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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

4.3 36
by Janice Dickinson

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The life of Janice Dickinson is a story of extremes: uncontrolled energy, mad self-confidence and crushing insecurity, a boundless appetite for life and a ceaseless drive to self-destruct. During the 1970s she was the first lush-lipped, long-stemmed, dark-eyed brunette to break through and become not just a model but a supermodel — a term she coined for


The life of Janice Dickinson is a story of extremes: uncontrolled energy, mad self-confidence and crushing insecurity, a boundless appetite for life and a ceaseless drive to self-destruct. During the 1970s she was the first lush-lipped, long-stemmed, dark-eyed brunette to break through and become not just a model but a supermodel — a term she coined for herself.

She graced major magazine covers from Vogue to Elle to Cosmopolitan, in photographs by Avedon and Irving Penn and fashions by Versace and Calvin Klein. She was voracious in everything: affairs both passionate and casual, endless partying, and a drug habit that dogged her through twenty years and three husbands. She spent her glory days with Gia Carangi and Christie Brinkley and her nights with Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Sylvester Stallone. And wherever she went, Janice captured the imagination of everyone who encountered her.

Yet the tale Janice Dickinson has lived to tell is no mere diva cartoon. For the haunting undercurrent in her life is a violent dance of cruelty and abuse with her own father — a story she tells here for the first time. And as she careens from runway to rehab to rock bottom to recovery, readers will be captivated by her tale of survival . . . and by its cautionary power for anyone who still believes that fashion — or life — is an easy business.

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.)
New York Post
“Gisele, Naomi, Kate—none of you would be where you are now without Janice Dickinson. . . the pioneering princess of high fashion.”
“Wild . . . surely raising eyebrows—and blood pressure—from Milano to Mullholland Drive. . . . her deft recollections ring tellingly true.”
Entertainment Weekly
“One rollercoaster of a read…Dickinson gossips like a pro…but her tough-girl-survives-against-the-odds attitude manages to make the dirt she dishes shamefully savory. B+”
Liz Smith
“No other catwalker has had such a yeasty life, nor been willing to speak of it so jovially and graphically. Janice . . . speaks with the candor of Cher, the bite of Joan Rivers and the sexual bonhomie of Mae West.”
Michael Gross
“Dickinson…set off a revolution. She was the first of modeling’s bad girls, and she did nothing to hide it.”
Tara Shannon
“She’s a brilliant model, the best ever, I think. She will be talked about for as long as modeling exists.”
—W Magazine
“Engaging . . . vivid . . . illuminating. . . . [Janice] survives it all—cushioned by her beauty, her rage, and most of all her sense of humor.”
Lauren Hutton
“I started this book at midnight and finished at 6 A.M. (she ruined my day!). But she’s High Speed Janice, spirit triumphant.”
Cheryl Tiegs
“The ultimate insider’s look at the big business of beauty. . . . Janice’s story is unvarnished and raw, with all the energy and humor that has been her lifelong trademark.”
Jean-Jacques Naudet
“I love Janice. She is crazy, unbearable, flamboyant, excessive—but she is true. There must be a reason she’s been able to survive all her excesses: some kind of guardian angel who was moved by her difficult trials, her profound generosity, her truthful speech, and her lack of arrogance.”
Women's Wear Daily
“Dickinson has managed to take what life has offered and work it . . . what keeps the book from becoming too tawdry is Dickinson’s sense of humor.”
New York Observer
“Janice Dickinson is a funny and fluid narrator . . . what makes [her book] interesting is her scathing inventory of everyone’s desperate behavior, including her own. . . . She’s like all forces of nature—you take them on their own terms. ”
The Independent
“Entirely real . . it is the honesty with which it is written that may drive you from beginning to end in a single sitting.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.08(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.

