All conversation in the room ceased and all eyes turned to the doorway, where Tyra Banks was stalking into the room. The stunning supermodel had a serious mad-on! With an expression that perfectly blended boredom with patronizing, Kathy Ireland didn't even deign to turn around to face Tyra before she started running her pouty little supermodel mouth.
"You know, this was a perfectly delightful party you just embarrassed yourself by interrupting. Where are your manners?"
Pure, unadulterated, ridicule fairly dripped from every word uttered by the redhead's voice.
Tyra just ignored her as she continued, "This was MY contract, Ireland!"
"Correction," Kathy responded dismissively, "You WERE up for this contract. The firm decided to go with someone more, shall we say . . . appealing. Namely, me!"
Suddenly, Tyra's anger faded and an icy smile flickered across her full, luscious lips.
"I really don't think you're right for the job, old girl. I mean, look at you. You should be out hawking Geritol and Depends diapers at your age. . . shouldn't you, you has been?"
Now it was Kathy's turn to flash anger although she quickly reined it under control.
Tyra's sharp words had cut straight to the heart of the matter. Kathy Ireland had been one of the first true supermodels; a woman more famous for being herself than for the products she sold. Her photo on a magazine cover had meant an instant increase in newsstand sales; her posters and calendars had hung in millions of bedrooms and offices and garages; she had commanded six figures for a half-hour's work in front of a camera. The operative word being HAD.
For a young woman still in the prime of life, her 30's, the idea of being "aged out" was insufferable and being called a 'has been' unacceptable. Kathy didn't intend to bow out gracefully...she would scratch and claw for every assignment as long as she could still draw a breath.
But time is a relentless tyrant. As the year's passed, Kathy's star began to wane. Newer, younger, hungrier girls crowded the supermodel ranks and they began to score the huge gigs. Kathy was still a star, no doubt, but no longer one of the true elite in what everyone acknowledges is a hard, cold business. And one of the best new, hungry, YOUNG ladies who was getting the jobs that had been Kathy's for the asking was this very same Tyra Banks.
It's certainly no surprise that Tyra and Kathy never got along...few models did. Modeling is a cutthroat business, and a woman who puts friendship above her career quickly finds herself either in obscurity or, worse, the Sears or even, God forbid, K-Mart catalogues. It's that pure and simple.
The power struggle between the two remained stalemated until they found themselves both vying for the same SPORTS ILLUSTRATED swimsuit issue cover...a cover on which Ms. Ireland had appeared on more than any other ...but Tyra got it! From that moment, the balance of power shifted to Tyra. It seemed to hasten Kathy's slide in a fickle business that doesn't honor its elders much, if at all.
But with victory sometimes comes arrogance. In this instance, Tyra had dallied in signing a major cosmetics contract, certain that she could dictate better terms for herself. Kathy, recognizing a ripe opportunity, seized it; secretly negotiating with the agency and agreeing to take a smaller fee than Tyra was demanding. With the stroke of a pen, Ireland had a multi-million dollar job and Tyra was looking for work.
Obviously, Tyra was less than pleased.
If she were wise, Tyra might have recognized Kathy's maneuver for what it was...a desperate, almost pitiful, effort by an aging superstar to recapture some of her past glory. She might have appreciated Kathy's determination to stay on top of a business that, inevitably, had passed her by. Tyra might have realized that, someday in the not too distant future, she herself would be in the same spot Kathy was. But Tyra wasn't feeling wise, all she was feeling was sheer, blinding HATRED.
The other guests at the signing party braced themselves for a torrent of catty insults between the two models, but both women were far beyond mere words. As their eyes locked, each knew what HAD to happen next.
Almost as one, they attacked! Their hands tore at flowing hair; their legs tried to trip the other. After several moments of this awkward ballet, they fell to the floor and began rolling across the carpet.
Suddenly, Tyra pulled herself free and jumped to her feet. She landed a kick into the redhead's ribs and Kathy let out a yelp, but she rolled with the blow. Building momentum, Kathy sprang to her feet, cat-like and charged at her rival.
Tyra readied herself for a tackle, but Kathy feinted and threw a roundhouse punch that caught Tyra square on the jaw. Tyra's head snapped sharply to the side, she staggered for a few steps and Ireland moved in to deliver a second punch; hoping to knock her opponent senseless.
