So, this is my first time ever actually doing this so please, reddit, be gentle. I've made this AMA because I was requested to do so by other redditors yesterday after commenting in the AMA about the retired 25yo fashion model.

This is one of my most memorable stories and I am so lucky that I am alive today considering the details of what happened. Just as the title says I was kidnapped in Milan from a night club by a man in his 40's at 17 years old. I had started modeling when I was 15 and went to NY first. It was a very mild experience considering the environment I was in. And never got into to much trouble. However, by the time I was 17 I was already smoking and drinking and smoked pot a few times. I was raised in Idaho and going to Italy was the first time I had ever left the country. Most young models go off on their own to start their careers because most clients find it annoying to have shaparones on sets. Also my family was very poor and the only reason I was able to travel and have this experience was because my agency fronted all of my expenses.

This unfortunate event happened the 4th night I was in Milan. I was put into a 3 bedroom models apartment with 11 other models. I immediately made friends with one of the girls and she invited me to go out. Now, in Milan, this is usually how models are able to survive. At least that was my case. I never had money, and the small allowance I was given every week was just enough to get weekly transportation and a few necessities like toilet paper, and drinking water. I could never afford food, so the only time I ate was when I would go out. The promoters got paid per model they brought out with them and in return for our presence we got free dinner, VIP access, and free booze at the clubs.

So, the first night I ever went out I was drugged and kidnapped. (Lucky me, lol). Me and my new roomie and bestie got all ready and went out to dinner. During the dinner a guy she "knew" gave her a joint. She told me she wanted to smoke it at the club and I agreed that I would smoke with her. We got to the club and walked straight back to the VIP section and checked our bags and coats in the coat check. After 15 minutes we walked outside and smoked the joint. We were talking and laughing and after about 5 minutes walked back into the club because it started snowing and was freezing. I started getting double vision as I was walking down the stairs into the club and saw the woman's bathroom to my left and told my friend I needed to use it really quick and I would find her in VIP. She left me and while in the bathroom I suddenly felt like I was slowly being sucked into the floor. There were shorter women all around me and I'm quite tall in heels (6'1) and I was hallucinating that I was looking up at them. All the stalls were taken and I was sinking into this trip harder harder by the second. I was desperately trying to hold on to sentience but I just couldn't. I was falling over, I had no concept of time or how long I had been in the bathroom, my eyes were rolling into the back of my head, and I was falling on everyone. I stumbled through a suddenly packed dance floor trying to make out where I was in this rather small club, but nothing looked familiar. People were pushing me off them as I fell into them and I found a long concrete bench against a back wall and slumped down on it. The next part is the fussiest because by this point I was in the peak of the trip. My entire body was limp. I couldn't move. I vaguely remember someone letting me lay my head on their shoulder and after some amount of time they got up and fell completely over. That's when I projectile vomited into the crowd of people. I remember feeling mortified and also couldn't imagine why no one was trying to help me. (Small town Idaho girl, lol) now like I said I had no concept of time and don't know how long I was in that state but I knew I desperately wanted to go home. My coat and bag were checked in the coat check but I had my apartment key in my back pocket. Then a guy sat next to me, pulled me upright and was hold my face and patting my cheek asking me, "Bella, ok? Ok?" I said to him no I'm not ok and I want to go home. I was in such a state that don't remember anything but next thing I do remember is this guy and his friend were helping me walk out of the club. I was in a tank top and jeans and they never tried to get my personal belongings from the coat check. They put me into their car in the front seat and the friend got in the back. I still couldn't move and was slumped over. But I was trying my hardest to be aware of what was going on. I remember them doing coke off a cd case. I had never seen anyone do coke before. That was what first started scaring me. So I keep saying my address to the guy driving. Saying to him please take me there. He kept saying "ok". He dropped his friend off somewhere and I realized we had been in the car for quite sometime. Once again another wave of 'oh, shit' washed over me. So I forced myself to kind of snap out of this horrible trip. That's when I realized this guy didn't even speak English and he had no idea what I was saying. That's when I started freaking out. I looked out the window and didn't see building tops anymore. I was now in the Italian countryside. I started saying every Italian word I could think of to him. I was swearing at him and I started kicking the dashboard of his car. He kept trying to calm me down but I was terrified. He finally pulled into an apartment complex and started motioning for me to go in there with him and he kept saying "cough?" "Cough?" And I was like "what the fuck is a fucking cough!?!?!?" And he goes "cafe! Cafe?" And I was screaming no I won't go in and have a fucking cafe with him and to take me home. He grabbed my wrist and very calmly said "no home". That went I went berserk. I was punching and kicking everything in the car, screaming, swearing, anything I could think of. And I started saying take me back to Hollywood (the club he found me in) and I think I caused such a scene that he finally drove me back to the club like a maniac. He pulled up in front of the club and literally, with his feet, kicked me out of the car into the gutter. I was still tripping and could barely move the whole time this went on. It was snowing like crazy and I landed in a muddy puddle of slush. I stumbled back into the club and was asking everyone were the VIP was. Someone pointed to an area that was absolutely crammed with people so tightly I couldn't move. But I saw the promoter who I went there originally with and I was screaming his name at the top of my lungs trying to get his attention and reaching for him and some guy behind me started punching me and elbowing me because I guess he didn't want me in front of him or something. Finally the promoter saw me and had to pull me into the VIP section so hard I though my shoulder was going to dislocate, all the while being slapped by some drunk ass hole behind me. I started bawling trying to tell hi what happened and he took me out the back door and put me in a cab with his girlfriend who dropped me at my apartment. Lost my coat and purse, but thankfully had my key and got inside and passed out immediately.

