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When Hank Blankenship, revered by many as the as hottest hand model of the late 1980s, needed to resuscitate his flagging career, he turned to the nail technicians at The Hairport. Here's an excerpt from his upcoming autobiography, Sleight of Hand Modeling.
Yeah, I was at the top, and I knew it. There was nobody better than me at what I did. You name it, I modeled it. Cufflinks. Fishing reels. Ring Pops. I could wear a pair of boxing gloves better than Muhammad Ali. Kids would rush up to me for an autograph, foisting designer wristwatch ads in my face before I could even step out of my limo. I was unstoppable, and I let anyone who dared cross my path know it.
There's that saying that goes, “You're your own worst enemy” or something. I remember the day I fully understood that was the same day I went from having everything to just having a lot. I was out in the Rockies, shooting a commercial for leather gloves. On the first take, I slid the first glove on fine, but then the second glove . . . I don’t know, something happened. It was like my hands said, “No more.”
"You OK, Hank?" said the production manager.
"Yeah, I just . . . I think it's my carpal tunnel flaring up," I said. That was always my default excuse when I needed to buy some time. "Let me just massage it for a minute. It'll be fine."
On the second take, I couldn't even get the first glove on. I'm sure the director only let the camera roll for 30 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. And I knew they were all staring at me—the crew, the interns, even the bison in the background. I heard, "Cut!" and I just sat there, staring at that half-on glove. And then, I don't know, I just lost it.
I ripped into everyone on the set. I threw donuts at the interns, saying I specifically requested no jelly. No jelly. I told the director he was a hack and he should have had the foresight to warm up the gloves. And I said if those bison in the background didn't stop staring at me, I'd bare-knuckle box them all to kingdom come. I walked off the set. And that was that.
Back in New York, my agent called. "Hank, you're done. Listen, I know you thought it was just a glove ad, but Bison Horn Leather Goods owns everything—nearly every Swiss watchmaker, the country's biggest manufacturer of surgical gloves, the world's second-largest thimble designer . . . everything. Hank, I'm sorry, but I . . . I gotta drop you just to minimize the damage from this thing. Please, pull it togeth—"
And I hung up the phone. Whatever. I was Hank Blankenship.
Funny thing, how quickly the world forgets hand models.
After three years of no work and my bank account drained to only $12 million, I knew it was time to make amends. I put myself on a strict regimen: six hours of handgrip work each day, plus a diet of only egg whites. In a month, I looked better than ever. But this comeback had to be nothing short of spectacular to undo the damage I’d done to my reputation. So before I walked back into my agent's office, I took a trip out to The Hairport, where they groomed and buffed my nails to a gleam that blasted away all remembrance of my transgressions.
The result? You tell me. Whose hands do you see in the most recent Bison Horn glove ads?