No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel

No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel

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by Janice Dickinson
     
 

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She wasn't just a model. She was a supermodel.

In the 1970s—before her star turns on the The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency and America's Next Top Model—Janice Dickinson was the lush-lipped, long-stemmed, dark-eyed brunette who became the icon for a new breed of beauty. She was voracious in everything—from her

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Overview

She wasn't just a model. She was a supermodel.

In the 1970s—before her star turns on the The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency and America's Next Top Model—Janice Dickinson was the lush-lipped, long-stemmed, dark-eyed brunette who became the icon for a new breed of beauty. She was voracious in everything—from her affairs both passionate and casual to her endless partying and a drug habit that dogged her through twenty years and three husbands. Her glory days were spent working with Gia Carangi, Christie Brinkley, Valentino, and Versace, and her nights with the likes of Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, and Sylvester Stallone. No Lifeguard on Duty is her story—an electrifying roller-coaster ride of fast times through three decades of fashion, fame, drugs, sex, and excess.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Supermodel Dickinson's sex- and booze-soaked autobiography brings readers on a roller-coaster ride through the world of modeling, the emptiness of superficial relationships and the perils of drug addiction. Admitting that "terror is a great motivator," Dickinson fought like a tigress to establish her career. Courageous and confident of her worth, she demanded $20,000 for a job when the going rate was $5,000. Bolstered by Andy Warhol's advice, "you make your own luck," Dickinson represented Hush Puppies, Max Factor and Virginia Slims and ignored Calvin Klein's comment, "models aren't supposed to think." As a result, Dickinson is more interesting than some might expect, immersing herself in details about modeling and refining her skills as a photographer. Friendships with then-struggling actor Bruce Willis and her sisters have surprising warmth. The obligatory sensationalism is here concerning affairs with Jack Nicholson, Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, Liam Neeson and Sylvester Stallone along with accounts of her multiple marriages and a near-fatal car wreck. While denouncing her hedonistic existence, Dickinson is also honest enough to acknowledge the stimulating aspects of success and glamour, explaining why they lure insecure personalities and imprison them past the point of no return. The book is sometimes predictable and psychologically simplistic, but Dickinson comes across as a triumphant survivor. Her willingness to recognize her own flaws makes it easy to relate to her positive message and should inspire readers searching for solutions to career and personal conflicts. Color & b&w photos. (Aug.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060009472
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/10/2009
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
612,451
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

No Lifeguard
The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel

Chapter One

Meet the Parents

My father was a tall, slim, handsome man with a thick head of silver hair, buzzed flat, and gunmetal gray eyes. People liked Ray. He had an easy smile. A pleasant laugh. He was a good storyteller, a good listener, popular with the neighbors.

But I didn't often see that easy smile. Or hear that pleasant laugh. I saw, instead, the way his eyes changed color when he got angry, the whites glowing red. Or the way he balled up his big, freckled fists when he came after me, like a bull in heat. I hated him. I hated his eyes; his hair; that acrid breath; the wife-beater, Fruit of the Loom T-shirts. I hated him with every fiber of my being.

I hated my mother, too; hated her because she was numbed into oblivion with the pills she'd been prescribed for an old back injury. She would come home at the end of the day, floating, and she stayed aloft with the help of those lovely pills. She would glide through the house on a cushion of air, in slow motion, unaware, unseeing, her voice soft, her mind elsewhere, always smiling this benign Hare Krishna smile -- like she was At One With God or something; which she was, I guess, at least chemically.

Those were my parents. So I ask you -- my two sisters and I -- what fucking chance did we have?

They met, appropriately enough, in a bar. My mother, Jennie Marie Pietrzykoski, was the eldest of nine children. Her Polish-born father owned a little pub in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, right next to the railroad tracks, and I guess she felt comfortable around booze. She went to nursing school in Manhattan, and at night she'd hit the elegant nightclubs with her fellow nurses.

One night, at a Midtown watering hole, some asshole came by to harass Mom and her fellow nurses. Ray Dickinson intervened, decking the guy and tossing him into the street. My mother and her friends were so grateful they asked him to join them. He looked good in his Navy uniform. He was a radioman. Mom couldn't stop staring at those gray eyes. Three days later they went down to City Hall and got married.

The following week they ran into the "asshole" from the bar. Turns out he was a friend of Ray's; they'd set the whole thing up to make my father look like a regular hero. My mother thought it was funny. I would have had the marriage annulled.

They got an apartment in Brooklyn, and I guess those first few months were pretty hot. My mother was a looker. She wore stylish pumps and blood-red lipstick -- not particularly original, true, but it worked. She loved the camera and the camera loved her back.

Alexis came along a year later. She didn't love the camera. There's a picture of her I'll never forget: She's about five years old and sitting stiffly on my father's lap, and she has a look in her eyes that's a caught-on-film cry for help. He was already into her. I guess five was old enough. I don't know where that picture is today, but I've got it imbedded in my brain. I wish I could erase it.

I came along five years later. My mother was working as a nurse in Manhattan, already dabbling with prescription drugs, and my father was grumbling about his nowhere career with the Navy.

Now there was more bad news: another daughter. Ray was devastated. He'd been hoping for a boy and made no secret about it. I swear to God, I remember him hating me when I was barely a few weeks old. I know that seems unbelievable -- I was way too young to be forming memories -- but his hatred was the air I breathed from birth.

When I was just eighteen months old, in 1957, the family moved from Brooklyn to Florida. "Ray dear" -- as my mother called him -- had been tossed out of the Navy for assaulting an officer. He was going to start again, in sunny South Florida. Become Captain of his Own Goddamn Ship.

Only it never quite happened for him. He got a gig with the Coast Guard, but he didn't think much of those "pussies," so he ended up with the U.S. Merchant Marine. He hated taking orders, but he loved the sea. And he loved the long trips he got to take. So did we. Life was different when he wasn't around. At night I'd kneel next to my bed and pray that the Seaman's Union would call in the morning and drag him off to some remote hellhole, where he'd fall overboard in a storm and get eaten by a shark. Alas, all my prayers went unanswered. Ray always returned to the family. He couldn't get enough of his family. Ray dear had a problem, see. He liked to be serviced. And with four women in the house, he felt entitled.

I was nine years old when he came to my room one night and told me we were going to play the lollipop game, a special game for a father and a favorite daughter. And -- We have a winner! -- I was that favorite daughter ...

No Lifeguard
The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel
. Copyright © by Janice Dickinson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Janice Dickinson is the world's first supermodel. She has appeared on the cover of every fashion magazine in the world and is the author of No Lifeguard on Duty and Everything About Me Is Fake . . . and I'm Perfect. A former judge on CW's smash hit America's Next Top Model, she lives in Beverly Hills, California, with her two children.

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