The next day I was basically in shock all day. I didn't even know what to think and was trying to remember what happened. So parts I had just blacked out completely. I kept thinking weed has never done that before. Wtf was that!?! In the late afternoon my new roomie finally came in looking in a worse state than me. She said she had an equally crazy night and had the same intense trip I did. So she called her "friend" she got the joint from. He had laced it with PCP and didn't tell us because he "wanted to surprise us with a real fun night". I grabbed the phone from her and screamed at him that I could have been murdered and he called me an ungrateful bitch and hung up on me.

TL;DR ..... I unknowingly smoked a joint that was laced with PCP, puked on an entire club, got kidnapped, freaked out sufficiently enough to get my kidnapper to take back to the club he found me in, got basically beat up trying to get back into the VIP section, lost my personal belongings, but made it home with my apartment key in my back pocket.

This is the scariest thing that's ever happened to me. All I thought about was my family and how disappointed in me they would be if I got murdered. I have a million other stories of my time in the industry. This particular event made me a very wise person. Never again did I ever put myself in a position to go through something like that again.

So AMA guys! I'll answer as many questions about the industry and this insane story you want to hear. My proof is at the bottom. Thanks!

Edit2: updated the age of the man who kidnapped me because some people are thinking that I was mistaking a nice guy trying to hang out with a lying creep in his 40's that kidnapped a teenager.

My Proof:

Comments: 99 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

mrT922 karma

Are you sure it wasn't Liam Neeson who rescued you?

ironburton9 karma

Haha you know... I've never seen any of the Taken movies. You can openly shame me. Lol

crithomancy12 karma

As a model, did you do anything to distinguish yourself from other models?

Did you maintain a certain diet as a model?

ironburton8 karma

Yeah... My thing was my hair. Not many women can pull off super short bleached hair. My entire career I had a bleached out bowl cut with underneath shaved. I also bleach my eyebrows for most of my career. I've worked for most major hair companies like Paul Mitchelle, Toni and Guy, Loreal, Wella, Joico, Aquage, Big Sexy Hair, etc... I loved doing those jobs because the shoots or shows always had the most creative ideas fashion wise. I was also a vegetarian most of my life (not anymore) and I did yoga.

reddit-bronze8 karma

If you had the chance to relive your life as a 15 year old, would you go into modelling?

ironburton20 karma

Yes I would. It was still a very rewarding career. I just wish I had better management. I was so uneducated about fashion in general. In Milan I was booked for Prada's showroom. It was a 2 week job paying 700 euro everyday. The third day I was like, this is shit and just decided to not show up. And they dropped me. It could have lead to better bookings if I knew what I was even doing. I didn't even know what Prada was.

myshieldsforargus1 karma

It was a 2 week job paying 700 euro everyday.