But Banks was too tough to be taken out with any single blow. As Kathy moved in close, Tyra unleashed a well-timed punch of her own, burying her fist deep in the aging redhead's belly. Kathy's eyes widened and a grimace twisted her features as her mouth opened in a silent scream as all the air in her lungs was expelled by the force of Tyra's crushing fist.
What followed next was almost beautiful in its savagery. Two of the most famous faces in modeling traded punches in a fist fight, hammering away at the other's head and abdomen. The battle was taking its toll on both of them. Shapely legs grew shaky and unsteady; bosoms heaved as they gulped air into tired lungs; smooth skin grew slick with perspiration and a shower of sweat erupted every time their hourglass figures were rocked by another cruel blow.
Watching all of this were some of the most important agents in the modeling industry, all of them naturally horrified at the sight of these two million dollar faces suffering cuts and bruises that would take weeks to heal! Grown men, their entire livelihood dependent upon these two women, began to cry but several older women clutched each other and whispered their support for Kathy while they fondled one another in undisguised battle-lust.
This couldn't go one for long and it finally came to an end when Kathy wrapped her hands around Tyra's slender throat and began choking her. Desperate, Tyra grabbed at her tormentor's wrists, but she couldn't pry her death grip loose. The brunette began to sink to her knees, gasping for precious air as Kathy spread her legs wide and leaned down over Tyra.
From the maniacal look on Kathy's face, it wasn't altogether certain that she would let her victim loose short of homicide. But the lucky few who were standing where they could see Kathy's square face suddenly saw her determined expression replaced with one of wild-eyed agony. Those who were watching Tyra closely had seen her throw a desperation punch from the floor straight up into Kathy's crotch.
Kathy lost her stranglehold and, clutching her groin, stumbled away and collapsed on the carpet. There she lay, curled into a fetal position, her sobs punctuated by the sound of Tyra's gulping for air. Tyra lay flat on her back, her eyes unfocused. Neither seemed to have the strength left to continue.
But there are times when hatred is a substitute for strength and Tyra still had plenty of that in reserve. Slowly, painfully, she sat up, then she crawled on all fours toward her rival.
Grabbing Kathy's wrists, Tyra straddled the redhead's body, trapping her below her in a schoolgirl pin. Then, while holding Kathy's wrists on the floor, Tyra bounced up and drove her knee hard into Kathy's crotch. As Kathy's proud body writhed in pain, Tyra did it again! And then again! And still yet again! Kathy's screams quickly gave way to become the pained moans of someone now barely conscious.
Sitting herself on Kathy's heaving chest, Tyra waited patiently until the redhead began to regain her senses. Only then did the triumphant model shoot a deadly look toward a certain company executive that froze him in his tracks. Nervously, he retrieved a piece of paper from his attaché case and meekly handed it to Tyra.
She shoved the contract directly in front of Kathy's face and held it there, her hands quivering with unsuppressed rage. The redhead could vaguely make out the signature at the bottom...it was her own. Tyra then slowly and maliciously tore the contract in half, then in quarters and finally into small pieces.
"Well," she said in a low, raspy voice. "I guess you're free to go work for Geritol now, old girl."
With the last vestiges of her strength, Tyra got to her feet and slowly dribbled the torn remnants down over Kathy's puffy face like snowflakes. Then she limped over to the quivering executive and, rising to her full 5'11" height she towered over the shorter man.
Tyra hissed, "This is gonna cost you...BIG!"
The executive took a handkerchief out of his pocket and began to dab beads of sweat from his brow.
Her head held high in her haughty triumph, Tyra strode briskly out of the room, swinging her hips insolently as she passed the downcast older women who she knew had wished for Kathy's success. On her way, Tyra made certain to launch a swift kick into her beaten rival's side on the way out and smiled when Kathy grunted as her body jerked in pain.
Off to one side, standing in a corner of the room with another attractive young woman, taking all of this in with more than casual interest, was rising superstar model Yamila Diaz. Turning to the girl beside her, Yamila nodded in the direction of the departing Tyra and hissed, "I can beat her."