Black supermodel Mounia (above) attained her supermodel status overseas. She equaled Naomi Campbell on the runway and she was a favorite of designers Versace and Yves St. Laurent. They considered her exquisite, elegant and classy.

Early in her career, Mounia showed up for fashion bookings (she wasn't booked for), before the day was over, she had the booking!

She is extremely business savvy with solid investments and she travels frequently between Paris and Martinique (where she owns a fashion boutique).


Black model Mounia (above) was the first African-American model to write a book on modeling, "Princesse Mounia."

Mounia's actual name is Monique-Antoine, she felt the unusual combination had power, granting her a special connection.

She worked at the airport in Fort-de-France as an announcer and she was also an on-ground hostess at Orly airport in Paris.

It wasn't until 1976, when an important American client withdrew her patronage from Givenchy after Mounia modeled a suit before her. Mounia was slapped in the face by the ugly realities of racism in the modeling industry.

Suddenly, she was forced to see that history was not separable from the present and that she was part of them both.

As she developed her career, Mounia began to work with designers other than Givenchy. They included Emanuel Ungaro and Karl Lagerfeld.

Lagerfeld, an iconoclast who did "not detest provocation" hired her to do Chloe and his own line. When he took over the design responsibilities at Chanel, he hired Mounia for that house as well.

She became the first Black model to present the Chanel collection.

It was her connection with Yves St. Laurent, however, which was to prove the most fruitful and long-lasting of her career. Not only was Mounia his star runway model for almost a decade, she was also propelled by Saint Laurent's fame onto the pages of fashion magazines around the world.

Source: Barbara Summers


Allegedly, a book may be in the works on the life of late notorious party boy/playboy Sterling St. Jacques. This book will be scandalous, a bombshell biography at the least!

The most scandalous part may be, how he appeared out of nowhere to become actor Raymond St. Jacques' (above) son in Hollywood. At first, he was introduced as Raymond's nephew and then he was upgraded to "son" status and was given St. Jacques' surname.

Allegedly, Sterling was born in Brazil and St. Jacques brought him to America as a young boy.

Sterling grew up around Hollywood's black gay set in the 70's because Raymond (was gay) and had other black gay actors over to the house frequently. His all male parties are still discussed in Black Hollywood.

Sterling grew up to be stunningly handsome. Despite the photo above, where his eyes appear blue due to contacts, in real life, his eyes were gray. He also had a beautiful physique and stood 6'2. He was a flawless physical specimen.

Sterling was gay like his dad and was allegedly pursued by rich sugar daddies in New York before and after he became a top model. Rumors have it that he became a kept man to some of these sugar daddies and was lavished with gifts and money and kept on an allowance. Rich men also flew him overseas in private jets at a moments notice.

He was the most famous man in attendance at Studio 54. He and his dance partner, runway icon Pat Cleveland (above) were treated like royalty among patrons. They were also runway partners and set the runway on fire whenever they did a show. The characters of Ava and Brayden (A&B), featured in my short story "Downlow Escort" is loosely based on Pat and Sterling's runway domination!

Sterling died in 1984 of AIDS complications and his father Raymond died in 1990 of AIDS.


Blogger Doug Cooper-Spencer conducted the following interview with gay actor Stanley Bennett Clay (directly above) as follows:

DC: Growing up in Cincinnati and LA is different.

SBC: Oh yeah. Back then gay clubs were open every night and I had a disproportionate amount money than my friends because I was a working actor so I had the means to travel and party. It was always about partying. I don’t know if you remember Raymond St. Jacques?

DC: Yeah. A really good actor.

SBC: Raymond (above) was like the ‘queen father.' He would go to Brazil a lot and we would get together with his young lover.

DC: Sterling (St. Jacques)?

SBC: Of course… and we would go up to his house and raid the place. He had all these naked pictures of all these different movie stars and we knew where he kept the photos and we would sit around and look at all these naked men. And we would make sure we put everything back before he returned.

DC: Ohhhhh… I remember Sterling St. Jacques was supposed to have been his ‘son’, but of course everyone in the gay community knew what that meant.

SBC: Oh yeah. It made the relationship easier…

DC: Is he (Sterling St. Jacques) still around?

SBC: No he passed away, maybe fifteen years ago. I know Raymond passed away like twenty years ago. I was one of the pall bearers. I liked Raymond a lot. He cared about young people. He would take you under his wing and become like a father figure to you.

*It's been rumored that Raymond St. Jacques, Howard Rollins (above) and Paul Winfield were discreet running buddies and often turned up in the gay district (Castro) in San Francisco where they partied the night away in clubs such as D.J.'s, surrounded by shirtless hunks.


Not much is known about Sterling St. Jacques (far left with Pat Cleveland in black tux) except he came, he saw and he danced. The most mysterious of disco icons, St. Jacques – a model and overall leggy, beautiful creature – was the “nephew” (a title later upgraded to “son”) of actor Raymond St. Jacques (Cotton Comes to Harlem, Rawhide).

Although he studied at Los Angeles City College for a time, St. Jacques’s origins are fuzzy – no actual record of his birth date or birthplace can be found, though he was rumored to be either Brazilian or Jamaican. He was fond of blue contact lenses (over his gray eyes) and skin-tight ensembles (the more white and regal, the better) that complimented his formidable 6’2 frame and sleek physique.

