It’s Halloween at a club in central Birmingham (the one in the UK, not the one in Alabama), and the men are out with their traffic-accident faces and the women with their spray tans, fake eyelashes, and black sequined angel wings.
Drinking his third spiced rum and Coke of the evening, Thomas King, 31, one of England’s hardest-working hand models, shouts over the music the secret to his success. “It’s all about the nail beds,” he says. “You see mine are quite narrow and long? Being a hand model is 80 percent about the nail beds. If you’ve got nice fingernails you’re more than halfway there.”
On an ordinary human I would not bother to take in this gesture; it’d just be a guy wrapping his hand around a cuff and pushing it up onto his bicep, where it’s supposed to be, from his wrist, where it keeps falling. But King’s hands in this ordinary moment are indeed something to pay attention to – the tension in his long fingers, the even, golden glow of his skin, and yes, enviably perfect nail beds, smooth, luminescent, singular.
To my left someone in a Grim Reaper costume is gripping a staff, and I can’t help but notice his hands, with short wide fingers, and thick knuckles. Functional, sure, but just average. King says he’s been checking people’s hands out obsessively since he started working as a hand model, three years now. “I’ve even got my friends doing it. My group chats are all full of hands, like ‘These are pretty good! These are terrible!’ Five people will come up to me tonight and say, ‘Hey do you think I can be a hand model,’ King tells me, looking slightly pained, because he has a gentle, boyish soul, a lover of Disney films and Star Wars, to the extent that he showed up at our first meeting, this morning, with a Darth Vader suitcase. “It can make for a bit of an awkward moment, but I don’t want to give anyone false hope, so, mostly, I’ll just be like, ‘nah.’”
A woman I know in the high quality replica watches business recently told me about a hand model she’d developed a crush on, never having seen his face. Then a friend sent her a photo and the crush became a thing of the past, as hands and face did not match. This can not be said of King, for whom every bit of physical real estate is prime. One could pass a perfectly pleasant two weeks looking back and forth between his blue-green eyes and even white teeth. His hair, well-cut and short, is gel-free, and as dark and shiny as a grand piano.
He is aware of his good looks but in a sort of giddy exuberant way, as if he had just won the lottery, because, well. “Do you want to see a picture of my bum?” he asks me. He opens his Instagram. “Look, they’ve painted it blue!” He has the exact same expression of joyous innocence he had on his face earlier today when he told me about visiting Disney World a few years ago. “I was like a kid in a candy store there,” he says. One gets the sense that he is also a kid in a candy store in relation to his own body — he primarily does hands, and ads for liquor, food and Swiss made Breitling replica watches, but he’s a foot model, as well, and in commercials, and the blue bum was for My Mochi ice creams — in the sense that every part of his body is naturally sweet, and therefore revenue-producing.
Earlier this week and month, when I was corresponding with King, I confess I thought he was a bit full of himself. It often took him a while to get back to me, and when he did, his answers were terse, and I began to wonder if he cared at all that I was going to write an article about him in a prestigious and high-minded publication.
I expected someone aloof and preoccupied, irritated by my questions, and then he was late to our first meeting earlier this morning at this same bar when it was empty. (His friend owns it.) But after we spoke awhile, I realized that what appeared as diva behavior was just the result of him being extremely busy, driving all over England, having people take photos of his hands, and grabbing takeaway from Pret A Manger. “I’m in a different city nearly every single day. Monday, I might do a Marks & Spencer shoot in Leeds, and on Tuesday be in Peterborough for Ideal World, then Wednesday go to Liverpool for Guinness, then be in London. I never even have coffee at home – it’s a lot of Pret. I eat at Pret quite a lot. Pret for breakfast, the client often gets Pret for lunch. Pret, Pret, Pret.” He ticks off each “Pret” with a rapid motion of his index and middle finger, like a crossing guard giving traffic direction. “I’m not just successful because of what my hands look like. It’s also that I am quite comfortable moving around, and I’m not shy to make suggestions as to what I think will look good.”
King did not seem destined to become a hand model. In fact, quite the opposite. When I ask if there’s anything about his hands that he doesn’t like, he tells me that after what he went through as a boy, having hands covered with warts, he really doesn’t have it in him to be all critical. I struggle to comprehend this. “I had warts all over my hands. On a date, I struggled to pick up a fork because I didn’t want anyone to look at them. I was always going to the doctor about them and they’d freeze them off but they’d always come back. Then at 21, 22 they all just dropped off. For that to happen, for me to have three hand-modeling shoots next week, I just can’t explain it.” It’s truly incredible. If Disney were going to make a movie about a hand model, that would probably be the plot.
