Late ’80s/early ’90s top model Carre Otis has alluded to her sexual assault in the past, but she has never named names. In her new memoir, Beauty Disrupted, she calls out the man who raped her at 17: Gérald Marie, her then-agent and then-boss of modeling super agency Elite Paris, who was engaged to Linda Evangelista at the time.
Otis was just 17 and living with Marie when he first assaulted her. Although the arrangement sounds odd, young models occasionally board with their agents and yes, for that matter, it is indeed odd. Anyway, Otis reveals that she and Marie forged an unusual friendship based around cocaine addiction. Otis was encouraged to use because Elite was constantly pressuring her to lose weight and, at 17, was worried that she would soon age out of a successful modeling career.
According to Otis, after one day of bad castings which culminated in getting soaked by rain, she came back to Marie’s apartment and collapsed into bed. She describes her state as feverish and homesick. She then fell asleep. This is how she describes her assault:
Hours later something woke me suddenly. I heard the drunken shuffling of feet moving down the hallway toward me. Filled with alarm, I pulled the covers up around my head. But in a flash my safe haven was invaded and I was exposed.
Gérald stood above me, ripping the covers from the bed. Before I could react, his sticky body was on me and those disgusting wet ringlets of his were falling on my face. I pushed back, but I could barely breathe with the weight of him pressing down on me. I cried out, a lame attempt to shake him from what seemed like a drunken stupor. I could smell gin on his breath as he harshly pushed his mouth onto mine, a sharp tongue darted out, trying to open my pursed lips in a grotesque kiss. The smell of him made me want to vomit. The fury in me made me want to throw him off me. But in my naked, fevered state, I couldn’t seem to find the strength or the leverage to move him aside. Gérald seemed all too expert at getting what he wanted, and in the tangle of my naked legs and pleas and cries his hand found my mouth and clamped down, trying to silence me. Why even bother? I wondered. I knew we were alone. And I knew that even if I were to fight back and scream, no one would hear me. No one would come.[tagbox tag="rape"]
Otis goes on to describe the event in much more horrifying detail and you can easily find the rest if you need to be reminded of how traumatizing rape sounds. Otis also reveals that Marie’s young daughter was “in [that] same bed.” She had no choice but to stay on living in the house and the assaults continued: ”I remained in the house, in that horrible little room. I became an obedient robot. A shell of myself. There were no more hugs or laughs. We still did coke together, but it was out of a desperate need to medicate myself for what I knew would come next.”
This is not the first time Marie has been accused of rape. He is no longer with Elite: in 1999, a BBC reporter taped him bragging about how many girls he was going to sleep with at the Elite Model Look competition, where the average age of entry is about 15. Of course, Marie stuck around in some capacity until at least 2009 (as Jezebel’s Jenna Sauers‘ notes, he was still in charge when she signed with the agency in 2007).
We doubt there are many people as monstrous as Marie in the fashion industry, but Otis’ terrible story raises an important point about young models. In an age where runway stars debut at 15 and even 14, the industry that builds their careers is not tasked near enough with ensuring their safety.