Feldman called in a favor for the kid. Twenty-one years ago, when Click was the new model agency
in town, Feldman had lent money to its owner Francis Grill. Her son, Joey Grill, was now overseeing
operations at CLICK. Feldman asked Grill to "teach Jason the modeling business." Obliging Feldman, Joey
Grill met with Sylk and gave him a Cliff Notes overview of the industry. "I didn't believe he was going
to have the biggest modeling agency in the universe," says Grill. "But I did sit and listen to him because
I was fascinated with his concept of having legitimate business people as partners: Ian Schrager, Randy
Gerber, Mark Baker." Asked if he thought all these people were seriously committed, Grill shrieks, "Never
once !" But adds, "Although I have to admit that I did think he did have some contact with Peter Beard."
The list of fashion victims goes on: I.D Models owner Paolo Zampoli ("I didn't realize he didn't have any
money. I thought the guy was loaded with millions. He had a very impressive office space."); fashion
photographer Marco Glaviano ("He looked okay. He was respectful -- and said he liked my work. I said
send me the girls when you open."); Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of Downtown Cipriani ("Giuseppe doesn't
know anything about the fashion business," says one friend. "But he does love to sleep with models.");
Q Models owner Jeff Kolstra (I think that Jason does have money…or maybe he doesn't. I don't know.")
"Everybody thought it was legit," says Lee Kalt of Jason's elaborate charade. "Peter Beard, Mark Baker,
Joey Grill, Mark Hantman. I thought these were respectable, smart people. And I would see him pulling
the wool over their eyes. It amazed me the way people believed ..."
Renda's gracious baritone voice turns unexpectedly acerbic when the word "scam" is
mentioned. "It absolutely was a scam – from day one !" he fumes. "It took me several weeks
to figure it out, but I quickly realized that SoHo Models was never intended to be a legitimate
business. The place was never intended to be a model agency. It was intended to be a model
sweat shop. When I confronted Jason about this, he said, 'So what if it is ?'" Renda begins
hyperventilating. Despite the fashion industry's inherent silliness and its endless cast of vapid
characters, he is fiercely protective of it. "This is as sleazy as it gets," he rails. "We've all
made a concerted effort to weed out the slime bucket photographers and to have some type of
integrity for the girls. For this guy to come in and undo that in three months is bad. Girls don't
know what they're getting into." In one particularly amusing scenario, Sylk strolled into the downtown
modeling agency "Next" and had everyone convinced he was a perspective client. "He walked around
the floor for half an hour checking it out, pulling comp cards, and this and that," says Mark Baker of the
improbable fact-finding mission. "Eventually somebody called him on it. He gave them a card and said,
'I'm SoHo Models, and I'm going to take over your business. You'll all be finished in six months.'" Mark
Baker can't suppress his laughter, "The balls of the guy. You've got to give him kudos to go into Next and
act like that. He was going to retain some girls for a job. He believed in himself so much. He had a rap
that was just unbelievable."
Sylk's con game wasn't limited to the Fashion Community. Anyone in New York with money, or access
to it, was fair game. Al Goldstein's lawyer, Rose Robbins, for instance wants Sylk to consult on some
"bandwidth problems" the Midnight Blue web site is having. George Pagatsia, a friend of Andrew Lauren,
scion to the Polo fortune, is trying desperately to get a copy of a film script to Sylk. The script, the first
project slated for A.L. Productions, is a holocaust story based on a novel by Melvin Jewls Burkiet. Sylk
"definitely got my attention. I couldn't help but notice him," says the awestruck Pagatsia. "He's friendly,
outgoing, charismatic. He left an impression on me. He also mentioned to me that he's friends with
director Brett Ratner."
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The 7th On Sixth -
C.F.D.A. Scandal

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