Holding court in the nightlife scene of the late 1970s and early ‘80s, St. Jacques graced the covers of Playmen and walked the catwalk for Halston and Givenchy; he also had bit parts in the films Eyes of Laura Mars and Sistemo l’America e torno, an Italian comedy. He palled around with supermodel and Halston muse Pat Cleveland – his “beard” and preferred dance partner, when he wasn’t twirling the likes of Bianca Jagger and Caroline Kennedy – and was a regular at Studio 54.

When the fashionable night world of ‘70s-era New York dried up, St. Jacques moved to Europe to try and become a nightclub D.J. and advance his modeling career. He wasn’t too choosy, often appearing in publications high-end and low-brow alike, and performed mediocre Italo disco.

A book may be in the works about his life, his years spent as a “kept man” and boy about town in Manhattan, and various dilettante projects.

Source: Oakazine



Cotton Candy Truant wrote a fascinating article on Sterling St. Jacques (pictured above with Pat Cleveland). They released unpublished information on this notorious playboy (below). Before Sterling came along, actor Raymond St. Jacques raised another"son," named Raymond, Jr.


In the air, a thick fog of mystery surrounds the smoky eyed black beauty named Sterling St. Jacques.

I have read other pieces on the man and the myth and still I am not satisfied with the vagueness of it all. I have repeatedly read he was the son of the late actor Raymond St. Jacques. I recall a conversation which happened many years ago. An older male friend and I were looking at photographs in a book about Studio 54. The younger me was naturally enraptured by page after page of this brown skinned statuesque beauty (He was roughly six feet, five inches tall) twirling around Liza, Cher, Caroline Kennedy, Bianca Jagger-like they were spun sugar. My friend promptly dropped on me, "You know, those two were not 'father and son'! They were a couple! People knew this but like many of today's closeted celebrities, they couldn't take the risk." Immediately, I knew what he spoke of.

I have searched and found no date of birth for Raymond's (allegedly) adopted son, nor have I unearthed the hospital Sterling was born in. Whether he was American born or born overseas is a mystery. No childhood photographs or stories from playmates have surfaced. No family has claimed him. I am having a difficult time digging up even a death certificate or a driver license.

Raymond St. Jacques was a stage name which the elder St. Jacques made legal. Sterling St. Jacques? Not his real name.

What is going on here? Who was he?

From what I've been able to put together, Sterling St. Jacques was born in the late 1940s or early 1950s. In the multiple interviews I have read, his age is off by three to four years (meaning if he was alive - he'd be in his late fifties or early sixties. His "father", Raymond St. Jacques, seemed kind of sketchy - not only with fetching brown boys (in the same way that Errol Flynn was with young white girls) but with keeping his truths straight.

It must have been difficult to keep track of who was who and all of that important stuff (whether real or made up). What is known is that Raymond enjoyed the finer things in life - beautiful people, lavish meals, flamboyant clothing, interesting music and art and classic cars. In Hollywood, he was a respected actor, staring as the first black cowboy on the television series Gunsmoke, as a featured performer in Alex Haley's Roots and motion pictures Glory (1990) and Cotton Comes To Harlem (1970).

Before Sterling came into Raymond's bachelor life, there was another "son", named Raymond St. Jacques, Jr.. From the many interviews I've gone through, Raymond, Jr. was a few years older than Sterling. In these interviews with their father, he will answer reporters by saying Raymond, Jr. is off in some posh boarding school or Ivy League university(!)

During the time these interviews were conducted (from the 1960s to the 1980s), the elder Raymond made his residence in Los Angeles County (Neighborhoods I've seen attached to his name: Bel-Air or Beverly Hills).

Still, I am left wondering was the very young Sterling from Los Angeles, southern California even? Was he from New York City or the island of Jamaica? Was he a runaway who was kicked out of his home and kicked out for being gay? Was he an orphan? Was he a teen-aged hustler? Did this man burn many bridges or was he a dutiful friend and companion? Is he dead or alive? These questions I would love answers to. And still - I search.

In an article from the Los Angeles Times (1970), Sterling was a student at Los Angeles City College and also employed at a trendy men's boutique on the Sunset Strip. He was an aspiring actor and dancer. In this interview, Raymond discussed how important it is to keep an open mind to current events, fashion and art. Raymond then shares with the reader that the elders need to stay as fashionable and open minded as the younger set are. The two - father and son - spoke about sharing one another's wardrobe. Sterling exclaimed, "I often find things which I have bought for myself winding up in his closet!"

{By the way, the Italian version of Wikipedia has his date of birth as October 12, 1957. If true, he would have been thirteen years of age.}

In May of 1972, an attempted robbery took place on the grounds of Raymond St. Jacques' Bel-Air estate. The only person who happened to be home at the time was a nude and terrified Sterling (in some reports list as age 20 or 22) who made a frantic long distance call to Raymond on the set of a film he stared in and directed - Book of Numbers. Shaking in his locked room, he asked Raymond what he should do. Raymond told him to call the police and then come out shooting at the bad men (In this case not the L.A.P.D. but the robbers). This situation ended with the bumbling burglars making their getaway and running out of gas just as the cops showed up(!)

In many of the interviews given, the elder St. Jacques speaks highly of Sterling - especially of his performance as Kid Flick in Book of Numbers. Nothing is mentioned of his other son, Raymond St. Jacques, Jr. except that he lives in Boston. Was (and is) Raymond, Jr. a real person? No images of Raymond St. Jacques, Jr. could I find.

