By David Rosen

I recently shot new head shots with Erica Simone for the team. Erica did my last photos and as we entered 2017 I wanted to get the team some good new images for themselves. Plus I’ve been exercising and was feeling fancy!

The next day Erica posted on Facebook, “need volunteers for an art auction in SoHo”. Well that rang all my bells, so I was like, yes, please! Then I get a call from a woman named Monica. She gives me the rundown – meet here, this is the plan. Mind you – I pretty much have one element of this event in my mind; Art Auction for charity. I didn’t realize, until I attended Illuminate, that the sponsoring organization, Beauty For Freedom (BFF,) was the brainchild of Ford Model Monica Watkins.

I strongly encourage you to look into their platform and let them say it in their own words, but I was blown away by the goals, initiatives, and progress that BFF had accomplished. Their goal is to raise awareness for human trafficking, specifically for sex trafficking. The experts I rubbed elbows with (along with Supermodels Olesya Senchenko and Vika Levina who hosted the event) disillusioned me to some widely held beliefs, and raised my awareness to others.

First off – I said (wrongly) that ‘prostitution is the world’s oldest profession.’ Activist and Keynote speaker Jeanet, whom I spoke privately too at length, said, ‘No, it’s not a profession. It’s a form of oppression, and always has been, especially with children.’ With that type of guiding principle, I was incredibly impressed to see that the proceeds of the Art Auction was to help publish a coffee table sized book helping at-risk youth in concert with Project India, elevating young people and letting them build self-confidence and community through creativity.

The amount of collective selflessness was impressive, it also seemed profitable (in a non-profity way.) BFF was able to raise significant donations through their efforts, and clearly for a good cause. It’s not common I ever party like a rock star in SoHo with supermodels, but when I do, children throughout the developing world prosper, apparently!

In all seriousness, these are intelligent people doing virtuous work, and I highly recommend you investigate their platform as its laudable as it is elegant.


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Wednesday, April 12th 7-10pm, Supermodels Olesya Senchenko and Vika Levina hosted an art auction and cocktail reception at The Handy Liquor Bar (527 Broome St, New York, NY 10013) in support of NYC-based anti-trafficking non-profit Beauty for Freedom. Featured artwork included work by Ronnie Wood, Vika Costa, Tim Okamura, Tigran Tsitoghdzyan, Erica Simone and Travis McCann. Music for the event was curated by Celebrity DJ/Humanitarian DJ Mari Malek and DJ Deluxe and the auctioneer for the night was Robert Galinsky. Activist/Humanitarian Jeanet Ingalls spoke to an enthralled audience about how art is a powerful tool in the recovery and treatment for survivors of trafficking. 100% of the proceeds from the auction were donated to BFF’s travel abroad arts programming and children’s book project empowering survivors of sex-trafficking and at-risk youth in India via Project India which promotes self-esteem and self-expression through the arts. Guests in attendance included supermodels Iryna Lysogor, Tamara Zhukova, Sofia Resing and artists Tim Okamura, Travis Haas McCann and Erica Simone, Fashionweek Brooklyn Founder Rick Davy and PebblePost Founder Lewis Gersh.

*Cocktails and Hors D’Oeuvres sponsored by The Handy Liquor Bar

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