Baker liked the space but said that his relationship with the various modeling agencies precluded him from
getting involved with SoHo Models. He would, however lend his talents to what would be contractually
described as the "rooftop event venue." Never one to waste a product plug, Sylk screened his "SoHo"
video for Kessler hoping the filmmaker might consider expanding the subject to a full-length documentary.
Surprisingly, Kessler was riveted by the inane montage. He thought that a documentary film devoted to
the making of SoHo Models was a fascinating premise. Sylk said his investors had committed $2 million to
the SoHo Models project and that some of that money could be budgeted for Henri's film, especially since
it could be used as a promotional tool. "Henri Kessler was going to make a film about Mark (Baker) and
Jason (Sylk Itzler) working together, but it never actually happened" confirms Lee Kalt. "Henri was another
person who was fooled. He was seriously interested in making the film." Before Baker and Kessler left,
Sylk took them up to the roof to finalize business terms. Jason agreed to pay Baker a $20,000 retainer
which, in addition to the consultation work, would include contributing the appropriate social contacts.
Interestingly enough ... Sylk saw no potential conflict having a model agency on the same floor as an
internet sex service. On the contrary, he actually envisioned a synergy between SoHo Models and Baum
Multimedia. "With the two business next to each other I'd never have to send employees back and forth,"
he says gleefully. "They'd interact with each other simply because of their proximity. The models would
hear how much the internet girls were making and they'd check out Baum. And if the internet girls were
pretty enough they'd be able to cross over to SoHo Models." With Peter Beard firmly committed to the
project Sylk was convinced he had the fashion clout necessary to reinvent himself as the industry's most
flamboyant model agent, a John Casablancas for the new millennium. "The modeling business is boring and
bland" says Sylk, his voice dripping with ennui. "None of the agencies are exciting or great. This is the
greatest city in the world and there's no action in the fashion scene." For this con man nothing would be
worse than a life without action. Whether its gambling (blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino), dating women
(Miss Hawaiian Tropic and the December '93 Playboy centerfold are former girlfriends) or partying with
celebs at The Friars Club (his stepfather is a member). Addicted to the action. But Sylk was looking for
a different type of action this time around. The legitimate kind, "the kind Donald Trump has a piece of."
He may have boasted about owning pussy.com and being the phone sex king but deep down he craved
credibility. And SoHo Models was how he was going to achieve it. Needing at least one more bold face
name to leverage himself into the exclusive circle he wanted to be Sylk approached party promoter Mark
Baker to act as a consultant on the construction of SoHo Models and its rooftop club. Baker went to 415
Broadway in early March to check out the space. Tagging along that evening was Henri Kessler, a friend
of Baker's and a successful documentary filmmaker best known for making Slam -- an exploration of
MTV style poetry reading contests.
"Most of these people get their start as models, so they're not really business people. In three weeks the
project went from the concept of a bait-and-switch to me saying, 'Fuck that ! I'm going to kick ass at
this modeling agency !" says Sylk. Of course, until SoHo Models was up and running he'd still use it as a
bait-and-switch gambit. Bringing the appropriate people to the table, finding the right investors for a real
model agency, and doing the build-out could take a couple years. Besides, if he could draw better looking
applicants to Baum Multimedia with the SoHo Models gimmick in the meantime he'd thought be foolish
not to. After all, he did own 33.3 percent of the business. If it took off he might even be able to afford to
fund SoHo Models himself.
ToTaLLy CoOL
written by
Rene Chun
Model

"The

Sweat Shop"

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