In 1974, Sterling had a role in the Italian urban comedy, Sistemo l'America e torno. The film dealt with an Italian accountant who has been sent to the United States to find a black ball player for his company's basketball team. Little does this man know that he has accidentally recruited a Black militant(!) The two men become friends with a tragic twist (Sterling's mustache!).

Sterling played bit parts in a handful of films and television programs in Europe. In 1978, he was one of the models seen in 'Eyes of Laura Mars' (dancing in the background with a bevy of female beauties to Micheal Zager bands' Let's All Chant).

In the early to mid 1970s, Sterling met and befriended up and coming fashion model, Patricia (Pat) Cleveland. Cleveland (who is recognized as being one of the world's first black supermodels) started out modeling for Johnson Publications' Ebony magazine. After her stint with Ebony, Cleveland became fashion designer Halston's muse and number one living doll. Cleveland and St. Jacques were seen everywhere-from the discotheque to The Hamptons and beyond. They also appeared on Soul Train (dancers).

Together, they were the younger version of Geoffrey Holder and Carmen De Lavallade in that they were both performers, dancers, dress to the nines, witty and adored the limelight. This was no tacky affair. In 1976, the two became engaged. This was just another cover to conceal St. Jacques' homosexual proclivities (If you ask why, this is because sometimes you do what you got to do.). In his day, Sterling St. Jacques walked the runways for Givency, Halston, Willi Smith (among other noted designers) and showed up at many high society events, blue eyes {which by some accounts say they were blue contact lens) and all.

Sterling is most famous for being one of the flamboyant regulars of Studio 54, dancing and spinning many famous (and infamous) patrons 'round the dance floor. Sometime in 1978, Cleveland dropped the charade and married someone else. Soon after Cleveland exited, Sterling claimed to the press he was in the poor house and was thinking of opening a dance studio in Manhattan. This idea never took shape. In Italy, he briefly tried to become a nightclub DJ.

The year 1979 brought an interesting twist to the St. Jacques story-Raymond's that is. The elder St. Jacques was back in the news, rallying in support of a pint-size fourteen year old boy from Mississippi (above). His name was Robert (Bubba) May, Jr.. This boy and his friends were accused of robbing a fireworks stand and assaulting a woman. The fast acting, (possibly) nefarious thinking Raymond must have been all a-twitter. He immediately set up the Robert May Trust Fund hoping Hollywood celebrities would help contribute to getting this child a fair trial.

In Jet magazine, he told a reporter that he was in the middle of filming an episode of Wonder Woman (in L.A.) and flew down south to try to get a pardon for this child who was a stranger to him. Raymond was quoted as saying, "I'm sure he loves his mother. I think he simply needs a change of environment." (Gasp!) Needless to say, Raymond never got his wish. It seemed he wanted praise, the key to the City and this troubled, young man. A new start and fresh face in the household.

In October of 1979, Mayor Tom Bradley was scheduled to bestow Raymond with an award for working tirelessly on behalf of Robert May, Jr.. Actions were immediately halted when May's attorney and a Mississippi senator verified they had never received a dime from Raymond. Young Robert was given sentence of forty-eight years to life in prison.

Sterling St. Jacques did anything to make money and remain in the public eye after he fell out of Raymond's favor. As time wandered on, this may have been getting harder for him to do. Sterling trekked the globe often making money modeling (in high fashion magazines and/or lowbrow publications), hustling, performing and recording mediocre euro-disco albums in Germany and Italy. He sold albums (not in great numbers) based on his looks and charm, otherwise he was a less than average singer.

It has been widely circulated on the Internet that Sterling St. Jacques passed away due to complications from AIDS. in 1984. From my searching there is no reliable source to prove this as true. I have searched for an obit and nothing comes up. There has not been one person who has spoken about his life and times. No one (of the living and knew him well) has gone on record to deeply and publicly reflect on their times together. Many comments are very brief and only mention what a great dancer he was and his stunning good looks. {Bridges burned? Lesson One - Don't do it.}

In a 1988 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Raymond (who then starred on a short lived television show called Superior Court) dropped both of his "sons" names, telling a reporter "Raymond Jr. is a banker in Massachusetts, and Sterling has a TV show in Dusseldorf" (!)

August 27, 1990, Raymond St. Jacques passed away at age sixty from lymphoma. In his last will and testament (signed October 6, 1988) he stated he was single and had no offspring, huh?.

$1.00 was left to nephew/son Sterling St. Jacques.


Allison Hobbs says:

Sterling Thomas (St. Jacques) was my first cousin. I didn't meet him until he was nineteen when he came to live with my family for three months. My father and his mother were siblings. My father's name was Sterling also, as was his father who was Sterling's grandfather.

Sterling was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in September,1949. He is listed in the family records as being born Sterling Colter. Not sure if his mother legally changed his name to Sterling Thomas after she married for the second time.

His mother's maiden name was Lavon Hobbs.

Sterling was Raymond St. Jacques' young lover. They were not related and Sterling was not adopted by him.

The last time I spoke to Sterling was in 1979. My sister spoke to him in 1984 and he told her that he was dreadfully ill.

He had a difficult childhood, and he yearned for fame and fortune. I'm happy that he was able to live the glamorous life for over a decade.