I wish I could get paid 700 euro a day to stand around for being a tall skeletor

ironburton3 karma

Those prices were over 10 years ago. A model is lucky if she makes 150 a day now for the same job.

roytay1 karma


ironburton6 karma

Over the years the industry has been incredibly watered down. The advance of social media has helped this. So many people want to be apart of the industry that a lot of people are willing to do good jobs for free or trade just for the exposure. And clients take advantage of it. They don't want to pay agency reped models their full day rate plus 20% agency fee when they can get a cute girl with thousands of followers on Instagram for nothing. So unfortunately it's lead to a drop in prices for agency girls so we're affordable to the client again.

myshieldsforargus-3 karma

Well I read on forbes that giselle bundchen got 5mil last year so i dont believe what you say

dlehenbauer5 karma

Fashion photographer that might be able to provide some hindsight here. Theres a big difference between booking big models depending on the job or the nature of it. Big names ie: Lara Stone, Gisele Bundechen, Cara D, Jourdan Dunn, Lindsay Wixson, etc, can request larger amounts due to the nature of their names. Campaigns pay considerably more, where you see Gisele featured in quite frequently. Many models get paid by the day for lookbooks, music videos, showrooms, etc. Editorial work however is usually shot on a free basis and with average working models, a majority of them have 20-70% of their fees deducted into the agency itself (Edit: Plus other agency fees) to pay off debts that they might inquire: living in the model apartment, flights, taxi rides, weekly living, etc. Book a campaign and make $$$$$ you end up only making $$$ and sometimes might even just make enough to live for the week. Some designers pay in clothing. In return due to tax and agency fees which vary in different countries which means you can make significantly less even if you make the supposed $$$$$ because of those factors adding up. In reality you dont end up making as much as bigger names. The same model can be in the same agency with Gisele and get booked for the same job, but because she is not well known, she'll make less.

Edit 2: Formatting

Edit 3: Also in the fashion industry, many invoices can take up to 30 - 90 days to process. So it can be months before you even see any of the money you've made.

ironburton1 karma


ironburton3 karma

She's famous. 98% of fashion models are not famous and never will be. I've modeled for major designers and I'm not famous in the slightest. Like I said earlier the most I ever made was in Japan. And there I was a little famous. But not massively. The year I was there I did national commercials, campaigns, and editorials and my face was out there. And still I made just less than $100,000. My career was pretty successful and steady and I'm still a "no name" model. Well... I'm not really a model anymore. So... There's that.

akesh451 karma

Any we would recognize?

ironburton1 karma

I've been in South African Elle and Italian and American Vogue, I've walked the runway for Top Shop and Blumarine. I've done editorials for Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. I've been in ads for DSW Shoe Warehouse, Paul Mitchell, Big Sexy Hair. I've been on the cover of a few magazines that are prestigious among the industry but aren't on the shelves of your normal gas station. I've also done commercials for Samsung and Haggen Das ice cream. I have to go to work now but I have a lot of my work still and I can post some of it here as proof a little later.

MintyMenthol8 karma

What profession are you pursuing now?

What physical qualities were you expected to maintain as a model? ie slimness, healthy skin, good hair, etc.?

ironburton7 karma

I am now a licensed and practicing Aesthetician. I work at a new Medspa under a physician in Southern California. I was constantly measured and told I needed to maintain a certain size. I am lucky that I've always been tall and slim so I never had to do anything crazy to maintain my appearance. However, I love yoga and I feel that it kept my body in good shape while I was modeling.

satanspopsicle6 karma

Is it difficult to get into modelling if you're not rail thin? I dont want to do it as a career but just to have a couple walks down the runway or what not would be nice

ironburton3 karma

In high fashion modeling they are pretty strict with models being a certain height and size. But the industry it's changing all the time and plus size modeling it's making huge waves right now. If you have something unique about you I think anything is possible. Kate Moss did everything and she's only 5'7.

satanspopsicle1 karma

Is there any way I could contact you to see what you honestly have to say? Im 5'7 but im 125lbs, maybe a size 6 not a 0 and i dont have that paper thin build which i know high fashion looks for

ironburton7 karma

I don't really think it's for me to say. My best advice would be to get some professional photos to submit to some agencies and see what they say. Size 6 really isn't big. That being said I'm a size 2 and I've not seen any girls bigger than a 2 or 4 (if they were super proportionate and fit) doing runway. But that doesn't mean you wouldn't book work if you have a good look.

gdaman226 karma

What is something about the modeling industry that the average person doesn't know or understand?

