March 8 2010

San Francisco Chronicle article
August 27, 1992

Of Body and Soul: A Ministry for Models

by Carey Kinsolving

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel, the Bible says, and it doesn’t hurt to have great legs either, adds New York model Laura Krauss.

“Thank God, my legs keep me busy in more ways than one,” Krauss said, whose legs have appeared in national advertising for Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus and Hanes hosiery.

In 1985, Krauss and her husband, Jeff Calenberg, started a ministry to the world’s most beautiful people, New York models.

Models are beautiful on the outside but often empty on the inside, Krauss and Calenberg said in an interview at their fashionable brownstone apartment in New York’s Upper West Side.

Calenberg, a model with the ford agency, says the modeling industry caters to vanity. “It’s all focused on self,” he said. “It’s very flesh-oriented, so there are constant sexual jokes and innuendos.”

“It’s a me, me, me business. My weight, my hair, my skin, my career,” Krauss said.

In her early 20s, Krauss experienced the pressure of working as a top model in Paris. She worked seven days a week and appeared on the covers of nine magazines, including the prestigious French magazine “Marie Claire.” She felt herself being pulled in opposite directions between the glitz of her industry and the humility of the Christ she saw portrayed in the Gospels.

Krauss realized that her modeling achievements had failed to fill the void she felt inside. Although Krauss had trusted Christ as her savior, she said, “I had one foot in the Bible and one in the world, and there was no peace. I finally realized what I wanted to get out of life, and whom I wanted to serve. Serving myself was not all joy. It created a lot of insecurity. Seeing what other models held onto as their gods scared me.

“You’re only as good as your last booking. There is a lot of insecurity in the business, and I was falling into it.”

When Krauss moved to New York from Paris, she said, “I ran to church.”

Krauss and Calenberg started Models for Christ in 1985 with a handful of people who met for bi-monthly Bible study and prayer in Krauss’ apartment. The idea grew. Soon actors and other artists attended. The name was changed to Impact, and the group, now numbering more than 100, adopted monthly service projects such as delivering floral wreaths to AIDS patients, taking underprivileged children to a Mets game, and throwing a party for elderly patients at a nursing home.

One of the most popular projects has been to deliver clothes and Thanksgiving turkeys to 75 needy New York families.

The Calenbergs find themselves in a constant fight against the “shallowness of modeling.” They emphasize the lasting effects of inner beauty, the fading nature of physical attractiveness and the web of selfishness that can entrap the unwary.

Krauss sometimes counsels models seeking direction for their careers. She encourages them to take control of marketing themselves and to resist the efforts of those who would push them to compromise their standards.

This can mean saying “no” to lucrative cigarette and alcohol advertisers that often pay the highest fees.

The Calenbergs contend that there’s plenty of work in sportswear and suits to keep them busy. “I love polyester,” Krauss said. “It pays the bills.”