Pat Cleveland in Stephen Burrows. Photo by Don Ashby via Style.com
One of my favorite bloggers, Afrobella, recently paid tribute to the late pioneering model Donyale Luna and Pat Cleveland came up. I had the pleasure of "interviewing" the legendary supermodel (an accurate description for once!) in late 2001 when I wrote regularly for the former incarnation of Honey magazine. Unlike my Eartha Kitt interview for another magazine that never saw the light of day, my Pat Cleveland 'Honey Icon' ran in early 2002.
I placed interviewing in quotes because I simply emailed several questions to Pat in Italy and she seemingly stepped out of a dream and responded back a few weeks later. It is still one of my favorite emails. The article was pretty standard - and short - but I thought that you may like to see Pat in all of her dreamy, artsy fabulousness. I'm guessing that she's not too different today.
Da: Nichelle Gainer
A: Pat Cleveland
Oggetto: Interview request for Pat Cleveland
Data: Gio, 30 oct 2001 22:52
Hello, My name is Nichelle Gainer and I have been assigned to write a short article on you for Honey magazine. The piece will be for the "Honey Icon" page, which pays tribute to black women in entertainment, fashion and related areas. The article will be very short, so while a personal conversation isn't really necessary, I do have a few questions for clarification:
1. Where and when were you born? I found a 1975 Newsweek article which described you as "the daughter of a white jazz musician and a black painter". Is this accurate?
2. Were you discovered by a Vogue Scout during your Ebony Fashion Fair days? If not, how were you discovered?
3. Did you really go to lunch on the beach in St. Tropez wearing "diamond collars, bracelets, rings, high-heeled shoes and a G-string" as Michael Gross claims in his book "Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women"?
Da: Pat Cleveland
A: Nichelle Gainer
Oggetto: Interview request for Pat Cleveland
Data: Gio, 29 nov 2001 22:52
The truth is, yes to all of it - not like the now popular song it wasn't me but instead yes it was me. Yes, Diamonds and all, and why not? Vamp it up have fun while you're young. If you've got a good head and you know where to put your limits and some great values you'll survive, just like I did. As I always say "Thank God for Fashion" or where would I be today if it wasn't for all of my beautiful talent friends in the fashion world? It's one of the things I know.
I always say if you have a dream and you love it, make it come true, in fashion its' how you dress, diamond collars, bracelets or stilettos what ever appeals to your fashion sense. If you can get it, it can be like one of the five senses, it is for me... live it, use it, enjoy it, let it be you, let it be true.
Now, for the past, present, future...I'm just being me and following my dreams in the party of life, art, beauty painting, poetry, love , music, film... nourishing my body, mind and soul.
I've started writing, I'm playing around with all the forms of it. Poetry, Prose and screen plays. It just comes to me like the modeling did. It's a learning experience a chance to grow, is'nt that why we do anything to get better.
My first book "In the Spirit of Grace" I hope will inspire and give some insight to some of the universal feelings I have from my view point, comments through poetry on the subject of Fashion, love, life, and nature, it is a simple book,inside are clues to a models anima sort of a models hand book, inside out. My hope is that, I would like for the public to understand that even within a profession such as modeling and the people we call the models, do have a heart, and that deep down in the core of a person's soul we are all so very much alike - full of love seeking the absolute beauty of life. That is what I am all about really.
As I'm writing this I find out that George of the Beatles has just died. I worked for Paul and Ringo,when they had the Apple film thing going in London. It was truly one of the highlight points of my career but unfortunately I have never met George. He was the quiet one. Umm... Time for a poem be right back....excuse me I had a bit of a cry deep breath...
You know Fashion gives you that extra something, it helps make the world an interesting place to live in because it is part of life. Thank God for Fashion...
At the moment, I'm sitting on the shelf next to Dickens, and Gibran waiting for the buyers to come holding my breath from the excitement of it all and by the way I'm working on my next project... could it be Hollywood?
Thank you so very much for getting in touch with me... till next time best wishes to you Nichelle.