Live mannequins on Yonge Street
Did that mannequin move? If you walked past Rockwell Jeans Inc. on Yonge St. in 1987, it probably did. That summer, the store employed two Toronto teens as "living mannequins." They stood in the window six days a week, barely moving.
"Sometimes we sit down, but mostly we just stand there," 16-year-old Vanessa Paes told the Toronto Star. "I just stand there and close my eyes," her half sister, 17-year-old Barbara Chatarpaul, said.
Hoping to save for a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica, the pair applied for regular summer jobs at the store opposite the Eaton Centre, but were instead offered the chance to model acid-washed jeans, shoes, and sunglasses for $4.50 an hour.
Six days a week, the pair, dubbed "the Rockwell twins" for their similar appearance, posed in a narrow 9 square metre window space where they endured bright sunshine, wasps, and the occasional taunts of passersby.
"They make fools of themselves trying to make us laugh," Paes said.
Despite the irritants and monotony, the girls said they enjoyed their work. "It's great, but we do get a little conceited ... sometimes we imagine we're famous," said Chatarpaul.
The store manager said Rockwell Jeans had employed live mannequins for the last three years. He said the display was more like a runway fashion show than a static clothing exhibit, and customers seemed to like it.
"They're really good," said Andrew Seales, a shopper from Brampton interviewed by the Star. "You can tell they're real because their shoes are worn. I saw one of their earrings wiggle, too."