The Circuit refers to an ongoing series of gay themed parties thrown in pretty much every major metropolitan area in the country at various times throughout the year. The gay circuit is a modern offshoot of the rave movement, which hit its apex in the early-to-mid 90s. Circuit parties are characterized by huge, overwhelmingly male crowds – larger events can draw as many as 25,000 attendees – multiple DJs spinning various permutations of house music, elaborate lighting and decoration, live musical or theatrical performances, gratuitous nudity, and shameless glow-stick waving. Some circuit events – like the Black Party in New York – are for-profit endeavors, but many are held as benefits for local GLBT and HIV/AIDS-related charities. Men who attend the majority of the parties on the circuit are referred to as "Circuit Boys." Before the AIDS epidemic hit, Fire Island was a hot spot for gay parties.

Some larger dance clubs (like Roxy in New York City, or Velvet Nation in Washington, D.C.) cultivate a circuit-y atmosphere on a weekly basis, but the quintessential circuit party is a block of annual, one-night-only events held throughout a given city over a single weekend. There are A-list parties, like the Black Party in New York (in March), the Cherry series in Washington, D.C. (in May), the White Party in Palm Springs (April), and the Black and Blue Ball in Montreal (October), and smaller events, like Fireball in Chicago (February), the Purple Party in Dallas (May), the Blue Ball in Philadelphia (January) the Winter Ball in Miami, Gay Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the Chrome Party in Ohio.

What do you mean by a “block” of events?

Well, consider the White Party in Palm Beach, for example; this year, the bash began on good Friday with a “welcome party” – called “Splash”, followed by an after-party entitled “Steam” at a separate venue. The White Party itself was held on Saturday night at the Palm Springs convention center, with “Climax” – the official after-hours – starting a couple of hours before the main event ended and running well into Sunday morning. Sunday night brought the post-brunch “Sunday Tea Dance” at Marquis Park, followed by the final, “closing” party, which concluded late Monday morning.

Circuit parties frequently host celebrity performers as headliners. Above, Kelly Rowland performs at the Ascension Party given at Fire Island Pines beach.

Also: A company that produces A-list (black-gay adult films) discreetly hosts a monthly get together in New York for their website members. At this event, air beds and lube are available for anonymous hookups and free adult videos are given away to patrons.


Women swoon over the very gorgeous Tyson Beckford and he has his share of female fans across the country but numerous former models maintain that Sterling St. Jacques was 'the most beautiful male model-ever!'

Other models consider it a toss up between Beckford and St. Jacques.

Sterling had a slight advantage since he was also an accomplished dancer, he used this advantage with runway/dance partner Pat Cleveland to put on memorable catwalk shows. He and Pat also danced on Soul Train. It wasn't mentioned in either Studio 54 film that a young Caroline Kennedy, Bianca Jagger and other famous women came to Studio 54 just to seek him out and dance with him. Sterling was besieged by women waiting in line just to dance or be seen, or be photographed with him.

Off the dance floor, Sterling had an assortment of rich, gay and very famous sugar daddies to chose from. He was constantly pursued by black and white male celebrities. At one time, he allegedly had a girlfriend but it had to be a smokescreen for publicity. Sterling was also paid an "appearance" fee just to decorate fashion designer parties with his looks, his presence also provided newspaper publicity the next day.

One model said she caught a glimpse of Sterling in the 80's, at an outdoor cafe in Paris (Champs Elysees). "He was absolutely stunning with beautiful skin and breathtaking eyes, so much so, my heart skipped a beat."


The Champs Elysees was often frequented by Josephine Baker and her pet cheetah. She loved the ambience and was treated like a queen among the European elite. Porfirio Rubirosa (legendary playboy/fortune hunter) was also an regular on the Champs Elysees, he loved to flirt with the rich women. When Sammy Davis, Jr. was in town, both men were often seen in the area.

Backstory: The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, and with rents as high as $1.5 million per year-per 1,000 square feet (92.9 square metres) of space, it remains the most expensive strip of real estate in Europe. More expensive than Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Former model Grace Jones has defended infamous New York City nightclub Studio 54, insisting "moderation" was always practiced by its patrons.

During her modeling days, the singer was a regular fixture of the 1970s hot spot, which became known for sexual activity and rampant drug use that occurred after hours.

But Jones maintains the discotheque was a far more civilized place than its notorious reputation suggests.

Jones claims she had wilder nights at Big Apple gay bar the Paradise Garage (story below) because venue bosses allegedly provided partygoers with drugs instead of serving liquor.

She adds, "At the Garage, there was a big bowl of whatever concoction they had there. The Garage was the club that opened at four, with a blend of juices or something and they used to spike it with acid and stuff. Because actually they didn't have a liquor license so you know, hey let's put acid inside!"


Paradise Garage Club was second to Studio 54 in popularity. Numerous celebrities patronized this after hours gay club. Oddly, this club didn't serve alcohol, beverages or food.

In its heyday, on a typical night, you could spot: Diana Ross, Boy George, Mick Jagger, Mike Tyson, Sylvester, Thelma Houston, Chaka Khan, Nile Rogers, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Grace Jones, Frankie Crocker, Madonna, etc.

Performers included: Patti Labelle, Jennifer Holiday, Natalie Cole, Nona Hendryx, Phyllis Hyman, Siedah Garrett, Gloria Gaynor and the Pointer Sisters.

Over 1,000 hit songs were broken in this club.

As famous and legendary as the club itself was the Garage's DJ - the late Larry Levan. Larry was the resident DJ of "the Garage" and to many people he was "the Garage". Lots of people, and other DJ's, came to the club just to hear him play... He was a true master behind the turntables.

At his peak, Levan was the most famous DJ in the world. He was also known as being the greatest remixer in the country. He also made big money via European gigs.

