Jake has vision to transform you
Column by The Post’s David Wecker
Publication date: 11-19-98From the international headquarters of Wings Management on the second floor of the Schwartz Building, Jake Lang
has a panoramic view of the corner of Main and Ninth. The phone rings, and Jake picks it up. One of Jake's aspiring
fashion models, 17-year-old Amanda, is on the other end.
''Uh-huh, sure, absolutely,'' Jake says.
''Next time, they're giving you a per- week per-diem, OK? Hold on, I've got another call. Can you hold?''.
Amanda's mom is on the other line. Jake tells her Amanda is on hold, calling from Italy. Yeah, he says, she's on a cellphone
in Milan. Cool, hunh? But it's ex pensive, so can Jake get right back to her? He presses a button.
''Right. Amanda? That was your mom. She misses you. So you'll be for sure on the plane Saturday? OK, I'll tell her.''
The deal is, Jake hooked Amanda up with an agency in Milan, where she's be ing cast in a variety of Italian fashion
mags - there must be hundreds, he says. Hopefully, one or two will feature her in a fashion spread, he'll add them to
her portfolio and, maybe one day, she'll be the next Claudia Schiffer.
Jake says ''I picked up a camera one day when I was living in Manhattan's Upper West Side and shot a girl,'' he says.
''The rest is history.''
He lived in Manhattan, Miami, Paris and Milan, doing fashion photography in the capitals of the fashion world, making a
lot of contacts. This past March, he opened Wings Management in downtown Cincinnati, partly to be with his family and
partly because he saw an opportunity: The capitals of the fashion world love that American Heart land look, but the
fashion world's denizens aren't comfy actually coming to the heartland. So Jake set about being a conduit.
''I'm what's known in the business as a "mother manager,' '' he says.
''I find a teen-age girl or boy walking around out there - I have a lot of scouts out looking on my behalf. "How would you
like to be a model?' They get my card, maybe they call me. I bring the girl in, or the boy, and decide if they need a
''Or half of them don't know how to dress - not that people around here don't have style. I tell them if they need to lose
weight, whatever. These are kids who never thought about modeling
''You have to get them before they turn 18, before they start doing bad things with their hair or bad things with their skin
. . . ''
One wall at Wings Management is lined with portraits of mostly teen-agers, looking this way and that at the camera;
high-style, hair-tousled, Europa-style portraits of kids with high cheekbones looking like they'd never imagined themselves
looking before, seething with attitude. Most seem to be wearing gel in their hair.
''There's a lot more involved in it than gel,'' Jake says.
''Take this boy here. Jason. When I found him, he was juicing lemons at the Clermont County Fair, traveling with a
concessions outfit across the country."
''I brought him into town from his home in West Virginia, took some photos, sent him home and got him a job. His
mother's car was broken down, and he had no way to get back to Cincinnati - so I got the client to buy him a bus ticket.
He rides the bus for nine hours and makes $800 in one day on a shoot for Menthos that's going to be in Spin magazine."
''I can take a girl and send her to Paris tomorrow,'' he continues.
''Who else in town has a girl on the cover of Teen, has seven models with Ford and a guy up for the next Calvin Klein
campaign? I've got three girls in Italy, two boys in Greece. This boy here? Italy wants him, New York wants him, Los
Angeles wants him . . .''
I imagine myself in a Hugo Boss spread. What does Jake think?
''Actually, you could book more quickly than a lot of my 14-year-olds. Perhaps in a hospital ad, as a doctor in a white
coat, distinguished . . . ''
No, no. I'm thinking more of a fashion layout. Five pages in GQ. Heavy on the gel. Just the right angles to capitalize on
''Well, sure, maybe,'' Jake says.
''You might have someone from, I don't know, an Elder-Beerman see you and think, "Here's someone we could have do
our men's suits . . .' ''
You can contact David Wecker at 513-352-2791 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org