Thanks for your time!

ironburton10 karma

I think most people's view on modeling or acting is that is very glamorous and full of privilege. And while there is some of that in the industry it's mostly full of broke, young girls, desperately competing against each other for their next job. Sometimes put into uncomfortable and awkward shooting situations. Long working hours. Fighting to get paid. Being made to feel fat and insecure even though everyone else in the real world showers them with compliments. It's really not that glamorous from the inside. Of course there exceptions and life is what you make of it. I mostly had a sucsessful career because of my want and determination to. I made friendships with clients. I made sure people remembered me and wanted to work with me. Some younger girls can get shitty attitudes and they fail miserably. No one wants to work with a diva.

InTupacWeTrust5 karma

Have you seen runway models really do angel dust?

ironburton5 karma

Drugs are very omnipresent in the industry. But it mostly happens on a night out. Not during work. I have worked with models that have gotten wasted at the open bar before a show and got fired. That was funny.

akesh451 karma

Why so much drugs?

ironburton1 karma

I think it's just accessibility more than anything. I've seen just as many people do drugs in Idaho and Coachella.

RawMuscleLab5 karma

I'm surprised you're retired, you're still stunning, do you not do any modelling at all?

Social Media has screwed a lot of industries, I see why money could be a problem nowadays, although how people look on social media is rarely accurate.

I follow fashion a little, I've tried to contact Allegra Versace a few times to no avail, her anorexia pisses me off, I've been through similar circumstances so I know I could help her (I'm male), so it annoys me to see her every year looking so thin and gauntly.

ironburton3 karma

Thank you! I do still model for anyone who asks me. I just don't have an agency anymore. Well not one in LA anymore. I'm still reped by my South African agency but don't know if I want to go back there.

And yeah, anorexia is not a good look. Ever.

RawMuscleLab2 karma

So you are South African?

Resemblance to Charlize Theron is deffo there.

ironburton2 karma

I'm not! I was born in New Jersey and raised in Idaho. My moms side is Russian and my "sperm donor's" side is polish. I have modeled in South Africa twice, on contract.

RawMuscleLab2 karma

Ah. :)

Reggie Yates did a show a few months ago on modelling in Russia, was to do with Agency work to different parts of the World, might be of interest to you if you haven't seen it.

ironburton1 karma

No, I've not seen it. But I'll check it out.

mollydolly935 karma

If you had a shrink ray who would you shrink and what would you so with them?

ironburton26 karma

Who's Ray!? J/k what a random question.... But honestly I think I would shrink Steven Hawking and put him on my night stand and force him to teach me physics in a robot mouse voice.

Melanterite4 karma

Did you ever get free merchandise after a modelling gig?

Did the hairstyling companies you modelled for actually use their products on models or is there airbrushing and other things involved?

What hobbies did you pursue during breaks in your modeling career and what are your current hobbies?

ironburton4 karma

Yes sometimes I would get to keep shoes or pieces but not often.

For the hair companies it all was done for real. They would cut and color my hair in a step by step educational video that would go out to all their schools. All of their products were used during the shoot. Then all of the ads would be shot. They could be 2-3 days jobs sometimes. They always paid amazing! Paul Mitchelle was a $15,000 job for me because they bought extra usage. And I always got gifted free hair products. I loved to do the hair jobs!

I don't really have any super particular hobbies. But I'm always down to try new things. I always went exploring in every country I visited. I always made a social life for myself. I would say my biggest hobby right now, which is more of an obsession is everything Game of Thrones and I read all of the books and am bursting at the seems waiting for the finale in 30 minutes!!! LOL! So good.

