Have you heard of model boxing matches? They are apparently a thing in New York right now. I ended up at one by accident the other day, on mushrooms, and it was actually pretty amazing.
My friends Reed and Ahmad and I had just spent most of the day watching The National play the same song over and over for six hours at PS1, which was just terrible, but also fun in an absurd way. My photographer friend Rebecca was going to shoot a model boxing match afterwards, and my other friend was giving her a ride, so we jumped in the car for a Manhattan adventure.
We lined up in the lobby of a building in Chelsea to wait to get in, and everyone was so quiet that it started to freak us out. Would we be kicked out for giggling? (No.) We like to wear a lot of ridiculous stuff when we are tripping (space helmets, funny hats, white shrouds) but I think everyone just thought we were wearing fashion. One very well dressed gentleman complimented Ahmad on his look.
When we got up to the boxing ring, everyone continued to be weirdly quiet, talking in hushed voices and sipping bottles of Perrier. Was it just us, or was this the most awkward water party ever? Reed recognized a guy from the last model boxing match he’d been to, and he turned out to be the model who’d gotten his nose broken. He seemed cool, and I felt bad for him that he had to participate in model fight club in order to pay the bills.
The other models, however, were talking about really boring things, like their names and where they were from, and this was hard to ignore because it was really quiet, and also because mushrooms turn you into a child. “Hi, my name is Cassandra, and I’m from the moon,” said Ahmad.
The owner of the boxing place came out and started explaining how much he likes artists and fashion people, and also that his wife runs a hair salon. By the side of the ring, a tall, chiseled male model was having what looked like makeup applied to his face. And then it was time to punch that face! Were the male models fighting a real boxer? “Yes!” laughed a couple of female models next to me who seemed a little too into it.
For a second, I got really scared that I was going to witness some brutal violence that would put me in a bad headspace, but I didn’t have much to worry about. Each fight was pretty short and tame. At one side of the ring, a bunch of male models in expensive looking suits were shouting encouraging things like “pretty boys can fight, too!” We started shouting and “woo-ing” along with them. “SOMEONE’S GONNA DIE TONIGHT,” said Reed. Each time a model got into the ring, a girl would cut his clothes off with big scissors, leaving his perfect chest exposed. Soon, the fighting was over, and everyone in the ring started posing for pictures. This took about as long as the fighting.
The whole thing was very surreal, hence exactly what we were looking for that day. When it was over, we all filed quickly down the building’s spooky forever stairs and onto our next adventure: karaoke.
Is model boxing a decadent late capitalist blood sport predicated on the fact that most models don’t make enough money just from modeling? Probably. But it’s also a whole lot of fun to witness on a Sunday afternoon while shrooming your face off, and for that reason, I’m willing to give it a pass.
Photo: Jamie Peck