The club was strictly "MEMBERS ONLY" (not opened to the public) and if you got past the body search by the guards in the entrance, you walked up the runway.

You could stop by the changing room to get into your dancing clothes or you could head directly to the huge dance floor, which would hold up to some 2000 people.

The dance floor was located by the stage , VIP artists entered this stage, people like Grace Jones, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Karen Young, Colonel Abrams... The list is endless. Some famous acts like Gwen Guthrie and others actually started their careers on that stage.

Studio 54 tried to convince Larry to start playing the '54' instead, but Larry just replied "They're not ready for me yet."

Above the dance floor was Larry's domain, the DJ booth, from where he ruled his kingdom and set the mood of the crowd with his remarkable mixes. Surrounded by massive security, no one, except the ones Larry agreed to, could enter his booth (with the exception of Frankie Crocker).

The club closed in 1987. Larry Levan died in 1992 at the age of 38.

Nothing has changed, top celebrities continue to patronize gay clubs on both coasts. The bathrooms are coed, drugs are plentiful and the alcohol flows. Allegedly, sex acts are taking place in VIP rooms.


Donyale Luna (pictured above) was born in Detroit, Michigan on Jan. 1st 1946. Luna would go on to become the first black supermodel.

Luna made history when she became the first black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Magazine, in 1966.

She went overseas to model and became an international superstar in fashion circles. She was beautiful, classy, elegant and tall with penetrating green/blue eyes. The photo above, doesn't do her beauty justice.

She became so popular in France. Four French boys would camp outside of her apartment each night and follow her throughout the day. When she wore a dress with a long train, the boys would walk behind her, carrying the train of her dress.

When she walked by outdoor cafes, conversations would cease because she was so beautiful.

Josephine Baker heard about her and requested a meeting. Afterwards, Baker stated, she is the most beautiful and elegant woman I have ever met, black or white.

Italian directors approached Luna, she appeared in several overseas films. The movies became cult classics and her fan base increased.

Sadly, Donyale Luna died in 1979 of an accidental pill overdose in Rome; she was 33 years old. The fashion world was stunned and her roommate-Pat Cleveland was devastated.


Contrary to popular belief, Naomi Campbell is not the runway queen. That title belongs to Pat Cleveland who became the best runway model in fashion history.

Affectionately called Cleveland-Pat Cleveland (pictured above to the left) would dominate the runway like no other model. Legendary performer Josephine Baker made it well known, she wanted Cleveland to portray her in a film, if her life story was ever adapted for a movie because Cleveland bore a resemblance to a younger Baker.

When she isn't working on the modeling circuit, she relaxes at her Chateau in the Swiss Alps. Pat also owns an overseas modeling agency.

Her favorite vacation spot is Monte Carlo. She enjoys eating smoked barracuda on private yachts.

When she attends Fashion Week in New York, she has ringside seats and she's treated like royalty.

African-American models (past and present) continue to be the most savvy black businesswomen on the planet!

Former model/actress Maria McDonald (above) is Chairman of the Board at "Cover Girls for Change." An upcoming NY Models Reunion & Red Carpet Charity Event featuring some of the biggest names (models, designers, etc.) in the fashion industry. This event takes place in September.

Numerous black models head charitable organization, others own overseas fragrance lines, successful fashion boutiques and modeling agencies.

A few black models are real estate moguls and several have lucrative brokerage accounts.

Some of these women are naturally smart while others were surrounded by wealth early in their careers, giving them the opportunity to  absorb business and financial tips.

Black runway models have Naomi Campbell to thank for taking runway fees to another level! A black supermodel with name status like Jessica White and Chanel Iman can demand $10,000 for a few two-minute jaunts down the runway.

For additional runway appearances for the duration of the same show, they can demand a set fee of $25,000.

Before Naomi semi-retired, she could demand $100,000 a week and a white supermodel set tongues wagging when she was paid $100,000 for a photo shoot.

Photo Credit: Chanel Iman's photo courtesy of Urban-Hoopla.com

In August 1988, Naomi Campbell appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris as that publication's first black cover girl, after friend and mentor, Yves St. Laurent, threatened to withdraw all of his advertising from the publication after it refused to place Campbell, or any black model, on its cover.

In addition to Vogue Paris, Campbell also became the second black model after Donyale Luna to appear on the cover of Vogue UK (replacing fellow black model Veronica Webb who apparently declined to work with the magazine).


There is a secret and affluent gay club (Gamma Mu) in this country that shuns publicity. The membership list is a who's who of entertainment, sports, politics and business. This list is guarded like a 'classified government document.' The members are famous and extremely wealthy (billionaires and millionaires). Outsiders have complained that you have to be rich to join, if you are young and gorgeous, that requirement is allegedly waived. Although the majority of these men are gay, a percentage are married while others have girlfriends (beards).

This exclusive club was created in 1967 by a gay travel agent. The group has congregated around the world on cruise ships, excursions and around the world trips. Locations include: Honolulu, Acapulco, Mexico, Vancouver, Canada, Costa Rica, etc. Gamma Mu received unwanted publicity when it was revealed that Andrew Cunanan (the man who killed Gianni Versace) was a one-time member.

College scholarships are allegedly set up for younger members.

After a weekend of parties with gay friends in Washington, D.C. Gamma Mu started with 17 members and an increasingly elaborate and pricey list of socials. Gamma Mu has also chartered trips aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner, taken ski trips to Aspen, celebrated Oktoberfest in Germany, and went ballooning in the South of France.