TacoCommand2 karma

What did you think of the finale? I spent it at a drinking party thrown by sommeliers and was invited because I'm good at jokes and I was the only person who'd read the books (five times over), so I was required to (rather cheerfully drunk, the wine was excellent) hold a Q&A for the sommeliers and chefs afterwards on plot lines and where I saw the show moving towards.

ironburton2 karma

Haha! Omg... I have so many opinions about season 5. I think it's pretty safe to say that most book readers thought it was pretty shit. And it's funny cus I couldn't tell if it was really shit or if I just wanted certain things to happen a certain way since I knew the story. But I'm confident enough to say I don't think I'm the only one who thought it was shit. Obviously the finale was crap although I loved the walk of shame. And we got Hardhome and more from Dany's storyline than I ever thought. Hated everything else... Dorne, Stanis, Sansa, JON wtf ugh, so bad. If we don't get the Greyjoy's next season I'm done with the show, Lol.


When you were younger, were you popular in school?

When you first started modelling, did you contact a modelling agency or vice versa?

ironburton5 karma

I was bullied hard core in school. Didn't actually start making friends until I was in high school and even then I wasn't popular. It's one of the reasons I wanted to model. I dont even know what made me think I could even do it. I did not feel pretty when I was younger. I was told I was so skinny I was disgusting by a boy I had a crush on. School was devastating for me. But I'm fine now and I have lots of amazing friends and a gorgeous husband. I am blessed.

Ruwaidah2 karma

If you stayed in the modeling industry, would you have been able to earn enough money to retire comfortably?

Why do many female models feel the need to trim their eyebrows? Don't they know it makes them look older when most people want to see young females?

ironburton2 karma

I don't think I would have been able to retire with enough money to live the rest of life. The industry is so different now and clients are getting away with paying less and less because there are so many people that will do it for free. Why pay thousands for an agency represented model when you can find an ok looking girl on Instagram with thousands of followers that will do it for trade? (Trade is clothing or pictures) The only designers still paying for agency reped girls are the big fashion designers in Paris and NY. I loved NY but something always happened where I would end up leaving.

As for eyebrows, some girls can pull off certain looks. I love thick natural eyebrows now and that how I wear mine now. But I looked really intense with bleached brows. And I got booked because of it. I'll add a picture so you can see.

Edit: me with bleached eyebrows. Imgur

pesanze2 karma

I´m from milan and I was about to ask you was that the hollywood? I´m now halfway through your story :D

ironburton2 karma

Yup! Hollywood. Is it still there? Even though my first time there was horrible I still went there on a regular basis after that.

breezenymph2 karma

Holy shit, you are so unbelievably lucky! I also model, and this sends chills up my spine. (side note question): Reading your comments on agencies, do you think they're even worth working for anymore, considering the growing percentages they take out of your pay?

ironburton2 karma

Yeah it was a crazy situation. I had never been so scared in my entire life and I'm sure everything was escalated and made worse by being drugged. But that's the only bad thing that's ever happened so yeah, I consider myself lucky.

As for agencies I think it's just as important to be signed with a reputable agency as it is to network and book your own jobs. I did both my entire career. There were just some jobs not worth doing through my agency. And I was confident that those jobs were small enough that they wouldn't be easily found. Anything national or big went through the agency though.

Puffpuffzak2 karma

What part of idaho?? I live in idaho

ironburton2 karma

I was raised in Idaho Falls

Viticetum2 karma

How much did you earn per gig?

As a tall woman, do men find you physically intimidating?

Why did you quit the modelling industry?

ironburton1 karma

Money was always different. And over the years the fees have changed. Also depending on which country I was in. I made the most money in Tokyo netting almost $100,000. For contrast, in Milan I left owing the agency money. The agencies really fuck over models. They charge us each full price for the apartment, so they make money on it and they own it. Then they take their percentage. In Milan that was 50%. In Paris it's 70%. Of course if you are booking the big campaigns what they take is negligible. I worked mostly in Los Angeles and I made enough every month to pay all of my bills. Never any more.

Some men find it intimidating, most don't. All Asian men and women find me very intimidating and would sneak pictures of me on the train or sidewalk, and openly gawk at me. It was funny and mostly cute.

My final straw with modeling was my LA agency stole all of my money from a national campaign I did for DSW Shoe Warehouse. Then filed bankruptcy so I couldn't sue her. And is now operating another agency, she did it to all of her girls. I hate her with a passion. I even got her on video saying she wouldn't pay me. But she filed bankruptcy before I could take legal action.

nerome92-3 karma

You said you were "kidnapped" in a club in Milan, risking to be "murdered" by a random Italian.

