Manhattan Model Search
To Whom It May Concern:
I was recently scouted at a model search, The Manhattan
Model Search, and I wanted to know if they
were a scam.
If you have any info, please email me back. I want to
know before I make the trip to their regional model search
While nobody has written to Modeling Scams with complaints
about The Manhattan Model Search, there
is a consumer
report from WFLA, News Channel 8, published
The report is dated April 1, 2001, and includes an interview
with the president of The Manhattan Model Search.
Craig Strauss said he took over the company six months
prior, and he was attempting to deal with consumer complaints;
the consumer complaints included files at the Better
You'd have to look into the complaints and determine
if fundamental changes have been made, and the BBB is
now satisfied, and make sure the comments were not made
simply to deal with the press.
Also find out if they hang up on you when you ask, "Can
you give me any references of people who have come to
these seminars you put on that have actually received
The report quoted the parent of an aspiring model who
said Manhattan Model Search offered
- "When you go to the first event, that's free.
But they suggest in the brochure, while you're there,
to take the classes they offer. They even have photographers
who can take pictures if you need them. The fee for
this weekend's classes is $350."
Modeling classes are often scams, as much as $350 for
a weekend. You would want to know if what they teach
is not available elsewhere, and if it is really useful,
One internet forum post responded to a question about
The Manhattan Model Search, saying:
- It's a waste of time and money. When you are "selected" to
proceed to the next round of the Search, it requires
thousands of dollars... to be seen by a handful of
- You can just as easily plan a trip to New York or
Miami or wherever yourself, for less bucks, and be
seen at an open call.
- There, you'll be looked at with 1/100th the competition...
and by bookers...
- Even better, find an agent... who's a legitimate
mother agent. They have experience placing the models
they represent with major market agencies, and don't
charge you a thousand bucks to attend a cattle call
to do so.
- Ask yourself this... if Manhattan Model Search really
thought you were gonna be "discovered," why
wouldn't they sign you to a mother agency contract
themselves, and keep a 5% kick on what you do?
These are good points, and basically express conventional
wisdom. Conventional wisdom says go to an open call at
a local modeling agency.
Flying or travelling a long distance to a competition,
convention, or anything similar can be expensive, and
still not really raise your chances of being seen and
One website includes a useful primer for aspiring models
by Blackwood-Steele, a major modeling agency based in
New York with hundreds of Manhattan models.
Although you may want to check with the company to verify
if what was published is in fact true, they say:
- We do participate in model searches and have agreements
with... Manhattan Model Search...
to appear at their searches throughout the country.
If this is true, Manhattan Model Search may
not be a scam, at least in terms of one aspect of its
advertising. But it could be a waste of money.
Note the BBB record said: "This firm does not currently
qualify for the Bureau's highest rating. This firm is
not a licensed modeling agency and cannot actively seek
out employment for models."
There isn't a clear definition of what is a modeling
scam, and what is just a waste of money, although finance-related
modeling scams are always a waste of money.
But it seems to make more sense to use modeling competitions
and large national open calls in far away places as a
last resort, after all other (cheaper) options (local
agency open calls) have been exhausted.
To Whom It May Concern:
I went to one of the local Manhattan Model Search events
in town, and I was selected. So were about one out of
three of the people who were there.
A model scout would be a little bit more selective.
Assuming there are about 10,000 models doing real work
in the country, we're talking maybe a 1/30,000 selection
in the population. Maybe 300,000 people say the commercials.
So of the 150 who attended, no more than 10 —maybe
30 to give a 3:1 slop factor, would be picked.
There's a natural tendency to overselect, if you're
going to be asking your prospects to fork over upfront
money to attend a conference as exhibitors (which is
basically what you're doing at the regional model selection
A good model scout shouldn't need to require any upfront
money from prospects, if they're doing their business
right, notwithstanding the logistics of setting up a
convention and all.
If they were more selective, the agents would be getting
a better draw, and they would certainly be forking over
the upfront cash themselves.