Today, membership is close to 2,000 and a pricey membership fee is required. Newer members include: Unidentified politicians, lawyers, doctors, financiers, TV chefs, college deans, TV producers, actors, athletes, singers, etc.

Source: Advocate


In the 1970-1980's, Renauld White was the top black male model on the planet! He was also the first black model to appear on the cover of GQ magazine.

White also appeared in one of the most successful black ad campaigns in the 1970's for "Black Tie," cologne.

After supermodel Naomi Sims' funeral, White was quoted as saying: "Naomi and I did a joint Harper's Bazaar cover shot by Neal Barr but it was never published. It was too far ahead of its time."

White left modeling to pursue an acting career, he appeared on the soap opera "Guiding Light," for several years and continues to appear in New York plays.

Tyrone Spears was one of the premiere male models in the 1980's. It was rumored that he was either the half-brother or step-brother of Reggie Theus (former pretty boy baller-2nd photo). If true, the handsome gene runs in the family.

Spears was once engaged to Freddie Jackson's background singer (Yolanda McCullough). Spears was also known for his chef skills.

Photo credit for Tyrone Spears: Philip Marlowe

Charles Williamson was another male supermodel from the 1980's. He was tall, sleek and gorgeous. He also has more tenure of any Ebony Fashion Fair model-in history. He was smooth on the runway, with a confident strut and manner. At one time, Williamson was one of the highest earning black (male) models on the planet!


In two months, Fior Mendez went from a Dominican Republic orphanage to a New York runway. "I'm overwhelmed emotionally. It's a dream, says Flor. I couldn't imagine that a person like me would be doing this in New York City."

When Fior was 13, her mother dumped her at an Orphanage. There, she dreamed of being a model, playing at posing in front of her mirror.

By 21, she has lost contact with her mother and reached the orphanage's age limit.

But a guardian angel stepped in to save her from the street. It was Andy Stein, a close friend of the orphanage's founder.

Stein volunteered to bring Fior to New York City so she could learn English. Then his girlfriend introduced her to Prince Riley, a founder of the Signature Talent Agency.

Eight weeks later, Fior, 22, walked the Fashion Week runway for designer Nzinga Knight.

In 1988, singer-actress Grace Jones says Jamaican police dragged her, her boyfriend and two children from an American Airlines plane in Kingston, Jamaica, when her boyfriend demanded an apology from the pilot for a flight delay.

Police were called to the plane after an argument escalated when the pilot, who is White, allegedly called Chris Stanley a ni**er. The pilot allegedly refused to apologize for the two-hour late departure to New York and also refused to apologize for the alleged racial slur.

"No one was making any disturbance whatsoever," Jones said. When Stanley asked for an apology, Jones said, the pilot replied: "We're not going to apologize to ni**ers!"

Jones was accompanied by her then 8-year-old son and Stanley's 8-year-old daughter.

She said about 15 officers were summoned and they literally pulled us and dragged us off the plane and pushed both of the children.

Jones was in Jamaica to record a new album.

Stanley was arrested and released after bond was posted. Jones was not arrested.


Andre Nunes was a catwalk and magazine model in the 1980s, he was also an accomplished writer, musician and professional dancer who was popular at the top clubs in New York, Los Angeles and Europe.

Nunes was kidnapped from his home in the middle of the night while his girlfriend was asleep in the same room.

Andre Nunes: forensic experts believe he was either shot or beaten to death

She woke up to find her 47-year-old boyfriend gone and the door kicked off its hinges. His burnt remains were found in a four-acre field in the grounds of Moorfields, a country property in Worcestershire.

Michael Weldon, 56, and Mark Price, (above) were found guilty of his murder at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday. (FRI)

A third man, Michael Oliver, 52, who lived at Moorfields, was convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The court was told that Weldon was the driving force behind the killing.

He was looking for another man, who he believed had assaulted a female relative, when he went with armed men to Nunes' flat.

After they killed him, Nunes' body was taken to the corner of a field on the Moorfields estate to a 6ft deep grave. His body was placed in the grave, set on fire and burned for several hours before the hole was filled in.

Due to the state of his remains forensic experts could not tell how Nunes was killed but they thought it was likely that he was either shot or beaten.

Detective Superintendent Matt Ward, who led the investigation, said the killers thought that they had got away with "the perfect murder."

He said other people may have been involved in the kidnap.


Black model Pat Evans was a trailblazer. Her bookings increased significantly when she shaved her head and went bald. During the late 70's and 80's, Evans was a top model. She appeared in all the major black magazines and she also received exposure in skin care and makeup ads.

Evans and Isaac Hayes caused a stir when they were often photographed walking down the street with gleaming bald heads in full length furs.

Evans also posed for album covers, most notably, the Ohio Players (above).

After Evans' retired from modeling, we heard she became a teacher.

A famous quote from Pat Evans that appeared in Essence Magazine: Evans herself was a bold as her personal style. She sent tongues wagging when she criticized the racist attitudes in the industry and predatory photographers. She said that modeling would never be an "open" profession for black people until there were more black owned agencies, products, magazines and above all "black owned minds."

Former Halston supermodel Alva Chinn was the first African-American woman to purchase a Ferrari (in cash) in the United States; her Ferrari was red. Designer Oscar De La Renta is the godfather to Chinn's son.


For black models, the defining moment of change took place at Versailles on a date to remember: November 28, 1973. For the first time ever, a group of Black American models-no longer isolated, individual stars-walked off an unusually opulent runway and onto the pages of history.