I do not do drugs, but I have been partying all over major european cities (London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona etc.) and happens pretty often to find drunk/high girls that jump on my car without me even asking. I once even got in the opposite situation, being driven around by a random girl while I was drunk.

The guy offered you coffee then, didn't menaced you with a knife.

Don't you feel you are exaggerating?

P.S. the homicide rate in Milan is 10 times lower than in the U.S., just saying.

ironburton16 karma

I did feel threatened by the man. I feel he took advantage of the fact that I was basically unconscious. I was very young and he was lying to me. Saying ok, ok every time I gave him my address. When we got to this apartment complex he grabbed me and said he wasn't going to take me home. I never gave him a chance to do anything else. I know what feels right and what feels wrong. I know when people are genuinely trying to help. He was not doing that. He did kidnap me and I do not feel like that is an exaggeration.

Just want to add an edit to this since this guy is getting up voted for being the devils advocate. But YOU know when you are having a good time and you meet fun people on a night out and you go with the flow and you end up at an after party with people you've never met before that night and end up having a genuinely fun night. I have had hundreds of those nights! This incident was terrifying. This man, in his mid 40's took advantage of me, he lied about helping me and taking me home while seeing I was desperate for help. I kept saying my street name over and over to him, albeit very slurred, and he kept say ok while continuing to drive me outside the city. And he did not speak English at all. So can we assume this guys intentions were to really bring a fucked up teenager into his apartment and giver her coffee and help her....? Maybe. But that is not the vibe I got at all. And I really panicked when he grabbed me and said to my face "no home". It was fucked up on so many levels. This was not a guy trying to help. This guy had a motive and I was loud enough to foil it, I guess. I'm extremely lucky he took me back to the club. I though my best case scenario would be he told me to just leave. And it was snowing and I had no money and no idea where I was tripping on PCP. and I didn't have a cell phone. I'm lucky. That's all I can say.

BBA93510 karma

I think the fact he was taking her out of town without her consent says she was in a fucked up situation. Why would he do that with a complete stranger?

You're being a dick.

Penroze-3 karma

He's not being a dick, it's an honest question. There's an obvious language barrier, and the girl was on PCP at the time. That seems like a situation that's at least a little ambiguous, so I wouldn't blame anyone for at least asking.

BBA9357 karma

Again, in a car with a stranger taking you out of town. Drugs, language barrier, or not that is fucked up.

Penroze-6 karma

Sure, it's reasonable to conclude what she said happened actually happened. It's also reasonable to question if that's what really happened. The entire story you're recounting is coming from someone that said she was on PCP and pot at the time, and didn't speak Italian.

It's certainly not "being a dick" behavior, it's a reasonable question.

BBA9357 karma

She told her story and then some guy (completely different experience) who might even be a sloppy neckbeard said based on his experiences in the Euro club scene means that hers is false. That's dickish. Women have a very different experience than men.

I too have been to clubs in Europe, The U.S. and Tokyo. Creepy shit goes down on the regular and her story sounded par for the course.

ironburton6 karma

Thanks for standing up for me. I know this is reddit and people can lie about anything. But this is something that truly happened to me. I'm alive and nothing bad happened, thankfully. I have better shit to do in my life than waste time doing a fake AMA. I was on the fence of even doing doing one, but I got a bunch of requests to do one, so I did. There will always be someone who will disagree and thats fine. But you'll never know how something like this feels until you go through it yourself. And I don't wish this on anyone. All I could think about was my family and how disappointed and devastated they would be if I got myself hurt or killed.

BBA9356 karma

No problem. Reddit is mostly inexperienced young people that think they know how the world really is. If you can ignore that, there is a lot of good stuff here.

Anyway, when were you modeling? I love your style from your proof pic and was wondering if I could see anymore of your work. I wish more models would go with the intense look like you did. I live in Tokyo and work in Harajuku. I see models all the time, but very few stand out from one another here.

ironburton2 karma

:) I have a lot of my old work on my Instagram that is the same name I go by here. I'm pretty boring now there and don't really post to much so you don't have to follow me. But a lot of my magazine editorials and campaigns are on there.