The Manhattan Model Search sales pitch was "you
could spend thousands flying all over the country to
hook up with big-time agencies, but we'll save you bucks
and hook you up at ONE site for much less."
In fact, there are five agencies in town, alone, and
all I really need to do is send them off a cover letter
The Manhattan reps made a big deal out of pointing out
that a scout with a good eye or a prospective agent can
spot the draws on sight.
Well, then, fine. They should be able to tell by looking
at the photos then. No airfare for that, even if you
send off letters out of town. And if you're getting callbacks
on that, airfare is ultimately going to be the least
of your worries.
They moved the price down to $450, state that 50 agencies
will be at the regional model search, have listed those
who were at the last couple years' regionals (example:
Ford, Arlene Wilson, NBC Television even, etc.).
It's driving distance away, so no major overhead on
hotel stays, airfare or the like... except that the scheduling
of events means you're getting up VERY early in the morning
if you don't stay overnight the previous day.
There's a money-back guarantee —but with a 30-minute
time window. And payments by cash only —not even
credit cards (why not?).
No queries were made by Manhattan on WHAT area you intended
to specialize in. It's completely generic, although they
said they made their selections with some area of specialization
in mind when they select you.
The conference is NOT geared toward anyone who is already
familiar with the business. It's nothing more than a
teach-in to get facts that a mere afternoon's search
over the Internet will get you more of. As someone already
familiar with the business, I will not benefit from this.
For all practical purposes, it's a trade show expo and
you're paying a fee to be an exhibitor. The only difference
is that you're the ones doing the walking around, while
the prospective buyers are sitting down.
Given that 50 people are going down there, when only
10 should be, you're looking at 5:1 odds against —unless
you're really that damn good. That is 5:1 against getting
any callbacks at all out of 50.
The only benefit I'd be getting out of it is direct
face-to-face feedback one level of indirection closer
to where I need to be. I'd rather have someone telling
me to my face whether I'm suited to the business —especially
when there's 50 opinions to sample at one time —than
to get the feedback the hard way by the deafening silence
of the lack of response to the cover letters.
So, I might consider playing the game their way and
shelling out the bucks, just to get the direct feedback
and to do networking at trade show expos like you should
when going into a new career.
But that would be IN ADDITION TO sending out cover letters
to local prospective agents (who won't be there), and
maybe a select few out of town. I really don't like being
2-3 levels of indirection away from where I need to be.
If you're a total newbie or don't have the bucks to
shell out, then it might be better just to send out cover
letters to local agencies and work your way out from
there —and to do your research, both on the business
and on yourself to determine where you want to specialize.
And, anyhow, there are scouts hidden amongst us all
over the place serving as feelers for all those agencies.
They're doing their job right and they're not asking
you for any money up front.
If you get out a lot and if you're really well-suited
(for whatever segment of the business in question), then
you would have been noticed by now. It's their job to
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently attended an open call in Chicago, IL, for Manhattan
They do charge a fee to attend their Regional Model
Search, but they made it very clear to us that we can
pursue this business on our own by going to NY, Los Angeles,
The woman, Kathryn, said that the truth is that we do
not need Manhattan Model Search, we need an agent, and
MMS is one way to pursue this business.
She also said "there are no guarantees."
I have attended other open calls, and they were not
as upfront and brutally honest as MMS was. They deserve
some kudos for that.
Manhattan Model Search is a mother agency that receives
the 5% commission. They tell us that sometimes they make
money at their conventions, sometimes they don't.
I work in advertising and I know that radio and TV ads
cost a fortune. I'm sure it costs them a pretty penny
to put the conventions together. At least they tell us
I'm going to their event on Sept. 8th.
Maybe I am wrong, but I see this as an opportunity to
be seen by 50 agents in one day. That is very hard to
do on your own.
Plus, I would spend far more than $450 to fly to New
York, Miami, and LA.
This is not an easy business to get a foot in the door,
so I am glad I attended the open call, got selected,
and have this opportunity.