The scene was set: The stage of the Opera House at the Sun King's imperial chateau. Five American fashion designers were invited to show their work along with five French couturiers. The home team: Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro. The American visitors: Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Halston, Anne Klein and Oscar de la Renta.

Although the numbers were even, the match seemed to favor the Europeans. They were, after all, playing on their own court.

But, the American designers had a secret weapon, Black women. African-American women were the surprise element, the shock troops on the runway. Billie Blair, Alva Chinn, Pat Cleveland (above), Norma Jean Darden, Charlene Dash, Bethann Hardison. Barbara Jackson, Ramona Saunders and Amina Warsuma.

The most dramatic moment came when Bethann Hardison stalked down the runway in a tight-fitting yellow silk halter by black designer Stephen Burrows. Hardison held a floor-length train by a tiny ring on her pinky, wrote reporter LaVerne Powlis. "When Hardison made reached center stage, she made a dramatic turn and haughtily dropped the train. The audience exploded in a frenzy of approval. They stomped, screamed and tossed their programs into the air.

According to NY Daily News photographer-Bill Cunningham: "The bejeweled Paris audience was stunned by the showmanship of the black models from America. The aristocrats were even thrilled."

Fashion was never to be colonized in the same ways again. And Black American models, who had moved over the previous 25 years from near invisibility to grudging recognition, now commanded center stage, never again to be ignored.

Alva Chinn described the Versailles gala as a gift from God. Our side was so simple. We didn't have props and things, we just had us.

Norma Jean Darden added, "Stephen Burrows stole the show. People were just clapping for days."

Charlene Dash said simply: "We killed them!"

The Black girls led the Americans to such and overwhelming uncontested victory that one important American socialite present at the gala enthused: "Not since Eisenhower liberated Paris have the Americans had such a triumph in France."

Source: Barbara Summers


Khadija (above) originated from Nairobi, Kenya. She was a beauty queen (Miss Africa) and in 1985 she went to London to do the Miss World pageant where she selected as an finalist.

A photographer called her up and suggested that she go to Paris to meet fashion designer Yves St. Laurent.

Her debut with Saint Laurent led to the cover of Cosmopolitan (above). She received tremendous exposure and won an exclusive makeup contract with Saint Laurent cosmetics, the first transracial line to feature a Black model and the first to be named after an individual (Khadija).

Unfortunately, in the 1980's, people wrote nasty letters because a black woman represented this line. Sales went down and the line didn't last long.

At her peak, Khadija generated $350,000 per year in income.

In the 1990's, Sonia Cole (above) was a huge runway star in Europe, the United States and Japan.

Before her success, she worked at Caesar's Palace dressed as Cleopatra. She walked around handing out money to big winners, giving directions, greeting people and posing for photos with tourists.

While working a casino hosted-private party, Cole met Bill Cosby. He asked her what she really wanted to do and she told him: "I want to go to Paris to model."

Within two weeks of meeting Cosby, Cole was in Paris (with her husband) doing shows.

The rest is history!

In Related News:

Caesars Palace employed numerous black "Cleopatra" models. The models would walk around in Cleopatra garb with a Mark Anthony model trailing them. Rumor had it that white models became upset because they couldn't get the Cleo gig and they were going to try and pressure Caesars into hiring white Cleo models. I don't know what became of this complaint.

One of the Cleopatra models was named Pat, she was one of the first Cleopatra models (she resembled Whitney Houston). She died at the age of 27 (ovarian cancer). RIP Pat.

According to supermodel Iman: "On the runway in Europe is liking doing a Broadway show and New York is a showroom, that's what the difference is as far as runway goes."

"The money is very glamorous, it's ridiculous. One day a client called my agency and requested me for three hours at an price of $25,000 dollars."

"From 1977-1979, it was party time! I was one of those people who would go from work, take a nap for a couple of hours, go to Studio 54 until eight o'clock in the morning and then go to work again."

"How come every night there's a big party and when you don't go, the next day everybody calls saying, 'Oh, you missed a great party.'

In 1982, Iman was taking a cab ride home from a dinner date when the cab got into an accident. The accident left her face a wreck and her career in jeopardy but she rebounded.

Iman and her current husband David Bowie have a chateau in Switzerland, a Caribbean villa in Mustique and additional homes in Europe, New York and Bel Air.

Model Maria McDonald (above) once said that Iman is very business savvy and smart. Iman proved her business savvy when she launched a successful and lucrative makeup line aimed at women of color.

According to Iman's ex-husband, NBA star Spencer Haywood: "The high fashion scene is strange and decadent. It is as competitive as the sports world. The girls not only have to stay thin as greyhounds, but they have to be incredibly hyped and energized for photo shoots and fashion shows. They have to be on fire, they have to be hot! The sale of a million dollar clothing line rests on their ability to make the clothing line come alive!"

Source: Barbara Summers


Author and former model Barbara Summers described Pat Cleveland (above) as the model who dominated the stage, "the stage belonged to her." Flights of fantasy were her specialty. Airy, winged spins and long, liquid gestures were standards in her repertoire. Impossibly ethereal, she could, as model Rene Hunter said, "tell a story in a dress."

Pat also spoke fluent Italian and liked to frequent outdoor European cafe's that served freshly squeezed orange juice.

Pat says, "My aunt was a dancer with Katherine Dunham. When I was five years old, I used to dance with her, too."

"My great aunt was Josephine Baker's Sunday school teacher. So I always heard these stories about this little girl who went away to Paris and never came back. And that's what my plan was."