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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No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with the fellower reviewer who said to treat it as a tabloid read. While I don't doubt her trysts with the infamous, I couldn't help but chuckle when she said she coined the phrase 'Supermodel'. Every Model you have ever heard being interviewed has said that THEY coined the phrase. Here's my quesion: What exactly is a Supermodel? Janice endured a rough childhood and it seems, finally reached a place where she is happy, and I was glad that she did. However, if you could have any man you wanted, why oh why would you pick Sylvester Stallone? Ewwwww
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had trouble putting this down. It was very interesting and honest. It was well written. I would have liked the pictures better in a real book--one of the downfalls of e books.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Good book. Witty, raw, and provocative as per Janice. Entertaining. What a life she lived
Guest More than 1 year ago
Janice Dickinson¿s Accidental Life of the World¿s First Supermodel is a thrilling, and hair-raising autobiography. From growing up with a pedophiliac father and non- present mother to meeting Calvin Klein and befriending Christie Brinkley Janice Dickinson lets us deep inside the exhilarating and nightmarish life of a super model, as well as the difficulty that comes with juggling children and modeling. It is a definite must read for any male or female who have always wondered what a supermodel in the 70¿s, 80¿s and 90¿s goes through on a day to day basis. Janice Dickinson makes it evident that to get into the elite business of modeling she had to deal with ridicule, sarcasm, and the idea that she will never be pretty enough. This book shows us how strong and determined Janice was to becoming a model. From eating disorders to sleeping on floors, J. Dickinson also shows us the dark side of modeling. She hypnotizes her readers with the glamour that comes with modeling as well. She takes us to New York, Paris and Milan and describes the great confidence she gets when going down a runway. What really makes this book scandalous is how open she is with her addiction to drugs as a model. I feel that the autobiography is such a page-turner because of the way she gossips with such detail. Whether she is talking about her relationship with Mick Jagger, her fixation with Jim Morris or the insane nights on the Sunset Strip at Studio 54, this autobiography never has a boring chapter. She thoroughly takes you through the nightclub life where she meets and socializes with celebrities like Andy Warhol, Iman, Liza Minnelli, and Richard Gere. She describes Studio 54¿s nonchalant vibe of snorting cocaine and having sex with one another. Janice lets us deep inside her crazy and jaw dropping life as a model. The book is definitely upbeat and chaotic. The different emotions she goes through as a model are endless, but what makes this book so great is her sense of humor, especially towards the plentiful amount of sexual relations she has had.
Guest More than 1 year ago
janice tells it the way it is. no doubt about it. very entertaining read. greatly recomended. must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was by far the best autobiography i have ever read! i chose it to do a book report on for school and i am actually enjoying doing the report! this books also helps you find a little of your self, as janice does in the book. thanks for a great read janice!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great! I not only learned a lot about Janice, but I learned a lot about myself. Its hard to explain. You'll just have to read and find out for yourself! :]
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love it. I can not beleve that such a normal girl can turn into the worlds first supermodel
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to give it up for Janice Dickinson. This was a great read. One in fact that I couldn't sit down for even a minute. I found Dickinson's bluntness fabulous! At times, it felt like she was in the room with me telling her outrageous stories. I didn't mind her often times conceited remarks. I think she has the right to them, considering everything she's been through to get where she is. If you want to read something exciting and outrageous, this is the book for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you thought some tabloids are misguiding you should Janice Dickinson's Biography. For awhile I thought she was a older Paris Hilton. Her life was the true American Rollercoaster. Through it. she went though abuse from her dad, drugs and rehab. This woman has a lot to say and I feel that reading this book has made me want to understand people rather that stereotype them. Because they might end up being itelligent, smart, ans sensitive human beings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm SO glad I purchased this used (it was cheap). The only thing better would've been to borrow it, but I doubt if anyone I know would be caught reading this. Okay, I was just looking for something entertaining for a bit of mindless escapism, something 'fun' to read. This is very 'tabloid-like,' & on the simplistic side, which wasn't far from my expectations. Sure, lots of name dropping... but the writing bothered me. This is a very fragmented book, and it's a shame. It could've been so much more interesting. The woman ran into so many pivotal people (in art,fashion and entertainment)and had an eventful life, yet produced a book that was lackluster and tiresome to read, just because of the way it was written. I'm passing this on to my mother, who adores the National Enquirer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a clear example of what can happen and does happen when parents aren't parents. Janice tells the full story of her life; in which she completely comes full circle. With a pedophile father and a doped up spaced out mother Janice still manages to land on her feet. She embarks on a international modeling career and has all kinds of crazy escapades many including drinks and drugs. With many distructive relationships and a few failed marriages; Ms. Dickinson goes into a deep inevitable psychological emotional exploration of the damaged little girl she was inside. With the gift of motherhood she turns it all around and sometimes upside down. With punctual comedic timing and constant name dropping Janice is a master story teller and ultimately the master of her own destiny.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been fascinated by Janice Dickinson for a while, so I begn reading this book, and I couldn't put it down! She tells her story at a quick pace, with so many fun details. I heard they're going to make a movie based on her life...I can't wait!