God bless you,
You said: "They made it very clear to us that we
can pursue this business on our own by going to NY, Los
Angeles, or Miami."
Did they also make it very clear to you that you can
SEND your pictures to NY, Los Angeles, and Miami? Did
they also make it very clear to you that THEY can send
your pictures to NY, Los Angeles, and Miami?
You said: "The woman, Kathryn, said that the truth
is that we do not need Manhattan Model Search, we need
an agent, and MMS is one way to pursue this business."
This is very true. You do not need a model search to
find the mailing address of agencies in NY, Los Angeles,
You said: "She also said 'there are no guarantees.'"
That disclaimer is used by almost everyone and does
not mean a lot. We already know this. It is small comfort
if there is no money-back guarantee.
You said: "I have attended other open calls, and
they were not as upfront and brutally honest as MMS was.
They deserve some kudos for that."
Really? Were they as up front as MSA? NYC Fame? Did
they not tell you their failure rate? Why do you think
they deserve some kudos if Manhattan Model Search, unlike
Model Search America and NYC Fame, does not include its
success rate in its BBB record?
Saying "there are no guarantees" is not the
standard of being up front. If a model search does not
communicate its success rate it is not being up front.
Why do you think the BBB record for two model searches
includes the information?
You said: "I work in advertising and I know that
radio and TV ads cost a fortune. I'm sure it costs them
a pretty penny to put the conventions together. At least
they tell us that."
Whatever they paid in advertising is not the issue.
Besides, their books have not been audited, so there
is no reason to believe what has not been substantiated.
You said: "I would spend far more than $450 to
fly to New York, Miami, and LA."
That is the tired sales pitch. How much would you pay
to fly your pictures to New York, Miami, and LA?
You said Manhattan Model Search provides an opportunity "to
be seen by 50 agents in one day."
So let's say there are 50 agents who are going to attend
the convention. Why doesn't Manhattan Model Search send
pictures of the potential models to these 50 agents BEFORE
Each person would only have to pay for 50 pictures (headshot)
or 100 pictures (headshot and bodyshot). These would
be Polaroids, not professional pictures, because the
agencies want Polaroids, not professional pictures.
How much would it cost the aspiring model?
Your claim was basically the same as what
another aspiring model wrote. She used
the same sales pitch; then I countered with the photos
her mind. She decided to forget about
the model search and contacted the modeling agencies
directly. Some she sent her pictures by email; others
she sent her pictures by mail. She bought some Polaroids.
Total cost: $12.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to know if Manhattan Model Search in NY, NY,
is a legitimate company. They scout you then tell you
to go to Buffalo, NY, for their regional model search
to be presented to the likes of Elite, Wilhelmina, Ford,
Columbia Tristar, etc.
There is a workshop given by Sharon Magic Jordan for
$60. There is a charge to attend the model search: $450.
There are additional costs for a room.
The BBB record for MMS said: "This firm does not
currently qualify for the Bureau's highest rating. This
firm is not a licensed modeling agency and cannot actively
seek out employment for models."
Did they not tell you that you can send in your pictures
directly to Elite, Wilhelmina, Ford, etc., at no extra
expense? Do they offer to send them to these agencies
to be screened before you pay and go?
Most all agencies do not ask to see aspiring models
in person if they do not live near the agency until after
they have first reviewed their photos submitted by mail.
You can send them Polaroids, not professional pictures.
He did tell us to go to their regional search, then present
the pictures. He never told us we could submit pictures
directly to the modeling agencies.
He told us to attend their regional model search we
had to pay a $450 fee, then you walk a runway in front
of modeling agents.
He promised to refund the $450 if you follow the rules
on the money-back guarantee paper that Mr. Strauss handed
out September 14, 2002, at the Ramada Inn in Watertown,
Their pamphlet had a Chamber of Commerce mark. There
is a website: www.manhattanmodelsearch.com.
Thank you for the information. We won't be attending.
I am just sorry I listed my phone number on their application
I hope you can save other people from wasting their
hard-earned money. By the way, this was advertised by
Model Search Letters Index