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Given her privileged status as she rose through the modeling world, Johnson sometimes incurred the jealous wrath of other models — particularly the few black ones, who were all jockeying for limited exposure. Don’t you understand how crazy that makes us both look?
During a roller-skating party, Johnson was “rolling along” when “I was bumped hard from behind and almost fell to the floor.” When the angered Johnson turned to see her attacker, it was “a semi-bald, hot-pink-shorts-no-top wearing Grace Jones.” (The two became friends years later.) After an early friendship with Iman, she was stunned when her former friend gave her the cold shoulder during a Johnson comeback in the ’80s, as Iman, whom she hadn’t seen in years, “looked me dead in the face and turned away as though she hadn’t seen me.” Johnson, livid after Iman did it twice, “grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into a side room.” “What the f— is wrong with you? ” Iman dropped the freeze-out, but the friendship was never rekindled.
The two went out for a while, and Johnson says that Ashe’s “four-hour, hot-and-heavy tennis matches developed endurance muscles in every area of the body.
Swinging from the chandelier [every night we spent together] was taking its toll on my well-being.” Johnson finally found success at moving Ashe along when she showed up in “a seductive cowgirl outfit” with a sheer top and a denim skirt “with nothing on underneath.” Johnson had a “short encounter” with Eddie Murphy, then at the height of his early success, which “hadn’t gone well.” Johnson was put off by Murphy’s ego, especially after, at a swank party, Murphy had his bodyguards tell Jagger to leave the bathroom so Murphy could use it alone.Such was the weird life of the rich that Johnson witnessed as the first black supermodel, the first African-American model to appear on the cover of Vogue.In her new memoir, “The Face That Changed It All,” Johnson details the glamorous and decadent side of modeling, telling of parties such as Halston’s, with “[cocaine] presented in small salad bowls alongside tall glasses of champagne.” Along the way, she kept company with Oprah, feuded with Eileen Ford, befriended Michael Jackson, had relationships or dalliances with the likes of Mike Tyson and Eddie Murphy and saw the world.Which is not to say that Johnson lacked famous lovers.Tennis star Arthur Ashe called her for a date after winning Wimbledon in 1975.