With Beard's interest peaked Jason Sylk stalked his prey, eventually cornering the photographer at Lotus
in April. Beard's wife/agent, Nejma, and several of Beard's lawyers were also at Beard's table that night.
Sylk took full advantage of the situation giving each one of them the SoHo Models spiel. "I saw some
rough edges," says Beard of his initial encounter with Sylk. "But I liked him. Even my lawyers took no
exception to him. They liked him too. And they liked his ideas." After this impromptu business meeting,
Jason invited Beard to inspect the 415 Broadway property. He showed up one evening with a camera
and two Russian models in tow. The place was still unfinished, but Beard was enthralled by the enormous
floor plan and numerous windows. After receiving the grand tour, he and the two Russian beauties were
shown an intimate alcove in the back, which Sylk christened on the spot the "Peter Beard Room." He lit
up a joint and passed it around, while Beard began squeezing off shots of the Russian girls. "It was very
nice," says Beard of his first visit to SoHo Models. "We did a lot of pictures. We were sort of breaking
the place in." Later that evening Sylk took Beard up to the roof which, being the top floor tenant, he
had convenient access to. When Beard saw the tarred expanse (approx.6000 sq foot) stretching out in
front of him and the 360 degree view he was utterly captivated. If he did have any doubts up to this point
concerning his participation with SoHo Models they were immediately dismissed. To make the agency
truly unique Beard proposed that they should open a rooftop garden as an adjunct to the agency. "It would
have been a club like Moomba or Park," says Beard of the spin-off project, "But it would also have been
a place where you could take pictures. A certain night could be designated 'Photo Night.'"
"Hundreds of people have tried to talk me out of this project, but I didn't care," says Beard defiantly.
"Sometimes the truth comes through the strangest door. Through the most unusual circumstance you might
meet a real amazing person. Who am I to judge ?" Others believe Beard was searching for more than truth.
"Peter was in it for the girls, the partying and the drugs," says Richard Renda. "But mostly for the drugs."
Tim Spulches, the owner of Veruka concurs with Renda's pharmeceutical theory: "Peter has been a
functioning drug addict for the past twenty years," says Spulches. "We're all amazed that he's still standing
up. He has an incredible appetite for cocaine." "Bullshit !" Peter Beard explodes when he hears
this. "I'm so un-drug-dependent, you have no idea. I don't even have any drugs in this entire
apartment right now." He pauses for a second and adds, "Although yesterday I did do a line with
Naomi Campbell. But it was hers. If I'm offered, I'll accept."
It was on that rooftop above Broadway and Canal, stoned and feeling more confident than he had since
the old M2 days, that Sylk had his second eureka moment. If there ever was a question of him not being of
sound mind up to this point, it was instantly dispelled by what happened next. The frayed synapses began
firing again, and when the electrochemical haze cleared, the most preposterous idea imaginable occurred
to him: He was going to go legit –SoHo Models was going to be a bona fide model agency. Or as bona
fide as an agency run by Jason Itzler could be anyway. He had a hook: SoHo Models would offer a fresh
alternative to all the cookie cutter boutique agencies in Manhattan. "I was going to do a whole different
type of modeling agency," explains Sylk. "It was going to be hip, stylish and trendy. One that people talk
about and that had an element of European class." Think Elite in the mid-80s, but with the models going all
the way on the first booking. "Why the hell not?" he thought. There certainly was enough room for SoHo
Models and Baum Multimedia to coexist on the same floor. And fashion people didn't pose much of an
obstacle. After being briefed by Ed Feldman and taking a series of spurious meetings with some of the top
executives in the industry he was thoroughly unimpressed. "This was a field wide open to be taken over
big-time,"says Sylk, not so much arrogantly as matter-of-factly.
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