Original Air Date: October 9th, 1983
Between male strippers ( For Ladies Only, Ladykillers ) and covert top female models (Cover Girls, Model by Day), made for TV movies were brimming with the salaciously salacious and the glamorously glamorous. Leave it up to the great Aaron Spelling to find a way to top them all with The Making of a Male Model. It’s just that glamorous!
The late Jon-Erik Hexum plays Tyler Burnett, a hillbilly type who just happens upon a photo shoot lead by modeling agency exec Kay Dillon (Joan Collins looking fab!). She gets one eyeful of Tyler and New York is calling his name. After he’s dumped by the small town beauty Alma (Tonja Walker), Tyler begrudgingly heads to the Big Apple to find his fortune and fame. Once there, he moves in with Chuck Lanyard (Jeff Conaway), a male model with a fab loft, but is so on his last legs that apparently roommates are the only real income that can help him support his drug habit. Tyler also encounters a slimy competitive male model named Gary Angelo (Ted McGinley) who really is no competition for young Tyler, which might explain why he’s such a jerk. Initially Tyler tries to do things on his own terms but after some snarky photographers break him down a little, Kay gets him in the hairdresser’s chair and thus, a male model is born.
This film is fantastically fun. It’s high energy from the opening frame and pulls out all the stops when it comes to G-L-A-M-O-U-R! Check out the costume party which features Collin’s rack as the star attraction! There’s coke snorting, fashion shoots, models dumping champagne on each other, big hair, even bigger pecks, sex and lots of fun. Oh, and did I mention Roxy Roker?!? Well, she’s in a small, not-so-pivotal role, but c’mon. It’s the Roker! And I haven’t even gotten to Arte Johnson or Kevin McCarthy! My head is about to explode!
Collins is tops as the ice queen with a great wardrobe full of silky robes, men’s suits and high neck silk numbers. It’s all 80s and it’s all awesome! Jon-Erik Hexum displays a lot of talent as Tyler. He would go on to star on a television series called Cover Up in 1984. He was killed during an on set accident at the age of 26. It still shocks me to this day and re-watching this movie, I am positive that Hexum was headed for much bigger things. His looks, charisma and talent were undeniable and he was one of those guys, much in the same vein as Tom Selleck, where you didn’t feel completely intimidated by how handsome he was. That is a rare trait in an actor then and now.
This lush piece of camp was directed by Irving J. Moore who helmed such shows as Dallas and Dynasty. So there’s no question about your drama. It’s here, it’s sometimes queer and it’s always incredible.
Visit this Jon-Erik Hexum’s fansite. It’s absolutely amazing.
Read another review of The Making of a Male Model here