A male model house, that is. It's 10am, and here they come, staggering down the stairs, adjusting their Levi's, rubbing their eyes and heading for the kitchen, shoving last night's unwashed dishes aside to make a round of bacon butties, or taking up well-worn places in the living-room next to the Playstation. Vernon Kaye, 25, Greg Butler, 23, Phil Hill, 22, and Nagae Ono, 22, are all with the Select agency, and house-sharing in a Young Ones-meets-The Real World style.
I'm hustled through the hallway, but not before I've spotted a pair of incontrovertibly feminine boots nestling among the Nikes. "Oh, yeah," giggles Greg. "Vernon's entertaining."
"She's my sister," protests Vernon, unconvincingly. We drape ourselves over the befrilled, pastel-pink three-piece suite as Phil brings in a tray of freshly brewed PG Tips, and Vernon endures incessant ribbing as his "sister" bangs and crashes about upstairs. The prevailing ambience is more student-pad than glamour-HQ; aside from the pride-of-place Playstation, the suspiciously tidy living room's main furnishings are a bookcase stacked with videos (An American Werewolf In London, The Shining) and a clotheshorse draped with vintage undergarments. The mantelpiece carries a series of photobooth pictures taken in Peckham shopping centre, the boys pulling goofy faces. "We're not poncy," Vernon assures me. "We're just ordinary lads who happen to be models."
Vernon, Greg and Phil met at the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham in 1997. At the time, Vernon was a cleaner for Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, Greg was doing an art degree, and Phil was a joiner who'd helped build the Clothes Show catwalks and sets.
Vernon: "We all went independently to get pissed and have a look round. We certainly didn't go with the intention of being `discovered'. It never crossed our minds."
Greg: "But we all got approached by Select. It scared the shit out of me. I was like, er, no, go away. But friends talked me into calling back."
Vernon: "We were lucky, because it was the back end of Britpop, the shaggy hair, ugly bloke phase." (Vernon, Greg and Phil do indeed look like Britpop e-fits.)
A week later, the three had packed in their jobs and courses and Select billeted them in a one-bedroom flat in South London.
Vernon: "It was owned by a friend of the lady who owns the agency and because it was Select's flat, they'd put new guys arriving from Australia or wherever in with us, so we'd have up to four or five people camping out. It was like a youth hostel. There was only enough hot water for two baths."
Greg: "But by this time, we loved each other."
Vernon: "We found common interests. We liked to get pissed and get up to mischief."
This "mischief" is the standard Loaded inventory of birds and booze; if it's unusual to find four male models sharing a house, it's even more unusual to find that they're all straight, but this quartet are hopelessly heterosexual. So, while they started getting work almost instantly - Greg for Arena, Phil in a French Connection campaign, Vernon for Dazed And Confused - it was their new lifestyle opportunities that chiefly preoccupied them.
Vernon: "It was like being given the keys to the candy store. We were scoping gorgeous girls at the agency, clubbing every night..."
Greg: "Our flat should have had a revolving door for the women that came round. Yes, supermodels visited, but I'm not saying who. Actually, I can't remember. We should have kept a log."
After a few mishaps - caved-in ceilings etc - Select moved the boys into their comparatively palatial current surroundings. So what are the house rules?
Phil: "We don't really have rotas."
Vernon: "Phil always tidies up - he cracks first."
Greg: "We did once throw a lot of crockery away, because it had been lying around so long we couldn't get the dirt off it."
Greg: "Actually, the only house rule is don't use Vernon's shower. He pays extra to have en suite facilities. But none of us really bothers to wash that much."
Phil: "We're supposed to knock if anyone's entertaining."
Vernon: "We have a bad habit of marching into people's rooms when we're pissed. Like Greg walking in on me and my lass the other night."
Greg: "It's hardly surprising, man - I came back in the middle of the night and the front door was wide open. I went ballistic."
Have there been many legendary nights in the house? There's braying and raised eyebrows before Greg fetches photographic evidence of "Madonna Night" - he's sporting a "Gaultier" bra, an ordinary garment augmented in the nipple area by whisky bottle tops, a pair of Next boxer shorts with panties strung across them, and masking tape "suspenders."
Vernon: "Our mates from up north come down every now and then - there'll be 10, 12 people in the house. We'll go to a club and end up back here dancing to Take That or playing musical statues."
Phil: "The neighbours bang on the wall every now and again. But mostly they just leave us alone."
Nagae has been sitting quietly with an increasingly glazed smile. He's the new room-mate and being Brazilian, he's acquired the nickname Ronaldo. "I needed a place to stay, and the agency put me in touch with the guys," he shrugs. "I just hope I can stand the pace."
Luckily for Nagae, there are signs that the pace might be slackening: Vernon, who's been dating Sophie Dahl, has eased off on the modelling to present a BBC digital Top 40 request show called The Phone Zone; Greg and Phil both have model girlfriends and disappear to their flats for days on end. Greg is thinking of returning to painting and songwriting. "I don't want to sound jaded, but you get sick of the parties and that."
But what of the temptation of constant interaction with beautiful women? Isn't it hard to hold down a full-time relationship?
Vernon: "Actually, the majority of girls we meet are so far up themselves that they can't see daylight, or they're so thick it's scary. The industry's changed so much since we started. It's all kids now. My mates come down thinking I'll set them up but the majority of girls are about 14."
Greg: "We're going to stick at it a while longer. But we know it's not forever. Vern wants to move back up north, me and Phil are getting serious with our lasses."
Vernon: "It's been a laugh though."
A few nights later I accompany them for a night out playing pool at the local pub. Vernon's mobile is constantly trilling; he's arranged to meet his new - unnamed - girlfriend at a bar in town before she heads off to Los Angeles where, he claims, she's got a part in a film. "When I first met her I thought she was a Ladyboy," he confides. "Her breast was all, you know, rigid. So I just had to ask her, excuse me, but were you once a bloke? She whacked me. Turned out to be silicone. Had them done when she was 16."
The only hint of "action" in the pub comes when a woman asks us how much longer we're going to hog the pool table. Meanwhile, Vernon decides he can't be bothered to make the journey up West, and as we leave the pub at closing time, he's making valiant attempts to get another Legendary Night up and running. Greg demurs - he's off to his girlfriend's - but, as the other three head back down the road, Vernon's voice is ringing out in the south London night: "Hello? Who's this? Helen? I don't think I know you actually, but why don't you come over? I've got plenty of Jack Daniels."Reuse content