Fashion & Dyke Icon Jenny Shimizu 【Modeling Years】

By Yuki Keiser April 2008

Jenny Shimizu

2. Discovered at a club of legend

-- You quickly became the focus of much attention after Calvin Klein selected you to model in his CK One ads - alongside Kate Moss. Gay women everywhere were talking about you and your presence made quite an impact. Can you tell us how you got into modeling? I heard you were scouted at a club...

Jenny Shimizu

Yeah, that's right. Right here in Silver Lake, in the 90's. I was at "Les Bar", which is a gay hispanic bar in Sunset Junction. It's a hustler bar. It used to be called Basquos actually, but it has always been there - it's still there. On Friday nights there was a club called "Fuck" and it was just crazy. (laughs) In the 90s it was very different from what you have today. For one, there were no police.

--What do you mean by crazy, exactly?

Oh, I don't even know how to explain it. It was like a complete free for all. We all rode motorcycles. We all ran around naked. We all wore mustaches. That's what was crazy. It was a very gender-fuck kind of club.

--Were there also gay men?

Club-goers ran the spectrum. They included gay men, gay women, and transgendered men and women. There was even S&M.

--Very queer.

Yeah (laughs). There was everything. People who hung from their nipples...all that stuff. It was during the beginning of that whole tribal thing. You saw people engaging in various forms of body manipulation, and a lot of tattoos...

--You were a regular there?

Well, I was always there because I was dating the door girl. Her name is Sweet Pea. She's married now and just recently appeared on the show Project Runway.

--Wow. So how were you discovered?

Well, I was out in front of the club, and so was a casting agent - with a Polaroid camera. I was on my motorcycle talking to a British girl named Alice Temple, who was a pop singer in the UK at the time. A male model, Tony Ward, was also there and the three of us started riding my motorcycle around. That's when the agent said, "Stop! Let me take your pictures!" Two days later I was getting calls for music videos...and then directors started calling.

Alice Temple and Tony Ward
※Jenny Shimizu was scouted while hanging out with queer icons Alice Temple (left) and Tony Ward (right).

--You were with Tony Ward?! (An actor & model famed for his work as a supermodel in D&G and Calvin Klein ads, and his relationship with Madonna in the 1990's.) Didn't he appear in a film by the gay film-maker Bruce La Bruce?

Exactly! He appeared in "Hustler White"!

--That's incredible. You were hanging out with true queer icons! Do you still see him?

Yeah, I still see him.

--I love his films. He was fantastic in "Hustler White". He has such a cool personality.

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