"During my modeling years, I was looking for fun. I used to go out dancing at Le Club and Cheetah because I had the right clothes. If you want to get famous, dress up! Yes, fame was on my list. I had to get out and get famous because those people were the ones who were having all the fun."

Pat recalls of the more intense days spent traveling with the Ebony Fashion Fair in the mid-60's.

"I was in a bus in Arkansas not long after those little girls got killed in the church. People were throwing bombs around our hotel. Disgusting things would happen.

Another time we were pulling out of Arkansas, and the Ku Klux Klan were coming, and they were throwing things at our bus with flames and fire, trying to kill us. I'll never forget that.

They didn't want to hurt us, they wanted to kill us because of our color. People threw rocks at us because we were Black. They tried to rape this one girl. It's so awful to see what can happen.

I left America the first time and said I wasn't coming back until I saw a Black model on the cover of Vogue. It took me a long time. In 1974, that's the year I went back.

Just living it up in the South of France or taking off with backpacks and going to Egypt. The opportunity to see the world is definitely there.

"You have to keep your fantasies alive. If you think you can be something, go for it. If you think you can go somewhere, try. You have to be a bit bold.

Darnella Thomas was the first African-American woman to model for the "Charlie," ad campaign. One day, while she was shooting a fashion catalog, she said to herself, "This is boring, I need something else, something that's really stimulating."

A friend on Wall Street was into coal tax shelters and he had coal mines in Kentucky. He told Darnella if she was looking to get out of modeling, he could set her up in business-brokering coal.

Darnella got a chance to go into some coal mines. She says, "You had to crawl down there. Some people went in and got scared, and they had to be taken out, but I was fine."

"It was really exciting. We even visited the Department of Defense. We got our first contract through the Southern Alabama Power and Light Company for 25,000 tons of coal."

Darnella did very well financially in this industry.

Source: Barbara Summers


Madame Ophelia DeVore (above-both photos) is an institution. She was not only the first model of color in the 1940's but she used the power of the media via her fashion column in the Pittsburgh Courier to showcase black models. Although the major New York City department stores had never done so before, they lent her clothes for Black models to wear in photographs in the paper.

Doing what no others had done before on such an ambitious level, she took it a step further by refining skills and expanding into public relations, fashion shows and television. She took the black modeling industry to its zenith.

"I started putting on contests so the models could get experience walking on a runway and on stage to develop stage presence."

DeVore was the teacher, agent and promoter.

In 1959, and again in 1960 and 1961, her protege's were crowned Queen of the International Film Festival in Cannes. Cecilia Cooper was the first Black woman to win. When she won, she had the seat of honor over all the top movie stars. According to Madame DeVore, "UPI (the wire service) almost died because a Black American had won the title." Devore models LeJeune Hundley and Emily Yancy won in succeeding years.

Source: Barbara Summers


Madame DeVore began modeling at the age of 16. As a fair-skinned African American, Madame Devore gained contracts throughout Europe. In 1946, determined to create a new market for non-White women in the U.S., Madame DeVore would establish The Grace Del Marco Agency.

In the agency's early days, it was a stepping stone for countless household names; Diahann Carroll, Helen Williams, Richard Roundtree, Barbara McNair, Cicely Tyson and others. Racism was rampant in New York’s fashion business and the Grace Del Marco Agency was one of the few places non-White models could gain work.

Her agency's shows took place in churches, college campuses, and in the ballrooms of the Diplomat and Waldorf-Astoria hotels. Like many non-Whites in the mid-twentieth century, DeVore’s breakthrough came in Europe; specifically through the French fashion world.

The initial impact took place at many of the Cannes Film Festivals during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Madame Devore also seized media for business equity by co-hosting ABC’s Spotlight on Harlem. Her intensity to "make it" demanded relentless dedication and work ethic; enough to cause her a heart attack while still in her twenties.

In the agency's later years, it was renamed Ophelia DeVore Associates, and then the Ophelia DeVore Organization. In 1985, DeVore broadened her enterprise globally to include Swaziland as a client, and published her late husband’s newspaper The Columbus Times.

"Her specialty is polishing black diamonds (models)," declared one newspaper article.

Due to her business acumen, she has served as consultant to many of America's Fortune 500 corporations. DeVore has received more than 200 awards and honors from corporate, political, educational, governmental and social agencies.

According to supermodel Janice Dickinson: "Pat Cleveland (above) was one of the greatest runway models ever!  When she moved, she painted the air around her with the clothes-a veritable riot of living color."  She was Halston's favorite model!


After a night of partying at Studio 54, Janice Dickinson and Iman returned to Calvin Klein's place.  Calvin left the room and returned in a boxy silk shirt and no pants and Fruit-of-the-Loom underwar and knee socks.

Janice told him: "You look really hot Calvin, why don't you do a line of underwear?"  Just put your name on it, I bet it'll sell."

His eyes lit up, but he didn't say anything.

The rest is history!

It was already bad enough that the Ford Modeling agency was nicknamed "The White House," but agency head Eileen Ford put her foot in her mouth when she told the author of "Skin Deep," that a book about Black models would be a short one.

Barbara Summers' is a former Ford model who proved Eileen Ford wrong. Summers traveled to three continents to do research for this book and she doesn't disappoint.

Summers' also provides interesting and insightful information on black model Donyale Luna.

To read more about black models (past and present) and the affluent lifestyle, click here: "Affluent Report"



return to top