that Sauers in fact might be the author of Modelslips.

Sauers flatly denied that she is Tatiana.

As it happens however, she also has her own blog.

In her bio entry, Sauers mentions that she is also a university graduate – coincidentally, of the University of Iowa - with English (creative writing) and French (literature and culture) majors. She mentions that she has also been published in The Daily Iowan newspaper - and freelanced.

Not mentioned in Sauers’ provided bio, but easily spotted online, are a couple of other achievements: she won a Presidential Scholarship to Iowa U – and the university's Scott Anderson prize. A 2007 Iowa U press release announcing the latter mentions that, upon graduation, Sauers,

“plans to pursue jobs in journalism”.

Of particular interest to the New Zealand media will be the fact that Sauers is originally from Christchurch and a 2003 graduate of Rangi Ruru Girls' School.

Sauers discloses to TFS that she has joint US/NZ citizenship and modelled in NZ as a child and part-time during high school.

Jenna Sauers/Cynthia & Philippe Barigan

In her blog, she notes:

“Rather than enter the writing world the traditional way — by getting the kind of assistant-assistant-assistant job that is Sisyphean in its reading but permits you to write only post-its on other people’s manuscripts — I moved to San Francisco, got a wicked day job with the kind folks at Freight Baggage, sewing messenger bags and listening to NPR and John Cale all day, and started freelancing

“Seven weeks and a few lucky connections later, I was in Paris working as a model — a job I suppose I technically started back when my eight-year-old shit-eating grin first graced department store and mail-order catalogues in my home country, New Zealand. University in the Midwest was my attempt to connect with the culture of my American parents, and to short-circuit the question of whether I would one day model full time, but the biz just keeps bringing me back.

“Modeling is very uneven: within the same working day, I might be exhausted, elated, crushed, told I’m fat, or given a job that starts now, get on the Métro, run, don’t walk! In my experience, every good model (even the most vapid) has a special preserve of consistency and solidity in her regular, non-working life: the place from which you draw the equanimity and presence of mind to deal with the turbulent surface. One of mine is writing”.




Larkinds said...

You can cross Shea Prueger off your list because, according to her blog, she speaks only 1 language-english. For Tatiana, however, english is her 1st language. This indicates she speaks more than 1.

Patty Huntington said...

Well you could have a point.

That said, look up any dictionary. You will find the general definition of the term "first language" tends to be "mother tongue".

Soraya T said...

If Jennahas a degree in french, she must speak it. Tatiana wrote that she doesn't understand the language. I'm unconvinced.

Jezebel also admitted using a ghostwriter for the psots of another of their anonymous corerspondants (the one who works for Sephora, I think.) Maybe the model posts sound like the work of an experienced writer because an experienced writer is "helping" with them.

Anonymous said...

Has this been resolved? Because it's Jenna Sauers.

Patty Huntington said...

last anon -

my apologies, i have been making a concerted effort to update blogs of late, because i do appreciate that many people find posts via haphazard Google searches etc... and see them in isolation. prior to your comment i had not yet updated this post, but have done so now. please see the "Related" posts at the end of this for updates.

there are certainly several clues which hint that sauers could be tatiana, however as far as i am aware neither sauers, nor jezebel, has admitted it. and indeed sauers herself has categorically denied it on repeated occasions. i refer you to the interview done at nz fashion week in september, in the post titled "on the record: jenna sauers".

unless you have some other evidence, then sadly it remains mere speculation.

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