Guys drool over her looks
I could have accused Mirriam Ngomani's typical day of a supermodel's life in Rosebank as orchestrated. Before our drinks arrived, she had been greeted by a bunch of drooling guys; two white middle-aged dudes, a BEE type who insisted on showing off his worth and a bloke whose remorseful greetings triggered something in the model's mind.
"That guy cost me a job. I was late for a couple casting and I grabbed him outside the studio and posed in a bikini with him. Next thing I knew he was shaking, sweating, and yes, he had a bone."
Who can blame the poor guy? Even the photographer had a hard time grasping his camera. With a tendency of keeping lingering eye contact, she puts soap on every object around her. More than her over-generously God-given looks, it is her radiant personality that makes her the magnet of all men, young and old, poor and rich.
People love her and she loves the camera.
"But some might disagree. My agent has warned me that clients have complained about my sporadic bitchiness. He told me: 'please, please Mirriam, the clients are complaining'. Guess what about? Because I refused the lip gloss that was used on a girl with a cold sore. One client complained that I had asked to be addressed by my name and not as model. They seem to think you are just an object in this game."
I asked how it felt to have been labeled Babalwa Mneno's replacement?
"Cabanga!" is all she would say, and adds that this is not the US.
"South Africans are not so egotistic and the beef you read in papers is usually just in the minds of the writers."
She doesn't deny sex, lies and rock and roll have marred many a model's life.
"You need to run away from the pace that comes with this life sometimes. There can be so much partying, so many men, so much money, and it all takes its toll."
But nothing matches the madness of weight maintenance.
"There's the Atkins Diet, coffee and cigarette diet, celery diet, jelly diet, cabbage soup diet, cigarette and champagne diet, hell there's even a popcorn diet - all in the name of keeping skeletal."
And the partying. Models are always roped in to give swish parties a life. And them being the pretty young things with a lot going for them, they end up making friends with connected clients who will either date them or invite them to more merry dos. This leads to a life of substance abuse.
"So you either stay on and get burnt out or run for cover, taking breaks now and then. Not only is this life toxic to your welfare, it strips you of hard-earned cash as well."
It wasn't always like this though. Her very first television commercial only showed her hand after she had announced it to all and sundry to watch out for the emerging star she was to be.
"After moping for a while about having been an unsuspecting extra, I told myself that it was my hand and no one else's on TV even though I was probably paid R300 for it."
These days she would never accept so little even if they wanted her to say "Hi". Asked how hard earning big bucks (sometimes R100000 in one shoot) can be, she says it can get harder than working in a coal mine.
"At times you are put in impossible positions and they demand that you keep the position for over 45 minutes while a photographer tries to get it right. But the worst is shooting bikini shots in the middle of a cruel winter. And models don't get immediate rewards for the shoots, no matter how hard. They only get paid after three months, which can be rather sad."
It was time for Ngomani to show us photos. With strangers watching her like someone straight from a high-budget movie, all I can say is: "She's an old pro!"