We’ve all seen those videos featuring children’s toys being played with by what are clearly adult hands. Well, I was one of those pairs of hands and I appeared in over 400 of those films. You’ve probably seen my work and not even realised it. However, I chose to turn my back (as well as the backs of my hands) on the profession, and now I’m here to tell my story and expose the truth behind the mysterious world of professional toy playing.
1) I got noticed whilst out and about.
I was in the park with my kid, playing with the toy diggers in the sandpit, when I noticed a man watching us. Not just watching, but jotting down notes too. After a few minutes, he got out a camera and began filming us. It was at this stage I asked him what he thought he was doing, and he said he wasn’t some weirdo, which went a hell of a long way to reassuring me. He was a hand model scout and he said I had the hands of someone half my age. He gave me his card and urged me to call him, then dissappeared. And that was my way in to this strange and alluring world.
2) He assured me he wasn’t some fetishist or pimp.
The 2 most common insults directed towards his profession, in case you’re wondering. He told me that hands were his life’s work, ever since he’d lost his own in a tragic game of’ Last One to Take Their Hands Off The Train Track is a Loser’. He simply wanted everyone to use their hands to the fullest potential, whether that meant playing the violin, sculpting political figures using bacon fat, or simply masturbating like a mad ape. And he’d represented some impressive hands in his time, but I can’t divulge who, as he practices strict confidentiality between all of his clients.
3) He gave me a regimented hand workout schedule.
A typical day for me would look something like this:
8am – Clap hands x 5, Stretches – 10 x per hand, Wiggle fingers – 5 x per finger.
12am – Wave to 10 people by lunchtime, give a thumbs-up to 5.
2pm – 20 minutes of playing catch (wear special gloves if outside).
5pm – Click fingers – 10 x per hand.
8pm – Pedicure, followed by warm (not hot) hand bath. Blow dry, not towel dry. Exfoliate/moisturise, before putting on overnight gloves.
Certain things were strictly forbidden, such as crossing fingers, or scratching of hair and genitalia, as they could lead to callouses, hangnails, whitlows, infections and even arthritis. Any of these would spell the end for a hand model. An HM with a broken nail is the same as a racehorse with a broken leg. They may as well take you out the back and shoot you.
4) My personal life suffered as as a result.
My actual work schedule on top of the exercises I’ve just discussed was gruelling. I was up at 5am every morning to start filming and I wasn’t ever allowed to drink coffee (ages the skin, apparently. And nobody wants to see a pensioner play with toys…). Filming was long, and you may not think there’s many ways you can play with a toy tractor. Turns out you’d be wrong. Sometimes it was like working with Kubrick.
Then there were reshoots, studio interference, scheduling conflicts, the works. It took its toll on me – emotionally as well as physically. At the end of a long day, all I wanted to do was to to bed with a book (which I couldn’t do in case of paper cuts). My friends and family were beginning to notice the changes in me as well. Speaking of which…
5) I started to believe my own hype.
I always swore I wouldn’t, but when I was out in public I let it all go to my head. I’d take off my velvet gloves that I wore to improve circulation, and tell everyone that my hands were the hands of an artiste. When they pretended not to know who I was, that got me agitated. I’d then move on to ‘Do you know I am?’ and if I was in a shop I’d demand to speak to the manager, with them feigning ignorance the whole time.
Looking back, it was obvious they genuinely had no clue who I was, other than a crazy person. I played with kid’s toys on Youtube, I was hardly Rita Ora. It would’ve been far stranger if they had recognised me, to be honest, as in over 400 videos, I’ve never once shown my face. But that’s just what fame does to someone, makes them blind to the truth. And the truth was that I had become a massive twat. And it took an intervention from my friends and family telling me I was a massive twat for me to realise I had in fact become a massive twat.
6) I bowed out gracefully.
I always promised myself I wouldn’t do a Bob Geldof, sticking my stupid talentless face everywhere it wasn’t wanted for a few bucks, which is why at the age of just 34, I quit the hand modelling profession for good. My mentor and by now, lover, said that he had failed me, and that he only ever wanted his client’s hands to be used for good, not evil. He thought that I had shown so much potential, and there was still so much for us to do, but he understood and respected my decision. He had opened my eyes to a whole new world and for that I would be eternally grateful.
And now I’m back to what I was doing before, selling asbestos to inner city schools. Hardly hand modelling, but it’s an honest wage, all the same. I’ll always have my 400+ videos to look back on, and I still exfoliate daily.