Most Saturdays of the year, 21-year-old Erin Ryan of Belmar stands outside LJs Total Man/Todays Woman clothing store on Broad Street, doing what she calls promotional modeling, talking up the merchandise to shoppers.
But when it gets cold enough to turn Erins exposed toes purple, she takes her act inside and does a mannequin act in the stores window.
Erin is a full-time humanities student at Ocean County College, waitresses at an Outback restaurant, cleans houses two days a week, practices photography, and isbig surprisealmost impossible to reach. But redbankgreen caught up with her at LJs last weekend for a quick interview.
Whats involved in being a human mannequin?
I normally do 20-minute poses, not breathing, not blinking, not anything. It gets difficult. After about three minutes, your feet go numb and your hands start trembling. And after 15, you dont even realize that youre standing still.
What are you thinking when youre in mannequin mode?
Oh, you think about everythingyou think about the weather, you think about what else you could be doing, what TV shows are on that night, whos going to win Monday Night Football. Anything and everything goes through your mind.
Is it torture knowing that you can’t move?
Yes. It gets absolutely unbearable. You stand up there, and your arms are killing you, and your feet, and you feel like you cant breathe. Its very constricting, but its definitely fun.
Are there frequent changes of clothing involved?
I normally change two times a day when Im outside, but working in the window, I change every hour. I try on everything. Even if they dont want me modeling it, I try on all the new merchandise to see what I like.
How do passersby react when they see you in the window?
Its really funny, because you have the people who will just stand there and stare, and youve got the kids who will try to figure out if Im real or not and try to get me to move, get me to laugh. And the punk teenagers will try to distract me. Its really fun. You get up there and see if you can fool people. Youll have people who will walk by three or four times in a couple of minutes to see if Ive changed at all, because they feel uncomfortable just standing there and staring.
How long have you been doing this?
Ive been doing mannequin work since I was 17. I do it at Ocean County College, or at fairs, like the Belmar Fair.
Howd you get this job?
I was actually eating at Mr. Pizza Slice [around the corner from LJs, on Monmouth Street], and Mary, from Barbizon, saw me, and she ran me over here, and they told me that wanted to hire me that day.
Are you hoping to have a career in modeling?
I would love a career in modeling, but I dont have the time to pursue it. I work like 50 hours a week and go to school. But if someone were to discover me, that would be awesome.
Youre also into photography?
Yeah, last year I got into photography and just bought my own equipment, and in January, Im shooting my first wedding. Im ridiculously excited.
Obviously, youre on your feet a lot. Which do you think is more important, good food or comfortable shoes?
Good food, definitely. I could live wearing stiletto heels for the rest of my life, but I could not live without filet mignon and crab legs at least once a week. Im a big food person. I eat a lot and I love food.