And after the astonishing moment where the warts fell off, the happy ending would maybe be King buying a watch? “It was just before that time that I started to appreciate 1:1 perfect replica watches. But I didn’t get my first one until after I started modeling copy watches online shop for Harvey Nichols, it’s all really down to that experience that I started to appreciate how good a watch could look. After I’d been working for them for a while, I got a black Larsen and Jennings, and a silver one, as well.” His perfect wrists were bare for our meeting, however. “I usually only wear fake Breitling watches with Swiss movements on a night out, because I think they can look really elegant, but I don’t like to wear them all the time.”
King started out in regular modeling. After a rough start and a costly headshot scam, he was finally picked up by an agency. One day he was working in a factory fitting tires for airplanes, and the next he was a paid ornament at Tom Ford’s fall fashion show in London. He told himself he’d quit the factory if he got two gigs in the next month. He got four. Still, regular old modeling was only okay, not super-consistent. Hand modeling is what really exploded his career. A friend of his was doing some hand modeling and she recommended him to her agency. “Basically, I just walked in there and put my hands on the table and they just loved me.” He found he liked hand modeling much more than regular modeling. “It’s more chill. We can have a laugh. No one takes it too seriously.”
At the risk of taking it too seriously, I must ask: Reader, have you ever considered what a good wrist even looks like? Have you scrutinized your own? If this were a website about women’s dresses, we would talk a lot about the female body and how clothes should fit on it. We would understand that not all bodies are the same. But in the replica watches wholesale world, we tend to speak of “the wrist” – as in, “this Panerai has serious presence on the wrist” – as though there is simply one platonic wrist upon which all US best fake watches sit. “I have quite slender wrists, and they don’t have a lot of hair on them,” the professional hand-and-wrist model tells me. “And I know how to move my hands when there’s a watch on it, so that it looks good. He’s done campaigns for Rolex, and Breitling replica watches for sale. “The Breitling people quite like me,” he says. “I did a shoot for them where I got to sit in the brand new Bentley, before it even came out.”
King’s approach to modeling replica watches site is the same as his approach to modeling any other product: Lots of trial and error, and making very small adjustments to a pose because the tiniest movement can make a big difference. “It’s them little movements that look really big for the camera.” He has some go-to’s. “If the watch is on my left wrist, I keep left arm down, then use right arm come across body to grab my left arm. That’s quite a nice watch shot. Another Swiss fake watches online shot would be to have the left hand in my left pocket, and then have the arm halfway in, to get a really good angle, and natural shot.”
It seemed to me that if I were a hand model and made enough money off them, as King has, to buy a house and a new car and also to go skydiving in Dubai, I’d be rather protective of my assets. “I do look out for them,” he says. “I don’t remember the last time I washed up without wearing rubber gloves.” He also wears gloves at the gym, and applies lotion twice a day, “something with oats in it.” King’s also got his buddies looking out for him when he plays football. They’ll say, “Hey, best quality super clone watches out for his hands!” But that’s about it. “I know people who wear gloves all the time and gloves to bed and that sort of thing,” he says. “That’s not really for me. I feel like if you’re too focused on them, that’s when something happens.”
That night at the bar, after a double gin and tonic, I get the nerve to ask King if I can touch his hands. Not since The Karate Kid has the term “hard soft” been so applicable. They convey vulnerability and delicacy, but also power, and they feel good, the way a kitten feels good, but also the way a well-worn baseball glove feels good.
As I ooh and ahh over them and King grins with a mixture of mild pride and general West Midlands amiability, and more young women wearing more angel wings look on wondering why a middle-aged woman in a knit cap and trench coat is fondling a gorgeous young man’s hands, a friend of King’s turns up and sits down with us. He’s wearing zombie contact lenses and has a fake gunshot wound in his forehead, so it’s hard to tell how truly rancorous he feels when I ask what it’s like being friends with one of Britain’s busiest hand models and he says, “Mostly I think Tom just gets made fun of a lot.” He shrugs, without humor, and seems truly weary as he bangs on about his mate’s ubiquity. “I see him everywhere. He’s in a Victoria Plum ad now, sitting in a bathtub with his feet hanging out. At the moment, I’ve had enough of seeing Tom everywhere. I think we all have.”
King laughs at this, his teeth stunning in the dark club, and with a pointer finger he could probably insure for at least a million pounds, he directs my attention to his friend’s hands. “See, he’s got builder’s hands,” King says. His friend rolls his zombie eyes and says “If you say so.” I ask the friend if being so good looking and being a model gets Tom a lot of attention from women. “I’m sure he thinks it does.”
King laughs again. “Maybe I do, at first, but then of course I’ve got to have conversations and so on.” And then, of course, he’s got to sign off on the lady’s hands. “You know, you fancy someone. Good teeth, nice eyes, good person. But then it’s down to the hands and feet for me. When I saw my last girlfriend’s feet and hands, I mean, we got on in general, but when I saw that she had nice hands and feet, well, that really sealed the deal for me, that’s when I said, “Okay, I really want to be with this person.” Why did they break up? “She never wanted kids. Me, there’s like a five percent chance. Plus, I just wanted to have fun being a model.”