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In his new memoirs, Disturbed Beauty, Carré Otis finally names the man who repeatedly raped her when she was a 17-year-old new model, debuting in Paris. It was, she says, Gérald Marie, her agent at the time and boss of Elite Paris, one of the largest agencies in the world.

Marie, who was in her 40s, was engaged to Linda Evangelista at the time, and Otis lived in Marie’s apartment. She slept in the bedroom that had belonged to her young daughter. (It’s still not considered unusual for young models to be placed with their agency bosses. Rent is deducted from whatever they earn.) was initially shy with him at home. But, little by little, they started to bond. While Evangelista was out of town for a job, Otis was snooping around Marie’s bathroom when she found his stash of Coke, which he kept in a large white jar. She knocked over the jar – “I was expecting pills. A second later I stood aghast in a cloud of white powder” – just as Marie was walking home.

“With a wink and a smile,” Otis writes, Marie told him, “What we can’t pick up, we’ll just have to sniff.” His agent pulled out a US $100 bill and rolled it up.

It wasn’t the first time Otis had seen cocaine, but it was more or less the start of what became a major addiction. Soon she was receiving a vial every two days, always, she said, from Mary. Regularly told she was fat, coke was “the secret to modeling weight management.” (And that was the ’80s — a time when, we’re often told, the body type glorified by the fashion industry was “healthier” and more figured than it is today.)

Although Otis says Marie was as cruel as ever in the office, they became coke friends at home, making lines and talking late into the night. But nothing sexual ever happened. Otis describes their friendship thus:

It was secret, but he felt oddly safe. I loved the way Gerald laughed with me when we sniffed lines together. I liked the way he gently teased me. And even as young as I was, I could relate to how my relationship with Gerald mirrored my dynamic with my father. I had kept the secret of my father’s alcoholism. Now I was keeping the secret from another older man. I felt like Gerald’s confidante. It was a very familiar role, and as sick (and age-inappropriate) as it was, I felt comfortable with it. Keeping someone you admire a secret can be extremely empowering, especially when you tend to think of yourself as a misfit. I had felt like an awkward outsider for so much of my young life that caring for someone in a position of authority had given me certainty and a place to cling to.

Gerald Marie was the agent responsible for building Otis’ career. He controlled how Otis dressed, which castings she was sent to, and which editors she had to meet. Marie told her how he wanted her to walk, how she should do her hair, how she should stand and how she should pose. He also told her she could be a star. Otis writes: “I desperately needed his advice and did my best to please him. I knew this was my last chance to succeed in the trade. I knew Gerald could help me become a star. And I knew that being a star meant being at her beck and call.” In an industry where new faces are often start at age 14Otis is right when she says that at 17, she had her last chance to make the kind of start that might actually go somewhere.

Otis struggled in Paris like many young models have before and since. Castings too rarely resulted in options, let alone bookings, and she knew she wasn’t being sent to see the best clients: Elite, she wrote, didn’t think she was skinny enough. One evening, after a particularly disastrous casting day where she was caught in the rain without an umbrella and soaked, Otis returned to the apartment, took off her wet clothes and climbed into bed. She felt feverish. Homesick, frustrated and shivering, she fell asleep. This is how she describes the first time she was allegedly raped by Gérald Marie. It’s graphic:

A few hours later, something suddenly woke me up. I heard the sound of drunken footsteps moving down the hall toward me. Filled with alarm, I pulled the covers around my head. But in a flash, my refuge was invaded and I was exposed.

Gerald stood over me, ripping the covers off the bed. Before I could react, her sticky body was on top of me and her filthy wet curls fell over my face. I pushed back, but I could barely breathe with the weight of his pressure on me. I screamed, a lame attempt to shake him out of what sounded like a drunken stupor. I could smell the gin on his breath as he pushed his mouth hard against mine, a sharp tongue darting out, trying to open my pursed lips in a grotesque kiss. His smell made me want to vomit. The fury inside me made me want to reject him. But in my feverish, naked state, I couldn’t find the strength or the leverage to push him away. Gerald seemed too adept at getting what he wanted, and in the tangle of my bare legs and my pleas and cries, his hand found my mouth and squeezed it, trying to silence me. Why even bother? I was wondering. I knew we were alone. And I knew that even if I defended myself and shouted, no one would hear me. No one would come.

Gerald began to violently penetrate my body, his grunts and moans mingling with the sound of the rain which had begun to pound against the tiny window of this tiny room. My thoughts drifted to her baby girl who was sleeping in that same bed. How could he do this here? Then I thought of the other models who were temporarily housed in this room. I fleetingly wondered if I wasn’t the first girl to be raped in
this strange place. I cried both silently and out loud. I cried a river. I cried as the rains steadily fell outside. I have become the rain. I have become the part. I disappeared in the dreadful endless swing.

I remember the horrible feeling of his penis slipping out of me, the wetness that told me he had entered me. I remember feeling nauseous, then the involuntary retching that started as he stood up, looked at me, then turned around and stumbled out of the room.

“Some women struggle to name what happened to them, but not me,” Otis writes. “Could Gerald have thought that the friendship we had forged, the fact that we took drugs together, that I lived in his house, all of this indicated, in some way, that I was willing to have sex with him that night I can I can only know I never asked.

It wasn’t the first time Otis had been a victim; elsewhere in the book she writes that she was raped by an older, more popular boy when she was only 11 years old. city. (“I stayed in the house, in that horrible little room. I became an obedient robot. A shell of myself. for what I knew would come next.”)

Nor was it, at least allegedly, the only time Marie committed rape against a girl in the custody of her agency. Marie was caught offering to pimp a model and bragging about how many girls from the Elite Model Look contest – 15 on average – he was going to sleep with, by a BBC reporter carrying a hidden camera. It was in 1999; after a brief suspension, Marie retained her position at Elite. (Marie was still in charge of Elite Paris when I signed with the agency in 2007.) Dutch model Karen Mulder has also accused Marie for raping her. Mulder is a deeply troubled woman. “conspiracy” perpetrated by Elite and members of the French police and government – but I have never really believed that some of his claims are not based on truth. Accounts like Otis’s certainly lend Mulder some credibility. When Mulder suffered from depression and attempted suicide, Gérald Marie paid for his psychiatric treatment. Mulder later retracted all of her rape allegations.

Otis, as Marie predicted, had a very successful career – she graced the cover of virtually every major fashion magazine, worked with every top photographer, and was a face of Calvin Klein. Eventually, she went into recovery from her anorexia and became a plus-size model; she has been an ardent defender of the industry by diversifying her conception of beauty. Last month, she and current supermodel Coco Rocha were guests on Anderson Cooper’s talk show, where they spoke about the problems that can arise when agents start models too young.

She has referred to this rape in the past – and her former husband, Mickey Rourke, once said in a interview that during their relationship he thought about killing “the man who raped Carré”. But Otis never named the man she says was responsible. For having the strength to do it now, I can only congratulate her. The sad thing is that there are other models who are victimized in the same way – whether by a famous photographer, an influential client or an agent – but they don’t have the platform to ‘Otis to talk about it.

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